Jeffrey Samuel

Like many artists around the world, singer-songwriter Jak Lizard has seemingly been at a standstill for the past few weeks. 

Unlike many of his neighbors in New York City, he doesn't have the choice of getting to "shelter in place" non-stop, because he still has to go to work. His day job is at a Whole Foods in Brooklyn, where he's had the chance to see firsthand how this pandemic has affected his city.

But he's also continued working on music, some of which has proven to be a challenge considering lack of resources. But he's adapted and today he's sharing two new songs under the title Work From Home, a nod to the current situation. Those songs are premiering today on Variance.

Hear the new tracks below and keep reading for our chat with Jak Lizard about working through the pandemic and his decision to give proceeds to charity.

Variance: Are you home and safe now?

Jak: I’m at home today, yeah. I’ve taken some days off but for the most part I’ve been busy. It turns out the day job is a very essential one.

V: Was this new music already done before everything happened or have you been working on it during pandemic?

J: It’s sort of a mixture of both. Basically, these are two songs I started when I was making my next album. And they’re two that didn’t make the cut, but I felt close to them. They just needed some finishing touches. But when I decided to try finishing them up, it was around the time everyone had to stay home. New York was officially quarantined when I made that choice, which was a bummer because I didn’t have much recording equipment. The amazing thing that happened was that the producer I work with—his name is Ivan Jackson and his main production endeavor is called Brasstracks. He’s incredible and he sent me over a microphone and a recording interface in a Lyft. It was great. So I was able to finish up these songs after all.

V: Not only are you working in an "essential" field, but you’re in New York, which has been the hardest hit. How has it been?

J: It’s been interesting. Especially a couple weeks ago, I was concerned about some older family I have. I also had a cousin who was in the hospital with the virus. He got out, fortunately. But it took a while for me to realize what I do was actually taking a risk. For the most part, it’s been OK. But it’s been a different place. I live with my girlfriend in a very busy part in Brooklyn and when I get off work, there’s nobody around. It’s astonishing to see so many empty streets.

V: Do you actually worry about yourself?

J: All I can do is take it one day at a time. I’m usually very optimistic, but this has been trying me. I do at-home workouts and we make food together. And I think those things have honestly been saving my life right now. Those small things. It’s a struggle. You’re pursuing a career in music while keeping a day job working in a grocery store in the middle of a pandemic. It’s a bit of a hustle right now. But there’s always someone who has it worse. So for me, I think about the people in the hospital, the health care workers. They’re the ones really going through it.

V: You made the decision to donate the proceeds from this music to relief efforts...

J: Yeah. Any royalties I get from the music will go to charity. One I know very well is Meals on Wheels. That’s an organization I love. My mother used to volunteer for them and it’s just one of those groups who, to me, is just true goodness in the world. Of course, there are new CDC guidelines about how you can distribute food and they’re evolving, but they’re still out right now taking care of our neighbors, especially the older population. Many of them can’t leave their homes or they’re terrified of going out. They always need our help, but especially now.