Livestream Series: Q&A, Molly Sarlé

This article was originally published on the Duke Performances blog

Duke Performances is partnering with Duke Arts and WXDU on a livestream series hosted by DP on Facebook Live and Instagram Live. This Wednesday, May 20, we’re continuing the series with songwriter Molly Sarlé.

In advance of these performances, we ask participating artists to reflect on how the coronavirus crisis has impacted their work, and what they are finding reassuring through these uncertain times.

We encourage you to check Duke Performances’ blog each week for a new Q&A. We also invite you to explore or contribute to Duke Arts’ “Arts & Artists Are Essential” collection of voices, opportunities, and offerings, or you can subscribe to receive weekly updates. Artists within and around the Duke University community remind us of the full spectrum of our creative power and our resilience as we navigate this new environment.

We know artists are deeply impacted by COVID-19, both in their artistic career and in side gigs in other industries dependent on social interaction. Can you give us some insight into what has changed for you?

I was preparing to get on a plane to do a five-week-long European tour opening for Andy Shauf, and about 24 hours before I was supposed to leave the tour was cancelled; the next day Trump instated the travel ban. So that was a big shift. Everything else has been cancelled for the rest of the year. I don’t know when I will tour again! 

Has your artistic practice been affected? For example, are you making any new work right now, or finding other ways to collaborate remotely?

Honestly, having external permission, and the ability, to stay home and rest has been a huge blessing for me. Touring is a grind; it suits some better than others. I love it and it takes its toll. I had just finished a five-week-long tour of the U.S. and Canada with Andy when the second Euro leg got cancelled. It was a huge relief when that tour got cancelled, in many ways. I could take a deep breath, get stoned and hang out on my kitchen floor, and hang with my cat, Magic Ship. I’ve been taking guitar lessons online, teaching myself how to use synth software — but primarily giving myself time and space to heal from a crazy year, and enjoying music that other people make is a big part of that.

We will publicize your livestream with the suggestion that viewers make a donation to an artist relief fund of your choice, and will always include two local Durham, NC, options. Is there a relief fund or other support response close to your creative and/or local community you would like to share with us? 

The Durham Artist Relief Fund has been a huge resource of support monetarily, and mentally, just knowing that there are people in the community who are focused on making sure that we are all supported and who know how to organize; it’s a skill set that is so important for the overall empowerment and restructuring of our society. I think a lot of us have known that the system is broken for a while and it’s inspiring to know that as our broken system collapses we live in a community that is ready to step up and support each other. As Mr. Rogers said: “Look to the helpers.”

Do you have any words of hope, or artistic work you’ve found comfort in, that you’d like to share with our audience?

Make spaces for joy in your life; find ways to connect with people that don’t have to do with talking about the collective trauma we are experiencing right now. Dance a lot. Have a Zoom “book club” that’s just about Star Wars movies from the 90’s. Or whatever brings you joy. Spend. Time. Outside. I’m rewatching Friday Night Lights; highly recommend. 

The artist relief funds established by North Star Church of the Arts and the Durham Arts Council, as well as any additional funds nominated by the artist performing, are not affiliated with Duke University. Thank you for supporting local artists!