SU musicians and their answers to the coronavirus

SU musicians and their answers to the coronavirus.

Artists and groups from the university share their thoughts on the state of the industry during the lockdown.
Published: April 22, 2020
Sarah Gross and her band (From Left to Right) Nick Peta, Gillian Pelkonen, Sarah Gross, Lauren Goodyear, Mitchell Taylor
Sarah Gross and her band (From Left to Right) Nick Peta, Gillian Pelkonen, Sarah Gross, Lauren Goodyear, Mitchell Taylor

As the coronavirus continues to keep the world on lockdown, professional and local musicians have been canceling and postponing their tour dates. This development is no stranger to SU’s student musicians, who are currently looking for ways to advance and promote their music through online platforms.

Residing at her family home in Long Island, Sarah Gross is not letting the pandemic get between her and her music.

“My friends and I, kind of back and forth, have been sending each other videos and collaborating with each other and just trying to make music in that way,” Gross says.

A sophomore recording student, Gross has built a loyal following with her brand of soulful, acoustic pop music. She has done this with notable tracks such as the infectious “I’ll Remember You” and the haunting “Villas of Rome.” While under quarantine, Gross has continued to produce content through the Acapella app, which allows musicians to share, synchronize, and collaborate on songs.

With her planned spring break tour postponed indefinitely, Gross stated the importance of collaboration between musicians at this time.

“We can totally figure this out,” Gross says. “It’s amazing what we can do with the internet… I would like to see more collaboration… I think that for me, personally, my attention is grabbed more when people are working together rather than just being by yourself.”

In addition, Gross shared her thoughts on the state of the music industry and how the pandemic will affect artists financially,

“I think this is going to take a huge hit,” Gross says. “Especially with streaming now, money is not coming from music sales, money is coming from touring, which means that most of the industry is built off those tour sales and I think that it’s going to be really hard to come back from that.”

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Sarah Gross and her band perform at the famous Funk n' Waffles venue in downtown Syracuse.

Another member of SU’s music scene, Benji Wittman, is feeling the sting of the pandemic while quarantined at his home in Syracuse. Currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Music Industry and a Master’s in Business Administration, Wittman is also the drummer for underground alternative punk band Madam Ravine. The group had been regularly visiting the studio to record material, releasing a slew of EP’s, including the recent “2 Drunk for Advancing.” However, with the lockdown stretching well into next semester, Wittman is uncertain of the band’s future.

“Originally, we were planning on being in the studio and doing another EP,” Wittman says. “Now, we’re kind of in a spot.”

Wittman stated that the best way to support musicians during this time was through streaming and other online platforms,

“If you got a group or two that you’re super into, give a few extra plays on Spotify, check out their social medias and check in to see what they’re doing,” Wittman says.

As perhaps the most in-demand bass player on the SU music scene, Mitchell Taylor welcomes the chance to take a break from the countless projects that dominated his schedule this semester. Currently residing in the rural area of Franklin, Massachusetts, Taylor has found time to improve on his bass playing while taking hikes in the various trails around his home,

“Now that I’m home, I’ve really been able to spend a lot of time doing what I want to do,” Taylor says.

Primarily known as Sarah Gross’s bassist as well as for his session work, Taylor is hoping to earn an internship at Syracuse’s Subcat Studios. Yet, with the lockdown pressing on, those plans may change.

“Ideally, if everything works out, the best-case scenario is that I live in Syracuse and I’m working a full-time job and I’m doing the internship,” Taylor says.

Taylor shares Wittman’s opinions on supporting musicians during the pandemic, adding that people with sources of income should buy music online and help those who do not have a steady income stream.

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Sarah Gross opens for Clark Beckham at the Westcott Theater.