• Martin Rybak

Real Talk With...

IRK Magazine talked with 11 creatives (from music to fashion) about how isolation and loneliness affect their life and their work, how they had to innovate their way of working during the lockdown and about the importance of self-care in times of crisis. No filter, honest real talk only!


article written with by @martinmanuelry & illustration made with by @sandroryry


Lauv


The American singer, songwriter, and record producer Lauv already wrote songs for artists such as Charli XCX and Celine Dion. His debut album ~how i'm feeling~ was released in 2020. The record deals with topics that are more relevant than ever such as loneliness. In an exclusive interview, the singer revealed how loneliness and isolation affects him and his work and how he manages to stay sane in such difficult times.

(Photo: Lauren Dunn)


How are you spending the current lockdown and what are the challenges you are facing at the moment as a musician?


I am actually trying to focus as much as I can on making new music which has been really productive and I am having a lot of fun doing that. I am trying not to focus on the obvious negatives of isolation. I am talking a lot more with my family since the lockdown which is amazing, working on my foundation (www.blueboyfoundation.org) which I am proud of, and finally something that is really helping me right now is consistently meditating and focusing on a positive mindset.


Several of your songs are dealing with loneliness (Modern Loneliness, fuck, I'm lonely, lonely eyes...). What are the moments you feel the most lonely in your life and how are you facing them? 

I feel super lonely when I’m having fun with people and then I am totally alone again that always messes me up. Every time I am in a low mood or when I am feeling sad I am ending up feeling lonely. I think anytime I don’t really have a lot of stuff to do I am feeling lonely. I don’t know if that is good but that is just the reality.


If you could choose 3 other musicians to spend the lockdown with, who would it be and why?


I would say Kevin Abstract because he is super interesting and talented. Troye Sivan who is also incredibly talented, super sweet, and a good person and a good friend. I would also say Drake so I could learn how to be that fucking great.


What are the activities you are pursuing to keep you sane and happy during the current lockdown?

Creating a lot of new music. Also with some friends, we took a little trip together. We got an Airbnb in Joshua Tree which was a nice little escape with a pool in which we swam a lot. Also meditating, which is really helping me, watching shows, doing research on the things that are interesting to me, and talking to the people that I care about.


Dorian Electra


"One thing I realized that I’m trying to combat is how dependent I feel on others often to complete my art." The singer, songwriter, video artist and pop sensation Dorian Electra about self-reflection, adapting creative work during times of crisis and performing via zoom.

How would you describe yourself as an artist and what is the quintessence of you and your music?

I make experimental pop music. I love pop music because at its core it’s accessible to anybody, fun, uplifting, but I also have fun experimenting with it, pushing the boundaries and challenging it musically, conceptually, and aesthetically. 


How did you spend the lockdown and how did isolation influence your creativity and your work as an artist in a good and a bad way? Is temporarily being alone helpful for you to find new ideas and inspiration? 


I’ve come to really appreciate this time that I have to try to be creative in new ways, listen to more music, talk to more people online and challenge myself in new ways creatively and personally. It’s definitely hard but I’m trying to stay positive and make the most of this bizarre and unique time.


Did you enjoy performing online via live stream or do you belong on a real stage? Do you feel like you can better live out the visual and aesthetical aspect of your performance (such as dressing up and playing different characters) on a real stage than via live stream?


I love real stages and being physically with people and feeling the electric energy of a room. but honestly, I have really loved doing virtual DJ sets like over Zoom where you still get to see people’s faces  “in the audience” - I especially love it when people dress up in cute looks, it makes me feel like I’m really at the club. 


Did you reflect a lot on yourself during the isolation? What aspects of your personality and you as an artist do you appreciate and is there anything you would like to change in terms of behavior or way of thinking after the quarantine?


I’ve definitely reflected a lot on myself and one thing I realized that I’m trying to combat is how dependent I feel on others often to complete my art. I feel super independent in many many ways too, but sometimes that feeling of - I can’t go to the next step in this project until I get x, y, z from this person or that person can make me feel a little helpless sometimes. That’s also part of the process of collaboration of course, but I’ve also been learning to do more things on my own and that also feels great.


Sofi Tukker


"This lockdown has felt like a lot of things." The genre-defying electro-pop duo SOFI TUKKER who already performed their Grammy-nominated songs about empowerment at shows such as The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon and X-Factor about how they spend their lockdown, disconnecting and creativity. Their new single "House Arrest" feat. Gorgon City with the ironically perfect title for an isolation is out now.

(Photo: Squid)


Did this lockdown feel like a house arrest for you or more like taking a break?


This lockdown has felt like a lot of things. It goes in waves but we are definitely very privileged to be taking advantage of this time while we continue to grow and create, just without the travel. It totally is a break from jet lag. The part that feels like house arrest is not being able to hug or be with all our families and friends. 


How important is taking a break and disconnect (from life and social media) for you and for finding new inspiration? 


We are both really different in this regard. I (Sophie) am more of an introspective introvert. I get a lot of energy from being alone and I need silence and time away from my phone to feel my best. Last year, I took ten days to do a silent meditation retreat and the best part of it was probably being away from the noise of my phone. But Tuck loves being surrounded by people all the time. We get inspiration from everywhere but a lot of it has to do with our travel and our interactions with people around the world.


If you could choose three other music artists to spend the lockdown with, who would it be and why? 


LP Giobbi. she's our best friend and we miss her so much. She's a joy.  Stromae. It would be amazing to learn from him and be around such a legend.  Bomba Estereo. They're good friends of ours too and we just vibe so well together, musically and personally we share a lot of the same values. Nora en Pure. Also a good friend, and we're such huge fans of her music.  Also Mahmut Orhan.... gosh, we could keep going. We want to be on lockdown with so many artists! 


What three songs were on your playlist during the lockdown? 


https://open.spotify.com/playlist/42Ibdztm7kPGXI1iFT9VhE?si=mnnowOhaRuaqnLPgQxhkzw



Yael Naim


"The fact that everything collapse awake some survival instinct that makes me want to find solutions and stay creative". The Israeli-French singer-songwriter (who became an overnight sensation after her hit single "New Soul" was used in an advertising by Apple) about the importance of finding solutions in difficult times.

What changed for you in your everyday life and for you as an artist since the quarantine? What challenges are you facing because of it right now?


What changed for me as an artist was the fact that I had to do an album release from home, doing live stream and promotion from home, also the fact that everything collapses awake some survival instinct that makes me want to find a solution and stay creative. The challenges I'm facing now are how to work in a creative way with the new constraints, becoming even more autonome and free then I already was. Today as an artist we can produce our music and I love expressing myself in creating images, video, painting, photo, and create something complete.

I also take the direction of collaborating with other artists from other disciplines in a more free and experimental way and share our knowledge and creativity with each other independently of any commercial goal. I believe true connections create limitless possibilities and that everything should be born from this.


For you, what are some of the positive aspects of this current lockdown? 


The positive aspects are the fact that when things collapse, we must awake to find solutions and it brings us back to something essential, altho I can sometimes feel anxious, I also feel more alive. I also enjoy stop running all over every day, luckily I can create from home so not moving allows me to be with my kids more while creating the rest of the time.


If you could fill all billboards in Paris with one slogan right now, what slogan would you choose? 


If you judge people you don't have time left to love them. (I wish I would act more this way, to be honest)


Petite Meller


"This made us cleaner and clearer from unnecessary things and ready for a new fresh us, a more precise us." Singer-songwriter Petite Meller about the importance to connect with nature in times of crisis.

(Photo: @EliotLeeHazel)


Can you tell us how to be inspired during a time of crisis such as a lockdown? What are some of the things in which you found inspiration during the lockdown? 


Pick flowers even if it’s from your neighbor’s garden, print philosophy books and read.

I printed 2 books: one was Zizek’s “Panic!” Another was Erich Fromm’s “The art of loving”. They both gave me ideas for new songs, about how life is short but we are high forever.


What does the perfect place to isolate yourself looks like for you? Where would you feel comfortable to spend time on your own?


A library. I always wanted to sleep in libraries between books and to wake up with their dust over my face. And in the night to take out a book from the shelf and I imagine I discover a new world behind that shelf like a secret wonderland. The library is a place where I’m most inspired and can spend all my days in. I’ll sleep between the aisle of philosophy and psychology and sometimes near the classical music one and biology. I’ve been in 18th-century oxford and UCLA libraries but the best one I was The Rolex Learning Center at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland by my favorite Japanese architect Sanaa.


How does this isolation change you as a person and as an artist? How will it change society in your opinion? (in a good and bad way)


I think isolation made us Appreciate the beauty of nature again. Now you are actually moved by seeing mountains, flower blossoms or waterfalls. Nature is greatness, its power shows us how fragile we are and that something transcendental, bigger then what our mind can grasp, exists. This made us cleaner and clearer from unnecessary things and ready for a new fresh us, a more precise us.


Jonathan Hayden


"I learned to be on my own." Paris based model Jonathan Hayden who is signed by agencies such as Elite about how the lockdown made him realize the importance of self-care and about his new found passion for cinema.


What changed for you during the lockdown in a good and in a bad way?


I’ve been able to improve my cooking skills - I kind of had to - and I created a real daily routine.  At first, it was not easy to be alone but I got used to it.  The hardest part was being away from my family and my closed ones.


How important is disconnecting for you? (in terms of taking a break from your busy everyday life but also in terms of disconnecting from social media and taking time for yourself)


I learned to be on my own, and I have started to listen to myself more. Generally, I always put other’s needs before mine. So it’s been a good opportunity to recharge my batteries.


If you were forced to wear a t-shirt with a slogan on it for the first day after the lockdown, what would be the slogan?


Be strong


What are the three things that inspired you during the lockdown?


I really discovered a passion for cinema. I spent my time to enrich my cinematographic culture. I discovered or re-discovered iconic movies. Two of the most inspiring ones were The Grand Budapest Hotel of Wes Anderson and Psycho of Alfred Hitchcock. I now plan to take acting lessons, I’d loved to orient myself towards cinema in addition to modeling.


Lucien Pagès


"The fact that we can not meet in real creates a new solidarity. We give more time to people, we can go deeper, it’s a kind of luxury." Lucien Pagès who was named one of the 500 most influential people shaping the fashion industry right now, founder of the namesake PR-agency representing brands such as Jacquemus and Paco Rabanne about how social distancing changes the industry and forces all of us to come up with new ideas.

(Photo: Ezra Petronio) 


Where and how are you spending the current lockdown? Does it affect your everyday life and the industry you are working in? 


I spent the lockdown in my apartment in Paris. It gives me much more work actually, lots of new issues to solve, and lots of zoom conferences. 


What are the negative effects that this lockdown had for PR until now? Did it have any positive effects too? 


The negative effects are that we can meet people and our job is based on the connection, on the other hand, the fact that we can not meet in real creates a new solidarity. We give more time to people, we can go deeper, it’s a kind of luxury. 


Do you think that this time of crisis forces people working in the creative industry to come up with new solutions and rethink their way of working? Can crisis actually be helpful to make people and whole industries become even more creative and evolve? 


We have to be creative and collective. To face this global crisis the only answer will be collective. I do not believe everything will change but little groups can make things change in a better direction. Crisis can be an amazing opportunity as well for creative people as we need ideas! 


Your agency is the link between some of the most famous fashion brands and people who communicate about the brands such as magazines etc. In this time of crisis, what are the biggest challenges for such an agency but also for the fashion brands in terms of communication? 


There were a few different challenges:

Survive and protect the company and the staff.

How to communicate and help our clients to communicate during a crisis, it is not crisis management but management during a global crisis.

How to be relevant during that sensitive time? 

Working on charities and helping with your own skills.


If you were forced to spend the lockdown with 3 famous people from the fashion industry, who would it be and why?


Donatella Versace, I am sure it would be amazing and extremely funny and intense. 

Steven Meisel to take picture of Donatella and me all day long. 

Suzy Menkes to oblige her to write her memories and read a part of her book every day like in Stephen King’s Misery 


Petros Aronis


"Admittedly, the arts are deemed the least essential of industries, however, during difficult times we all turn to art for salvation." The visual artist specializing in photography, filmmaking, and painting about the importance of art in times of crisis.

What effect has the current lockdown on your everyday life and on your creative work? 


I’ve already been in lockdown for over a month now so this is a hard question to answer. I’ve almost forgotten how life was before. It’s funny how easily we get used to things.

I moved to London a few months ago, so I was excited to explore the creative scene here. Now everything is shut down. I had so many exciting projects in the pipeline. A music video, fashion editorials, and even a short film about transphobia; all of which have been postponed indefinitely. No doubt this standstill can feel quite hopeless, but I am taking this time as an opportunity to review these projects and see how I can develop them further.

At the same time, the lockdown allowed me to be more resourceful in my work. Instead of coming up with a project and looking for the right models, I am photographing my flatmates and adjusting the projects to them, which turned out to be a fun exercise. The lockdown allowed me to experiment with self-portraits or still lives with items found around the house, and all the free time, finally, made me edit those pictures from back in 2018 that I’ve always been avoiding.


In general, what importance has isolation for you and your work as an artist? Is there also something positive in loneliness for you (at least if it is temporary)  and does it help you in finding inspiration?  


My work is personal to a great extent so I am always creating in isolation. It’s important for me to sit alone and reflect on what issues I’m dealing with at different moments. Then taking these issues and translating (more like concealing) them into something meaningful. I’m a bit guarded as a person so this process is quite healing for me.


Imagine you are only allowed to leave your home if you are wearing a t-shirt with a slogan on it, what would the slogan be today? 

I’m too poor for haute couture.


Overall, do you think this lockdown made you a more creative person, a less creative person or has it no effect on your creativity until now? 


I am not sure if the situation is going to leave me more or less creative, but it made me more grounded and compassionate. Knowing how many people have it so much worse than myself during the lockdown leaves no space for self-pity. Admittedly, the arts are deemed the least essential of industries, however, during difficult times we all turn to art for salvation. I’m definitely excited to see what creative ways will rise for sharing art during the “distancing” era.


www.petrosaronis.com


AWS (AFTER WORK STUDIO)


The fashion label by designer Karin Wüthrich and graphic designer Matthias Fürst is presenting clothing without all the pressure of gender-norms and fashion seasons. The creative duo told us how the lockdown influenced their brand and their way of working.

(Photo: Erol Gemma)


As designers, what were the most significant changes for you during the lockdown?


One very obvious change was the interruption of the plans we had for 2020. The lockdown came shortly after Paris Fashion Week and we were already planning the production and thinking about next season.


Do you feel like the lockdown also had positive aspects? Did it inspire you for example to be disconnected from everything for a while? 


The lockdown and especially all its aspects in terms of globalization, production, and consumption gave space for new ideas. We got also time and air to take a deep breath. 


If you could fill a billboard in the middle of Paris with whatever message and photo you want so that everyone will see it on the first day after the lockdown, what would your billboard look like?


-------------------------------------------------

I I

I              Remain human. I    

I I

-------------------------------------------------

I         I  

www.after-work-studio.com


Augustin Bougro


"I felt like the lockdown was the perfect moment to do nothing for once and the take care of your mental well-being." The young french fashion journalist who writes for several of the most important international fashion magazines is a real Parisian cliché but for once he took a break from his Parisian life to slow things down a bit.

How does the current lockdown affect your work and your everyday life? Where and how are you spending it?


From a professional point of view, my life was not affected a lot. As a journalist, I am used to working from home sometimes and during the lockdown, it became a habit. Thanks to working from home, I could stay at home and still work for the whole week. From a personal point of view, the lockdown was, like for everyone, a challenge as I was locked at home. I spend the lockdown with my Family in Brittany. I enjoyed taking a break from the busy life that I am used to in Paris and to slow things down a bit.


What are the biggest challenges you are facing as a fashion journalist during this lockdown?


One of the major challenges was the communication between my colleagues and me. Thanks to social media and other electronic ways of communication, we managed to stay in touch but of course, it was more challenging than when being in the office where I could just ask a question to my colleagues directly. This lockdown meant also to innovate and to adapt your way of working and to be more efficient overall.


What are the things that keep you inspired during this time?


I am using Instagram a lot in general but I was using it even more during the lockdown. I think it is a great source of inspiration, especially during such a lockdown. I also read a lot of books and watched series on Netflix. It seems not very original but I don’t think we should be forced to feel the need to be super original all the time. I read a lot of articles about the pressure that isolation can have on us. I think it is important to remember not to be stressed all the time just because you are not as productive as usual. I felt like the lockdown was the perfect moment to do nothing for once and to take care of your mental well-being. Overall the isolation was a real challenge of self-development to me.


What are 3 Instagram accounts that you would recommend us to follow to find inspiration during the current lockdown?


@vintagefashion: I am a huge fan of vintage stuff, fashion, and pop culture. This account reunites all those things. It is a great account to find inspiration.


@joannepalemaro: I found her thanks to a Youtube video from Vogue Paris. She has Italian roots and I really love the atmosphere and mood of her feed. It feels like I am traveling to Italy whenever I visit her account. Her account in 3 words: sunny, sexy, and very Italian. Joanne is a girl you should follow whenever you are in need of holidays and the sun.


@ameliepichard: Amélie Pichard is a bit a Parisian chliché of the 11th arrondissement. She is also the founder of her own brand which is really a cool one. She is very active on Instagram and she allows us to discover the authentic side of Paris. It is a very inspiring and strong woman who is very well known in the Parisian fashion scene.


What are the first 3 things you would like to do after the lockdown is over?


I just want to have a normal life again. I am happy to be able to see my friends again, have a coffee, and be able to walk in the streets of Paris again.


Pierre-Antoine Gillouin


The Parisian street photographer takes photos on film in the streets of Paris. The results are photos that are capturing brief moments of the people living in Paris. It is up to the viewer to imagine the whole story behind each photo. The photographer talked with us about the challenges of isolation, not being able to shoot for three months and the feeling of being able to fill a whole film with photos again after the lockdown.

As a photographer, what changed for you during isolation and which challenges were you facing?

As a street photographer, the lockdown was rather challenging. In the beginning, I thought I would take photos in the empty streets of Paris with people wearing their masks. I imagined myself finding the most eyecatching protections against the virus people were wearing and to capturing them on film. Quickly I realized that it would not be the case. The empty streets were not interesting to me so I let other photographers capture the apocalyptic atmosphere of Paris during the lockdown. The people in the waiting lines (such as in front of the supermarkets) seemed tired, annoyed, and even aggressive because of the situation so I didn’t even wanted to take photos of them. I like to take photos of people but when they suffer like they did during the lockdown, I restrain myself from taking photos. As everyone outside seemed unhappy during the lockdown, I didn’t take photos during three months.


What was the experience to be able to shoot on film outside again for the first time after the lockdown?


The people seemed unhappy during the lockdown whereas after the lockdown I found the streets full of people who were happy again. I found familiar faces again that I hadn't seen for a long time. It was a real pleasure to stray around gardens and streets again to take photos. People seemed a lot more relaxed and I managed to take photos more easily.


What are your favorite places in Paris to take photos and why?


It is always the same places I like to visit for my photography, it is kind of a ritual to go to these places each time. When I spend the day taking photos, I go to the same places over and over again. Like a mushroom hunter, I know where to find what I am looking for, any other photos on the way are a bonus. I feel unconditional love for places like the Jardins des Tuileries and de Luxembourg where I have big spaces that help me take photos from every angle I want. These are also places with hidden paths so you never know what to expect, which adds to the excitement of taking photos at those places. I also like to take photos at Montmartre for the same reasons as mentioned before. Also, it is a hotspot for artists with whom I like to interact. All those places are away from the busy city center. No cars, no busses, no electric scooters, just normal people who are looking for a break from their busy lives, even if it is just for a moment. That is the moment that I take them on photo.



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