by Scott Roos
It's only been a handful weeks since her positive test result, but La Ronge based arts education teacher turned singer-songwriter Dara Schindelka has had plenty of time and opportunity to think about her COVID19 experience. It was this reflective time during isolation that was the genesis of her tongue-in-cheek, bluesy new single entitled "The Covid Christmas".
"I was sitting at home with Covid and trying to get motivated to arrange and write music for an upcoming holiday special I was doing with SaskTel Max. I was pretty glum. Everything felt heavy and it was hard to find inspiration at the moment when I felt so isolated and overwhelmed as many of us feel these days. That's when I had this idea. The 'most wonderful time of the year' is a state of mind that is happening whether we embrace it or not. The holidays are what we make it. So, I started writing the lyrics with a lighthearted vibe and just having fun with the fact that we are all in this together. Once I started the words just came out on the page and the melody came along with it.," related Schindelka in a recent conversation with NSMZ.
In general, it hasn't been that long since Schindelka decided to reconnect with her dream of being a bonified singer-songwriter. But, so far, she's been able to make the best of it up in La Ronge. The La Ronge arts community benefits from isolation. People are free to create the music and art they want to without "southern" influences creeping into the process. They band together and essentially make their own fun and make the best of the talents they have. This is something not altogether lost on Schindelka.
"La Ronge is an amazing artsy community. I think it comes from the inspirational beauty of the nature around us. I also think the isolation from other major centres means people dig in and create their own art as a community," explained Schindelka.
"I decided late last summer of 2019 that I wanted to really pursue my own musical endeavors as a singer and songwriter and made a goal to get out there and do shows and see where it took me. When you have nothing to lose you can be a little more fearless," Schindelka continued.
Schindelka is very much a roots singer with a story telling style. She worships at the altar of many of the all time greats in the genre including: Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, Bruce Cockburn, Connie Kaldor and Tracy Chapman. Even though her latest "The Covid Christmas" takes more of a comical spin, it still serves to underscore where Schindelka is at lately with her headspace. It's also relatable to many who are currently trying to process similar thoughts and feelings or going through similar experiences right now due to the pandemic.
"Writing is my way of processing my life and the world I am in. I write very personal heart wrenching songs and I write fun goofy songs. Both are reflections of who I am. I write words and lyrics almost daily. I think of them as a dear diary entry. Music is what keeps me positive and thoughtful in a world that is often negative and divisive," said Schindelka
At the end of the day, "The Covid Christmas" may not necessarily be a song that outlasts the pandemic. Many may see it as a novelty song but it's much more than that. When COVID19 finally, mercifully, fades away and becomes the subject of the very history textbooks that Schindelka will see on her continued journey as an educator, her song will remain as part of a time capsule of this time period. It's a window into the soul of our thoughts and feelings as we move forward and try to process just what the hell the way forward is with COVID19. But aside from that, it's a great f**king song and one that deserves massive amounts of airplay as we all try to negotiate this very unique Christmas season.
And, in terms of Schindelka's own COVID19 experience, apart from her song, she has a lot more to say. She's a deep thinker that's used art as a tool to communicate. It's been great seeing her use her song to get out there and share her own story.
"Here's what I learned from getting COVID19. Stop judging others. I wear a mask, sanitize constantly, and wash my hands. I teach music and arts education in the public system in La Ronge, SK and because of that I am exposed to many others daily. It does no good to find where to lay blame. We are all in this together and we each need to do our part."
These are wise words and ones that hopefully will help Saskatchewan to once again flatten the curve. In the meantime, check out Schindelka's song. It'll brighten your day, put a smile on your face and hopefully help you to at least take one more step in your pandemic journeys.