In light of COVID-19, the Athens music scene has been turned on its head. Hotel Fiction, the musical duo consisting of UGA students Jade Long and Jessica Thompson talked to the Red&Black about what it is like being apart and trying to find inspiration but also a hopeful perspective on using this time at home for good.
The Red & Black: This pandemic has affected so many people not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. Have these circumstances affected the flow of ideas and inspiration when writing new material?
Jade Long: Yes, it has definitely affected our writing process. Especially because me and Jessica can’t be together. Also, for me, personally, there’s not a lot to be inspired about at the moment because you can’t just go out and be inspired by people watching for example. I just feel like everyone is kind of sad and withdrawn. Everything I’m writing is becoming a sad song.
Jessica Thompson: It’s been hard because so much terrible and hard to comprehend stuff is happening and it feels weird to write about things that seem insignificant. I wrote something last night and it was the first time since I’ve been back home. I was finally sitting down and being like ‘I’m going to do it’ but also the most we write is when we’re together and we haven’t been able to see each other and we don’t know how long it’s going to last. That’s been the hardest part. All of our music has been put on pause and all our shows were cancelled. We were in the process of recording an album, and we can’t do that when we’re not together. It’s the same thing with writing so it’s been tough.
R&B: You recently released the song “Out of My Head” while everyone was in quarantine. Did releasing that song during this time have a different feeling than when you have released your previous songs?
JT: Normally, we’re together when it comes out and it’s so fun like it’s the day I look forward to. We’ll sing it together, throw a little party, pop champagne and this time we tried to plan it for the Monday we got back from spring break but that ended up meaning nothing and it was just another Monday. It didn’t feel real, I’m glad it’s out and we wanted it to be out, but also we didn't get that experience of being together and being around friends that day.
JL: Also, there’s so much more important stuff going on in the news and that was when everyone was starting to figure out classes were cancelled and all this crazy stuff was happening.
R&B: Has all this time at home given you new kinds of inspiration, perhaps in the more simple things in life?
JL: For sure, I think there is a lot of hope that we can see in the news and with people reaching out to nurses and family members. I think there is still a lot of good to see in the world that’s inspiring.
JT: I definitely feel like there's been more inspiration to learn. Maybe less inspired to create and taking this time to learn the technicalities of the guitar. I have woken up every day being excited to learn something about music even if it is not necessarily finding inspiration to create. For example, I have been reading this book about the music scene in Athens in the 80’s and it’s inspiring to see what the music scene used to be like.
R&B: Why do you think musicians matter right now and what do you believe your job is as musicians?
JL: I think musicians are storytellers and what’s happening right now is making history. We’re supposed to make people’s emotions feel relatable and make them feel like they’re not alone in situations like this. I think it’s musicians’ jobs to inspire hope in people. It’s also a great distraction for people because a song can remind you of happy memories.
JT: Yeah I think making sense of these emotions that we’re all feeling and trying to make something that reflects that whether its hope or sadness is something musicians can do. I feel like even though we’re all apart that this situation has brought us together in a different way. Trying to absorb that and then create something out of that is really important. I’ve been turning to music a lot lately and when I listen to it, it feels more meaningful.
R&B: Do you think your next songs will reflect what you and the rest of the world is going through right now? Will there possibly be different sounds, lyrics, or subject matter?
JL: Yeah, I feel like this is going to have a lasting impact on everyone and we don’t realize it yet. I think, if it isn’t reflected in our songs, we will definitely be more grateful for the next inspiration that we have and come back to this time and think about what we’ve been through.
JT: It will definitely make the moments afterwards stronger. I also think you never know what something will turn into until you look back but I definitely think some stuff we write in the future will in some way be inspired by what's going on now which is totally unprecedented.
R&B: Are you collectively working on anything right now or talked about any ideas?
JT: I was going to text it to Jade today but I basically wrote something in the middle of the night last night. I didn't have time and I did a voice memo and I was going to do a second one with a better melody but right now I’ve just got this one raw voice memo of a song. It was kind of inspired by quarantine but it was inspired more by relationship issues in my life so I’m hoping we can work on it together. Apparently, you can do co-writes on Zoom and I think that would be cool to try, it might now be as organic as being together but people who write for a living are doing it and I think it’s inspiring so I’m going to try it.
JL: I also have things that are unfinished that I can run by Jessica too. I feel like for me, my best songs come when I’m busy doing something else, like when I’m procrastinating doing that other thing. I’ll end up writing a song I end up liking and so being stagnant has made it more difficult but with school starting back up it’s helped a lot. In a good way.