Matthew Orr

How the pandemic has affected the local music industry – Kickin’ Lillies interview

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With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting a lot of the normal life that we are so used to, one of the industries that have gone under the radar is the local gig industry. With clubs, bars and restaurants ordered to close for over four months at the start of 2021, and with restrictions only now being eased gradually, many are wondering when they will next be able to see or perform at a live music concert.

With the current time frame for nightclubs being allowed to open being June 21st, it could be sometime yet before we are able to attend live gigs in a covid-friendly environment without having to follow strict social distancing guidelines.

Kickin’ Lillies formed in 2019, but they have been one of a number of bands whose plans for the future were hindered by the pandemic. In an exclusive interview, they opened up about life as a band before and during the pandemic and the obstacles they’ve had to overcome.

Credit to Kickin’ Lillies Facebook page

Going all the way back to their first gig in 2019, Ethan and James remember the feeling of going on stage for the first time and performing in front of a live audience:

“Well, I was quite nervous (Ethan), so we’d been planning the first gig for a while and we kept putting it off because we thought we weren’t ready but we eventually did it and it was at Legacy just next to Park Lane bus station in Sunderland. We were part of a music festival which we organised with one of our friends as part of a uni project and personally we thought it was a really good first gig and we were both very excited for it. We kind of got over the nerves as soon as we started performing so we thought it went well in the end”


Credit to Kickin’ Lillies Facebook page

Ethan and James also talked about their initial reaction to going into lockdown and how it changed their plans for the immediate future:

“It was all a bit surreal to be fair I think with regarding what was going on in our personal lives, we don’t think getting back on stage was the main thing and then it started to hit when he announced how long the lockdown would be that it could be sometime before we are able to perform a gig again so it interrupted our plans quite a lot.”

When asked what advice they would give to people looking to get into music, this was their response:

“Just go for it, nothing is ever going to be perfect and you’ve just got to get out there and give yourself a platform to build on and then you’ll take it from there otherwise you’ll be waiting your whole life and it’ll never happen. Even if the songs aren’t to the highest standard possible, don’t be afraid to put it out there otherwise fear will only hold you back from something that could end up being great. We always kept saying we weren’t ready because we didn’t have a goal to work towards but once you have a date for your first gig the preparation will really romp up and everybody will want to work hard because nobody wants to fuck up.”

What do the band have coming up after lockdown?

“We want to hit the ground running for definite, I don’t think we have any dates for gigs yet because it’s still quite early days but we want to be one of the first bands back out on stage for sure. In the meantime, we’ll keep releasing songs and anything new that we have to share will be on our social media platforms if and when it happens, so definitely stay tuned.”

Could Independent in Sunderland city centre be one of the venues that Kickin’ Lillies perform at later this year?

As well as speaking to Ethan and James, James’ Nina Elizabeth (James’ girlfriend) also spoke about the journey that James has been on and offers advice for those thinking of going into the industry.

“It’s really hard to pick just one memory but I think my favourite one or the one that sticks in my head is his first gig. Him and his friends at uni and some other bands out together a festival style gig at Sunderland venue ‘Legacy’. I had heard James sing before but never on stage and he was really nervous to get up and sing and I just remember when he started singing looking round and it was like everyone’s faces just dropped nobody had really heard him sing before and I don’t think anybody expected that sound to come out of his mouth.

At the time he was pretty shy and then there was just this big loud energetic sound coming out his mouth and it just blew everyone back. He dropped the mic stand and fumbled about loads and it was dead funny and he’s incorporated that into his gigs now he will always be fiddling with the mic wire and the stand and I think it’s cool how he’s kept that memory of his first gig and sort of kept that going throughout all his performances. I think the journey James and the rest of Kickin’ Lilies has been on is really inspiring.

I think everyone should inspire to keep their individuality even when it can be hard. As far as giving advice to somebody wanting to join a band, I’m not sure as I’m not musically inclined myself to do that. I guess what I would say is that there will be somebody out there who will love your sound and no step is too big or too bold. Try everything you can and grab every opportunity and if it doesn’t work out so what at least you can say you tried.”