Social distancing leads to London musician's coronavirus-inspired EP

London singer/songwriter John Muirhead wrote, recorded and released the four-song EP "Stories From The Quarantine" while social distancing at home.

John Muirhead's new release features the single 'Quarantine and Chill'

John Muirhead's four-song EP, Stories From The Quarantine, was recorded and released while social distancing at home. (Submitted by John Muirhead)

Southwest Sounds is a weekly feature that profiles a southwestern Ontario artist and their new music. Listen for it Mondays on Afternoon Drive between 4:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on CBC Radio One.

These are financially uncertain times for independent musicians. Just ask John Muirhead, who's dealing with cancelled shows and an indefinite postponement at his retail sidejob, thanks to Covid-19.

But it hasn't been all bad for the London singer/songwriter. Staying home to flatten the curve is already proving to be a creative time for Muirhead. In just two days, he wrote and recorded a musical document of his quarantine experience.

Muirhead's four-track EP is called Stories From The Quarantine, featuring his wry, coronavirus-era folk anthem, 'Quarantine and Chill.'

Tell us a bit more about how 'Quarantine and Chill' came about?

I was feeling a little down about losing some really great gigs, due to the self isolation and the cancellation of venues. I wanted to cheer up a little bit, and I just sat down and I wrote the song in a matter of minutes. It was a quick little write right then, that evening. I recorded a video on my couch and it started to make the rounds around the internet.

The reaction has been pretty great. There's been a lot of people sharing it and relating to the idea and having a laugh as well. One thing I'm really proud of with this song is that it brought people's spirits up in a time where their spirits are kind of low.

How did that song inspire a whole EP?

Once I saw the reaction from 'Quarantine and Chill' and people sharing it and relating to it, this idea popped into my head to make an EP. I have all this time on my hands since I can no longer book shows. So I set up a little studio in my bedroom and wrote some songs and recorded some older ones as well. I've also been working on a full-length album and really taking my time with that, but it was nice to record this EP and make decisions really quickly and finish it in two days.

Half of the proceeds of this project are gonna be for me to make up for some of the lost revenue, but I acknowledge there are other artists in situations that are a lot worse than mine. So, I'll be donating half of the funds to the Unison Benevolent Fund. They're a Canadian organization that helps artists in crisis situations with counselling and financial assistance.

To have this creative outlet while I self-isolate has been really amazing. It's been nice to have something productive to work on while I'm at home because it's easy to go a little stir-crazy. Being able to get this out and to spread the word while the quarantine is still happening, and to relate to people while they're experiencing the isolation is something that's been really nice.

This interview has been edited and condensed.


About the Author

Chris dela Torre

Host of Afternoon Drive

Chris dela Torre is the host of Afternoon Drive on CBC Radio One in Southwestern Ontario. He's worked as a host, reporter and producer in several cities across Canada, and has hosted several CBC network programs, such as q, DNTO and The Story From Here.