Declan McKenna on COVID’s impact on music: “It is bleak… but there’s always art out of hardship”

He's commented on what a musician should be "for" in 2020.

Declan McKenna has spoken about his hopes for the music world’s response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, arguing how musicians shouldn’t feel useless in 2020 – even with live events cancelled.

It’s undoubtedly been a strange year for us all, but musicians especially – with everything from large-scale tours to local pub gigs cancelled. To that end, McKenna was asked by Guitar World what a musician is “even for” in 2020, to which he said: “Making life livable. It is bleak and it’s not exactly an exhilarating time for musicians, but there’s always art out of hardship, there’s always art out of turbulence.

“So many things are translated through music – that’s the beauty of it. If everyone’s experiencing something, someone’s going to put it into music and at some point, it will feel right. Whether it’s something completely removed from the bleakness of the world right now, or whether it’s a reflection [of the times], I think that’s something artists do well.”

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There’s been a lot of discussion over the year as to how musicians have responded to varying levels of lockdown. Some have used the time to further their craft – for example, when we spoke to Charlie Burg, he told us of how he’s been teaching himself new techniques every day. “I feel like I’m in school again,” he said, “but I’m in charge of the curriculum.”

Conversely, when we spoke to Mark Morton and Willie Adler of Lamb Of God, they had both been using the time to write and record more solo material than ever.

McKenna spoke more on how music is uniquely positioned to help people through the pandemic emotionally: “Instruments are just planks of wood, or just computers or whatever,” he said, “but they help us translate the most difficult aspects of life and make the conversations we have much easier and much more universal. Many times you may feel alone in the world, but the right record pulls you back to realizing that many people have gone through the same thing.”

So if the time at home wasn’t enough motivation to record, then perhaps remember McKenna’s words next time you look at an empty DAW screen.

Read our own interview with Declan McKenna here.

For more music news, click here.

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