Out Take: Jack Stafford

There have been some rare and precious silver linings to the COVID-19 pandemic. For musician Jack Stafford, the quarantine has allowed him to slow down, connect with fans, and become a more resourceful and self-reliant artist.

Nearly a decade ago, Stafford was touring across the globe, cycling through Asia, sailing around Australia, and driving across America and Canada to bring his music to audiences around the world. The touring eventually became “too much,” and Stafford decided to land in Italy and live in isolation. Now, because of the pandemic’s limitations, it’s not so much a choice, but it led to some creative inspiration.

“I wrote a whole album of songs about awareness of the mind and the constant chatter in our heads we have to live with, and how we create our own problems,” Stafford says, referring to Deeper, which is one of a trilogy of respective albums about body, mind, and spirit. “With Coronavirus, everyone’s stuck in their heads and houses.”

When Coronavirus restrictions foiled his plan to shoot a video with fans for the track, “Background Worry,” Stafford instead decided to explore new creative terrain that exceeded his editing abilities and create a compilation video of fans lip-syncing his lyrics. He received more than 90 videos from people in 35 different countries.

But the huge undertaking came with some creative lessons for Stafford as an artist. He says musicians often make the mistake of going dormant between album releases instead of consistently engaging with fans and with themselves as artists. And the project has proven that seclusion can enhance creative independence.

“A beautiful thing about the situation we’re in now––you don’t need a record label, you don’t need a producer, an editor,” Stafford says.“You can do everything yourself and be completely self-sufficient. You can make your video yourself, you can make Facebook ads to get it in front of a specific audience anywhere in the world. And I think when you run into problems, you create better art, so bring on the problems.”