caught up with Lina Ugrinovska, international booker at Password Production in Macedonia.
Ugrinovska has been outspoken on all things concerning mental health ever since working her way out of her own mental health crisis.
The bans on gatherings and employment imposed by governments in reaction to Covid-19 has placed many live professionals in a situation they never faced before, maintaining a healthy mindset in the current climate is challenging.
We asked Ugrinovska how she's been coping, and about her tips for staying sane in insane times.
Pollstar: First of all, and since we're talking about mental health, how are you feeling?
Lina Ugrinovska: I`m well! Thank you! “Well” meaning there are no big mood variations during daytime and nighttime. Good is balanced, good is ready for anything. And also, ready for nothing at all.
I’m very grateful that this situation didn’t take from us what we enjoy internally, the places we’ve been and the people we’ve met.
What are the most challenging aspects of the lockdown for music professionals in particular?
I believe it is very individual. What is more, what we perceived this crisis to be in March and April is very different compared to where we are now, mind-wise.
This holds particularly true for the people in the live industry, mostly promoters and bookers such as myself, the people dependent on that addictive information flow, which we’re engrossed in on a daily basis, getting things and information from point A to point B, identifying and solving problems, delegating tasks, waiting for feedback, sharpening our senses etc.
The end of the state of routine is one of the most challenging things people from our sector had to face and transform, and also one of the main aspects affecting their well-being.
Facing the fact that you have no power, and at the same time noticing that no one around you has it either, was liberating in some bizarre way. You and your competitor face the exact same challenge. No one is moving. Times Square is on pause, the Red Square in Moscow is on pause, I`m on pause as well here in Skopje.
Communicating with other colleagues from different countries was required for us to re-confirm that all of this is really happening globally, to be able to face it and feel better about our non-activity. It also helped with not falling into a panic, but instead focus our attention inwards, away from our usual working routine.
Some professionals working in this business welcomed the opportunity to go on holidays with their families for the first time in years, as they didn't have a festival to organize. Have you come across these kinds of examples, which suggest that, for some, Covid might have led to a positive realization?
Yes, whether it’s people going on a vacation or renovating their homes or committing to tasks they were not into doing before.
I do have a positive outlook, as well, but the truth is, I don’t know how long it will last, or how I’m going to transform it. I just know that I invest in it every day. The uncertainty is a killer, though. I’m trying to find long-term solutions for a situation that changes almost daily.
What helps you stay positive?
I started working out since day one [of the lockdown]. That is something I have never done before. Now, I sometimes do it two times a day, and I believe it produces 80% of my positive energy. The discipline is incredibly similar to the one you need to succeed in this industry.
What’s challenged you personally the most?
The biggest change for me personally is that I haven`t traveled more than 100 kilometers in months. Airports, hotel rooms, streets, are and always will be my biggest inspiration, for my work, and my well-being.
We usually maintain a crazy tempo, working at same time as promoters, agents, managers, and sometimes parents, for our artists. We’re educators, designers, concept developers all in one. Excluding all of that from your daily routine changes you, obviously.
What do you make of all of these claims that the virus "has brought us closer together," "together at home," or that it somehow connected us more?
To be perfectly honest, I don`t think it has brought us closer together, but I do believe it connected the people who personally grew through this lockdown. Those who adapted through the process and adopted a new routine – somehow these people found each other, felt each other and developed a new social life together.
I believe that the time spent without the usual pressures, without the seeking of acknowledgment and without having to prove yourself to others, was replaced by an exploration of what time means to us. Once the world stopped, research into our own minds moved up the priority list, and, for some, it was high time to redefine priorities.
Does this crisis affect workaholics in particular?
I do believe the effect on workaholics is different. They adapt, they shift from one obsession to another quickly and immediately, at least I did.
The day the lockdown and policed curfews were announced, I already had a plan for what I will do and how will I redesign my days. Not fully fleshed out yet, but I was open to change.
At first, I was waiting for a genius idea to land in my head so I could be of help to the industry, which made me feel some weird form of guilt at first. I wanted to justify my role and mission in this business, to justify my love for it.
But I realized that I’m a part of it and I`m not going anywhere, no matter the obstacles. My new routine is designed to better myself, and for that better self to deal with the music industry when it returns again.
What will be the most important factors for professionals not to lose their minds over this crisis?
Acceptance. Adaptation. And learning one of the hardest lessons: that you don’t have control over what will happen with the world tomorrow or anytime in the future. Whoever hadn’t learned that yet, now had to.
It’s the nature of our work, that we find it very hard to face a situation where we`re not solving a problem with a decision, where things don`t depend on us. Now we are clear about that.
I hope that most of us will realize that this time hasn’t been lost at all. We will be far more ready, more adaptable, simply more intelligent.