Talking To The Excluded: Connor ‘LUCID’ Howard From Liverpool

Connor 'LUCID' Howard
– Connor ‘LUCID’ Howard
Doing what he lives (and works) for.

Pollstar continues speaking to some of the many self-employed professionals forming the backbone of this industry, to see how they’re coping.

Next up is Connor Howard, a DJ and producer from Liverpool, who goes by the DJ name of LUCID. Howard’s been out of work since March. As many self-employed, who are proud to have built a business that allows them to stand on their own two feet, he’s been struggling with COVID-19 restrictions on in-person events that made him dependent on others.
At the time we spoke, Howard was still hoping for some gig opportunities on boxing night and New Year’s Eve, which are usually when the big parties happen.
Pollstar: Please introduce yourself.
Connor Howard: My name is Connor, I’m a DJ and producer from Liverpool. Back in March I was forced out of work due to government restrictions and budget cuts.
Is it fair to sat, that, since March, all your paid professional activity ended?
Yes. I haven’t been getting paid or any financial help throughout the lockdown whatsoever. All my DJ work, everything, got cut.
Is there any work you can do as DJ or producer right now? Online events?
I started work for one of my friend’s shisha delivery company throughout the lockdown. We were just working out of a little lockup. I’d prepare the shishas and he’d deliver them, but that was just to get myself a little bit of money. 
Music-wise, I did reach out to people online a little bit more, doing a few streams and that, but I find it difficult to adapt. No crowd and things like that, it’s all a bit different.
Looking around you, is that what you’re observing, as well: people leaving their core businesses to work in a different field, where there is some money to be earned?
I have a couple of good friends, who are all in the same boat. After that message came out about how the [people working in the] music and arts industry should just retrain and think about getting other jobs, one of my friends went to work for a call centre, just to pass the time. I wanted to carry on pursuing music.

Connor Howard is keeping his fingers crossed for the future.
– Connor Howard is keeping his fingers crossed for the future.

How has this crisis affected you personally? 

It’s definitely had an effect on my mental well-being, it’s mentally draining. It’s caused me anxiety for the future, whether I’m going to get work for Christmas and after. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.
Did you receive any government aid?
All my work is either agency work or self-employed. I don’t even know, I just slipped through everything. I applied for a government self-employed scheme, but didn’t get much out of it. I think self-employed workers go unseen, it is hard to come by.
I’ve given up on the government, I don’t look too much into politics anyway, I like to think that I can stand on my own two feet, without relying on government help and think like that.
Throughout lockdown, I actually found work with a local community radio station called TCR. Radio work was not something that I’d previously thought about, but it interests me and has kind of given me a little bit of hope for the future. 
How do you keep your spirits up?
I just keep doing my music. I love my music, so that’s the only way I can see out of it.
What will be most important in the coming months for your work to pick back up?
I’m in Liverpool, and we’ve got mass testing going on in Liverpool at the minute. The more tests that you’re going to roll it, it’s going to uncover more people testing positive, and it’s going to keep us in lockdown for longer.
Do you remember your last gig pre-lockdown?
I had a residency up in Wigan. From January to March I was working Saturdays and Sundays in Wigan. When this whole Covid thing was starting, it was still a shock at the time, I was still like, ‘is the virus real?’, I didn’t know.
My manager approached me one day and said, ‘we’re getting budget cuts due to Covid, so we can’t have you in next week’. Sitting it out the next week without the job made me realise we could be in this for a long time.
Are you able to fall back on any savings? Are you still working at your friend’s delivery service? How are you coping financially?
I maintained the delivery job for about three or four months, I did have a bit of savings, and obviously my family and friends have helped me financially as well.
Is there any silver lining on the horizon for you at the moment?
When the lockdown eased up and we went into the tiered system, with then 10 p.m. curfews and things like that, I did start getting some work back in the clubs, but it all closes at 10 o’clock. It was different, but you have to adapt.
I’m just grateful for the people offering me them jobs in the short space of time we had out of lockdown. I just keep my fingers crossed that I get more opportunities in the future. I’m hoping that things like Boxing Night and New Year’s will go ahead, those are the major parties.