Published: 28th March 2020
The Quarantunes is bringing the world together through its open-mic sessions on Facebook. Here's why you must tune in
Bored? Lockdown getting you low? Tune in to The Quanrantunes' Facebook page to watch a virtual open mic where people from all over the world are participating
With almost the entire world confined indoors, people are trying out new ways to keep themselves occupied — from sharing songs to online games to Twitter antakshari. Junmey Wang, a Project Coordinator with Ethical Trading Initiative based in Kuala Lumpur and Jamie-Claire Thanh-Tâm Chau, a Marketing and Communications Manager at Coins for Change Vietnam have founded The Quarantunes — a virtual open-mic on Facebook where people can sign up and perform their heart out. This weekend will be their second set.
To participate, all you need to do is find The Quarantunes page on Facebook, inbox them your name, location and obviously tour act. And you need to do this 12 hours prior to the event. That's all. You go live from the page and perform. Till now they' had musicians, dancers and poets. But if you are into some more experimental stuff — videos, photography or movement art — the organisers would like to give you a platform where you can push the boundaries with your work.
The young professionals wanted to create a community to encourage and support creativity at a time when everyone is quarantined across the world. "At times like these we are tempted to shut down and are paralysed with fear — we needed this (The Quarantines) for our sanity. We needed to keep creating. We needed to do something to stay connected to other human beings," Junmey said. The 25-year-old considers herself as someone who loves breaking boundaries and is an apprentice to the world. She hopes to continue deepening her creative journey, building spaces of belonging, and accompanying others in becoming free. "Some things about COVID-19 and the transnational art that has emerged on Quarantunes speaks to how deeply interconnected we are as human beings. That's something we hope not to forget, even as the future hangs in numbing uncertainty," she said adding that Jamie randomly suggested they do a virtual open-mic as a joke (to Junmey), and an hour later, the duo got to work.
The girls have always had the intention to offer a platform where everybody feels free and affirmed to express themselves. "We are all innately creative, by virtue of being human. We want to highlight both people who are experienced and professional creators, and people who may not consider themselves to be 'artists'," said Jamie-Claire, a seeker of hope and a believer of the fact that it can be found in the creation of good and beautiful things. Through her own songwriting and community empowerment work, she strives for all humanity, including herself, to be just a little more human every day. "People from places we've never been to have approached us with interest in performing. We have also been approaching people in our communities around the world and asking if they'd like to perform. We find that more often than not people are eager to share and be seen for their art — they just need somebody to invite, welcome and acknowledge them. The internet is truly magical," added the 24-year-old.
Jamie-Claire Thanh-Tâm Chau
Initiatives like these are known to get people closer but is it just that? "On one level, we hope that we get 'regular' people on The Quarantunes making art, putting themselves out there, playing and creating amidst a global crisis, and are inspired to keep hoping, playing and creating meaning for themselves. On another level, a virtual open-mic setting puts the participating artists on an equal playing field, regardless of their experience or technical skill," explains Junmey. "We organise our live stream so that featured creators from all over the world get to chat online in a group, connect and are forced to learn and listen to each other’s anxieties, vulnerabilities, and creative process," she added.
Joining The Quarantunes this Saturday, March 28, Ayushman Basu, a poet-singer based out of Mumbai feels the best part about this initiative is that it helps people focus on something creative and positive during a time when there's so much negativity, "It helps us have hope for a better future and I believe that bringing so many people together from different places will help us in overcoming this difficult phase together," added the Content Specialist at a private firm in Mumbai.
What started as a pet project for the two friends has now attracted the attention of people across the world. "Right now, this project is becoming almost like a job. Don't get us wrong though — we love doing it," quipped the two. "Fortunately, we have people coming on board and helping with various organisational tasks. Our hope is that the network gets deeper, more diverse in terms of geography, art forms, expression. We also hope that this becomes a self-sustaining community, people feel free to contribute to event management, graphic design, social media marketing. This space is for them, as much as it is for us," added the duo.