Coronavirus: Manchester musicians find new ways to combat mental health isolation struggles

As coronavirus restrictions force people to find more creative ways to entertain themselves – with giant lasagnes, flat bingo, and care home Hungry Hippos all making waves on social media – one major new casualty is the grassroots music industry.

Thousands of amateur musicians are now facing the question of what to do in self-isolation when there’s no-one to jam with.

However, one Manchester-based singer is refusing to let Covid-19 stop his creative juices flow – by moving collaboration online.

Jay Plent has created ‘Collabavirus 2020’, a Facebook group in which musicians from all over the world can come together to share samples and ideas in the hopes of creating an album that can be released once the crisis eases.

He even hopes to perform the album at a benefit gig at a venue in Manchester, which could be the first time the performers have been in the same room, let alone play together.

Plent, who sings in three-piece band Too Cool Kid, came up with the idea after feeling compelled to “turn this negative situation into a positive one by encouraging people to collaborate.

“International artists collaborate from thousands of miles away with the same methods, so it occurred to me why not encourage the same thing, it could be very helpful for people who are stuck on their own to be able to reach out and be able to do something creative with strangers.”

Currently, the group consists of roughly 40 members, with all four nations of the UK being represented, as well as a host of European countries.

Whilst Collabavirus 2020’s ultimate aim is producing an album, Plent also sees value in the project’s process itself by placing mental health as a “central theme” in order to “help people unwind, help them relax, and help them get excited about stuff again” when the outbreak is finally brought under control.

To help that, there are no limits on which talents is welcome in the group, with everybody from graphic designers to producers being welcome to join up.

For now, Plent is just keen to see where the direction Collabavirus 2020 heads.

“I’m just saying let’s get the music going and see if anything comes from it, but ultimately this is a hub for creativity of any kind.

“I’m excited to see if anything good comes from it, and if nothing else I feel like it’s a good idea!”

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