For Stratford folk singer Cat Clyde, the pandemic shutdown may have stopped her from touring and performing live, but it hasn’t kept her from making music.
Keeping that sense of making art for art’s sake, Clyde has spent the last several months working tirelessly on new material for an upcoming album, a project that actually benefited from a period of forced isolation.
“Life kind of turned absolutely upside down,” the songwriter said. “I mean, normally, I would be out on the road touring pretty heavily, so I’ve just been at home. But it’s been a really great time for me, actually, because I’ve had a lot of time to write and sit down and reflect on my music and my songs. I have enough material to start a new record, so I’m going to be starting that really soon, which I’m really excited about. … For me, (navigating the pandemic) was just sort of changing what I’m doing. I didn’t really take a break. I created a lot of content and sort of shifted my focus on that.”
While Clyde has been able to make significant strides toward a new album, and has performed virtually for her social media followers throughout the pandemic, her main source of income during this time has all but dried up since touring and live, in-person performances have been derailed by COVID-19.
To help Clyde and other emerging musicians across Canada, the Royal Bank of Canada launched a new initiative last month – First Up with RBCxMusic – through which dozens of Canadian musicians have been offered an opportunity to perform in live, virtual concerts throughout the summer, complete with a $1,000 stipend, free promotion for those concerts and mentorship opportunities.
“It’s great because now you’re getting paid to play a show,” Clyde said. “Even though I’m at home creating content, I don’t get paid for it. I’ve been doing live streams and sometimes you’ll get tips, but it’s kind of been very difficult to imagine what the future is going to look like (for performers) and how I’m going to sustain this lifestyle of creating music this way because it’s very difficult to earn an income.”
Clyde said she’s also excited about having her upcoming show, which will be streamed live on her Instagram account, @catclyde, on Aug. 8 at 7 p.m., promoted by RBCxMusic.
“They put some money into promoting it, which is also really great as well because they’re not only paying the artist, but also paying to get it out there and promote it to get people to see it, which is so valuable and really helpful. … When you play (in-person) shows, you usually play for people in that area, but when you play online, it’s neat to see how many people are listening from all over the world,” Clyde said.
“It’s really crazy.”
Clyde’s performance is part of the fifth week of virtual concerts by Canadian musicians made possible through the RBCxMusic initiative. For a full schedule of who’s performing and where to see them, check out RBCxMusic’s Instagram channel, @RBCxMusic, at the beginning of each week.