Lunchmoney Lewis is feeling the quarantine blues.Photo by Brian White
Most of us have been social distancing since the end of March, and it's not exactly a secret that this shit sucks. Our favorite restaurants and bars are closed, there’s no one at the strip club, and staying six feet away from loved ones is harder than it seems.
For musicians, it’s even harder, as recording studios and practice spaces remain closed. Still, that's not stopping Miami producer and songwriter LunchMoney Lewis. In just four short days, he managed to produce an EP documenting his quarantine experience from his Brickell penthouse kitchen.
“When the world first went into shock, making music wasn’t the first thing on my mind. I had to make sure my family and my people were good,” Lewis tells New Times over FaceTime.
Once things settled, he relocated some equipment from his Little Haiti recording studio, Lunchbox Studios, and created a small rig in his kitchen. The setup was simple: a microphone, speakers, laptop, and an Apollo interface.
“I had a couple of starter tracks from my producer that I went through and started from there,” Lewis says.
“I wanted to create something that made a timestamp in history,” Lewis explains.
From gospel to blues to hip-hop, the EP provides a soundtrack to life in isolation. Clocking in under ten minutes, the project offers a wide range of emotions and sounds that emulate what most are going through right now: a mental breakdown leading to peace. Lewis says he found his peace through his spiritual beliefs.
"'Go 2 God' is one of my favorite songs I’ve written, ever,” he says, leaning directly into the camera. “I’ve spent quarantine watching a lot of documentaries like Athrea Franklin’s Amazing Grace. That’s where the inspiration came from.”
The gospel-driven track provides a two-step moment for those unsure of the pandemic’s outcome.
“In those moments when we really need something is when we go to God, regardless of religion,” Lewis says. “I think the world needed it.”
What the world didn’t need is to stock up on toilet paper. Theories abound about the shortage, but the EP's second track, aptly titled "Toilet Paper," provides Lewis' hard-won insight.
“The song was birthed from struggling to find something to wipe my ass with,” he says with a smirk. “I can’t believe people are still fighting over toilet paper. I had to make a song about it.”
In a homemade music video, Lewis shows off what little he has left in his household as he holds three rolls in the air and rolls another roll across the floor.
“My girlfriend shot the whole thing on her iPhone, and my producer Julian edited together,” Lewis confides.
The EP continues with "Quarantine Blues," the project's stand-out track, which features a short skit from reality-TV star Joseline Hernadez.
“I reached out to her for the voice note for another song, but the skit just fits perfectly here,” says Lewis.
The EP ends with “Thank You,” which serves as a round of applause to all of the health-industry workers, police forces, and grocery-store associates who're working around the clock to make sure people have what they need.
In a time like this, it’s easy to imagine that creating music isn’t the first thing on an artist’s to-do list, but for Lewis, the madness in the world prompted an experience.
“When I look back from the future, I’ll definitely remember this body of work I put out,” he says.
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