"Quarantine Diaries" is an editorial series in which EDM.com invites members of the music community to contribute guest posts about how they're coping with the pandemic. The goal of the series is to provide a platform for these individuals to share their own experiences and perspectives and ultimately inspire anyone experiencing pitfalls contrived by the impact of COVID-19. The thoughts and viewpoints expressed are those of the author, PENNYWILD.

 “If you would’ve told me…” quickly became the preface of every statement I’ve said aloud (to myself, primarily) throughout these past eight months:

  • “If you would’ve told me we’d be amidst a global pandemic while a gender reveal party causes acres of California to burn before our eyes …”
  • “If you would’ve told me protestors simply supporting the value of Black Lives would be wrongfully arrested and imprisoned …”
  • “If you would’ve told me the 2020 election would fail to bring us a verdict on November third … or fourth … or fifth …”

The truth is: if you would’ve told me we’d be HERE, I simply wouldn’t believe you. I’d scoff off your nonsensical projection and go about my business blissfully producing music, choreographing, DJing, traveling - whatever was on my narrow-minded to-do list inside my liberal, idealistic Los Angeles bubble. After some grueling self-educating I now understand that unfortunately, few of these hellish shortcomings are shocking, and we’re no stranger to corruption. And yet, the show must go on.

With this fresh (and long overdue) reckoning, it has been extremely difficult to find silver linings; difficult to resist throwing yourself a pity party (the only rave of 2020) for all of the missed opportunities this year seems to carelessly breeze over. You can’t help but play the “what if” game with yourself and your life’s timeline:

  • “Damn - if we weren’t in quarantine, I’d be able to play shows & tour with my new project …”
  • “Ugh, if it wasn’t unsafe to literally leave my apartment, I’d get to finally have that session with one of my favorite vocalists … ”
  • “If I had released this track just one year ago, I could’ve released that crazy dance visual and achieved such an artistic milestone …” 

I have found it quite comforting to remove myself from the narrative altogether, and to understand that this is all much bigger than me and my trivial inconveniences. I’m fortunate to have my health, my family’s health, my passions, and my sanity (for the most part) and that has to be enough right now.

If this year has taught me anything, it is to check my damn privilege, take care of myself/my loved ones, and continue creating at. all. costs. I’ve found great solace in learning new production techniques, discovering new obscure sounds, patching things from scratch, getting creative in the kitchen, exploring new creative avenues in general (serendipitously discovered new opportunities to direct projects for other artists this year!) practicing self-care, drinking a fuck ton of natural wine (shoutout Silverlake Wine), and checking in on my friends … often. 

There is certainly something to be said for these mandatory moments of introspection; forcing yourself to reconcile with what’s going on “inside”. We’ve seen oppressed and marginalized groups come to a boiling point and demand justice. Elected officials may be lashing out, but new prospective political heroes are standing up and fighting back. In general, we are all doing some much needed work on ourselves, sans distractions from the outside world. It’s allowed us all to focus on what really matters in this short time we share on Earth, and to figure out what it is we all need from it.

On a global scale, this time has been beyond devastating. I’ll never begin to understand what victims of this year’s relentless wrath are experiencing. However ironically on a personal level, it has been relatively rewarding for me. While I don’t innately identify as a procrastinator, I have certainly put off finishing a multitude of projects while pinning the excuse on time-sucking gigs, shows, jobs, social engagements, etc. Removing all of responsibilities from the equation forced me to put pen to paper and make moves. While it’s been tough at large, I am ultimately grateful for what these past eight months have taught me about myself, my work ethic, my passions/goals, relationships, etc. I have no doubt that the next year will be a further exploration of myself (whether I like it or not!)

It’s safe to say we’ve all lived many lives throughout this pandemic – we’ve been couch potatoes, Zoom enthusiasts, political activists, Banana Bread chefs, liquor connoisseurs, and goddam imperfect human beings. Finding moments of happiness and self-fulfillment have been difficult, but absolutely integral. I hope if 2020 gave you anything, it gave you the capacity to understand what others feel/experience within their frame of reference. I hope it’s allowed you to step outside of yourself, maintain compassion, and relate to those that may be unlike you. We need each other, we need creativity, we need music, we do not need ego, but most importantly, we need empathy. OK now follow me on SoundCloud! Just kidding :’) 

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