Meet indie rocker Collin Stanley, an artist who has truly made lemonade from lemons during a global pandemic. While he could have easily sunk into the depression that so many have experienced during Covid times, Stanley instead took it as an opportunity to practice, write, and record. “Gone Through Hell”–his latest single in the vein of hard rock topliners Led Zeppelin and Royal Blood–reflects how he navigated through his tumultuous emotions and experiences, and why he also believes we’re in serious need of social change.
We’ve all obviously “Gone Through Hell” over the course of the pandemic. What were some of the ways that you navigated through it? Did it force any new, fresh perspectives at all for you?
The first few months of the pandemic were the hardest for me. I felt anxious and had a hard time sleeping most nights. I live pretty close to the hospital so you could hear ambulances in the distance every day, non-stop, which was unsettling.
Taking a lot of long walks helped re-focus my thoughts and energy. Some days it was just tough doing anything. I tried to stay focused on things I was able to accomplish like writing a guitar riff or learning a song or studying an artist that I love, songs. When grander ideas entered my head like making a music video or larger production ideas, I would outline the ideas out knowing there were just things that were going to have to wait until the world opened back up again. So, I found it useful to focus on small goals and projects that allow me to continue processing what was and currently is happening in the world while still moving forward in my creative endeavors.
It was challenging having to navigate not being able to see anybody, losing most of my work, and feeling like my whole life had been flipped upside down. This isn’t necessarily a unique experience to myself but I definitely felt it very deeply. At times, it felt like my little room in Queens was more like a prison cell rather than my home, both physically and mentally.
The pandemic has forced a new perspective. I knew that my life would never be the same and that what I was used to was no longer “normal”. Having to get through that was incredibly challenging and I think it will take more time to overcome it. But what I believe I can do is try my best to continue to create and give permission to let myself feel and express myself.
Tell us about the “social revolution” you’re calling for in the new single. What does that entail?
The social revolution refers to social restructuring. It’s a call for change and progression. The pandemic exposed the underbelly of injustices within our society. Our country is going through extreme turmoil. I want to remain optimistic and hopeful that we can build a better society but it’s going to take a social revolution and lots of hard conversations.
As an artist, have you felt more or less motivated to create with all that’s been going on?
At first, I found it difficult because there was a lot to process. I was used to playing shows, seeing other musicians perform, and doing studio sessions multiple times a week before the pandemic. I had to try and find new ways to become inspired and frankly some days it felt impossible.
The tipping point for me was I started to learn about different ways to connect with people via social media. By doing that, I found new inspiration in artists I’ve never heard, and connected with people all over the world in ways I never thought possible. To my surprise, my music struck a chord with someone from Brazil. How crazy is that? We exchanged stories and ideas through IG and I didn’t feel so isolated.
You’re currently living in New York but recorded your new single at Bull Productions Recording Studio in North Miami and Alacran Studios in South Beach. Why Florida over a more local NY studio?
Toward the end of 2020, I was ready to get out of New York City. From fighting and recovering from Covid to losing all of my work, I desperately needed a change of scenery. My brother lives down in South Florida, so I decided to stay down there until I figured out my next steps.
What I noticed right away was that people just have different perspectives in South Florida. It’s way more laid back than New York City. Miami is known for its Latin music but there is a well-established Indie, Garage, and Hard Rock music scene. One of the staple in the Miami rock scene is Churchill’s Pub in Little Haiti. They call it the CBGB’s of South Florida. I mean Iggy Pop wouldn’t have relocated without a dingy rock club, right?
While staying down there, I was introduced to Fabio “Shaggy” Garia by a friend. Growing up in Mendoza, Argentina, Shaggy brought a fresh perspective to the music. He and I instantly bonded over our love for fuzz pedals and Queen of the Stone Age. At the time, he was working out of an amazing space in Wynwood, Miami where we were able to jam and rehearse ideas. He was the one who suggested Alacran Studios. So, we were able to get into that space and knock the vocals in one day. The Alacran studio is beautiful and located right in the head of South Beach.
I started asking around town about who made the dopest rock records in Miami and people kept pointing me towards Ryan Half at Bull Productions. Ryan is a respected recording engineer and producer in the Miami rock music scene working with the Jacuzzi Boys, Torche, Psychic Mirrors, etc. I knew I wanted to work with him. People raved about his guitar tones, and I mean, I’m a guitarist.
Live playing was off the table for a lot of this year and last for musicians. Did you find a way to circumvent this by doing any livestreams or playing any socially distanced shows, or did you mainly just take the time to write and record more material?
I LOVED watching and seeing all of my great musician friends do their livestreams during the pandemic, but it wasn’t for me. I focused more on writing and recording.
How do you see the future of music as far as performance, creation, and consumption when we’re finally on the other side of Covid?
I feel that the landscape of music is changing every day. I think the pandemic taught us a lot more about the possibilities from right in our bedroom. I think we were already heading in the direction of more self-sustaining artistry. I think the pandemic has pushed us a little more towards being self-sufficient and not relying so much on the Titans who ruled in the past.
Music is as fundamental to human nature as language. Live shows are coming back because people need human interaction. Livestreams are great but nothing will beat a room of people jamming and dancing to one of their favorite songs together.
Alexx Calise is an accomplished singer, guitarist and songwriter. Perhaps best known for her hit song, “Cry”, which became a staple on the show “Dance Moms” and boasts millions of hits on Youtube, Calise’s raw emotion, heart-and soul-lyrics and unmistakable vibrato have impacted thousands of young girls all over the world. Calise is currently working on new solo material, and she will soon be releasing a new EP with other music projects,. In addition to her musical pursuits, she also works in the social media and marketing department at Roswell Pro Audio, and writes for a number of music publications. When not playing shows or writing music, she enjoys horror movies, exercising or taking a well-deserved nap.