Article written by: Emily Schwarz
Interviews conducted by: Emily Schwarz (Ron Gallo) and Kirsten Abraham (Becca Mancari).
The idea of live music returning, and thus, tour announcements starting to trickle in has been both exciting and nerve-wracking, especially from the perspective of artists. We sat down with both Ron Gallo and Becca Mancari to discuss their upcoming US tour, as well as how Covid has impacted their views of music, the industry, and life itself.
This past year has brought ups and downs for us all, but the music community, especially artists, were hit the hardest. When talking about the past year being an artist, Ron Gallo told me that at first, it felt like a “naive sense of optimism” but as more time passed, it turned into something that seemed much more permanent. This sense of permanence is what Ron described to strengthen the knowledge of the relationship between artists and music lovers, because “without that tangible human connection, it kind of almost feels meaningless.”
What is most interesting is the lengths to which the past year in solitude, without any tangible feedback from fans, has shaped the musical processes of so many artists. When Kirsten asked Becca about how the past year has changed her process of writing music, she said that the past year had:
“Definitely leveled me up to like facing some things that I didn’t face before the pandemic, and I think even writing this last record I was kinda able to go pretty personal, but I think through um spending so much time like not touring the record and so much time working on actual therapy, and you know, honestly facing myself really did– I’m sorry will transform my writing in a different way. I think it’s kind of grown-up a little bit if I’m being honest through this pandemic.”
When Ron was asked the same question, he answered:
“It’s kind of an experiment to me in trying out things that I love and different kinds of music that I like, and my take on those things that I have never explored before. But in terms of the pandemic’s influence, I mean, a lot of it’s very insular and isolated. Topic-wise, I guess. It’s kind of a recurring theme for me. And I guess musically, you know, it’s kind of something by design that you would put on in your house. And it could either be foreground or background music, but I feel like I normally make foreground music. It’s kind of traditionally been in your face. And there’s sort of an intensity to it. But I wanted to just try the exact opposite with this, because honestly, I wasn’t really thinking about life at all, I didn’t have to, which is kind of nice.”
It was interesting to hear that not just the writing processes of both these artists changed due to the strangeness of the past year, but as well as their take on the industry itself. Ron has always been acclaimed to be very opinionated and introspective on the music industry, so when asked about how the Covid-19 Pandemic has changed more of the behind-the-scenes aspects of artistry, he responded:
“I think the pandemic has lifted the veil on the music industry. Because what happened, at least for me, personally, it was that the ground was ripped out, and everyone’s kind of stuck inside. And you realize that without going out and killing yourself touring, musicians don’t really stand on any kind of solid ground. And for me, that was kind of like a big wake-up call, in terms of just how artists and the music itself as an actual thing is so devalued at this point. While I mean, all this stuff’s really obvious, but just while Spotify makes trillions and trillions of dollars and labels profit in the music industry, it finally proved very clearly that the music industry is a trickle-up business where the artists, which are the blood of the whole thing are really at the bottom. And it just feeds all of these, you know, overlords while we’re the ones that end up being basically stressed or worried about the future survival pretty consistently unless you’re at a certain point. And I guess that’s just kind of how it’s always been. So, I think the pandemic kind of made it so we didn’t have to ignore it anymore. And we could face it. And what that did for me is it changed my whole relationship with the music industry, in terms of not looking at myself as lucky to be here, or, you know, lucky to be working with the people that I work with, but kind of more the opposite, because you have to value yourself. We should value ourselves more than we do.”
Becca elaborated on this concept as well in their interview, when speaking about a new venue that she was excited to play in Brooklyn called Brooklyn Made.
“It’s just a really interesting concept and I hope it’s something a lot of other venues adopt, which is the idea that it’s a venue created by an artist for artists and… they just have this care for the artists that are coming in and touring and I think that’s a huge thing that needs to change in America for artists. We aren’t valued like we should be and I’m really hoping that changes with the pandemic; we’ll see what happens. I do know that a lot of small venues have gone away which is so sad, but what I hope, if there is any sort of silver lining, is that there will be queer folk and different people actually making new venues and that would be amazing and much needed.”
The importance of valuing artists is something at the forefront of the issue with the resurgence of live performances, hand in hand with the issue of safety for everyone involved. It will be interesting to see how this correlates with all of their upcoming tours, as Becca and Ron begin their dual tour together in early September, and afterwards, Ron will be touring with Chicago band Post Animal in the late fall.
Both artists have released an album over the pandemic, Becca Mancari’s being the hauntingly emotional but equally as danceable The Greatest Part released early into the pandemic, and Ron Gallo released PEACEMEAL, which he earlier described as “background music,” which is a perfect boiled down explanation of his take on dreamy sounding upbeat synth-rock.
The change in both of these artists’ musical styles and processes has definitely changed the way that each of them view performing itself, which will be very exciting to see in their upcoming tours this fall. Ron and Becca will stop in Chicago on October 7th, at Subterranean.