It has been a testing time for Melburnians, with the pandemic sending residents into two waves of lockdown.
Thousands have contracted the virus and we’ve, sadly, seen lives lost not only in our country but across the world. We have all had to adapt to a new lifestyle of working from home, wearing masks to venture into public, maintaining social distancing, and the challenge of homeschooling.
35-year-old Melbourne mother of two, Olivia Benkel, has ridden the rollercoaster of highs and lows this pandemic has brought – banana bread baking included – and she’s captured the craziness in a four and a half minute rap roast.
Titled, ‘This Virus Has Gone Viral’, Benkel, who adopted the performance name LIV, has created the most relatable pandemic anthem to date. It’s become a viral sensation, thanks to its hilariously catchy chorus: “Do the corona like you just don’t care/Stay inside with your hair everywhere/Do the corona like you just don’t care/Holding your breath ‘cause there’s a cough in the air”.
“I’m very honest and that’s what this is about. I like seeing the funny side of life and not being scared to say, ‘This is what I’m going through’, and other people are definitely going through the same thing. This is meant to be relatable,” Benkel explains. “While it is a serious message, it is a bit of fun as well.”
LIV’s debut single and first-ever polished product, ‘This Virus Has Gone Viral’ came together in a surprisingly short amount of time. The whole process of writing and recording, recruiting a team, and choreographing and filming the music video all happened within just two weeks.
“I wrote it in a couple of days when I was in lockdown and I kind of got inspired to put music to this one and actually promote it, whereas I had never done that before. I think it just gave me the push to get it out there because it is current.
“It all just happened really fast: written during lockdown, recorded when we came out of lockdown as well as videoed, and then we went back into lockdown,” she laughs.
Serving as a breath of metaphorical fresh air during this pandemic, the track was originally posted to Benkel’s personal social media accounts and came as a shock to many of her friends.
“Only a handful of people would have known that I rapped, so this was quite a shock for a lot of people. I was getting messages like, ‘Oh my god, I didn’t know you could sing’,” she laughs. “The feedback has been so positive and I’m so happy with it. It also shows you don’t have to stop once you have kids. I’m still doing me and I’m still who I am.”
While the pandemic may have given Benkel a much-needed push to pursue making music, the Liverpool-born artist has a library of lyrics at her fingertips, with an EP of grime and old-school hip hop on the horizon.
“It was always a hobby and something I just did. I always wrote and I don’t know – I think I was always following other paths and you really have to know who you are as an artist. I think that has happened now and I know who I am and what I want to write about and do with the music.
“Previously I may have just used music as a bit of therapy, writing thoughts down, and now it’s more from an artist mindset, I suppose,” she explains. “I did have a goal in mind this year that I would create an EP, but this has pushed that. We [will] have the next song ready soon, so that will be promoted shortly.”
With her debut single, Benkel has proved that if you’re passionate about something, nothing can stand in your way. Not even a global pandemic.
Check out ‘This Virus Has Gone Viral’ on Spotify.
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