Interview- Livia Văduva (Shamrockraver Photography) - Life in time of Covid - 19

Livia is a concert photographer I like a lot. Romanian living in Belgium. In lockdown. Someone I hope to meet this summer if they let us out, cause as a newbie in the field, I could learn a lot from her. Check out her work:

Hooverphonic by Shamrockraver


What part of the world are you in and how are things your end?

Livia: I’m in Brussels, in Belgium, where I’ve been living for the past 7 years or so. Things are… too quiet at my end, to tell you the truth. The area I reside in is usually quiet, but it has turned into an almost deafening quietness for the past few weeks. There are the occasional cars passing on the big road next to my apartment and the sirens of the ambulances heading to the hospital nearby which break that from time to time. Apart from that, we are blessed to have less strict rules in place than currently in Romania or Italy, France and Spain. We are in a confinement and we must try to spend as much time as possible at home. Nevertheless, we are allowed to go out for shopping, but also for exercising, namely walking, running or cycling. As long as we’re doing these things on our own or with the people living under the same roof or only with another person who doesn’t live with us, but keeping the 1.5m distance, we are fine. I think God also loves Belgium because since all this has started, the weather has been good. There was sun almost everyday. Belgium is known for the lack of sun. It’s either raining or there’s this heavy grey duvet of clouds almost physically weighing down on our heads and shoulders. This is the cause of a lot of people being depressed and also committing or attempting suicide. Last year, there was a 10% increase in the suicides number and I believe an important number of them are connected to the lack of light and vitamin D among other causes. But, hey, I became too gloomy, sorry about that. In conclusion, we are fortunate to have loads of sun during this tough period and be allowed to exercise outdoors. I’m also lucky to have a gigantic terrace where I can enjoy even more sun and on which I’m currently replying to your questions.

What do you do now that you’re stuck at home with no gigs to shoot?

Livia: Oh, man! First day of self-isolation, I thought I was going to do everything I kept postponing for the past 7 years! Guess what! I haven’t really done anything of that. I imposed myself to keep a certain structure to my days. I try to wake up at 8.30am the latest during working days. My “real” job is actually that of a financial assistant for the European Commission. Most of us are about to finish our 4th week of working from home or teleworking as we are calling it. I actually wake up a lot earlier because even before this self-isolation period started, I had troubles sleeping. My brain hardly rests and since the virus started doing damage in the north of Italy, it rested even less. I prepare my coffee, shower and get ready for work. Every morning, I try to find something funny to send to the people in my unit, to wish them a good day. Guess I’m the self-nominated joker of the group. During the lunch break, I try to go out for a walk during which I either listen to music or talk on the phone with my parents or friends. I need to stay active. It’s funny though because before this period, I was probably walking less in 5 days than I’m now walking on a single day. I get back home, have lunch and continue working. Once that is over, I cook or do yoga and meditation or watch movies and TV series. Sometimes I clean the house or arrange something. I really cooked and baked a lot during these past weeks! Hence the need to stay active… I tend to feel really tired quite quickly now, but I recently read an article on Forbes explaining why we feel like that even though we are working from home. It’s normal, phew!

What’s the most frustrating thing for you these days?

Livia: It’s hard to make a top of the most frustrating things. Probably being stuck and not being allowed to do “normal” things. I’m a rebel, I hate being told what to do. Then I’m very frustrated about not being able to be close to my parents in Bucharest and help them with shopping and anything else they need to be protected. Not knowing when I can next see them is also messing with my head quite a lot, but I try to keep that under control. I’m also heavily frustrated about not being able to see the people I like face to face and hug them. I live alone. Most of the ones I know and like in Brussels live a bit too far to reach them by walking, while the rest of my friends whom I usually see are either back in Romania or in the Netherlands. I am a very sociable individual and an extrovert, I get my energy from interacting with others in real life. Nowadays I’m drained due to the lack of this interaction. I’m also frustrated about not being able to see my favourite artists in concerts and not being able to photograph live shows anymore. I hope I’ll remember how to hold the camera or change the lenses once this is over. No, I don’t want to photograph something else in the meantime, I’m a concert photographer. Before this started, I was always at concerts, almost every night. There’s no bigger joy for me than being able to attend live shows and letting the music carry me to a carefree dimension.

Do you find any silver lining in all this?

Livia: Apart from me being more active than before and being able to organise the day as I like, no, not really. There’s no romantic side to being locked up against your will.

Mental Health

How’s your head?

Livia: Still at the same level of mental disorder as it previously was, I hope. It is suffering because of the lack of physical interaction. The stress level, I somehow managed to keep it at bay. There are better days than others, that’s for sure. I impose myself to think logically about things, to think of probabilities of things happening, to try and not make scenarios - especially gloomy scenarios - that I have no control over. I have conversations with myself when I feel the control is slipping away, trying to remind myself that it’s actually not as bad as it might seem and other people have it a lot worse than I do.

Any tips on how to cope with the lockdown?

Livia: First of all, NEVER feel guilty about any feeling you might be having during these days. Whatever you might be feeling, you are allowed to. I read yesterday a quote from Joseph Brodsky: “The formula for prison is a lack of space counterbalanced by a surplus of time. This is what really bothers you, that you can’t win. Prison is lack of alternatives, and the telescopic predictability of the future is what drives you crazy.” Therefore we need to create alternatives to keep us busy, to fill in that time. And this is still possible in our situation compared to a prison. Mostly try to keep your mind busy. Like that, the negative thoughts have less chances to nest in your head or to resurface. Keep active as much as you can. Jump rope, do jumping jacks if there’s not enough space for something else. There are tons of different types of workouts on YouTube nowadays. I myself do a lot of yin yoga which is at a very low pace and currently stay away from exercises which might get my heart rate up or give me a sense of not being able to get enough oxygen into my lungs, as that would give me anxiety. Talk to as many people as you can. Video calls are the best, but also normal calls are fantastic. Besides the connection which is great, there’s also the realisation that you’re not the only person on earth feeling a certain way, we all feel more or less the same right now. Watch comedies, stay away from sad dramas. Do not watch cable TV, get the minimum of news you need to know where the world currently is from the internet, from safe sources, but that’s all. Unfollow negative and hysterical people on your social media. If you have a hobby which can be done at home - cooking, baking, knitting, sewing, painting, playing an instrument etc., just do it. Do good deeds, help anyone you can help. The universe continues to work by the same laws, therefore no good deed will be unnoticed. And when you help others less fortunate, you might be able to see that you are not doing as bad as you thought you were. Pray if that is your thing. Be a good human.

Any local artists you wanna mention, music you listen to these days.

Livia: I believe musicians are suffering a lot during these days, especially the ones who are living almost exclusively from live shows. Since the beginning of this period, I have tried to support most of the ones I like from Romania, Belgium and the Netherlands, the 3 countries I have in my music soul. I bought the records I didn’t have yet, I bought music on bandcamp, I listened to them on Spotify (although I know that doesn’t bring them much).

I’m very grateful for the live sessions musicians do nowadays, the majority of them have improved my evenings greatly. Dubioza kolektiv’s lives are particularly entertaining.

The Belgians I listen to the most these days are: The Sore Losers, Bent Van Looy, Noémie Wolfs, Faces On TV (goddammit, I was supposed to be in Bucharest for Jasper’s show just this passed weekend).

From the Netherlands, I definitely keep my favourite band, Kensington

as well as Dotan, close to my ears but also smaller artists like I Am Oak,

Ella van der Woude (beautiful, beautiful piano!), Donna Blue, Lian Ray (ok, to be fair, he’s French, but lives in Amsterdam and has a Dutch record label).

From Romania, definitely

The Mono Jacks, byron, FiRMA, Robin and the Backstabbers

and some new dudes I got on band camp called absurdcus and 6, haha.

lockdown selfie:

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