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SAMANTHA FARRELL: I've had a couple of people
say it gave me a vacation from my anxiety
or it gave me a break.
Just for a little moment in the day,
I just kind of forgot about it.
And to me, that's mission accomplished, you know?
I couldn't hear a better thing that someone
could say about this.
(SINGING) The currents run.
Electric hum.
The galaxy's own melody.
A long look back over your shoulder.
Space is a curve.
The stars have learned, but yet we resist every turn.
You know you only want to hold her.
And we go round in circles goes again.
And we go round in circles again.
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.
My name is Samantha Farrell.
I'm a musician, and I also happen to work at MIT.
I'm the assistant to the founding director
of MIT Nano, Vladimir Bulovic, and I also
helped manage his research group, the ONE Lab
(SINGING) There's some kind of sweetness in their solitude.
I'm white as the sky and still as the moon.
INTERVIEWER: Samantha started performing professionally
in the early 2000s while still in college.
Most nights, you can find her out listening to music,
at band rehearsal, or performing live.
Her and her band are regulars in the Boston music scene.
However, like most of us currently, they now
find themselves stuck at home, struggling
to adjust to the new normal.
As Samantha began to settle in and navigate through canceled
gigs and working remotely, she found herself
in need of something more, something creative
and collaborative and fun.
SAMANTHA FARRELL: That Monday after they sort of asked
us to not come back to work, I was just feeling really sad.
I was just feeling really sad and lethargic and just sort of
uncertain about everything.
And over the course of the week, I was thinking of ways.
OK, how am I going to stay sane?
And I knew that just continuing to make music
would help keep me nice and even and feeling good about things.
So my boyfriend and I-- he is a videographer.
We were kind of thinking like, what can we do collaboratively?
What can we do with our friend?
If we're going to be isolated, let's still
try to make something together, and that's
how we sort of came up with the idea of split/screen
(SINGING) Got me crazy when I see you, baby.
INTERVIEWER: Split/screen quarantine
is a weekly video series Samantha publishes
on her YouTube channel.
Each video, which she calls a transmission,
feature a collaboration between herself
and a different musician performing
a song of their choice.
Going into this idea, Samantha says
she wasn't quite sure what the end
result of each collaboration would be,
but what she did know was she wanted
to maintain a specific aesthetic throughout each.
SAMANTHA FARRELL: We wanted to kind of keep
that homegrown, shot-at-home, found-footage-y kind of look.
So we decided to shoot these on an iPhone or whatever cell
phone that you have.
And we spent a long time getting the keyboard sound to the font
so it would look and sound like coming
from a bunker in the '80s like in a postapocalyptic movie
or something like that.
We were just trying to lean into the weirdness of all of this.
(SINGING) I did not expect this desire.
I did not ask for this fire.
I don't know it's coming.
I don't know it coming.
(SPEAKING) So what everyone does is
that they record their footage, and then everyone
sends the files.
And then Christopher, who's the videographer
and the editor of these, stitches it all together.
(SINGING) --see standing there.
(SPEAKING) Each video takes hours to create and put
together, and the audio, we spend a lot of time mixing it.
So big round of applause to the behind-the-scenes editing
and production help from DeSant Productions.
(SINGING) --my type to give away your whole life.
INTERVIEWER: Her collaborators consist mostly
of musician friends and band members,
some of whom she has worked with often
and some she's never worked with at all.
Her only requirement-- a collaborator
who is equally excited and is enthusiastic
about participating as she is.
One of her most recent collaborations
was with an MIT alum who played not just one
but four separate instruments to round it all out.
SAMANTHA FARRELL: We just recorded a Melody Gardot
song, which I love.
I play with my band a lot, and it's a big hit
with the blues dance community.
So I'm used to seeing a lot of people swaying in the aisles
when we're playing this one.
And I recorded it with Michael Valdez, who is an MIT alum.
He was class of '90 Course 16 for undergrad,
and then he got his master's in AeroAstro,
same department in '93.
I met him maybe like eight years ago.
He just came up to me at a gig and he's
like, I should be your piano player.
And I said OK, and that was that.
He's a multi-instrumentalist he's a brilliant person.
Of course, went to MIT, so--
he is playing upright bass, piano, drums,
and Wurlitzer on this.
So I hope you enjoy.
(SINGING) Your eyes may be whole, but the story I'm told
is your heart is as black as night.
Your lips may be sweet such that I can't compete,
but your heart is as black as night.
I don't know why you came along.
It's such a perfect time.
But if I let you hang around, I'm
bound to lose my mind because your hand may be strong,
but the feelings all along your heart is as black as night.
Your heart is black.
I don't know why you came along at such a perfect time.
But if I let you hang around, I'm
bound to lose my mind because your hand may be strong,
but the feelings all around your heart is as black--
your heart is as black-- oh, your heart
is as black as night.
(SPEAKING) I'm having so much fun just collaborating
with people.
Like one of the next people that I'm doing
this with is Van Morrison's ex-piano-player.
He's coming up.
He's coming up next on one of these.
I have a friend in Amsterdam who's about to do one with me.
I have a friend in Los Angeles who's going to do one with me.
It's just like a really fun way to reach out and just
talk to people and have musical conversations with people.
And what I'm finding is that I'm not receiving resistance to it.
It's not like, oh, let me think about it.
Everyone wants to do it.
I think having a creative focus and a mission
to record and record audio and then record yourself,
it gives you something positive to do.
And then every Monday having a finished product,
it was making everyone feel kind of productive.
(SINGING) It's my turn to wish you were lying here.
I tend to dream you when I'm not sleeping.
It's my turn to fictionalize my world
or even imagine your emotions, tell myself anything
(SPEAKING) I feel like in times like these,
this is when the arts really shine
and when people's humanity can really shine.
That's when musicians and filmmakers and artists I think
are needed more than ever.
(SPEAKING) It's my turn to totally understand.
(SPEAKING) Again, my name is Samantha Farrell,
and thank you so much for listening.
And if you want to continue to hear split/screen quarantine
transmissions, they'll be coming out every single Monday
until MIT lets us back in, which may be a while.
But you can find them by subscribing to me on YouTube.
It's just Samantha Farrell Music.
Or I'll be releasing them on Facebook, Samantha Farrell
Music on.
(SINGING) I'd die without you because inside
I'd die with you.
INTERVIEWER: Thanks for listening.
You can find more audio content from MIT on Apple Podcasts,
Google Play, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
SAMANTHA FARRELL: (SINGING) --for all the things I've done.