From Phone to Stage
Music Editor Molly McCaig sat down to speak with two Edinburgh-based musicians: Bekah and Eliza Rose, who candidly shared their experiences of returning to live music performances in a post-lockdown world:
Artwork by Kate Granhom (IG: @Katesartthings).
During the absence of live performances throughout lockdown, many artists turned to Tiktok as a platform for sharing their music with a virtual audience. I had the opportunity to speak with two Edinburgh-based musicians, Eliza Rose and Bekah Robertson. Both offered their experiences on what it was like using the app for their music through the pandemic, and what the transition has been like since returning to live gigs.
After discovering both Eliza and Bekah through the singing videos which they had posted on Tiktok, I reached out to them to see if they would be willing to share their stories with me. As certain protocols were in place during the time of these interviews, I sat down with both musicians over Zoom. Despite the limitations that came from doing virtual interviews (and my initial nerves as I let them into the virtual waiting room), my stresses were quickly mended as I could feel the kindness, passion and dedication of both performers. This was something so clear to see even through the barrier of a screen.
The joy that music brings Edinburgh-based performer and songwriter Eliza Rose is unapologetically evident. With a background in musical theatre, the inspiration to start busking came to her whilst she was working her (day) job as a night cleaner. Singing during her shifts was her favourite part of the job because no one else was in the building at the time.“It was a really nice space to practice, you could just belt and be really loud,” she laughs, as she reflects on her pastimes with me. During the lockdown, she gave busking a go as she wasn’t performing to anyone and had always wanted to try it: “I thought it would be a brief summer project, but it’s really nice that I've been able to keep it going.”
Transitioning from theatre performances to busking also meant a genre change: “I hadn’t really done pop songs, but when you’re busking, you do better if it’s songs that people recognise.” She explains that a lot of the audiences she draws are tourists, which means that finding universal songs, ones everyone knows, is hugely important. Beginning her busking journey while lockdown restrictions were in place, meant that the streets were less busy. This was unintentionally positive as it meant that starting was easier and less intimidating. She shares that her confidence in busking has improved significantly the more practice she has.
Eliza Rose began on Tiktok and Instagram (@elizarose.25) in July 2021. She posted singing videos which she filmed in the comfort of her home: “When you film yourself you can check over all of it, do the angle you want, sing a song you’ve maybe not posted before.” She started to post clips of her busking as well, and after one of her Instagram reels gained traction, her following grew significantly. She’s continued to post clips on social media and when the weather is nice you can find her out busking: “If it’s a sunny day I’ll probably be on Princes street or the [Royal] Mile.” While she doesn’t have a set schedule, she often posts on her social media if she’s out performing that day. So, if you happen to hear the sounds of your favourite pop songs while you’re out in the city centre, be sure to stop and listen to Eliza’s fantastic set.
Bekah Robertson is an Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter who also belongs to the band Unspeakablemonday. Her passion for her musicianship is something you can hear not only in her songs but in her descriptions of her craft as well. We begin the interview and she explains that she started sharing her music on social media in June 2020. Posting original songs and covers on Tiktok (@bek.robertson) for the past two years, she’s found there are a lot of benefits and drawbacks to using the app: “It's quite good for getting an initial boost of interaction with your stuff, I get quite a lot of views on posting short verses or choruses of my original music.” She shares the frustration, however, that unreleased songs don’t tend to get as much attention, as most viewers prefer to listen to songs on streaming platforms such as Spotify or Apple Music.
Her favourite part of the app is interacting with fellow musicians, as there is a huge community of singer-songwriters: “Getting connections with other artists is a really great thing on Tiktok. I have made so many artist friends just from the last two years of posting.”
She tells me as well how her creative process has shifted throughout Covid. Due to having more time to herself in lockdown, she was able to practice her songwriting and has now written many original songs. She recently had her first gig post-Covid where she performed an original song for the first time. Pre-pandemic, she had only ever performed musical theatre. While simultaneously a nerve-wracking and exciting moment, she says smiling, that overall the experience was incredibly positive: “It was weird just seeing the flip from not being myself at all to being the most authentic thing that I could be on stage.”
Bekah has been hard at work on an EP, which she hopes to release online to streaming platforms by the end of the summer. Be sure to keep up with her on Instagram and Tiktok @bek.robertson and her band @unspeakablemonday for dates for gigs and other live performances.
Don’t miss out on live performances from both of these incredible musicians. I will definitely be there, without my laptop, ring-light, and Zoom fatigue, excitedly awaiting the unique visceral experience that can only come from an in-person show.