Photo: Lizzie Steimer
Photo: Lizzie Steimer

The Covid Chronicles… Virginia To Vegas

When Derik Baker, aka the mastermind behind the Juno-nominated pop project Virginia To Vegas, wrote his current single betterman, he intended it as a message for self-improvement and spreading kindness within your community.

Since pandemic restrictions were imposed, Baker has become even more proactive in an effort to give back to frontline workers. He’s created the BetterManChallenge with a custom Instagram filter that can be used to share an act of kindness toward someone else, or even just themselves. Each time the BetterManChallenge filter is used, Baker has pledged to make a $1.00 donation to the Red Cross covid-19 Relief Efforts. It’s become a simple yet effective way for the Guelph, Ontario native to make a difference, and with over 13,000 Instagram followers of his own, Baker could potentially raise a substantial amount of money when it’s all said and done.

The betterman single is also part of the latest Virginia To Vegas EP, entitled a constant state of improvement, released February 28 on Wax Records. It marks the latest stage in Baker’s evolution as a global pop artist, which reached new heights last year when the single Just Friends was certified Gold and hit the Top 10 on the national Adult Contemporary charts.

For more information on the BetterManChallenge, follow @virginiatovegas on Instagram, or go to virginiatovegas.com.

What inspired you to create the BetterManChallenge, and what made Instagram the right vehicle for it?

In times like these that can be incredibly stressful, I think it’s important for everyone to come together as a community and spread positivity, and that’s what we’re trying to do with this challenge. Also, we wanted to give back to the frontline workers that are risking their lives every day to keep us safe. We chose Instagram because it’s a very accessible platform that allows artists and fans to connect in a meaningful way. 

You'll be making donations to the Red Cross through this initiative. What are you estimating the response might be, and what would you recommend participants do if they want to make their own donations?

We don’t really have any expectations. Our only goal is for people to have fun with it and to share some light in these trying times. For any fans that would like to make a personal donation, they can visit the Red Cross website directly.

You released your new EP in late February. Along with the BetterManChallenge, what have you been doing to engage with your audience?

I’ve been trying to stay connected with my fans via social media. Unfortunately, we’re not able to tour or showcase the music in person. That being said, we’ve been super grateful for the response to the EP from fans. And I’ve been working to chat with as many fans as possible during the lockdown. They’ve really been my support system throughout this whole thing. 

How has the inability to play live affected you overall?

A lot of people are dealing with far more stressful situations. It’s a bummer, but when this is over, we’ll be back on the road and will appreciate the opportunity to play live so much more. I can’t wait to be in a room with people again!

What do you believe the longterm effects of the pandemic will be on the music industry?

I think it will take a long time to get back to festivals and shows, but humans are resilient and we’ve always found a way to adapt. A silver lining to this situation is that creatives have had more time to spend on their craft and we will have a lot of amazing new music to listen to.

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