Published Apr 02, 2020Serbian-Canadian artist Dana Gavanski recently released her debut album, Yesterday Is Gone, mixing folk songwriting with psych flourishes and occasionally noisy electric guitars. Even though she lives in Canada, she has spent recent weeks stuck in quarantine in Serbia, waiting for the airports to reopen so that she can return home. She gave Exclaim! an update about what she's been up to in quarantine — including her efforts to put down her phone and focus on self-care.
What's your self-isolation setup?
Currently, my partner and I are quarantining in a small town in Serbia called Arandjelovac, at my family home. It's quite nice actually. My mom moved all her stuff from Montreal to here when she left Canada and so it's quite cosy. There's also a front and back yard, which is great, especially as James and I are in quarantine for another week and a bit.
Are you working on any music while on lockdown?
I've been finding it quite hard to focus, and especially focus on music, since the pandemic started escalating, which was for us about two-plus weeks ago — but I'm slowly chipping away, mostly working on improving my guitar technique and listening exercises. However, I guess part of my distraction also stems from having just released my debut album, gearing up for that, and then adjusting to all the changes that have been happening with the plans I had to tour it, caused by the coronavirus
What are you watching and listening to?
Currently, I've been glued to Better Call Saul, which is a spin-off of Breaking Bad. I haven't really watched the latter, but my partner has, and so he convinced me to watch this show, and it's really good! I've also been reading Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, and Bob Dylan's autobiography. I've been slowly getting back into music; it's been hard for me to listen to anything in the last few weeks. I guess I've been feeling a bit oversaturated. Recently, I've been listening to Mazzy Star, XTC, Aoife Nessa Frances, Meredith Monk, B.C. Camplight, and trying to catch up with all the new releases! There's so much good music coming out right now.
How do you feel about the response to coronavirus?
I don't personally feel I can respond to this question with any authority. It's clearly complicated, and it's hard to get the whole world to cooperate and take this virus seriously, as it is also hard to take politicians seriously who only confuse and seem to only be interested in bailing themselves out.
Have you picked up any new hobbies or routines in isolation?
Trying to keep a daily schedule of meditation, stretching, and exercise. It's been hard to keep to it, but it's been helpful to start the day that way — to start with some body- and self-awareness. And maybe do it again later in the day. The most important thing for me, which has turned out to be the most difficult, has been ungluing myself from my phone. In my opinion, of all the things most harmful to our mental health, it's this info-mongering and obsession with seeing and hearing and reading everything about everything, but especially the coronavirus. Not that information is the issue — the issue is the lack of distance. And it's so much harder to develop a healthy distance during this social distancing because of our longing for closeness and knowledge. Of course, there are absolutely beautiful things happening on and through the internet, but I'm finding that it also causes mental and physical fatigue, which then leads to distress and rootlessness. In any case, I'm just trying my best to be more aware of and take distance from it.
Find out what other Canadian musicians have been up to under self-quarantine with our Isolation Nation questionnaire.