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Haute Tension is figuring out how to remain collaborative while social distancing.EXPAND
Haute Tension is figuring out how to remain collaborative while social distancing.
Photo by Joel Henderson

Miami Bands Continue Collaborating While Learning to Cope With Social Distancing

Even in an age when pop singers might never meet the producers whose beats they're singing over, bands require tight-knit collaboration. So how do you maintain the creative spark while continuing effective social distance?

For some South Florida bands, forced isolation presents an opportunity to create unencumbered; for others, it’s a predicament that requires technological workarounds to keep the energy flowing.

Miami goth-rock band Astari Nite hasn’t felt much of a disturbance in its process of hammering out swooning postpunk gems.

“The writing style of Astari Nite, for the most part, tends to be done remotely," lead vocalist Mychael Ghost says. "The last two albums were never practiced in a live studio setting; we simply went straight to recording.” (Recording, mind you, that no longer requires in-person visits to a stand-alone studio.)

The band released its single "Capulet Loves Montague" in January. Accompanying visuals are on the way. A short film for the track will premiere sometime this month, Ghost promises.

Fiery punk trio Haute Tension has been a staple of the local scene for several years. Before the order to isolate came down, the band had hosted a weekly Haute Happy Hour at Gramps. Rather than wait for the quarantine to lift, Haute Tension has seized on the event's momentum to keep fans entertained: Every Wednesday, Haute Happy Hour streams on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube from the band members' homes in South Miami.

"For many, it's stressful and financially crippling," guitarist and vocalist Alexandre Merbouti acknowledges. "For the fortunate few that live together or have instruments at home, it has been an opportunity to create." 

Merbouti says he and his bandmates have used recording software and the internet to circumvent the need for physical proximity.

“We haven't had actual full band rehearsals, but we're fortunate enough to have instruments and recording software at home. We've been working on new song ideas to send back and forth," he says.

Jaialai, which recently released the EP Culebra, harnessed the power of software such as Logic, Garage Band, Pro Tools, and Ableton to collaborate across Miami, Philadelphia, and Portland. In addition, livestreaming has helped promote the EP despite the distance.

“We didn’t do [the livestreams] as a full band," Oscar Sardinia, Jaialia's vocalist and guitarist, says. "We did individual interviews and performances since we are in separate cities. It was cool to share laughs and stories with people. Everyone is pushing through, creating new stuff. So that’s encouraging and exciting.”

While opportunities seem slim during the pandemic, bands are figuring out how to adapt. And the slowdown provides time for self-reflection.

“The global crisis brought an opportunity for deep introspection, along with a chance to see how we can best help our community," bassist Monica McGivern of Haute Tension says. "We donate our resources where we can, stay hopeful, and continue to hold space for artists to create."

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