As we head into a second nationwide lockdown in the U.K with tighter (yet ambiguous) government restrictions around seeing family, playing sports, attending live events and socialising, it is apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted tangible contact time between people in society. During this time though, an individual awareness has risen for the need to rewind, recentre, reflect – to create a space for healthy escapism.
In desperation to avoid physical transfer of illness, isolation and lockdown has increased pressure on the introspective relationship we have with ourselves. According to the Office for National Statistics, more than two-thirds of adults in the UK report feeling somewhat or very worried about the effect COVID-19 is having on their life. The most common issues affecting wellbeing are worries about the future, with around half of U.K adults feeling stressed or anxious and feeling bored.
The busyness of ‘new normal’ life continues, with its intensity even increasing as new work from home measures demand us to juggle our jobs, job searches or studies whilst balancing homelife within the same domestic environment.
We are, however, finding ways to entertain ourselves in contemporary situations, to stay balanced, to stay motivated, to stay well, despite severely reduced face-to-face socialisation. One way of finding connection and stability, individually and collectively, is through music. Making, discovering and exploring music has been a shelter from the chaos for electronic music pioneer, producer and writer Richard Norris.
Always one to buck the trend and introduce new ideas to different audiences, Richard first saw success as a label manager for the British psychedelic record label, Bam Caruso. After becoming a music writer for acclaimed NME magazine in 1987, his electronic group The Grid became a household name in the early 90s, with a UK TOP 3 hit ‘Swamp Thing’ in 1994. Last year, he performed at the 26th Anniversary of BBC Meltdown festival with Nile Rodgers, the longest running artist-curated festival in the world. In his continued fashion of blending genres, Richard’s journey has recently seen him ascending an ambient abstraction, mixing soundtracks, transcendental meditation and neuroscience.
Following on from Abstractions Volume 1 & 2 released last year, Richard’s timely project ‘Music For Healing’, saw a series of digital music downloads released each week during the first wave of U.K lockdown. The collection of long form tracks released on Richard’s independent label ‘Group Mind’, was produced to alleviate stress and anxiety relief in challenging times, with all profits raised going directly to mental health charity MIND. The tracks can be used as background ambience, as immersive deep listening, in combination with meditation or any other wellness practice. “It’s definitely a time when we tend to hear music deeply,” says Norris, “or hear new nuances in music you didn’t notice before.”
Just a few weeks ago, Richard released ‘Elements’, a five track EP fusing warm analogue synths, widescreen ambience and pulsating subtly changing sequencers. Set to be reimagined as a live show in 2021, ‘Elements’ is sure to provide a glimpse into what it takes to build a safe-haven with music.
Listen to ‘Elements’ HERE.
You can find Joey on Instagram @joeyyy_lee.