It’s been just over one month since the launch of #vaxthenation, which saw more than 400 of Australia’s biggest artists and performers join forces with leading tour promoters, music festivals, venues, ticketing agencies, record labels, comedy producers, theatre, opera and dance companies, media outlets, industry associations, peak bodies and global brands like YouTube and TikTok in a new campaign asking Australians to help ‘stop the interruptions’ and get vaccinated.
In response, Ben Mitchell released a song called Free The Nation and started a campaign of his own. Free The Nation Music has since seen over 170 vaccinated and unvaccinated musicians stand up for freedom against discrimination, segregation and fear, and promoting choice, respect and love for all.
However, the one thing we can all agree on is that the COVID-19 vaccine has left us divided.
So, we wanted to go to the source itself, and find out just what the country music community thinks about this topical subject. While it would be impossible to gauge every single opinion, we have carefully curated our twelve country artists to represent a range of different ages, genders, locations, family dynamics, life experiences as well as places they are at in their respected careers.
While not requested by the artists themselves, to allow a safe and open space to share their opinions freely without consequence, we have assigned each artist a random number and omitted key details to keep their anonymity.
In this twelve-part daily series, we asked our artists a range of taboo, topical and controversial questions to find out what the Australian country music community thinks of COVID-19.
NOTE: OPINIONS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE THE ARTIST’S OWN. PLEASE CONSIDER DOING YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND/OR SPEAKING TO A GP OR SCIENTIFIC OR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/
Are you currently vaccinated or unvaccinated, and why did you make that decision?
Artist 2: I’m partially vaccinated. I was very much waiting as long as I could. Essentially, the pressure from the government and the messaging around it has been very unsettling for me and to then, to get back to gigging, it has become more and more apparent, as we continue down the vaccination rabbit hole, that you won’t be allowed to do anything. For me to maintain a career, it’s a choice I’ve had to make. But that doesn’t mean I wanted to get it. I’m not necessarily 100% with any of it.
Do you think artists/performers should use their platform to encourage others to get vaccinated?
Artist 2: Not at all. We’re not doctors, we’re not frontline workers, I don’t see any reason in trying to tell someone what they should and shouldn’t do. We might feel strongly about getting back to work and vaccination is the only way for that, but I think everyone is entitled to their choice.
What is your opinion on vaccinated only events? For example, Big Red Bash and Broken Hill Mundi Mundi Bash’s new ‘no jab, no jive’ policy, requiring ticket holders, artists, crew, volunteers and vendors over the age of 16 to be fully vaccinated to attend the events in 2022.
Artist 2: I can understand why they want to do it based on the information that we’ve been given but it is very polarising and controversial, especially at the moment. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t expect it to happen this quickly, and once one festival/venue comes on board with that, a lot more with follow. But I still think they’ll be others that won’t mind. Moving forward, they will probably go to either vaccinated or COVID test negative like the US. But I’m not necessarily sold on that discriminating factor, especially now with the inclusiveness of the music industry with gender, race and all these different things, it seems super weird to me.
Would you mandate your own personal gigs be vaccinated only?
Artist 2: No. If it was one of those rare occasions where I was in control, I would happily have both vaccinated and unvaccinated. With a COVID negative test would be somewhat clever because you still want it to be a safe event in some respect and need to look after the people that are coming. But restricting on that alone, to me, wouldn’t be something I’d be keen on.
Do you think those who choose not to be vaccinated should have the same freedoms as those who do and why?
Artist 2: It seems weird to me that two years ago, we were all allowed to do stuff and now we’re not. You’re not going to be able to sit and have a coffee, have dinner, or go to a pub with your friends unless you’ve been vaccinated, and you’ve got to sign in with your little QR code that’s going to tell you whether you’re allowed in based on your vaccination status. It’s strange. I understand why the government feels the need to put these in place, but it feels very icky to me. There’s going to be a divide and if I didn’t have to get vaccinated to keep my job, it would be a lot more of a consideration. I have friends who don’t want to be vaccinated and I’m still happy to see them. We’re all human.
Are you concerned that speaking out about the COVID-19 vaccine will impact your career in a negative way?
Artist 2: Definitely. It’s why I haven’t done it publicly with my name on it because there is just such a strong pro-vax in the music industry and you’re only got to look at people like Guy Sebastian who’ve come out and everyone’s hating on him. It’s like we’ve got this united voice that no one asked about and they’re speaking for me. I think that not saying anything is powerful in itself.
I was hesitant with the vaccination movement. I didn’t post about it because I felt it took away a voice for everyone and it’s made out like the music industry feels it’s safe for me when I didn’t really feel that way. Even though I didn’t want to publicly talk about it, I knew if I did publicly come out and say anything, it would just open me up to a lot of hate. So, I’d rather not talk about it, but let people make their own choices. I don’t think the population is getting vaccinated because the music industry tells them to, it might be part of that consideration that they want to go out and they want to go to pubs and stuff, not because an artist told them to get vaccinated.
What are your opinions on people who don’t share your same beliefs on the COVID-19 vaccine?
Artist 2: They’re entitled to their opinion. I rarely find myself pulled extremely one way, because I consider myself a heavy leveled person. I understand different sides of the argument. But the confrontation, disagreement and online, and in person, isn’t helping. People would rather get in an argument about something for the end goal of being right, as opposed to understanding. I’m very much pro-choice, which is quite controversial, because it’s a very difficult conversation, at the best of times, let alone during the pandemic. It’s been quite heated argument in the industry and online.
To those you have voiced your opinions to (whether it be to fans, friends, or family), what kind of reception have you received?
Artist 2: I choose my words quite carefully. I generally feel like a lot of people feel the same way. Everyone is feeling unsure, it’s just a weird time. I surround myself with people that are generally level-headed also, because I wouldn’t want to be friends with people that are super arrogant and not able to listen to other people’s views. I’ve found that even my friends who are pro-vax, still can understand where I’m coming from. If I was more to attack someone with “pro-vax is wrong” or “anti-vax is wrong,” you’re immediately pissing them off.
Do you think your location has any influence on your decision to get vaccinated/be unvaccinated? For example, someone in a major city who have been largely affected by lockdowns might have more urgency to get vaccinated than those in regional areas/other states?
Artist 2: It’s probably a bit easier, regionally, to be unvaccinated, because you do have that distance aspect as opposed to the city. The city obviously poses its own risks, which is higher population, therefore, technically a higher concentration of the disease and you’re more exposed to it, but regional areas also pose its own a risk in that the hospital care isn’t necessarily excellence. If there were complications or anything like that, you would struggle that way.
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?
Artist 2: It’s a multifaceted attack, really. We’ve been unable to perform, which is any performing artists major source of income. So obviously, the lack of income has been devastating, purely because you want to keep a roof over your head, but also music costs money to make. The other aspect of it is that releasing music has been quite difficult. Also, the amount of music that’s out at the moment, everyone’s kind of competing for the same thing, and festival lineups are booked out.
Then, I suppose the ageing argument is that I’ve lost three years of my career, in kind like the, quote unquote, younger prime years of my life that I’m not going to get back so there’s a hit on that. It’s really made me question why I bother in the first place.
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/