Polish-born, Glasgow-based musician Ela Orleans already knows a bit about isolation, given the lockdown mentality she has adopted over the years while composing her haunting looped electronic soundscapes, which she has self-styled as “movies for ears.”
But in a cruel twist of timing, Orleans broke her ankle last autumn and had only just emerged from months in a wheelchair when the Covid pandemic imposed its own particular restrictions.
“Lockdown has been a bit much for me,” she says. “I feel like I haven't had a chance to socialize since October. And I am struggling now, because I had to say goodbye to my beloved cat Florek whose presence I miss incredibly.
“I turned into a reading machine, from McLuhan to Murakami. I am a book monster! I have been training my brain, as the cognitive side of it really got affected by being dormant for almost eight months. So I am doing Mensa training, a fast reading course and online French classes four times a week. I think it is easier to get motivated for me than for others, because I’ve always worked from home.”
Somehow Orleans has also carved out the time to work on a PhD, compose music for a production at the Polish Theatre in Poznan, work with Paris-based artist Michel Zumpf and indie film director Miranda July and continue her relationship with Glasgow-based sonic and visual art house Cryptic.
“Cryptic has been truly brilliant with helping me to survive and now suddenly I have so much work I can't rest,” she says.
Happily, Orleans did have time to record a mesmeric number called In Spring for the Scotsman Sessions, with the evening sun dappling the walls of her flat in Maryhill, Glasgow.
“This is a very difficult but also very inspiring time,” she says. “I chose that song because we didn’t have a chance to have spring – and when I say spring, I mean the spring of thought and compassion and love and understanding and communication. Hopefully it happens soon.”
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