In the Spring of 2020, as the world began to effectively shut down around us, there was hardly an aspect of modern life that was unaffected by the new restrictions imposed upon us as a collective society. Stores were shuttered, the live music industry came to a screeching halt, and social circles shrank to a fraction of the size of our current contact lists. One aspect of the ongoing Covid restrictions which has largely gone unacknowledged is the way we meet and interact with people romantically during these unprecedented times. With popular dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and the like now presenting themselves as the only viable way for singles to meet people outside of their bubble, it seems that finding love has never been more difficult than it is right now.

Flash forward to the dawn of 2021 and this concept of finding love through isolation is the subject of a new song by New York and Berlin singer/songwriters, Harrison Young and Marie Chain called “Is This Really Love?” The song evolved in such a way that it mirrored the digital development of the relationships which it so succinctly depicts, written remotely over video chats, text messages, and audio memos. “It was funny to see life imitating art in such a powerful way,” says Harrison Young of the writing process. “Musical collaboration, for me, is such an intimate experience so it was a fun test to see if I could write a song with a stranger over the internet much in the same way people meet in the circumstances we were talking about in the song.”

Introduced by a mutual friend in early 2020, the musical duo immediately found inspiration in this way of communication. “The lockdown has changed my life significantly like it has for so many of us. I don’t have any concerts anymore, all tours and trips are canceled and I haven’t seen most of my friends in ages. Who am I as a musician now? What is my place? But I really enjoy breaking new ground by getting in contact and collaborating digitally with musicians like Harrison via the internet – these days you don’t have to meet to produce a song anymore. In fact, our mutual friend was right. He said we would match perfectly,” says Marie Chain of the collaboration.

The single, released on 12 February by Dutch record label Spaceage Productions, follows this digital love story from the start to the bitter end, highlighting the peaks and pitfalls of online dating in a way that transcends this specific era and ultimately asks a bigger question of ‘can we actually find love on the internet?’ “Isn’t it always the case that the good things in life are close to us while those dating apps suggest that there is always something better around the corner, that everything is available anytime,” Marie explains.

“We didn’t want this to be a Covid song necessarily, but more of a song about the bigger repercussions of searching for love in such a sterile environment,” continues Young. “I always say that I’m not sure if my wife and I would have been a match on one of those apps. On paper, we’re very different, but it’s the chemistry we felt when we met which drew us together. It makes me sad to think of the possibility of ‘swiping left’ on this person whom I now share my life with just because our list of interests didn’t match up.”

Such was also the case when Marie traveled to meet Harrison, who currently lives in The Hague, Netherlands, to record the song together last summer. The pair were pleasantly surprised that their online chemistry matched their ability to work together in person. “I traveled all the way from Berlin to record my vocals and to play a special concert at the legendary club Dizzy in Rotterdam. I was curious who Harrison really was, of course, but I had such a great time with him and his family. We became friends while making this song and I hope we’ll be able to collaborate again in the future.”

With the song recording in the bag, they set their sights on making a music video that could accurately depict the story they were telling. Recorded only with screen captures from their iPhones in the very environments in which their fictional relationship takes place (Tinder, WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime, etc), the video will see its premiere on YouTube on 14 February, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

So in the case of Harrison Young and Marie Chain’s new single, “Is This Really Love?” the answer seems to be a resounding “YES” regarding their collaboration. The answers to the larger questions at hand remain to be seen, but they hope their song and video will open the eyes and minds of people worldwide who are searching for connection in the fleetingly fast- paced and non-binding vast expanse of the internet.


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