I am Canadian, a True Maple Leaf; as I like t call myself. I was based and working as a performing artist in Vancouver, when my partner secured a dream job that happened to be located in Denmark. Let me tell you, moving across the pond in a World Wide Pandemic is not for the weak of heart. Luckily, musicians and artist are hardy, resilient, and familiar with difficult times and peculiar gigs.
The job offer had been made and accepted and we were to fly to our new Danish home March 26th, 2020. We were beyond excited. Neither of us had ever been to Denmark, nor knew much about it at all, but still we couldn’t wait to begin our adventure moving to a new continent. I was so excited at the prospect of playing music in Denmark, meeting new musicians, going to gigs/concerts, start new projects, applying to music festivals in Denmark and around Europe… and immersing myself in any and all musical experiences that Europe had to offer. Unfortunately, Covid-19 cares nothing for excitement, plans or dreams.
There was a Rocky Mountain high pile of things to do to get ready for the move: sort, pack, get rid of stuff, secure visas, wrap up work, tell family/clients/friends, get health certificates/vaccines/papers for our two Persian cats to travel with us…they had no idea what a whirl wind we were embarking on and neither did we.
Then Covid-19 hit and our entire well laid out plans evaporated in front of our eyes. We found out on March 16th our move was to be postponed, because Denmark was closing down and no government offices would be open to process our becoming residents. We still, however, had a scheduled move from our home, of the last 6 years, a few days away. Eek, we had nowhere to live after our move. Flight and Fright completely took over. Vancouver was closing down and fast. We had to cancel our going away party, therefore forgoing saying goodbye to our family, friends, colleagues and my band mates. Our building was shutting down our loading bay and so the move, that was to be over two days, suddenly turned into me begging the movers to do it in one – which they did by working from 9am to midnight. Lastly, and the biggest stress of all, is we were to be homeless in the middle of a World Pandemic.
Good fortune was smiling on us the day I secured a home, one day before our move, on one of the Gulf Islands on the West Coast of Canada. The owner was stuck in the EU and we were stuck in Canada. It was perfect. We could stay as long as we liked, for when she'd’d be able to travel, we’d be able to travel. Now we had to get to the island and fast! The ferries were decreasing sailings and stopping some routes all together, so we boogied on the 1st ferry the morning after our move, with 6 suitcases (packed with island, Denmark, and work clothes for all seasons - since we didn’t know how long we’d be anywhere), papers, food, cleaning supplies, masks, cases and cases of cat food, cat litter, and two wide eyed little Persian Cats, in their respective carriers. I hired cleaners and a painter to ready the apartment for the next set of renters who would enjoy our now former, well loved home and I coordinated everything from my cell phone on the island.
We successfully landed in our new temporary home, in a beautiful water front, a-framed cabin, surrounded by tall trees, eagles, humming birds, otters, seals and the odd sea lion in the distance. Basically we landed in Canadian paradise. We spent the next 6 weeks recovering, resting, and going back and forth with travel agents and the company's HR to discuss when and how we could make our move to Denmark.
Finally the day came when the Danish Government offices opened up for online processing of new residents, and at the exact same time a window magically appeared to travel to Denmark, with actual flights and everything! We left our island home and drove to the Vancouver Airport Hotel for a 3-night stay, so we could secure the cats medical exams and their Heath Certificates from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Yes even the kits needed endless papers to enter Denmark.
There was only one flight out of Canada into the EU and it was from Toronto, so our travel itinerary looked like: We flew from Vancouver to Toronto, stayed one night in the Toronto Airport hotel, to give the kits a break in between the flights. Also we thought it best to cautiously fly a day early before our flight into the EU, just incase the Vancouver to Toronto flight was canceled- this was a common occurrence if the flights were not full enough. Next we flew from Toronto to Amsterdam, had a short layover before taking our last, brief flight, to Denmark.
Our journey was quite surreal. There was little to no food to be had in the hotels, or at the airports; the airports and hotels were almost empty; no lines; flights were 10 % full - we had a whole section of a large plane to ourselves on the flight from Toronto to Amsterdam. Our poor little kits looked beyond miserable. In the hotels we had to barricade under the beds with suitcases and pillows, so our kits wouldn’t bury themselves in the darkness, never to be seen again, and most importantly, be inaccessible when we had to leave for our next flight. We gave them anti anxiety meds, prescribe from our vet. I’m not sure they helped, but perhaps they would have been much worse off without them, although it’s difficult to imagine. Their humans self medicated with ‘Rescue Remedy’, mostly because of the how miserable the kits looked. It was all extremely stressful.
Finally after two months of shuffling plans and flights around, we landed safely in Denmark. We were definitely worse for wear, but we landed! Denmark was in complete lockdown when we arrive, with only grocery stores and pharmacies open. There were barely any cars or humans to be seen anywhere. There was definitely no way for me to find the local music scene, go to gigs/concerts, meet musicians, find new band members, play in local venues, festivals, or tour my music around Europe. It seemed ‘Corona’ was the actual day the music died, and so now what was I to do?
It wasn’t easy settling into a new country, where everything is so digitized and different than what we are used to, but we did it. Finally I could turn my attention to my music. I thought up ways I could resuscitate my career, by streaming online ‘Live from Denmark Shows’, teach vocal and performance techniques via FaceTime or Zoom, redesign my MartnaGriffiths.com webpage (yes this is the redesign – I hope you like it ;) and I finished a new album titled, ‘Great Canadian Songbook’ that I am super excited to about. I am currently thinking up ways to successfully have a release party. It will most likely be online, so stay tuned for dates and times. You can also listen and purchase 'Great Canadian Songbook' here on my Music Page and I have some fun 'Merch' in my Store Page.
We’ve been in Denmark a year now and it open and closes up various activities, depending on what the infection rate numbers are doing; kind of like a YoYo YoYo-ing, but the live music scene is still tightly/semi closed and most likely will be for some time. However, now that we have a home we love, a sacred few wonderful new friends and neighbours, and the kits are happily purring on the sofa, I can continue to navigate my way through the ins and outs of making music in these crazy Corona-19 days; aka ‘The day the music died’.
Stay safe, sane and fill your ears with music,