In Corona Corner, we are asking musicians how the outbreak has effected them, how did they adapt to the situation, what did they learn. From Oulu, Northern Finland, Riitu Ronkainen (vocals) Jarkko “Jake” Ronkainen (guitar) speak about Velvet Ocean’s Corona experience.
Hi! How are you doing during corona outbreak?
Jake: We’ve been doing very well, thank you! We have all stayed healthy and have been spending a lot of time home of course but then again we have also had some extra time to concentrate on things that have been on hold. Like for example we got a video ready and published for a song called Elysian Fields and we are now starting to finalize a video for “Broken”. We’ve also had time to work on a pre-demo of our next single.
Riitu: Thanks! We are doing well! It’s been a bit difficult time and the restrictions sometimes feel a little unreal but basically everything is alright for us. All the gigs were postponed which is annoying but we have used the time to make some new music.
What have you cancelled/postponed due coronavirus?
Jake: Naturally this pandemic was a challenge to everybody who’s involved with the live scene. For us it also came in a bit awkward time since we haven’t really gigged during the album process and now that we got the album out Feb 7 we were really looking forward to get to the gigs. Since they’ve all been cancelled, I guess we have to just wait for a while.
Riitu: We were planning to start really gigging but no it’s all in the unknown future. We were already booked for first festival gigs for the summer and it’s a shame those had to be cancelled.
How the global coronavirus pandemic is directly impacting bands?
Jake: Well of course the real live scene is totally dead at the moment and I think that is causing a lot of financial problems to people living on playing live and also organizing live events. On the other side people spend more time home now so I think it’s somewhat easier to engage the audience by live streaming. Even whole stream events have been organised like the DarkStream Festival that we attended in the end of May.
Riitu: The income of bands and organizers has stopped altogether and I think many people are pondering alternative ways to make a living like selling merch and trying to organize stream events etc. It’s of course risky to gather together as a band which makes doing some things a bit more difficult. I think it’s important for everyone now to be active in social media.
How are you keeping your fans during this chaotic period?
Jake: We have attended the stream festival as I said. At the same time we’ve put out some live material and been spending time on music videos and also new music. I think the result will also show later when we get to recording new music perhaps a bit earlier than planned.
Riitu: We tried to maintain presence in social media. We just got a music video out and also attended the stream festival. We have also had the opportunity to give quite many interviews for different publications. In addition there is some surprises in planning. I won’t reveal more yet.
What will metal look like when we re-emerge from isolation?
Jake: I really can’t tell but I hope that now that people are making new music and speeding up recordings etc great things will come out of that. I also hope that these new kind of customs like streaming gigs and closer interaction with the social media audience are here to stay and will eventually lead in more possibilities for people to interact with artists and find the music they love.
Riitu: Surely people have more time to concentrate on making music so I believe great things will happen in the future. I think the fans have been really active participating in supporting bands paying voluntary fees for streaming gigs and buying albums and merch. That’s great of course!
Who will suffer the most after all: musicians, organizers promoters…
Jake: I think it’s everyone who are all-in with the music. The people who don’t have any side income from different sources. Professional musicians, festival organizers, audio rental companies etc. Basically everyone who have something to do with the live scene. Unfortunately this whole tragedy is not just limited to music business but at the same time restaurants, small businesses and lot of others are losing their income.
Riitu: I think it’s pretty difficult to see who would benefit from this kind of situation. I think this has been equally difficult for everyone in the music business as well as people who just want to go to gigs to spend their free time.
What is your isolation soundtrack?
Jake: I haven’t been listening that much new music but I have seen many guitar players for example to have their solo streams talking about different techniques and styles. Those have been really interesting to watch actually and you do get some new ideas yourself from that.
Riitu: I think I haven’t had too much time after all to listen to music since we’ve been quite busy making our own. It’s a shame really. Sometimes you do come across some recommendations in the social media and just check out some new bands for curiosity. A lot of great music is been done all the time.
Besides gigs, what/whom do you miss the most?
Jake: Well, gigs of course and just spending normal spare time, eating out and meeting people. When you can stay home with your family it’s kind of fine but I think this is the most difficult time for elderly lonely people.
Riitu: I really miss my parents and siblings. I haven’t seen them properly for months. I also miss the normal kind of carefree life which you didn’t even pay attention then. Now it feels it would be great to just go wherever and not to have to feel cautious or scared. I also miss travelling.
Do you have any rehearsals during quarantine? If yes, how do they look like?
Jake: We have had a few but not as many as normal. Usually our rehearsals concentrate on the time right before gigs so I guess there hasn’t been that much need for them. The rehearsals look pretty much same as usual but we have tried to just be extra careful.
Riitu: No, we haven’t unfortunately rehearsed that much. The situation is a bit better here so I guess soon enough we need to start going through some new material for the future gigs.
Thank you so much for your time. Stay safe!
Jake and Riitu: Thank you so much for the opportunity. Take care you all!