How I use Mindfulness in my music production

I’ve started using Mindfulness technique as a way of coping with anxiety and stress. At the very first session with my coach, I fell in love with it. Little did I know, it was going to serve me in other ways.

There was a part of myself that was wondering if anxiety was a motor for my creativity because most of my productions (the best ones too), were always done under pressure. Most of artists really perform when they feel those butterflies in their guts, others hate it but let’s face it, with deadlines, you make most of any artists deliver what they need to be doing (many, with lateness). In my case, I was no different but I once read an article about Bill Murray that gave me a hint of a direction I needed to take.

Yes, you may create and be relaxed. It’s doable. Thanks Bill.

Practicing Mindfulness three times a day was a huge undertaking but it was fitting surprisingly well in my workflow, as I started. It was hard at first to make time for it but the more I practiced it, the more I realized I had time for it as well. What was even more interesting, was how my mind was buzzing for ideas after a session.

The purpose of my work became really abstract. One striking point that emerged was how I used to make music for a specific reason. For instance, I observed that if I wanted to make dance music, I’d make a section in a specific way, because I know how people react and it would work. When you know what works, you just lost yourself in the art; you’re now working with a purpose in mind and anticipating a specific result. The new view is, there’s nothing more exciting to deconstruct ideas to keep your listener on the tip of their toes, playing with how you will actually make an idea evolve. Disorienting art is addictive, because once you know the idea, the next time you listen to it, your perception will have more room to observe other details and thus, can make the listener have a renewable experience.

Making music became a personal affair. I often hear people saying they’re making music for themselves and don’t really care if people like it or not. It’s hard to believe that they don’t totally care. Artists love to share, it’s part of the fun and satisfaction. I don’t know anyone that can’t totally make something all for themselves and not care… well, unless maybe you sing in the shower? Oh well. I think you get my point. But with Mindfulness, I became aware of where my personal input stopped versus the outside world’s expectations. Having my DAW open and making music without any purpose else than assembling ideas and discovering them as I play, while leaving a lot of room for mistakes, gave me a appreciation for my music, in a whole new way. It was also a way to be truly genuine and personal to who I am as a musician.

My sound suddenly becomes water color painting. This one is visual. I love water colour painting and how everything fades and morphs, while you need a certain time to gaze into the subtle tones to get the global idea. Expectations can be like that in a way. There will be these expectations that were there in the beginning, that evolved into something else but that second flow didn’t erase your first impulsion either. Same thing for ideas. The concept of water color painting is, if you made a mistake, you can’t really take it out, but you need to play with it. This concept can be applied to my music and then, the sounds coexist in a weird harmony. There’s also parts that are messy and that little chaos might also be beautiful for it’s imperfection.

But how to do it? It’s relatively simple, that’s the good news.

Know your flow. You can’t really start until you give a certain commitment to your practice. There’s different flow for everyone. People like me practice multiple times a day. Some, once. The morning one is critical in my experience. There should be one before you start making your art too. There’s tons of free ressources for learning Mindfulness meditation.

Practice several times. Pretty much as it says but the more you do it, the more you’ll get from it. The common belief is, you need to do it for a long session but in fact, sessions of 5 minutes can actually do great things for you.

Work short sessions. It’s impossible to stay focused for a long time so I rarely work more than 30 minutes at a time, especially when in a creative spur. There will be mix down, which is technical and that’s totally different. But to pin down your ideas, short sessions are where you’ll get the best of yourself and stay awaken to your internal process.

Take breaks. Lots of them. Check outside, gaze at your cat, stand up or close your eyes. But I like a ratio of 10:1 (10 minutes work for 1 minute pause). It clears your mind and gives you space to observe your thoughts.

Meditate more and take notes.