Coronavirus Won't Stop Creativity

Just 48 hours after finding out their Underneath release show was cancelled due to coronavirus, Code Orange livestreamed their set on Twitch from an empty venue to 13,000 fans. And, says Jami Morgan, this sort of creativity could prove crucial in uncertain times…

Coronavirus Won't Stop Creativity
Jami Morgan, speaking to Emily Carter
Header Photo:
Justin Boyd

As soon as we saw the gig cancellations and the walls start to form around us, we decided that we had to find our way around it, or find our way under it, or just find a way to get through it. We instantly started throwing around ideas for this album release show, and I threw out the idea of doing a livestream of a performance in an empty venue.

We got on the phone with tons of people, and let them all know what we were thinking. [Code Orange’s label] Roadrunner reached out, and I reached out to my friend Sunny [Singh, videographer and cinematographer], who runs Hate5Six, as well as other people from the hardcore scene, and our guy Sam Jiminez, who’s kind of like our production manager – he knows so much about production and has been helping us build our whole light show, and bringing to life everything that we’ve been dreaming up. We were trying to get everything done for as little resources as possible, and Sam’s great at making sure that we can do what we want to do for as little as possible, because we don’t have that much. We just started scrambling and talking to everyone, and they all really came together. The community that we’re from – the hardcore community – was a huge part of helping us with Twitch, and the staff were also very helpful, too.

One thing that was very beneficial to us was the fact that we do all our own content, and we’re super-involved in making sure that we get the best price for production. So the year that had been spent on all our video content really paid off. Just that creativity, and having people like Sunny who put in the work so we could get this all going, really made something special happen. Having our roots in hardcore helped us do that all. We want to show people that you don’t have to be the biggest band in the world to do this. We actually got really lucky in a lot of ways, because we were putting everything that we had into this one show right at the beginning [of the cycle for Underneath], so it all turned out perfectly in that sense. But without that, you can still do things, different things. You can do things in your bedroom, and just be creative, and use the platforms that are available in a positive way until we can all get back and connected with each other.

We’ve played a lot of shows over the years to nobody, so the livestream wasn’t that different in that regard. We just did our thing. All the work we’ve put in for this show and for this tour paid off in that moment, and we just tried to make it sound good and focus on the physical aspects of it. If we had to rush to put the set together then we might have been in trouble, but we were able to do what we were planning. For a minute it looked like we had put all this work in and we wouldn’t be able to get to do it, and instead of that we did it once. And now we’ve done it once, it’s going to live forever.

I felt the whole performance in my soul, for sure. Putting on the show that we’ve been dying to put on for people that like us is something that we felt really strongly about, and we felt that doing it this way would connect us to people in a new way.

The response to our set has been amazing. It’s the most amount of merch we’ve sold in a day, and that is so fucking helpful to us in a time like this. I hope we can turn that support into more people hearing our record, because that’s what we care about more than literally anything. The whole vibe has just felt really great, and I think this has been awesome for people who like heavy music: the fact that we could do this in the way that we did, and we responded to the whole thing first, is really cool for metal and the heavy music community. We’re a super-polarising band, and I’m really happy because having all this love feels great.

For now, we’re definitely gonna do more stuff with the livestreaming medium. Shade [keyboardist and vocalist Eric Balderose] has made a movie that he’s been working on for over a year and we want to release that, so hopefully we could release that on Twitch or something like that. And we have a lot of other ideas, so we’re going to get really creative now. I really sympathise with a lot of people’s situations, and hopefully they can look at this as an opportunity to do something creative and make it work.

The most important thing now to Code Orange – I can’t speak for everybody – is for people to just hear our record. I want them to hear the record no matter what; I will fucking burn CDs and send them to everyone if I have to! Streaming is great but it’s not that financially helpful, but in terms of support and helping us get this music that we’ve poured our hearts into out there, just be vocal. I totally understand people who can’t contribute money, so other than buying merch and listening to records – which obviously really helps – I think people just need to be vocal about the things you love. The love that people have shown us has been overwhelming, and that’s what is fuelling us right now more than anything. Just be vocal about supporting your favourites, you know?

Underneath is out now via Roadrunner.

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