Words by Della Vreeland Images supplied
‘Music is not respected.’ It’s a sentiment that is sadly shared amongst most musicians and has become more evident over the past 18 months with the advent of the COVID pandemic.
According to Bungaree-based musician Freya Josephine Hollick, it’s this disrespect for the arts that has caused so much suffering to those in Australia’s entertainment industry.
‘Athletes are respected as having a serious vocation, whereas music is not respected. It’s treated as a hobby. It’s unfortunate but that’s how the arts are treated. As soon as any (COVID-related) announcement is made, music is one of the first industries to be shut down and all gigs are either rescheduled or cancelled.’
Freya started performing when she was 15, but it wasn’t until about five years ago that she started touring professionally. In her 17 years in the industry, she says she’s never faced an obstacle as challenging as the current health pandemic, which has indeed proven itself as a financial and emotional rollercoaster.
As a single parent dealing with the demands of remote learning as well as working two casual jobs in order to make ends meet, the cosmic country musician says her entire livelihood has taken a significant hit.
‘I have lost in excess of $40,000 in work since the start of the pandemic – all from shows. So that’s not even including what we might’ve sold in merchandise,’ Freya says. ‘I also have a manager, booking agent and five musicians who rely on the shows for income.’
A recently-launched country-wide campaign #vaxthenation is urging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible in order that concerts and festivals can resume. Gathering musicians from across the country, the movement already has the support of artists the likes of Ocean Alley, Peking Duk, Courtney Barnett, Vance Joy, and The Amity Affliction.
But Freya says there are plenty of other ways music-lovers can show their direct support for the music industry. ‘On Spotify, there is this option for artists to activate so listeners can donate funds and none of the money goes to Spotify. Even if it’s $5, it’s a small gesture that could go a long way and I think it’s a really good tool for supporting musicians.
If you can find a way of getting money direct to the artist you admire, even through a direct Instagram message, that’s the best thing you can do.
In the past year, Freya says she performed numerous shows online, but soon found the excessive amount of time online, and performing solo, was much too draining to be sustainable.
Amidst it all, however, she still managed to release a new single titled Vivian, June, Dolly and Jolene. A hyper honest snapshot of the real world in both romance and country music, Freya says the work explores infidelity, jealousy and other ego-driven negatives. The single is taken from her upcoming album The Real World, which has unfortunately faced several delays due to the COVID restrictions.
“The thing I’ve found most difficult is that because the studio I record in is in Melbourne, my record has been delayed 18 months. With every subsequent lockdown we lose five days in the studio, so now (the album) is likely to come out much later.
“I have another record written that I can’t get started on because I can’t get to the studio, and I think watching venues, booking agents, managers, musicians and roadies all suffer through this whole thing has been quite devastating.
‘I think the government needs to take some steps to get us in the mode of COVID being a thing we are going to have to live with. Businesses need to get back to operating and musos need to get back to gigs. Festivals need to go ahead and venues need to open. We all want to be making records on the other side of this.’
As she strives to do her best to get through this ordeal – as is the case with all her comrades in the music industry – Freya says she is taking the time in lockdown to take it slow, detox, read, exercise, meditate and enjoy the small things.
‘I’ve hit a wall with technology and social media and I just want to detox from all that stuff,’ she says. ‘There’s no point going online these days. There’s so much hatred going around when we are really requiring the opposite at the moment. We should be supporting one another.
‘I’m lucky I’ve been able to be present and just enjoy the small gifts every day brings.’
To show your direct support for Freya Josephine Hollick, click here.
We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.