How Donovan Woods Is Coping with Isolation: Making a New Album, 'Tiger King' and Trudeau's "Stern" Speeches

"My producer James Bunton and I are farming out parts to musicians, and they're working on things in their own home studios, then sending it back to us"
How Donovan Woods Is Coping with Isolation: Making a New Album, 'Tiger King' and Trudeau's "Stern" Speeches
Ontario country artist Donovan Woods recently released his new single "Grew Apart," with promises that a new full-length was on the way this year. When coronavirus lockdown began, he was already partway through recording, so he's continued to work on the album remotely. We got in touch with the singer-songwriter for details about his self-isolation routine, and how he and his family are escaping the un-chill vibes of grocery stores.

What's your self-isolation setup?

I'm at home in Toronto's High Park neighbourhood with my partner Meredith and our baby girl. My two older kids (five and seven) are with us half the time. We are well-stocked, but not hoarder-well-stocked. Though it's hard to battle that urge, as the vibe in grocery stores is exceptionally un-chill these days. The little markets along Bloor or Dundas generally have everything big grocery stores are out of.

Are you working on any music while on lockdown?

I am currently making an album. We were lucky enough to get all my guitars and scratch vocals done before the lock-down. My producer James Bunton and I are farming out parts to musicians, and they're working on things in their own home studios, then sending it back to us. It's been a really interesting experience so far. We wanted this record to feel a little bit like collage, and this arrangement is helping that feeling move to the forefront.

What are you watching and listening to?

We just watched Tiger King of course, and our opinions are the same as everyone else's. We're trying to watch the movies we've missed in the last couple years. We did Parasite (surprisingly violent!). Last night we watched Widows (surprisingly violent!). I'm hoping to watch Ford v Ferarri because I'm a big fan of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and I have been my whole life. Bless those boys. I'm not a big music guy, but I've checked out some livestreams. Sarah Harmer's was beautiful. Her voice was just absolutely perfect. James Barker of James Barker Band does one every night and he often fulfills requests for older country songs from the chat. He did "Fishin' in the Dark", that was nice.

How do you feel about the response to coronavirus?

I think it's been incredibly interesting. I don't think people are staying home enough, but given human nature, free will and all that, I think we've been doing okay. I'm worried about people who still have to work. Grocery store and LCBO workers in particular. They deserve more protection than they're getting. I think we'll look back on that with regret. We're expecting so much of them for so little in return. We always have. Hopefully this will recalibrate our appreciation for service workers moving forward. I think our health care professionals are absolutely heroic in their resolve and I know we all feel that way. It's nice to see Justin speak every day. I like when he gets stern.

Have you picked up any new hobbies or routines in isolation?

I walk a lot which has been nice. People from the past were in better shape because they were just really bored.

Find out what other Canadian musicians have been up to under self-quarantine with our Isolation Nation questionnaire.