- 25 Apr 21
As part of our special feature on the impact of Covid-19 on the Irish music industry, Gavin Glass shares his experiences, and looks to the future...
How has the impact of Covid-19 affected you and your business?
Like all musicians, I was out of a gigging job, but I was also let go from Radio Nova. I’d just completed converting an old swimming pool into a recording studio in Wexford. We were only open three weeks before having to close our doors due to restrictions. We’ve had about seven weeks of being open in total since launching the studio in February 2020.
What is the worst aspect of it all for you?
My father’s health isn’t good and he has been in a nursing home for the past couple of years. I have only physically seen him once since the first restrictions back in March 2020. That’s a bitter pill to swallow.
Did you have to let staff go?
I did unfortunately.
People with high rent or with large borrowings have been worst hit. How have you been?
We just bought the house a few months before the first wave, and I had borrowed a fairly hefty sum on top of the mortgage to build the recording studio. Thankfully the investors have been amazing and offered a repayment holiday until we are back open. I’m very lucky. I don’t think the bank would have agreed to this had I borrowed from them.
Some people have been finding it hard to survive. Is that something you’ve encountered?
Yes, certainly. I lost a very close friend and musical brother through suicide recently and I know the pandemic played a large part in this. I have a lot of musician friends who support their families from live entertainment such as wedding bands, as piano bar tramps or solo pub cover gigs etc. These musicians have been the worst affected. There are no royalty cheques trickling through or album sales revenue. While the PUP is a lifeline for many at the moment, myself included, I know of a lot of people who for whatever reasons didn’t qualify or have mortgage or rent outgoings that the PUP simply can’t cover. Websites like DoneDeal and Adverts are flooded with really great musical equipment going for silly low prices. I think that’s sad.
Music is a people business – how has the loss of contact with staff, colleagues or with others in the business affected you?
I’m finding some days very hard to feel inspired and motivated! So much of the work I do as a producer is bouncing off people’s energy and emotions. It’s hard to see the white of someone’s eyes over a Zoom call.
Were you in a position to trying anything new or different?
Yes, working from home and having the studio attached to the house has been very convenient when working with artists across the water, who may be in different time zones. Technology has really advanced in the last year in terms of online recording collaboration. I had never really explored this until now.
Mental health has been a huge issue for a lot of people involved in music. How has your experience been in that regard?
I have good days and bad days like everybody I guess… There is so much work to be done on the house and the studio that I’m always tinkering at something, building a fence or painting something. I haven’t had a huge burst of creativity and the “song well” is a little dry at the moment, so I’ve been more focused on improving my DIY skills. In the daytime I’m at my best when my mind is occupied and I’ve something to work on. Evenings are a totally different ball game though.
How important is it to you, to get back to work?
I have no choice! It’s sink or swim. Obviously, I won’t be opening the studio again until it’s safe to do so, but we need to re-open and start climbing out of the debt sink-hole. The industry really needs more funding made available for artists for recording and releasing music like the recent Stimulus Package that was introduced last year – but maybe a review of how those funds are administered is in order.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
I’m a pretty optimistic person! Annoyingly so sometimes. So much great art is being created during these lockdowns. It will all have to be recorded and I know just the place!
• Gavin Glass is the founder of Orphan Studios, in Co. Wexford.
'Music Industry in Ireland: Where To Next?' is a special feature in the current issue of Hot Press, running to over 20 pages, featuring music industry professionals as well as artists including Moya Brennan, Jess Kav, Luka Bloom, Fia Moon, Kneecap, Gavin Glass, Mick Flannery, King Kong Company, Mary Coughlan, Rosie Carney and many more.