Friday, March 13 was a significant day for Aaron Maine, the producer and vocalist behind electronic project Porches, for two reasons. The most obvious reason, of course, is that it was the day he released Ricky Music, his warm and compelling follow-up to 2018’s The House. The second reason: it was also the day he realized the coronavirus pandemic was going to affect his life more than he initially thought. “I don’t think a lot of people believed it was going to end up being like this,” he tells me over the phone from his Manhattan apartment. “I went out to dinner with one friend that night, and that was the last outing I’ve had... It’s such an unimaginable scenario. Here we are inside, making this shit up as we go along.”
Maine is quarantining alone at his apartment in Chinatown, his roommate having decamped to their parents’ house two weeks ago. “It’s nice not to have to absorb anyone else’s anxiety or fear on top of your own, when you’re not ready,” he tells me. “It’s good to be there for your friends and people that need you there, but it can get hectic.”
In lieu of the ability to socialize, though, Maine has been flexing other muscles, setting himself a loose daily routine that, aside from “staying safe and staying the fuck inside,” includes painting and reading, as well as his usual home activity of writing and recording music. Otherwise, he’s just trying to stay balanced. “That’s the most important thing, it seems like,” he says, “to keep it cool in any way you can.” Read about how exercise, journaling, and the French writer Michel Houellebecq have helped Maine self-isolate below.
Reading Michel Houellebecq’s Submission
Aaron Maine: Submission has been interesting. It’s set in the future, in 2022 in France, and there’s this upheaval in the government by this new political party. I’m only halfway through it, but it does seem relevant. The main character flees Paris because he’s scared for his job at the university because the new political power is redoing the education system. He also talks a lot about how he never thought he would experience a political uprising in his lifetime, or any political violence, and it sort of resonates in the way that I don’t think anyone thought they would ever experience a pandemic or would imagine figuring out how to operate under these circumstances. That rings true.
It’s been good, I’ve been trying to read fifty pages a day, have some sort of structure and rules in place to keep the day going and not get hung up on one thing. That routine helps me move throughout the day, feel like I have something to look forward to or have something that I need to do.
Doing a seven-minute workout
My workout routine is quite boring. I have this seven-minute workout app that’s quite dated, but it helps. It’s seven minutes long, which is a very small commitment. I used to do it on tour every day — when you’re on your ass all the time, sitting in a van or sitting at home, it does really help my brain, helps my heart. I sweat a little bit. There’s so much pent up physical energy right now, at least in New York. It’s not a city meant to be lived indoors, like some other cities. Even in Los Angeles, people got backyards, people got multiple rooms. Everyone’s kinda in their cube here, and it feels [similar to] if you drink too much coffee, this weird anxious energy bubbling around inside of you. More than getting fit, it just helps me get these wiggles out. It’s nice to check something off the list, as far as a goals list goes.
I journal regularly, quarantined or not, but it’s been good. Everything is obviously slowed down, and I feel like I’m able to do almost every task with a little more patience, because no-one has anywhere to be or much to do at the moment. I just try and drag it out, make my coffee, sit in the kitchen and do my emails, work on music in my room, maybe go out for a walk or two, depending on how I’m feeling. That’s been good — I rarely read back my journals, it’s more about getting the noise out of my head in the morning when I wake up, clearing my thoughts so I can think a little bit better. It’s obviously a super charged-up time, so maybe I’ll look back at these pages… some of it is about this situation and some of it is stream-of-consciousness. It’s another part of the routine.
I just got the paints out. I studied painting in school for a couple of years. [It’s about] trying to switch it up — I can listen to music for an obscene amount of time, but my ears need a rest. It’s good for me to continue to be creative in other ways and fill my time. I get immense joy out of creating stuff. In any period of my life, it’s always been an outlet or an escape, a place to go where you disappear into your own world, and that feels really satisfying when you gotta tune out to a certain extent. It seems like the only thing you can be doing right now is staying inside and paying attention, but a lot of it is pretty out of our control, aside from the not doing anything. It’s just trying to find those things you can do alone that keep you feeling well emotionally and physically.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do post-quarantine?
I literally just want to give someone a hug. That’s the main thing I miss, human contact. It’s pretty trippy to not have had that, even for such a short period of time. I think it’s the longest period in a lot of peoples’ lives that they’ve gone without touching someone. I haven’t touched a human being in eight days, which doesn’t sound that crazy, and it’s gonna be longer than that, but I don’t think in my entire life it’s been that long. I’m gonna hug my friends.