Lockdown - Our True Stories

Diary: Donna McKevitt


It’s morning, 7:30 to be precise. My lovely husband has just brought me a cuppa in bed and I’m prising my first eyelid open. Had a bad night with acid reflux and was on call for a dear friend. Something awful has happened, a thing that probably wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t in lockdown. So rising with reduced enthusiasm today. 


Showered and coffee made (again by the best man in the world) I plug in to a catch up on FaceTime with three of my girlfriends  who I’d usually be hanging out with at our local cafe. Got to keep things normal. So good to see their lovely shiny faces.


Since lockdown I have gone from being insanely busy with an advertising job to almost nothing but today I am polishing up a new track for a film for German Vogue with my long term collaborator and friend Emma Summerton. I finished the track two days ago and I heard yesterday that the editor is very happy with the film. I seem to have found my inner raver. Playing with electronic loops, pulsations in time to the letters of the word  V O G U E and then finishing off with a thumping great beat…. What has lockdown done to me? To anyone who knows me well, this is quite out of character.


I can hear just outside of my studio, my eldest has volunteered to sort my youngest’s toy box… again more lockdown changes of character. The world has momentarily shifted from its axis.


Sent off the final WAV and now onto the rest of the day. Back to the almost nothing but there is always something to do. Loading up Logic to open up my project files for my ongoing album of Maya Angelou songs. I began setting these many years ago. It took me several years to get the rights to set nine of her poems and now I have the time to really concentrate on them. An incredibly difficult lyric to represent musically in this poem. It’s about a young girl who is being abused by her father - 


As far as possible,

She strove for them all. 

Arching her small frame and grunting prettily, 

Her fingers counting the roses in the wallpaper.


How do you set a poem like this? Should you? I don’t know -  but I’m going to try. I’ve been working on this one for weeks now and my over riding emotion is that of anger. F*** him for doing that to her! As I write, I try to not make her the victim.  


Time for a huggy… this happens every ten minutes or so in reality but I’ll just mention it this once so as not to get on your nerves, but my little boy is very affectionate and even more so at the moment. As I try and wriggle out of his arms he says “its only work mummy!”


After lunch, I have a few emails to respond to…very few. This is lockdown reality, most emails are from the Asda advising “how to freeze food” or TuneCore and SoundsOnline trying to get me to spend money on their latest plug in. This I find very annoying and quite crass at a time when musicians and composers are struggling financially, yet these companies are still trying to milk us. I’m really kicking myself for paying full price for a certain set of sounds from a certain company just before the Corona virus crisis started. I managed to buy two very similar sounding products when I could have just bought the one. The guy who does all my mastering told me I should never pay full price anyway … always wait for a sale he said …that’s very good advice which I’m now passing onto you!


An email pings in from a choir asking to commission me to write a new piece for them. What a  surprise. That’s cheered me up. I of course reply with a resounding yes!


In a way this forced isolation isn’t new to me. Being a composer is a totally solitary occupation and I have to write, it’s a natural function, like taking in breath. 80 percent of my output is self driven so I just keep going, business as usual.


It’s time for my daily exercise. Feel like I’m in a dystopic film writing those words. We are very lucky here, living by the sea. It’s early evening, as the sun is setting I jog off at a very leisurely 50 bpm down to the seafront and then back home for a glass of wine.

Lockdown Diaries - Verity White

A weekday… near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.


Alarm (meaning shouting, hungry cat) goes off at 7am and that’s our cue for the day.

We have two cats, Maoam and Ruskin; Maoam is the loudest most tenacious cat known to man; people may tell you to ignore your cat and it will stop. She will not. She has no off. Alex hauls himself out of bed as I truly cannot be arsed and goes to satisfy the unparalleled hunger of The Mowl. I roll about in the bed for a couple of hours pretending to sleep but really not being able to and eventually drag myself out of the covers at 9:30, remembering that I had an interview at 11 that day and shite what if they want to see my face `I better make it look human’ I say to myself dousing my hair in dry shampoo coz ain’t nobody got time for THAT. (They did not, which was a godsend as even after my attempts I still looked like a tired, lockdown lush.)


Potter downstairs, the cats BOTH ask for second breakfast, endless stomachs these two - but I love them so much! They do not succeed. Instead I make Al and I some coffee and we head to the studio to review the EP tracks (Ruskin assists) and work out if any more incidental parts need adding, popping a couple of tweaks on the list.


Time for my interview with the delightful Paul from Electric Music Mag, you can read there HERE if you’re so inclined?! Was a good hour of chatting industry stuff and answering some thoughtful questions, hope to chat to him again (hint ;)) … missed a call from the printers about the EP artwork so call them back and sort it out and then Alex and I head out for a walk. In lockdown we’re trying to do a half hour walk as a minimum daily, I’ve a busted foot so I can’t go for a run anymore which sucks, but tbh walking is still really nice and it clears your head. We’re lucky as we live in the Cotswolds and there are plenty of glorious places to wander about in on our doorstep. Only wish the pubs were open! On that note, we stop in at the local shop to pick up lunch ingredients, a solero (don’t judge me, it was warm!) and a bottle of vino (Sauvingnon Blanc if you please) the solero made me RIDICULOUSLY happy. Ice cream is my favourite food.


Whip up a quick lunch (poached egg, asparagus, hollandaise) and we have a break in the garden under the watchful eye of Ruskin - who is a With Cat - meaning he wants to be with you whenever you’re doing anything (including in the loo, pervert.) We’re very good and have only one glass of wine each as Al has mixing to do and I have a important and busy afternoon of not a lot… more wine eventually follows (lockdown is impacting my kidneys more than anything else!) and the afternoon fades into evening.. better feed the cats again!


Time for a call with label master ‘Unckie K’ and PR maven Shelly (WDFD Records and Rockstar PR) about the impending EP release… I may have had a number of glasses of wine by this point (lockdown lush!) We go over dates and strategies for the release, talk about a lead single and who and how we might be push it to radio, promoters and interviews. We have a good angle, luckily, as we actually used out fans to write the final track of the EP which gives it a bit of a USP (unique selling point) that we can focus on… when we get to this stage of a release I’m mainly just worried bout whether people will like it. Its like bearing your soul for review and its TERRIFYING! Still considering if we can somehow make a video to go with the release but it’s unlikely given the current situation, maybe a lyric video we think… hmmm…?!


Wind down time now, and it’s all about the routine as we head to dinner (which is chicken and chorizo stew with homemade tortilla bread) and episode of Taskmaster (BINGE this if you haven’t it is brilliant!!) then an hour or so playing computer games (Al’s on Unchartered 4 at the moment and I’m playing Mario Odyssey on my Switch :))

‚ÄčIt ain’t much, but I’m happy… and so to bed xx