Monday, December 16, 2013

An Interview with Brad Senstock

An interview with Brad Senstock
What inspires you to make music for yoga?

This is one of my favorite questions that I actually get all of the time. When I first started practicing yoga I had countless intimate moments in the yoga studio where I became completely absorbed in the music and postures while tears would stream down my face. I noticed that what was happening was that had tapped into a world that was full of healing and full of musicians that were creating for the purpose of healing others. They themselves were completely surrendering to the creative process of the universe that said it is ok to simply be as they were and let the music be as it is. I spent many years in the pop and rock industry where egos dictated what would make it to the radio and by the end of the record the magic was lost by so many people trying to have control over what was being heard. When I step into a space with other musicians what inspires me the most is that we all seem to have the same vision and idea and completely merge with each other without any direction or ego says what should be and that is when I see that others in the room are receiving the same experience I am.

One of the greatest moments I've experienced was during the Lotus Sessions Vol. 6. A few musicians and myself were composing completely original content in real time. As we were playing I witnessed three separate individuals completely stop their practice all at the same time and sat down in complete meditation. I was overwhelmed with joy and compassion knowing that they came into a room with so much on their mind and in minutes they were just ok with sitting and receiving what the universe had to offer in that moment. Shouldn't life be like that in every moment?

Can you talk a bit about your creative process? What tools do you use to make music with? And what are some methods you use for composing vs performing live music? 

This is another question I get frequently and ironically both questions actually relate to each other. Currently I am running Ableton Live 9 on my Macbook Pro with various Synthesizers like Zebra 2, Omnisphere, Massive, Vanguard, along with various Earth Moments sample packs that come Ableton Ready. The Earth Moments packets have some really great high vibration ethnic samples that are really essential to uplifting the energy of the yoga room. I rely a lot on co-creating with different artists when I step into playing live. Each guitar player I work with have their own flavor of sound and it is a great experience to bring everyone in and see how we can sculpt the energy

My creative process actually involves composing live in the yoga room as if it were my recording studio. There actually very little to no separation of studio and performing live classes.

I often wake up at about 4 am, do an hour long meditation and immediately jump on my computer with a fresh Ableton session. My writing process involves remaining seated in Lotus Posture while I create. This is honestly the number one most important part about creating music. It ensures that my posture is steady and the energy is flowing all throughout my body. I remaining connected to my breath and when I feel fatigued it allows me to pull the energy from the lower centers of my body into my higher centers where the healing actually takes place.

I start writing drum beats, synth loops, bass lines, and pad loops for the yoga class I will be performing at that day. I spend the first four hours writing as much material as I can in various 4 to 32 bar loops. I never create structure when I write; only loops. This allows me to focus on the sounds and how they interact with each individual loop. Each element is designed to work with any of the other elements harmoniously. By the time I have finished writing after the first 4 hours I end up with about 2-3 hours of all original content that can be mixed and matched during live performances. At about 8 am I'll take a yoga class myself or go exercise then I come home, eat a bit, and jump back on the computer and start writing more material. By the time the Yoga class comes around at 6pm I have over 4 hours of content that could potentially be played. Along with all this material I introduce the element of live looping my flute, guitar, and often my friend Anthea Jaskirpal Kaur's voice. With all of this flexibility we are able to sculpt the energy of the class into a piece of artwork that has never been rehearsed, composed, arranged, or experienced ever before. Best of all it gets recorded live as well!

After the class happens I'll wake up the next morning and listen to the content we have created. Often it immediately goes up on my website for download depending on how well everything was flowing. Once it gets released as an hour long flow I go back into the set and pick out my favorite moments from the class. This is where take the elements back into the studio where I can sculpt and perfect the sound or arrangement even more to fit with an album sequence. Since I started this project, thanks to Rara's amazing idea about creating original content to yoga flows, I ended up with over 8 albums worth of content. I am currently in the process of organizing and re-mixing the live content into 3 yoga flow albums. It's all about staying in the moment right? This process allows me the speed, flexibility, and pressure needed to create amazing content that is so close to the spirit source. 90 percent of the time the sounds that were put together in the moment of the class are so great that I don't want to change much about it so I simple give it a little more structure and it becomes its own track. This allows my ego to stay out of the way as well which is essential to making progress.

Each day and each class allows me to experience a new birthing of my own creativity which is honestly the best high I have ever experienced.

How do you support yourself as an artist? Are you full time or are there other things you have going on that support you in your quest to make music?

There are always other things that help me support myself as an artist. I am happy to say that for the first time in my life I have the ability to support myself completely on music. However at this moment I am currently working at various farmers markets, running audio online yoga videos, posing for yoga shoots, volunteering Khalsa Peace Corps to feed homeless people, and DJing ecstatic dance parties. These are all essential to maintaining my humbleness, integrity, and to feel I am contributing more the community to all the creative process to continue to flow through me.

Would you say there are any sacrifices you have to make in order to pursue a creative career such as this?

In my experience I literally sold every possession I had, even musical interments to try and support this career. What ended up happening was that I surrendered completely opened up myself to be healed and directed into the what the universe wanted from me. It was to get rid of all the crap in my life that involved ego, fame, power, and money until I understood that I was to create music for healing. Not everyone has this experience.

What are the rewards of doing what you do?

Witnessing persons literally change in front of my ears from a state of panic and fear into a state of being and love. It allows connection to every person and I am rewarded with the reminder that every person I encounter is a reflection of me and they are here to support me in my journey on this earth.

Can you speak to why you feel music is healing?

This is a tough question. I believe we all have experiences we can't explain or even comprehend. Music is about expressing those moments in an art form. Expressing all these, "feelings" we have without having to say them. You can experience love, frustration, longing, loneliness, depression and you can be uplifted and even understood all from one song! When someone hears a piece of work that has been composed from a moment that can't be comprehended it is as if everyone in the vicinity surrenders to the fact that everything is happening all at once and we can't be in control all of the time. It is all happening and it is all happening to heal us.

Please share some thoughts about why yoga and music make such great companions!

Yoga and Music is like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Experienced yogis know the postures of the flow and they something delicious to snack on! Inexperienced yogis want to distract themselves from having to go inward or face on these crappy postures for the next 6 minutes so they need something delicious too!

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