Interpreting Isolation Part 2 - Selected Works

A further 6 projects were selected as creative responses to COVID-19, as part of our 'Interpreting Isolation' grants. Over the next 6 weeks we will be premiering these works - discover them here. 

Here at Sound and Music and particularly on the British Music Collection, we feel it is important to capture this moment and create a space to reflect on COVID-19 in a creative way. After a nation-wide call for applications, which saw over 150 responses, we're excited to share the works of the second round of successful applicants to our 'Interpreting Isolation' grants.

The grant-winners are: Jonathan Higgins, Janet Oates, Eleanor Turner and Wayne Bennett, Jaka Škapin and Pavel Radu, Shunaji, and Catherine Ireton.


  • Shunaji -  'Juniper & Helium'

"Juniper & Helium is my new sonic and lyrical experimentation for Sound and Music's 'Interpreting Isolation' grant, a musical project in response to the COVID-19 lockdown and its impact on creatives. 

The track is structured in two parts, 'Juniper' (Part 1) and 'Helium' (Part 2). The stark contrast in mood and sonorities becomes apparent as you follow the artist on a reflective journey: unpacking social interactions, managing expectations, opening up about anxiety, holding on to ambition, embracing solitude, creative bursts, finding inspiration, contemplating nature and dreaming of outer space possibilities.

Juniper & Helium is my dark side of the moon. With this track, I revisited my emo and alternative rock influences, while reimagining the sound of abstract hip hop. The bass line has a miraculous funk edge, while the drum n' bass outburst in 'Helium' (Part 2) was a revelation. I give thanks to Ben Stelly and Claudio Finelli, respectively, for their contributions." - Shunaji

Find out more about Shunaji here


  • Catherine Ireton -  'What's in store' and 'Lockdown Loaf'

Both Catherine Ireton's pieces, 'What's in store' and 'Lockdown Loaf', are personal portraits exploring our sonic lockdown world. The static videos focus on hands, our most essential human tools, which, during this time have been made strange to us and could cause us harm. 'Lockdown Loaf' is an attempt to release this tension, focusing on familiar home comforts within the domestic sphere. 'What's in store' is slightly darker, exploring uncertainty of the outside world, the media and the invisible enemy in our midst.

Find out more about Catherine Ireton here


  • Jaka Škapin and Pavel Radu -  'A Sound That Triggered'

Jaka Škapin and Pavel Radu's response to Interpreting Isolation is a collaboratively improvised piece, performed and captured in one take.  It is "an introspection on how the tiniest sound can bring back such vivid emotions, especially when facing ourselves in the mirror while being confined to a small living space for an extended period of time."

Find out more about Jaka Škapin and Pavel Radu here


  • Janet Oates -  'Closet Music' 

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Janet Oates' Interpreting Isolation project involved commissioning 4 new works and creating a series of videos, to further the progress of the children’s strand of her long-term Closet Music project, which explores the auditory imagination. The works include:

· Sheena Phillips: Painting Sounds: an invitation for children to interpret painted marks as sounds, and create their own mark-making system

· Paul Burnell: Superhearing: a comic-book style adventure in sound

· Janet Oates: The Alien Sound Scan: a story-format work encouraging aural imagination

Explore Janet's videos below:

1. Singing inside our heads, manipulating the sound (terminology: tempo, timbre)

2. Imagining sounds: superhearing (focusing in and in on sounds)

3. The alien sound-scan: a sound-story. Colour, movement and sound.

4. Imagining rhythm: ‘shoe trip’ (imagining the sounds of footwear dancing, involving imaginative language too) and ‘dot rhythms’ – interpreting marks on paper as rhythms

5. Sound and imagery: drawing sounds you imagine; imagining drawn sounds.

Find out more about Janet Oates


  • Eleanor Turner and Wayne Bennett -  'And That Is Why We Are Here Today'


Wayne Bennett and Eleanor Turner started their collaboration shortly before lockdown. The piece of music they have created is a response to the frustration and uncertainty they are experiencing as performing musicians at this time, while still celebrating the undeniable gift of peace. Their sound design encapsulates both riot and unrest as well as nature and tranquility, acting as a musical memory to look back on for years to come once touring has eventually resumed.

Find out more about Wayne Bennett and Eleanor Turner here


  • Jonathan Higgins - 'Wallpaper'

"During isolation we have looked to the internet to replace in person communication. Zoom and similar services have provided much needed interaction for many. However, those who lack access to the internet are excluded from these virtual social spaces. Wallpaper utilises words from those isolating without access to the internet. In an online recording session their words were read back, performed and manipulated via the imperfections of the internet until digital noise overtook all meaning. These recordings were then arranged to create Wallpaper.

Wallpaper exists in two versions: the digital download available here and a hotline available on 0330 818 0351 (calls cost your standard landline rate, if you're outside the UK please call +44 330 818 0351). The phone you use, where you are and the time of day you call will all affect the quality of the playback through the hotline. This EP consists of the digital download of Wallpaper, the 8 bit, 8 kHz, Mono file that is utilised by the hotline and three recordings of the hotline from different phones and locations." - Jonathan Higgins

Find out more about Jonathan Higgins here