Akailah Yocom thought he was only making a joke.
He’d been working with Charlie Garton and Taylor Pritchard on rap tracks when, as he stepped away for dinner, he suggested a song about COVID-19.
“I wasn’t expecting to come back and have a finished song, essentially,” he says.
One day later Nelson’s TV Legends, which features vocalist Garton and vocalist-producer Pritchard, had shot and finished a video for the song “COVID-19” directed by Yocom.
The song took the pair just two hours to write. When Yocom returned, Garton and Pritchard were ready with a finished track and eager to shoot a video. “He was so blown away,” said Garton. “He said, ‘You actually made a song out of this joke?’”
The novel coronavirus is quickly becoming a source of inspiration for artists around B.C.
In Hope, an artist used repurposed materials for a menacing statue named after the virus. In Smithers, a singer-songwriter released a video for a track called “Flatten The Curve” featuring people around the world dancing in their homes. And a singer from Abbotsford has received love on YouTube for her song “Frontline.”
For their own track, TV Legends wanted to have some fun.
The video, which features Garton and Pritchard wearing masks as they rap, was mostly shot at Kootenay Forest Products’ abandoned Peco deck in Nelson and matches the song’s dystopian material as Garton raps the chorus “So sick, corona caught the virus, global epidemic you can’t see with your iris.”
But it also has humour as well. The trio made a quick visit to the local Safeway where Yocom filmed Garton and Pritchard pretending to steal toilet paper while a mother and son look on in the background.
“The timing of when we shot it was right before the whole thing really blew up,” says Yocom. “So it was right on the edge of getting weird looks but it was still kind of laughable to most people.”
In February, Pritchard invited Garton over to see if they could make a song. Their creativity clicked — four 12-hour sessions later they had 15 songs.
“We stayed up so late it was crazy,” says Pritchard. “But we slapped out so many tracks and we have more than an album sitting there that we need to play with.”
The pair answered Yocom’s not-so-serious challenge on March 22 and by April 1 had a music video on YouTube for “COVID-19.”
Garton said response to the video has been positive. Listeners, he says, appreciate the fledgling hip-hop group poking a little fun at a serious situation.
“For the most part everyone was just so stoked there was a little bit of humour being brought to the situation in the middle of it when everyone is sitting at home and has not much to do besides laugh.
“We’re all stressed and we’re all caught in the same situation. There’s really only one common way that all humans know how to deal with stress.”