Germa Adan is a multi instrumentalist musician, composer and singer by way of Haiti, the southern United States and most recently Britain. Her music, founded on the folk traditions of each of those geographically disparate - yet in many ways similarly peopled regions, is a gorgeous thing of unique beauty, lightness and a quietly insidious intensity. Germa plays the fiddle, plays guitar, sings and performs with the purest singularity. Germa recently featured on Verity Sharp's Radio 3's Folk at Home show, and this weekend will appear live in the early afternoon at the Refugee Week Event on Saturday June 19th at the Mac Arts center's outside theatre.
In the UK, as in many places, the pandemic has destroyed everything for so many people. It wanes only to roar back. People have been placed off-kilter in a world where so much of their sure-footedness was based on daily routines that disappeared over a year ago. Where are we now and where are we going next? I don't know. I have thought though, that this can be a time for great creativity in the music community. Musicians are off the treadmill. I wanted to talk to some of them about just that. Germa, who had starred at the Outsideleft Night Out, (in her supremely talented trio with Laura on cello and Jobe on violin) just prior to the lockdown was one of the first people I asked.
Laura, Jobe, Germa
OUTSIDELEFT: The lockdown. I’ll make no bones about it, I have enjoyed it, no pressure to work and wish it could go on forever. But as a live performer, a musician that collaborates with many musicians… Maybe it hasn’t worked so well for you?
GERMA ADAN: It worked and it also didn't. I think the solitude became too comfortable and I was getting comfortable with the new normal. I missed performing with other musicians dearly and so the music-making process lost a bit of shine for me. It did give me a chance to let my songwriting ideas marinate for longer, which was an absolute blessing.
OUTSIDELEFT: You’d mentioned that you were writing. In some respects I think, by the end of this year, we’ll see a lot of great records, recorded by musicians with all of this time on their hands. Maybe that’s easy for me to say?
GERMA ADAN: I totally agree, there's been so many new songs and albums coming out of this unprecedented time and it makes sense - socially we've all experienced a collective fear at the start of lockdown, deaths, ongoing anxiety and uncertainties throughout. I think music and musicians have the power to channel these human experiences into unknown creative territory.
OUTSIDELEFT: Have you been able to do any recording at home?
GERMA ADAN: (Laughing) Yes, but I started out being absolutely terrible at it! I wanted to give up many times and just wait until ' lockdown ended'. Thankfully, the BBC Folk at Home recording that I did with Verity Sharp gave me the push to preserve and figure out the basics of home recording.
OUTSIDELEFT: Do you think that the pandemic, the situation, impacts what you are able to write about?
GERMA ADAN: Yes, I am very responsive to the energies and social climate that I inhabit so it has inevitably influenced my work. I did however go through several writers blocks that I just had to sit with as I am discovering there is rich meaning in the silence as well. The writer's block came especially during devastating events like George Floyd's death and protests. I needed to sit with these experiences and process things in my own way. Coming out of the other side, my current writing is very conscious of the process that I had to go through.
OUTSIDELEFT: We think you are one of the most unique and uniquely talented artists we’ve heard ever featured in Outsideleft. It was such a thrill when you played at the final Outsideleft Night Out, just before the lockdown, and I haven’t really seen you since then and I’ve always wanted to apologise for the size of the crowd. It was too large, too excited, too overwhelming. We won’t be doing that again...
GERMA ADAN: (laughing) Yeah, don't worry! It was great that we were overbooked for that gig. This is a moment we can look back and wonder if we will ever be able to do something like this again, non?
OUTSIDELEFT: As the lockdown eases are you able to begin to think about live performances again?
GERMA ADAN: Yes I have a few gigs I am hoping to do but we are always conscious that the situation could change in these uncertain transition times.
OUTSIDELEFT: How confident have you been about getting out of this alive? Not everyone has or will...
GERMA ADAN: I am confident enough for the next hour or each day, as I try to not let the unknowns affect my mindset for getting through the little steps needed to complete a full day. I am just happy to complete a full day, almost like a video game resetting every morning.
OUTSIDELEFT: Worst lockdown moment?
GERMA ADAN: There's too many! That very first trip to the supermarket after two weeks of being indoors during lockdown No1 in 2020 (I was so jittery!)
GERMA ADAN: Loads of great moments too... let's see.. spending time with my family doing simple things, where a trip to the local park has the same weight of excitement compared to a trip abroad.
Germa Adan performs live at the Birmingham's Refugee Week Event on Saturday June 19th, at the Mac Arts Center. More info at the Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham website.