During the Spring of 2020, Audra and I were living in an apartment in Bala Cynwyd (West Philly). To pass the time during quarantine, we’d play cards on the edge of our dining table (next to my electronics workbench).
Sometimes – while I reigned supreme as the Rummy King – we’d listen to the Latin station La Kalle 99.9 FM on Friday and Saturday nights. At first I found the station on a little transistor radio that I had sitting around from my electronic experiments, but as I got more interested in the music, I wanted to know more about the artists, so I brought the station up on a laptop via streaming.
I was soon hooked by the Reggaeton rhythms, and by early May 2020, I had a number of musical ideas floating around, starting from the percussion to the piano progression. The lyrics came to me almost in one shot, mumbled into a recorder in the middle of the night. Once I had lyrics, it was just a matter of putting it all together. For this track, I used Propellerhead Reason. Unlike most of my lyrical material, no guitars were used to develop this song, and electric bass was only added much later.
I wasn’t sure about releasing this song as an English language track. I felt that if it was going to be in a Reggaeton style, it really should have a Spanish singer. The first task was to get a translation, though that would only be half the battle because lines that rhyme in English may not rhyme in Spanish given a 1:1 translation. JEM of Symmetry, whom I met about 10 years prior via electro-music.com, was able to help me navigate this area.
JEM is not a singer, so with a draft translation in hand, I surveyed a few friends to see if they’d be interested in singing a Spanish version. They didn’t speak Spanish as their first language and didn’t feel brave enough to take it on (but still provided good feedback and encouragement). The track sat for a while undergoing various production tweaks and lyric modifications. By that point I didn’t even have a good title for the song, but it was nearly finished. I was singing all the parts, often with various vocal treatments inspired by the genre and the commercials found on Latin radio.
Further delay to completion came in July 2020 when I had to relocate again. We moved from our apartment to a house, and it took a lot of time to get all of our stuff out of storage and settled to a point where I could do creative work again. I returned to the track a few months later in my restructured studio, asking myself once again, “Does the world really needed yet another quarantine song?”
Getting back to the track in Fall 2020, I decided to cut back some of the crazier vocal effects. I was still hoping to find a Spanish singer, but the additional logistics of recording with others under quarantine, coaching over Zoom, were not appealing. The song sat a bit longer and other projects took priority.
In late 2020 I finally decided it had to be released, if only to have something else to show for 2020. I worked through the track stripping everything back and cleaning up anything that wasn’t necessary. The bridge got a slight redo, with JEM making an appearance on the spoken word part as a way to get *some* Spanish into the song. The atmospheric samples were an extra creative touch to represent the life we had pre-COVID and the hope that one day I’ll be listening to some great Reggaeton bands at one of our many local venues (we have an awesome Latin presence in our area).
Right to the end, I struggled to find a decent title. JEM and I bounced some ideas around and I chose “La Quarentena Loca” which of course translates to “The Crazy Quarantine”. It’s not perfect, but it works! Even with a title in place, I faced more delay with distribution because apparently some music distribution systems can’t handle a bilingual title. But now it’s out.
I’m still not sure the world needs another quarantine-inspired song, but as I worked on this, the message of the song resonated more and more with me. Remember that this was being developed through the height of COVID, which morphed into the social unrest of Summer 2020, and then into the further frustration of the 2020 election. I still smile every time I hear the horn break – which I played via a Korg Triton Extreme – it was not sequenced.
Throughout the events of 2020, I found the process of working on this song more uplifting. It was a glimmer of hope and I felt other people should hear it. And yes, it’s much different than anything else I’ve put out, but that’s sort of the point. And yes, I am not Latin, and don’t speak Spanish (which sucks for me) but that doesn’t mean I can’t have an appreciation for Reggaeton music or be influenced by it to create something positive.
There’s a possibility of a Spanish remix at some point, but I am looking for the right combo of personalities to make that happen. For now, thanks for listening to this version!
La Quarentena Loca (The Crazy Quarantine)
I’m tired of this lock down (oh yeah)
Want to be out with my friends now (oh yeah)
Got a mask but I’m tired of wearing it
Hope we can breathe some summer air…
We need the tests and a vaccine
It might be months until we’re free
All the mamas and papas want to see their sons
But you won’t see us out there with no guns
Zoom’s not the same as hugging my mother
We’re not animals, let’s help one another!
My brother was laid off (oh yeah)
Lot’s of people are hurtin’ (oh yeah)
Families are strugglin’ to make ends meet
While landlords threaten to put them on the street.
My sister is a nurse, in danger every day
I pray to keep her safe out of harm’s way
While you argue over PPE
She’s improvising masks with sock and sheets
Are they ever gonna get it? (maybe)
A virus doesn’t see color (oh yeah)
The best foot forward is one of unity
Let the science guide us to where we need to be
released January 15, 2021
Copyright 2020 Jeremy dePrisco
Music & Lyrics by Jeremy dePrisco
All Rights Reserved