Dimitri Jones sheds light on the struggle of show business during the pandemic and highlights the government failure in backing up the cultural world.
Who’s Dimitri Jones Gouinguenet?
A singer, a songwriter, but also a live performer and an actor. I directed my first video clip and I was in charge of the whole creative and artistic direction. I would define myself as a performance artist, but also a musician and a creative director.
What financial impact has COVID-19 had on you? Did you had to cancel or postpone any tours, shows, or an album release because of COVID-19?
COVID-19 has had various effects on every aspect of my activities. My record entitled « I don’t wanna dance » came out on June the 5th, right after the first French lockdown. I promoted it online and got selected in a few playlists internationally, which was really great. However, I couldn’t go on stage to play the EP. As a young artist, it’s crucial that I get to perform to meet people that could potentially be interested in working with me. Most of the money you make in the music business comes from concerts, even for the most famous artists in the world. Therefore, not being able to perform was quite calamitous. Also, before the lockdown, I had reached the last round of an extremely important audition. I was going to work as a singer in a club for the whole winter. But the production eventually cancelled the audition and it was not the only one, unfortunately. Since March, I have only performed one show for a private event.
Did you consider finding a new job as a temporary solution?
I am probably going to have to take a side job to pay my bills. I still have a few months of unemployment allowance, but at some point, I will have no resources left. This is frustrating because, when you are an artist, you work ceaselessly, even when you are unemployed; practicing, writing and anticipating. A side job pays your bills, but it is also a loss of time which could be spent on your artistic life and on improving your work quality.
Did you get any help from the cultural world?
I personally didn’t get any help from the cultural world because I didn’t fit the eligibility criteria, but a lot of artists did. The unemployment allowance of several show business workers was postponed to august 2021. The government doesn’t propose any extra help. Everyone is walking on a tight-rope. This is a very hard time for show business but also for all the workers who depend on it to make a living; restaurants, cafés, bars and so on. This industry generates a lot of money and still, we don’t seem to be taken seriously.
What other steps should record labels, music streaming platforms, and other music industry entities be taking to help struggling musicians through this time?
They are helping as much as they can but they are limited. The whole economy is impacted. As long as we’re not allowed to work, which I personally estimate to be possible, even the most important entities will somehow be restricted in the help they will be able to provide. Everyone in this profession feels left behind. The French government is not helping the cultural world as much as they should be. This is very revealing of how Macron’s government is not supporting art, culture and creation, which are crucial for freedom of speech, mind and also for peace and education.
Have you been doing any live-streamed performances during COVID-19? A lot of artists have been doing them—do you think it’s a challenge to make them original and interesting?
For the first lockdown, I finished the mastering of my EP and worked on it’s release, hence it was more about being in touch with the sound engineers, creating the record cover with limited means, interacting with my community and contacting music professionals. Having to do everything on my own limited my possibilities to perform live. Besides, I think that it is difficult to make these performances appealing, because people are often used to great sound and image quality. It is definitely a challenge to make them interesting and original.
What are your future projects?
I am currently working on a new music material. I’m trying to stay ready, but to be honest, it is still a very complicated situation. The Virus hurts us all, not just artists, but everybody else!
Dimitri Jones as a guest artist for the Queer Edition « Play It Indie ». 2018. © Justin Zante.
How do you think this pandemic will affect the show business and the cultural world in general, in the long term?
There won’t be a lot of money and it’s difficult to predict when things will get back to normal. However, one thing that I am sure of is there will always be art. Humanity is going through a historical crisis. Artists will be here, as always, to help society understand and comprehend this traumatic and yet, brand new experience. Once this is all over, people will want to go out and enjoy music, shows and movies. Everyone is missing a good party or a great show. We realize how precious things are when they become rare.
Interview conducted by Imane Adouay