Now that we’ve passed the six-week mark of lockdown living, it’s become hard not to dwell on what feels like such a significant loss of time. By this point, we’ve all more or less settled into our new ways of living. But with every ‘what could’ve been’ opportunity we hypothetically approach and reluctantly let go of, that all too well known cloud of melancholy seems to reform once more.
Of course, we can’t all succumb to constant doom and gloom. Though it faces a rocky road of hardships ahead, it’s safe to say that the creative community we’re a part of has become one of the driving forces of optimism for us all. Uniting to keep our scene alive and kicking, we’ve formed adapted ways to uphold the music we love – and when we finally find ourselves together amidst the welcome warmth of a packed out pub, this new found solidarity will become a collective consolation for the times we feel to have lost.
But for now, we’re rolling into another day with another brand spanking new Isolation Selection; this time a tasty range of eclectic tunes picked by local promoters The Bottle.
Since their inaugural event back in November, The Bottle (curated by Ben and Tom of The Milkshake Boys) have become a bit of a powerhouse on Bristol’s live scene. Whether it’s hosting sell-out gigs at Crofters Rights or throwing after parties into the early hours, this duo have proved they know a thing or two about a proper night out, and all the good music needed to make it a memorable one.
It would’ve been impossible for anyone in the music industry to successfully shelter from the shitstorm that is coronavirus, but it’s the independent artists and promoters that are amongst those least equipped. But The Bottle haven’t let that stop them from doing what they do best. Making the most of a bad situation, last month The Bottle launched their Frontline EP series, compilations released in support of frontline workers to raise money for the NHS. With the Frontline EP 01 (featuring unreleased tracks from Talk Show, Damefrisor, The Shuks, Lynks Afrikka, Gum Soul and Milo’s Planes) quickly raising hundreds of pounds, The Bottle returned last week with the second EP in the series, compiling tunes from BDRMM, Folly Group, Football FC, Home Counties, Italia 90 and Sapphire Blues.
These really are unprecedented times, how are you, how are you all feeling in all this?
Ben – Hey Wax! We’re doing alright at the moment – fortunate enough to be healthy and living with our best mates so shouldn’t complain. It’s obviously a very concerning time, but you’ve got to stay positive, and I’d say we’re being fairly successful at finding alternative sources of stimulation from within the confines of our house.
Tom- We’re very lucky in the fact that we live with two other very close friends so have been able to entertain ourselves in the lockdown quite easily. I think it would be a different story if our situations are different. It has definitely made us feel grateful for the little things in life, even if its the privilege enough of having a garden we can spend time in.
Can you quite comprehend the impact this is having on the music industry?
T: I think it will be interesting to see how the music industry bounces back from this. Running music venues involves such fine margins and without regular punters coming through the doors – along with the slow support response from government – I think there will a lot of uncertain futures for lots of people. Hopefully the appetite for live and club music during this period has grown stronger, and when it’s safe to do so people will be hungrier than ever.
I know at this stage it’s perhaps not the most important of things to consider, but do you think when all this is said and done, the foundations and the nature in which the industry runs will change??
B – I think no one can be in doubt that it will change, but as to how and how much, that remains to be seen. Maybe there’ll be new types of music, a new scene, a post-Corona scene, maybe thats what they’ll call it. You have to really feel for those who are missing out on releases, revenue, events, and all the rest from all this, but the flip side is that it will likely press reset on lots of things in the music industry, and gives everyone a lot of time to think about what they want to do next. It also opens up the opportunity for new festivals, events, artists etc. to emerge in future years.
How has this effected your work personally?
T – Well I work in care, so work is very intense for me at the moment. Music has been crucial for me as a means to take my mind away from it. Whether it’s coming home and having a mix with Ben and sharing new records we’ve found, or just putting tunes on in the car to and from work. We have both been saying how we’re not sure we could cope with this period of isolation without music.
How are you finding trying to be creative while being in such a restrictive environment?
B – I think it has helped us if anything, we’ve both got loads time to dig for music, have a crack at production and also start scheming on future events and ideas. We never would have released The Bottle – Frontline 01 and raised lots of money for the NHS, nor done our first live stream, had we not been thinking of how we can stay busy during all this. We’ve realised creativity doesn’t always have to be through the obvious channels, even if you are feeling restricted in one way, you can still contribute, and look to channel that into other ideas and projects.
Talk us through your playlist, what does it represent for you?
This playlist really doesn’t follow any sort of theme or stick to a genre, it is literally just what’s been getting played in our living room on a Friday, Saturday, or occasionally a Wednesday night, when we all get dressed up and get a bit turnt in our lounge into the early hours. Designed to be listened to when you’re feeling limber and want something to get down to, whether that be late night, out getting some sun, or when nobody’s around.
The Bottle & The Milkshake Boys Frontline EP series is out now here – all proceeds donated to the NHS Charities Together