Main content

Artists in Lockdown

Eighteen musicians invite us to take a socially distanced doorstep portrait

If lockdown has shown us one thing, it's just how quickly we can adapt.

Coldplay, Yungblud and Christine And The Queens were among the first to livestream impromptu gigs, then 24 musicians remotely collaborated for charity single Times Like These, and right about now your go-to festival is probably in the process of going virtual.

We caught up with a range of artists who are no stranger to our radio stations Radio 1, Radio 2, 6 Music, 1Xtra and the Asian Network to find out what they’ve been doing during lockdown, and one thing they can’t wait to do with fans when it lifts.

Rag'n'Bone Man: "Albums nearly done. Itchin' to get back out on the road"

"Hope to see ya faces from a stage in the near future. Massive love & Bluetooth hugs. Peace, Rags."

Mel C: "My DJ headphones and laptop have been my window to the world"

"They have enabled to finish my album remotely, I have stayed connected to my fans with live Q&A’s, streams and performances and have even done a few DJ sets including one for Scott Mills!"

Gabrielle Aplin: "I have been really surprised with my ability to record myself"

"I have been pleasantly surprised by the results, so in terms of recording my confidence is growing in a way I don’t think it would have done before the lockdown, but I can’t wait to get back out and play shows and interact with fans in person."

"I was mid tour when the pandemic kicked off, so to say, in the UK, so I have some rescheduled shows, and that’s the thing I’m most looking forward to."

Raxstar: "My cousin and uncle passed away from coronavirus after being in hospital for a couple of weeks"

"They were both big personalities and a big part of my life, losing them has been a big blow to our whole family and this period has been difficult. I want to keep their memories and spirits alive in everything I do going forward."

"One of the things I’m looking forward to once this situation eases is performing, having your songs sung back to you by people who love what you do is indescribable. We spend a lot of time in studios by ourselves recording, writing, and a whole part of being an artist is sharing your music with an audience in a live atmosphere, and it has been quite a long time since I have experienced that."

Georgia: "We started a project called 'Groves in Different Rooms', it’s going to be 20 different drummers positioned around the UK"

"During lockdown, I have improvised a whole new set-up and jam with people around London through this app, JamKazam. You almost have to become part of a secret service of people to use the internet to its fullest capacity to get the best bandwidth, and to make sure there is no latency, so I have learned a lot about technology through this new set-up!"

"We started a project called Groves in Different Rooms, which hopefully I’m going to livestream on my Instagram soon, it’s going to be 20 different drummers positioned around the UK, some even in Europe, and we will livestream a jam."

Dave Bayley from Glass Animals: "I brought a Mellotron out of me, that is the synth I used on the upcoming album, every song features it"

"It’s a warm Beatles, Beach Boys-esque sounding machine, and it plays tape recordings of all sorts of instruments, xylophones, flutes, cellos - if you’ve heard Strawberry Fields by the Beatles that’s what it sounds like, and that’s all over our new album with big beats behind it."

"Aside from music, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking. I bought a barbecue, so I’ve got my marinade down, you name it, I can marinate it, that’s my life now."

Beverley Knight: "I am looking forward to standing on a proper stage"

"During lockdown, I’ve been live streaming to my fans, but the one thing I am looking forward to is standing on a proper stage with my band behind me, and all you guys in front of me, and that interaction, ‘cause I don’t think there is any substitution for real live music."

Ray BLK: "I’m starting this nail company. I’m so excited to launch"

"While I’ve been in lockdown, I have discovered I have a passion for business, and nails. As I haven’t been able to go to the nail shop to get my nails done, I have people making custom nails, and I thought: 'This is so amazing being able to have all these great designs, and being able to do them myself at home.' I felt like people would also love to be able to do that, so I am starting this nail company that I so am proud of and excited to launch. It’s been quite cool discovering new things."

“One thing I’m interested in doing with my fans once this whole social distancing is over is having my album launch, so my fans can come and I can meet some of them. I just honestly love interacting with them, and getting to hear how they found my music, or hear how my music makes them feel.”

Tom Walker: "I have been writing a load of music, about 12 to 14 songs in the last 8 weeks"

"Lockdown, it’s typical isn’t it, best weather we have seen in a very long time, and unfortunately, you are not allowed to go and meet your mates and have cider."

"I have been writing a load of music, about 12 to 14 songs in the last 8 weeks. So I've been super creative, and it’s been so lovely to spend so much time with my fiancé. I think since we met, we’ve never spent so much time together, which has been nice, turns out we really like each other, which is a bonus."

Joy Crookes: "I have rented a Neumann U47, eat your heart out"

"I’ve always recorded at home, but I think that I have definitely learned so much more about vocal recording, having a good microphone and quality. I’ve had the time to focus on quality during lockdown, so that would be something that I have massively learned, and vocal chains, and boring producer stuff like that, and if you are a producer and know about mics then I have rented a Neumann U47 which is like the best mic ever, so eat your heart out."

Jack Steadman from Bombay Bicycle Club: "It’s been quite fun going back to basics and recording like I used to when I was a teenager"

"My acoustic guitar has been keeping me sane during this lockdown. I’ve been recording acoustic versions of songs from our record that came out just before this happened, and presenting them in a more intimate way, without any fancy production to hide behind just a vocal and a guitar. It’s actually been quite fun going back to basics and recording like I used to when I was a teenager, you know just in your bedroom improvising, I think there is something about having limited equipment that makes you think more creatively."

Goat Girl: "We’re trying to grow vegetables in the back"

"The aim is to be self-sufficient, so we don't have to buy food from the supermarket. Then we got piggy because he’s lovely. We drink Shy Pig and we've got a lot of the bottles, ‘cause we're going to write a musical about the piggy, and we're going to have the bottles as props."

"We were sort of planning to do this quarantine release of one of our songs from the album just because it has been so long since the last release. It would be a good thing for fans to still be involved in that way and hear what we've been up to. Our sound has gone through quite a journey and I think we've all experienced that, but no one else has. And it's kind of a weird separation that I'd guess we don't want to have. We want people to be involved in the process of music."

Alicai Harley: "I can’t wait to get back to performing to my fans, they've held me down throughout lockdown"

"During lockdown, I have been learning how to play the piano, I am nowhere near Alicia Keys level, but we move. I have all the time on my hands, so it makes sense to learn something new.”

“One of the main things I can’t wait to do is get back to performing to my fans. I love them so much, they have really held me down throughout lockdown, we just can’t wait to get out there, and enjoy ourselves again.”

Roachford: "I’ve got really good at doing a great solo keyboard guitar set-up"

"Normally I’m a band player but obviously, I’m having to just play keyboard on my own and learn how to actually do the streaming - my first attempt was a complete nightmare because no one could hear the keyboards and the sound was distorted, so I’ve got really good at doing a great solo keyboard guitar set-up, I think I’m probably one of the best now."

Blaine Harrison from the Mystery Jets: "My apartment has become a pop-up recording studio, and I’ve been taping a lot, at all sorts of unsociable hours"

"I’ve been taping a lot of podcasts, live streams, and interviews from my living room. The bands’ studio is directly below downstairs in the basement, so if I ever feel the need to go smash some drums, or scream into a mic, to let off some cabin fever, I can always pop down there, and I always come out feeling a lot better."

"In my portrait you’ll see me holding my beloved Shaky, he is a Martin guitar from 1973, we have journeyed the world together a couple of times, and he has always been an incredibly faithful travel companion. He has given me a lot of songs over the last few years, and in return I make sure his strings never get rusty or too out of tune, that’s our little pact."

Arlo Parks: "I’ve been exploring a lot more in terms of producing house music"

"In my portrait, you’ll see a Fender Player Telecaster, in black, I’ve been using it to jam, and produce. It has brought me a lot of solace during this difficult time. I’ve improvised by using my amp to record vocals, and I’ve been exploring a lot more in terms of producing house music and using samples."

RIKA: "I miss the feeling of being on stage and connecting with my fans"

"I miss the feeling of being on stage and connecting with my fans. I included my wireless headphones and my personalised in-ears because I can’t go on stage and give the best performance I can without them. When it’s safe to go outside again, I just want to do my headline show."

Celina Sharma: "I’ve been learning to produce, which is a really interesting experience"

"The microphone in my portrait is something special as this is the mic I’m using to record with during lockdown as I can’t go to the studio. I’ve been learning to produce by myself which is a really interesting experience."

"The one thing I’m really looking forward to doing with my fans when this situation eases is doing a live show for them."

More from the BBC