At Home With: Joy Ike | Community Profile | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

At Home With: Joy Ike

click to enlarge At Home With: Joy Ike
Photo: Chris Sikich
Everybody is dealing with COVID-19 quarantines and restrictions in different ways. While there's no single right way to cope — social distancing and staying TF home aside — connecting with friends, family, and neighbors is a good place to start. You can contact your loved ones on your own, but you might also be curious how your favorite strangers in Pittsburgh are coping, so Pittsburgh City Paper is reaching out once a day to artists, activists, workers, and makers to see how they're doing.

Today's it's singer-songwriter Joy Ike, who lives in Philadelphia now but has roots in Pittsburgh.

What’s your day-to-day routine like now?
Somehow my days have felt equally slower and busier. Because I work from home when I'm not traveling, much of the last six weeks (give or take) has felt like my day-to-day before the pandemic — just more screen time now that my whole world is online. I change things around a bit from week to week but for the most part, when I wake up each morning, I spend a decent amount of time stretching my body while listening to music, having a quiet/devotional time, and then hopping onto my laptop for any number of things — social media posts, responding to emails, working on my taxes (this week), applying for some kind of financial aid, live streaming, etc. ... I intentionally try to break up my days with a walk, long cooking experiments, some webinar that someone is doing somewhere, painting, and dancing :) I've had more time to create but I know so many people are not experiencing this quarantine in the same way, so I don't take this extra time for granted.

What is something that you would tell a pre-quarantine version of yourself that you think they should know?
Save up your money and get ready to buy a house when it's super cheap!!!

You released a video for "All The Time In The World" recently, partially about finding silver linings in quarantine, specifically the chance to catch up with old friends. Tell me about writing that song and how the idea came to you.
While sitting at my piano several weeks ago, I was considering the fact that I had spent my first week of quarantine reconnecting with friends and family that I hadn’t talked with in such a long time. That’s the spirit that this song was written in. Songs never come out immediately. It usually takes me several months to complete a song from start to finish. So this one felt time-sensitive — like it needed to be released sooner than later. I knew I wanted to make a music video for the song and that the video would capture the stir-crazy feeling of being "stuck" at home all the time and trying to find ways to make the time pass. I just wanted to create something lighthearted that people could identify with, something that would offset the angst and fear that so many people are currently sitting in.

I also think that because this is the first piece of music I've put out since my Mr. Rogers project last fall, that they carry a similar spirit — joyful, fun, and playful. The highlight of this project was spending hours upon hours making and editing this video and learning how to better use my DSLR and editing software. It'll definitely live on in my own head as a true quarantine project :) The downside is that I've had to come to terms with the fact that I'm a pop artist. HA! 

What was your last gig before stay-at-home orders went into effect? What was it like?
The last gig I played was at a friend's home in Philly in mid-March. We were scheduled to do a house concert that evening but there were already rumors of Philly being on the verge of quarantine. We moved the house concert outside, marked the sidewalks and street with chalk, and created six-feet partitions to help regulate the crowd that might form. My friend's neighbors were nervous at the idea of having a ton of people gather (which didn't happen), so we wanted to be respectful of all the concerns but still create an opportunity to bring a little bit of hope to the neighborhood. This was at the beginning of the crisis and there had been a ton of angst and fear circulating. Neighbors listened from their porches, through their windows, on the street, and passing by as they took their dogs on walks. So many people shared, after the fact, that that moment in time was necessary for their emotional health. It was a good feeling.

What is a food you've come to love recently?
Everything, always! :) I love to cook ... just love it! So experimenting with new recipes over these past two months has been a ton of fun.

My absolute favorite thing to make right now are pupusas! It's an El Salvadorian cornmeal dish that my bassist Jason Rafalak's wife, Lahia, introduced me to while we were on the road several years back. I haven't mastered the pupusa itself, but making and eating the salsa and curtido (pickled cabbage) is my absolute favorite thing. They also go very well with other dishes.

What piece of art/book/TV/music is bringing you comfort/inspiration at this time?
I am watching The Chosen. It's a thoughtful interpretation of the Biblical character of Jesus, his disciples, and the religious/political tensions of the time. It gives me perspective in the here and now and I'm appreciating the creative liberties the director and writer have taken to create a comprehensive picture of how it might have been to live, love, and lead during those times.

What’s an organization or charity that you’d recommend supporting at this time?
I've always known Light of Life mission to be trustworthy and have a huge heart for the homeless community in the North Side. They get my vote!

Hands off Rafah protest in East Liberty
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Hands off Rafah protest in East Liberty

By Mars Johnson