Mystery Jets' Blaine Harrison says he's "terrified" of coronavirus impact on UK artists

Mystery Jets singer Blaine Harrison has said that he is “terrified” of the financial impact that coronavirus will have on independent artists in the UK.

As the UK begins its third week of lockdown, musicians and venues across the UK have voiced fears over their future, admitting that the lack of live shows and touring could potentially threaten their livelihoods.

Speaking to NME, Harrison said the crisis placed extra pressure on artists who were already facing a harsh creative environment before the crisis began.

“I’m terrified,” said Harrison. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s putting artists under huge strain. Artists in this country are under massive pressure anyway.

“I’d never want to pull the ‘poor me’ card, but there’s a lot of artists and friends of mine who are artists, even people who have charting records, who are now are having to look at the next few months and look at their finances.”

Mystery Jets
Blaine Harrison of Mystery Jets. CREDIT: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

Harrison also explained that British artists were often inclined to “suffer in silence” and less likely to seek financial support than their US counterparts.

“It’s difficult because you look at artists in the states and people there are more likely to say ‘Hey, here’s my GoFundMe’”, he explained. “But in Britain, there’s such a stigma around that and I think people are sadly more prone to suffering in silence. I think that’s part of our Britishness and it’s going to be very difficult. I think there are going to be lots of artists who are secretly taking on other jobs for the next few months.”

When asked about how it could impact Mystery Jets – who released their sixth album ‘A Billion Heartbeats‘ last week – Harrison said he was busying himself with a series of projects directly linked to the record.

“We’ve got a podcast, which will be seeing the light of day in the next month, and we’ve also been working on Speaker’s Corner, which is essentially a platform we created to give a safe space for marginalised voices to speak about culture and what’s going on in the world around them,” he explained. “We’re looking for ways to carry on with that online.”

While ‘A Billion Heartbeats’ has seen the band securing some of the best reviews of their career, Harrison also admitted it was a “strange” time for the band’s sixth album to finally arrive.

“It’s strange, but it feels like such a pertinent time to put out an album for music to exist in,” he said.

“All the comparisons are being made to the days of the second world war, and going back to the times when people would gather round the wireless and music fostered a sense of togetherness in society. In a funny way, I think it’s doing that now. Increasingly, the way we’ve come to consume music is more and more privately, but music is becoming shared again because we don’t have a choice and that’s super positive.”

He added: “We’re potentially looking at not having a summer of music festivals, perhaps it’s too early to say. If that is the case, then we’ll have to find a way of sharing that musical experience in our homes and that’s a powerful place for music to exist in.”

Meanwhile, Harrison also praised the “invaluable” role of the NHS during the coronavirus crisis last week.