24-year-old Bristol creative and radio presenter Stacey Olika, aka Stace, shares her tips on staying inspired during the pandemic

Blog by Hannah Davenport @hannah11dav

To say Stacey has been busy is an understatement. Since the start of 2020,  she’s balanced a fulltime job with the BBC, freelance commissions creating and curating art, given numerous virtual talks and launched a music platform. She also presents the popular Chart Show at community radio station Ujima. But she claims 2019 was her busiest year.
“I’ve always been the kind of person, especially with freelance, where I’d start working at 8 am and wouldn’t finish until 11 pm. So I can do the long hours. But feeling inspired (this past year) was really hard.”
Lockdown allowed Stacey to refocus on personal projects, yet it also removed the emotional and environmental motivation to do so. Pre-pandemic, Stacey would find inspiration from stepping into town, visiting Bristol Museum or the Watershed, meeting friends and bouncing ideas off each other.
“You have to really find a new way of becoming creative which has definitely been a struggle.”
Music has proved an essential element of inspiration for many of us over the past year, and Stacey reflected on the increased responsibility of radio presenters since the pandemic.
“I definitely have to give a lot more during lockdown, because we’re all in this state of isolation and need as much digital connection as we possibly can.
“I feel like I’m speaking to the audience a lot more and there’s actually a stronger relationship.” 
Stacey began co-hosting the Ujima Chart Show at the beginning of 2020, the only radio show in Bristol with its top tracks exclusively by Bristol and the Southwest artists. Being a Ujima Chart Show presenter meant Stacey spent a lot of time delving into the underground music and talent of Bristol, especially by black artists.
“I think that has been a huge reminder of how talented the people of Bristol are and how much recognition we should get.” 

Last July Stacey launched the music platform No Boundaries with London-based music magazine Notion. It included a curated mix series from DJs across the UK, outside of mainstream London, to represent their sound and city.
Stacey reflected on music’s ability to tap into the different versions of ourselves: “My genre of music is so mixed up, you wouldn’t attach it to my personality whatsoever, which is what I love about music.”
For Stacey, music has been incredibly important to ‘get my head right’ and enable focus, allowing us to explore our emotions and identity when we are deprived of other external stimulation, which seems invaluable during a lockdown.
She reflected on the importance right now of our immediate environments and how changes to our space can really influence our creativity when we are struggling to stay inspired. For Stacey, this involved taking timeout to redirect her energy.
“I just dedicated my time to something else. I redecorated my whole bedroom! I took out everything and changed it all. I haven’t done my room since I was 14, and I’m 24 now!” 
Stacey mentioned the Rising Arts Agency, where she is a board member and part of their artist community. She described their work as ‘incredible’ and ‘at the forefront of creativity and inspiration during the pandemic’, helping to uplift and inspire young people over the past year.

A stable female support network has also provided inspiration to Stacey and brought friendships closer to home.
“I have great support from women in my field, who have also become my friends and my sisters.”
She reflected how lockdown has changed her relationship with these women, who she would usually only see out at events. Now their friendships have been pushed online, which meant they started talking at home as well and, as a result, developed a stronger connection between them.
“Lockdown brought us all a lot closer because we were always so busy before.”

Vote for your favourite artist on the Ujima SouthWest Chart Show here

Stacey’s Lockdown Listens:
1. Blxst – overrated
2. Ideal – 24/48
3. Jasmine Sullivan – Insecure
4. Mahalia – Regular People
5. Inaya – Best Thing

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