building connections: how artists are engaging with fans during covid

Since quarantine started, events in the scene have been put on hold. Trying to replicate the experience of live shows is a challenge when you have to deal with the troubles that come along with using a virtual platform. We were able to ask some incredible artists about their opinion on this new version of the scene. Rain on Fridays, a powerful girl duo from San Diego, symbolizes their feelings through their knockout indie rock music. Hailing from Redlands and intentionally breaking every man-made mold, Hoity-Toity presents their alternative sound with an all-female front. LA-based The Haunts host their surf rock style while providing electric sounds and catchy tunes. All of these unique artists have at least one thing in common: they want to continue connecting with their audiences. So how exactly are they doing that?

 

Everyone knows that there are plenty of ups and downs when it comes to using technology as your main source of sharing content. What is your point of view on hosting live, virtual events?

Rain on Fridays: Hosting live virtual events definitely has its ups and downs. We’ve had some positive experiences with it for sure. It was really fun doing the Minecraft show a while back in March. It was cool because our drummer, Adrian, who lives in Denmark was even able to come up on stage with us virtually after not being able to play with him for months. Honestly, there are a lot of technical issues with playing live sets virtually. We’re still figuring out how to adapt to the new normal. More than anything I wish shows were back, but obviously it’s good to wait until we know when it’s safe. What’s the point of playing a show if it’s putting people’s lives at risk?

Hoity-Toity: Livestream events are fun, but of course nothing can replace a real live show. I think our best event we’ve done during the pandemic was a charity show we did with Music For Movement to raise funds for Project HOPE; we had a multi-cam setup and a big screen in front of us so we could read the Twitch chat, it was a lot more active than a lot of our other streams. The ones we host ourselves on Instagram are a lot more limited, the video and sound quality isn’t as good, and we can’t interact as actively with the audience because we can’t read the chat off a phone screen while we’re playing. We still do the best we can to entertain given these limitations, but what we all really want is to get back to playing on real stages in front of real people who can jump, dance, and mosh.

The Haunts: Livestreams really feel like the only way to play music for people for now; it’s nice to be able to communicate with the people who want to listen to and interact with us, and we love doing them, but the energy is definitely different with livestreams. It feels so strange to end a song and it’s just silent with us standing in our practice space facing a phone or laptop, watching the stream chat.

 

Assuming that Instagram is your main social media platform, how often are you posting? How has the content you have been posting changed since quarantine began? 

Rain on Fridays: In all honesty, I don’t really like social media. But, I do like that it can connect me to others and I can bond with people over music. I’d say we post 3 or 4 times a month, maybe less. We used to be posting more because there was a lot going on when shows were happening and music was being released. I feel like our content has grown a lot since quarantine started and as a band, we’re slowly finding our style and what we like. No major changes though, just more personal growth in our music and our style because we’ve had a lot of time to think about it. 

Hoity-Toity: We try to post on Instagram at least a few times a week. Since shows aren’t a thing anymore, we’ve been posting a lot more covers both individually and as a band. I also try to do occasional Q&As on our story.

The Haunts: We primarily stick to Instagram, and we’re probably posting 1-2 times a week! There definitely hasn’t been many photoshoots or opportunities for band pictures these last few months so it’s been a lot of throwback pictures and shots from our last tour; other than that, we’re on Instagram doing the usual polls and asking people how they’re doing via questions. We love to hear from everyone so we’re pretty active in our DMs!

 

Releasing new music is one of the most exciting parts of being an artist, so it must be hard to put out songs during this time. If you have released new music during quarantine, how did it go? How did you celebrate it? If not, do you plan to? 

Rain on Fridays: We released “Hooked” on May 8th and it’s been going well! It is hard to put music out currently as you have no idea what’s happening in music – there are no shows happening or live sessions of any sort. We announced it over Facebook / Instagram and are thankful to have got an overwhelming amount of support from our family, friends, and others who support us, whether it’s locally or globally. We [released]  a song called “Desperate Invasion” on October 16 and may do a live stream, we’re still not 100% sure! We have been planning on doing live sessions in the meantime.

Hoity-Toity: We released an EP of 8-bit remixes of our “Not Your Kind” EP, as well as being included in a charity compilation called “Transgenre” raising funds for Trans Lifeline, both exclusively on Bandcamp. Both of these were received well, though not really released with much fanfare. We have yet to release any new original music, but we have been writing new songs and we have debuted them in the form of live video performances. We hope to be able to release them as soon as they’re recorded and ready!

The Haunts: We’ve put out two new songs in the midst of quarantine: “New Mexico” at the start of May, and “Operator” in August. It felt really good to finally put out new music after being asked for those two songs for a while, so it was nice to finally put those out into the world. What didn’t feel great was having release shows all planned out for both singles, and then having to cancel them due to COVID, but there’ll be more time to celebrate once it’s safe to do so. We celebrated the release of “Operator” with a Twitch livestream presented by Cosmic Bloom Booking, we were super stoked with how it went, especially since we were able to get together a lineup of Rain On Fridays, Sleepy Gonzales, and The Gooms!

 

How has it been in terms of practicing as a band? Has the dynamic of creating music or just jamming together changed? 

Rain on Fridays: The two of us have been quarantining together since March! The dynamic was a bit different at first since we weren’t practicing with a drummer for a while. Jamming together has not changed, since it’s usually just the two of us. We recently have been jamming and practicing with a drummer and working on some new stuff!

Hoity-Toity: We have been practicing mostly the same as we would before, only with less focus on live sets since we don’t have gigs every weekend. Instead, we’re focusing on writing and fine-tuning new songs.

The Haunts: Alanna and I (Aaron) live together, so we’re able to write songs and practice to some extent from our apartment, and from there we usually send a quick recording to Max to write lyrics/vocal melodies to. Other than that, we have our practice space that we meet up a few times a month after all three of us get tested. Our writing process hasn’t changed too much during quarantine, but we definitely meet up for full practices less frequently, which in turn has made our practices longer so that we can make them count.

 

Even though times are tough, these are just a few examples of the amazing bands who are doing what they can to keep the scene a fun and happening place. I am sure that everyone would love to go back to attending live shows every weekend and being able to dance with all their friends. We just have to be thankful for the artists who are putting in the extra effort to try their best to continue the feeling of community even if it is through our screens.

Follow these artists here: Rain on Fridays, Hoity-Toity, The Haunts.

recent posts

%d bloggers like this: