The Lockdown Project
The INSEAD MBA is an intense 10-month rollercoaster and the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to put a sudden brake at the very summit, jolting us back to an unfamiliar new reality.
But despite our self-administered physical fences, the unwavering support of our INSEAD friends shone through, reminding us that we were in this together.
As a tribute to our incredible INSEAD community, MBA'20J musicians rallied together to work on a project that hopefully spreads some good cheer in these hard times. The resulting music video, featuring contributions from 80+ batchmates, was premiered at a virtual Zoom meeting, on April 12 (Easter Sunday).
*All audio and videos were recorded remotely by INSEAD MBAs self-isolating (individually, or with housemates / families) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s see what the artists behind the project have to say about the process!
Nishant Store (composition, guitar and vocals):
INSEAD is usually a whirlwind of activity – a microcosm of a world where everybody lives in the moment.
But talking to many classmates during the initial few days of the lockdown, it seemed clear that our thoughts were beginning to drift out into the universe; towards our families, our friends, and people on the frontlines. I longed to be everywhere at once; at home with my 92-year-old grandfather, in the classroom with my fellow '20Js, or exploring a new part of the world with my girlfriend… the list goes on.
I wanted to reassure everyone experiencing these same sweeping emotions, but I had no idea how, so I turned to music, trusting that my subconscious thoughts would find their way into words. With my guitar in hand, I kept playing, until the motif, “sending you all of my love”, sang itself back to me.
Hagop Harfouchian (bass guitar and music production):
When Nishant sent me the concept file I was very excited. I really liked the potential the song had and began to add my touch (on the bass), while experimenting with the mix. This was also an excuse for me to buy recording gadgets that I always wanted (which never arrived on time). The experiment turned out to be an enjoyable sound production exercise run remotely using iPhone mics (any music production internships out there? DM me).
By the end of the project, I had listened to the song over 200 times, retaining 15 versions, the last of which were named "final 1", "final 2", etc.
I only saw the video once before it premiered, and was overwhelmed at staring into so many faces.
I realised that somehow, this pandemic brought us closer despite the social distancing. How ironic!
Muriel Gonzales (violin and back-up vocals):
Back home, I would record multiple layers of the violin with microphones positioned in different places, to create an orchestral feel. Hagop suggested recording from different positions in the room to mimic that effect, but with just my laptop and no proper mic, I wasn't sure about how good it would sound. Nonetheless, I stood in the furthest corners of my tiny Fonty apartment, and played. To my surprise, it worked out well!
In P1 and P2, Fonty was full of music nights and they were amazing evenings - one of the things I've missed while in lockdown.
Getting to work on this song with other INSEAD musicians was such a nice way to bring that back and collaborate. Even in this uncertainty, it's a reminder of how we can still find ways to make things work and lend our support through music.
Krati Tripathi (video concept and production):
During one of our Friday night calls, Nishant told us about the song he had begun writing and I immediately visualised it being overlaid with a crowd-sourced video that every '20J could be a part of, no matter where they were physically located.
My vision for this video was to symbolise the love, resilience, hope and togetherness that flow through each of us and unite us even in the most difficult times.
I decided that the wave could be a ‘hook step’ that would be easy to replicate, yet customisable enough to reflect each '20J's unique style. Plus, putting waves one after the other creates the illusion of continuity, which we currently need.
Personally, the editing was a welcome distraction from COVID-19 and recruitment, and I had goosebumps every time I played the video as it evolved. I am truly grateful to be a part of this amazing community and I wouldn’t want be locked down with any other bunch.