By Patrick Pearson
August 26, 2020. At a time when the second wave of COVID-19 was just ahead, Annika Devlin began writing a song called September, which would spawn her project Frown Line. This project gave her an outlet to channel her feelings and a chance to connect with others in a time of isolation.
Over the course of the pandemic, many people like 19-year-old Devlin have taken up new musical projects which, according to music therapist Nicola Oddy, could help them cope with its unique challenges.
“There’s lots of ways to use music therapeutically,” said Oddy, “we can listen to music, we can draw to music, we can write a song, we can dance.”
Prior to the pandemic, Devlin was active in the Ottawa music scene. She frequently attended concerts, played drums in the local band Adore, and participated in Girls+ Rock Ottawa, a program for young women and genderqueer musicians to connect and play music.
But with the advent of the pandemic, Devlin was blocked out from that community. “Not being able to meet people at shows obviously stinks” she said.
She posted a demo of September onto her Instagram, at which point Michael Watson of Ottawa bands Amnita, Plastic Farm, and Chemical Club reached out to her offering to produce for her. Since then, she has released September and another single, (tired of) always getting older, racking up over 170 thousand Spotify streams between the two, and playing a sold-out concert opening up for Dad Sports, another Ottawa band.
While finding community was extremely difficult for so many because of the pandemic, she met and became friends with many other local musicians in this process. Devlin said “being able to connect with other musicians is such a great way of finding people with similar interests and who are doing the same things as you.”