Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist who draws upon elements of jazz, chamber-pop, indie-rock, and folk. She has collaborated with artists including Jacob Collier, Laura Mvula, Billy Childs, David Crosby, and many others.

How has the pandemic affected you professionally?

I put out a record on March 20th, which was right at the apex of when things were coming to a head on the east coast, especially in New York. Every show and every teaching gig and everything that I had lined up was cancelled, including a week and a half of press events in Japan, a month-long tour in Europe and two-and-a-half-week-long tour in the US. So much happened so fast.

One blessing is that streaming has been off the charts, and social media response has been very strong. I think people are home and just needing comfort, inspiration, music, and art right now. The record itself was born from taking difficult situations and holding them up to the light and letting them glisten and take a kaleidoscope effect. It's about taking something out of the darkness and allowing it to bloom.

I don't know if that spoke to people as much when the EP came out, but for whatever reason, it's been received very well during this time. It feels like people are really taking the time to sit down and listen to the album and read the lyrics vs records in the past. I've received very sincere words of gratitude.

People are more quiet and able to take things in. There is a void that art needs to fill more than ever right now.

“I feel like I've become my art. Something about the experience has merged me with what I have to do. It no longer feels like something I'm reaching for."

How has the pandemic affected you personally?

There's something about the this that's made me feel weirdly more at peace - I feel like I've become my art. Something about the experience has merged me with what I have to do. It no longer feels like something I'm reaching for.

Usually, during this time, I would be spending 3 hours sleeping, rushing to the airport, doing sound checks, and performing - it's all a part of a process of embodying the project, and everything you do is making it come to fruition. The dichotomy that I'd be on the road with that schedule is surreal.

Photo by Harald Krichel

Now I am home, in my PJ's, spending my days looking into the eyes of people who are writing music and dissecting their process, talking about the muse and our minds’ ability to sabotage art by critiquing. Then getting on social media and just being real. Sometimes I turn on Instagram live while I'm journaling, just because I'm feeling a little lonely...the output now feels very human and somehow deeply connected, even though it's all happening through a screen.

In the first week, there was this quietness, followed by a panic about how I was going to support myself, and then a two-fold anxiety for all the people who are in a worse situation than I am...I was overwhelmed by this feeling of helplessness for all these people, and felt this scramble to do something to help.

From that came a fascination with children's songs, to create something more soothing. If I could give a mom some respite for a moment, or calm someone's soul, it just felt right.

“...the output now feels very human and somehow deeply connected, even though it's all happening through a screen."

Photo By Shervin Lainez

How do you think it will impact the future of your industry?

People are saying, "when we go back to normal,” but when you think about other times in history when big things have happened, there are always parts that never go back to normal, like traveling after 911.

My management is having to think about other sources of revenue that do not involve performances, like getting artists’ music placed in TV and film, or streaming on paid platforms. I'm sure there will be all kinds of ways this will transform us as artists. I myself have been getting requests to do recordings for a children's program, and things I can do from home. I would never have had time for things like this in the past.

I could see myself not wanting to get sucked back into the way things were. I would like to be more selective about touring, and spend more time doing the things I was forced by the coronavirus to focus on...I want to make time for those creative projects.

Photo by Shervin Lainez

If you were to identify a silver lining, what would it be?

Something I've been thinking about a lot is touch...real human connection and presence in person, without a device, as well as appreciating more deeply the ability to communicate over the phone and video. You realize how precious all of those interactions are.

I could imagine the long-term appreciation and growth that will come from the quiet, and from our ability to take stock and reset, and to have the space to ask ourselves, what do I want to do when this is all over? Not what does your job want this to look like, or your management, or even your family...what do YOU want your life to look like?