A Day in the Life: Social Distancing with Valerie Orth

Photo courtesy of Liz Maney

My mom picked me up in Brooklyn the day before NYC shut down in March. We drove to Maine, where half my family resides, to quarantine together with her dogs, and to keep each other company.

Like everyone else’s, my life screeched to a halt. And I felt very far from New York. I called my friends every day to check in. I wrote my fans every week via my newsletter to see if I could be of any use during what felt like a helpless time. I asked them which of their favorite songs would be most comforting to hear in this time of distress. My fans started sending #covidcover requests and I started producing them - very slowly, very intentionally.

It feels really different producing music when it’s as if you’re in a time warp, a bunker; isolated, anxious and scared. When every time you venture to the grocery store, it’s as if you’re in a warzone. And I think my ‘pandemic productions’ reflected what a lot of us were feeling. So far I’ve produced and released two mashups, based on the #covidcover requests I received:

THIS MESS WE’RE IN, a PJ Harvey/Portishead/ Massive Attack mashup
WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER, a Nine Inch Nails mashup

I have a few more mashups in the works, to release in the coming months. But making music wasn’t my primary focus back in the spring. I was making sure my friends and family were safe, and I was desperate to keep my city alive. I ran a crowdfund campaign to buy and ship PPE for healthcare workers in New York and New Jersey. Together with my older sister, we raised over $5,000 that supplied over 2,000 KN95 respirators and surgical masks to the frontline workers. As much tragedy as the pandemic has brought, it was beautiful to see a community of caring souls join forces to save lives.

In the meantime, I found that reading the news and social media was wearing down any semblance of mental health I had left. So I turned to fictional and amazing TV shows every night. I binged like never before! Ozark. Mr. Robot. Watchmen. Fargo. Good Girls...

During the day, I was building this awesome music studio I’m writing from now: Lost Sox Maine. I found it calming to design and build a room of my own, not to mention empowering and wonderfully distracting. And I’ve been teaching myself to mix and master my music. My first attempts were my #CovidCover mashups, which I’m really proud of.

It’s been a frightening time. But I’m finding hope again, and in good company. I’m proud to fervently support the Black Lives Matter movement, to continue the Notorious RBG’s legacy by fighting to eradicate racism and gender discrimination, and to teach youth (with Beats By Girlz and Song Camp) to use their voices fiercely and unapologetically through song. And in October, I’ll be releasing the first singles off my upcoming album, Rabbit Hole. The lead single will be released with a virtual concert and get-out-the-vote letter writing party on October 9. These songs are meant to inspire and encourage everyone to defend and improve our democracy by taking action.

While practicing social distancing, join me in fighting the good fight — in song and in the streets:
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