Pandemic opens new perspectives for Hook & Nail

What can be a torture for some people, may open new horizons for others. Artists in self-isolation all around the world started exploring the new opportunities life might have opened for them.

The Mercury talked to the members of the popular local folk trio Hook & Nail that, like others, got separated by the distancing recommendations, which in their case meant that Lindsay Arnold and Mike Davis, who are a family, and Jeff Michel, couldn’t be altogether to rehearse or create. All of Hook & Nail’s current gigs were also put on pause or cancelled.

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“Music-wise it’s definitely changed a lot. We can’t perform live, we had to cancel some gigs and cancel a big trip out to Halifax and Prince Edward Island,” said Arnold.

Earlier this year, the band was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award as the New/Emerging Artist(s) of the Year. They were planning to perform in Halifax and then go to Charlottetown for the ceremony. The global pandemic ruined these plans, and the awards presentation instead was done online.

“We had fun with it,” said Arnold. “Mike and I got dressed up and I had a little piece of red velvet, red carpet.”

Michel was also watching the ceremony from the comfort of his home.

“I was on my couch with a cat on my lap. It was interesting. It was definitely not like being at the awards show. It was obviously a very different format,” recalled Michel. 

While Hook & Nail didn’t receive the award, Arnold was more disappointed that the three of them weren’t able to celebrate the nomination and the ceremony together.

“I do miss our band member Jeff and seeing him in person. It’s not the same having a phone conversation or texting,” said Arnold, noting that they usually used to gather at least once a week.

“I’m looking forward if things get lifted, then maybe we can get back together if even only six feet apart,” said Michel laughing.

Arnold also pointed out that the main thing quarantine changed for all of them is public performances, but that also became a source of inspiration for her.

“What I’ve really been inspired by is how quickly artists and musicians were to change in how they interacted with their audience. Almost immediately we saw the increase in live streams from home and they just started approaching it differently,” Arnold said.

None of the trio has had the chance to do a live stream from home yet, but they said that they are hoping to do so eventually, even though it is a totally different type of connection with the audience. However, the live performances still remain the dearest.

“It’s folk music, which is really about telling a story and interacting with the audience. I know personally I look forward to when we can be in front of a live audience,” said Arnold.

And Michel added that even the band rehearsals are a totally different experience that he also misses.

Hook & Nail currently can’t work together, so for the time being the musicians turned towards their solo projects. Thus, Arnold and Davis have been focusing on their other folk project, Last Bird, doing some writing, while Michel dedicated more time writing for his individual project

“We did a home recording and produced a video release … We are just trying to do what we can to keep the music flowing,” said Arnold.

“I’ve been taking a step back and trying to work on some solo music. I’ve done a solo record that I’m hoping to keep working on for the rest of this year … I’ve had a number of songs that I’ve been working on for the last probably four or five years, and then things kind of got put on hold when we started to write the Hook & Nail record. So now I’ve got some time … We’ll see if it ends up coming out in 2020 or a little bit later,” said Michel.

He also said that big world-shaking changes usually find their way either into his lyrics or music, which has already been reflected in his new record.

“In the last couple of weeks ... I was feeling a little bit frustrated seeing how people are having difficulties working from home, there is connection issues or things like that, maybe there are more people in your house at the same time… I wrote a song called The Working From Home Blues. It’s a light-hearted attempt at keeping some perspective during Canada’s strange times,” said Michel.

All three musicians also have other jobs that they kept going with during these days, but Michel noted that the absence of other distractions opened room for more creativity.

“When you are at home, if you’ve got not a lot of stuff left to do, one of the things that you can always do is pick up a guitar or wander into the basement and work on the song,” said Michel.

“As creative people, we always have more than one project on the go,” said Arnold. “Because we are not performing in public, there is a lot more time for writing songs. Maybe one of the benefits is that you can focus on some different aspects of your creative process,” said Arnold.

Both Michel and Arnold noted that they had a great run with Hook & Nail, and in the future, if there will be more performing opportunities they will be happy to continue as a band, but in the meantime, the quarantine pushed them towards focusing more on their solo projects and they’ve been enjoying that opportunity.

“Maybe it’s just good timing for us to have that time to work on these projects,” said Arnold.

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