QUARANTINE WITH MADDIE RAZOOK
BY jo bAbB
At the intersection of a global pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and a completely halted music industry, Oklahoma City musician Maddie Razook has found herself reevaluating what it means to be an artist, a performer with a social platform, and a human being just trying to get by. Just a week before states across the country began implementing shelter-in-place orders, Razook left for a short tour that took her through Kansas City, Chicago and Tulsa.
“I heard about Coronavirus and didn't think anything of it. It was this abstract thing in my mind,” she says. “Then I started hearing more about it the second week of my tour. There were cases in New York and in California and then in Chicago where I was just about to play, but I still didn't really understand what that meant at that point.”
Razook ultimately cancelled her “Welcome Home” show in Oklahoma City, but still played one last show in Tulsa before the state’s shutdown. “It was a good way to go out. It was a super nice audience. Looking back on that, I can't believe that was the last time I've played live music in almost five months,” she says.
This time a year ago, Razook was in three different active projects—two bands and her solo act.“There would be weeks where I would be playing two or three shows a week. I was playing at least seven or eight shows a month,” Razook said. “That sounds crazy to look back on now.”
Razook says that while she misses the culture and community of live shows, she takes comfort in knowing that she’s not alone, and that the time away from playing live is being experienced collectively as a music community. “We have to refocus, reimagine, what it looks like to be a musician,”says Razook. “We're all figuring it out and taking cues from each other.”Razook says she’s also taking cues on how to take up space online. At the beginning of Oklahoma’s state shutdown, many artists took their music online to livestreams and “e-concerts.” She performed a live set for Factory Obscura in April, but says she’s taken a step back with her social media presence since, focusing on her own identity as a musician and the social justice movement taking place.
“It's a strange thing to even admit, and it’s been a weird thing to navigate, but I’ve definitely felt a loss of identity,” says Razook. “Not being able to get out and play shows, book shows for touring bands or even just seeing the community has been hard. Even on social media, it feels strange to be taking up space with my own stuff.”The whole month of June, Razook felt she needed to be intentional about amplifying voices of Black activists and centering on the Black Lives Matter movement. The musician hopes that when she’s able to get back out in the live music community that she can do even more to center on POC in the scene. While her momentum as a performer came to a halt these past few months, she is being gentle with herself in navigating this moment in time
as well as she can.
“I have to remind myself that above all, I'm just a person. I don't think of myself as this thing to be promoted or a product to sell. I've always found that
my favorite part of making and playing music is the community and having a space to express this aspect
Razook says she plans to play an online show when the timing feels right, but in the meantime, she’s settled into her creative hiatus, writing new material and recording herself at home during the downtime. Five of these recordings were released as demos to her Bandcamp the last week of July, with all proceeds going to the Justice for Black Girls organization.
As for returning to “normal” again, Razook says that she hopes things are different. “Things will be different for everyone in the future. I hope it's for the better. I hope I'm able to be a leader in my community, booking shows, attending shows, playing shows or anything,” says Razook. “I hope we all come back from this better.”
Photography by Connor Schmigle
Photo by Jo Babb