Entering the Flow of Creativity, from Music Studio to Live Performance
How is music creation and sharing a spiritual practice? How do you bring together professional development as a musician with personal growth? What do you do when you have to throw out your work and start over? Adam Nathan, producer and DJ as well as Parvati Magazine’s Art Director, and Parvati, deepen their shared exploration of the creative process through these questions this month.
Adam Nathan: Every producer has their own method of creating their music. How do you build a track? Do you work out the melody with a guitar or piano, or dive right into writing in your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)?
Parvati: Whether I am writing or arranging a song or composing a piece, every entry point into the creative process is unique. To me, the only constant is showing up in stillness and listening so that I can be in maximum harmony with the universe, as that is where all creativity lies. Just today, I was speaking with a friend about the creative process, which to me is very similar to meditating. In my daily sitting meditation, I know I need to be consistent and regular in my practice to be present for what is. There are certain physical things I have in place to meditate, like sitting straight with eyes closed. There are also certain conscious choices, like being willing to be receptive to exactly what is here and now. Creating is like that to me. I show up and am open to receive dictation that comes through. It is neither tense nor constrictive. That would mean my ego was getting in the way. Nor is it fantasizing, allowing myself to get to attached to disconnected ideas. Natural creativity flows in a rooted, vital and expansive way. Some days, I hear a melody and go to the guitar or piano, and it becomes a series of chords. Then I go to my DAW and create a full arrangement, sometimes even discarding the piano or guitar in the end. Other times lyrics spark me, then I get a hooky groove going by producing beats. Or it could be that I hear something in nature, and it sounds like music to me. Then I go to the studio to explore sound synthesis as a call and response to that experience. Because the universe is sound, the possibilities in producing music are literally infinite. That inspires me every moment. It is never about getting it “right”, only about showing up in presence as no-thing, to make room for everything.
Adam Nathan: On the subject of this month’s theme, Deepening, would you like to deepen your knowledge of any particular aspect of the entire music spectrum (arranging, producing, engineering, singing, playing instruments, performing live)? How would that change the way you create or perform music?
Parvati: I feel I am forever learning more about arranging and composing. It is extraordinary and fascinating how the simplest tweaks can make the greatest differences. It is like the universe is made up of a series of codes and frequencies, and my job is to come into greater resonance with them. The entire universe vibrates with the sound of the spheres. Though I could never truly reflect that sound, my creative focal point is there—to serve that supreme synchronicity and harmony. Technique continues to free my expression, so I look to improve my ability to play piano and guitar, and sing. This also applies to learning more about mixing and engineering and equipment. Instruments require skill and practice—as does dancing in my shows, so physical fitness is important to me. I love to swim and do yoga. All of these things require my ongoing commitment, and continue to change the way I create and perform. But to be deeply candid, I feel the universe has gifted me with the opportunity to perform because it is where I feel the most vulnerable—which catalyzes immense growth. This is where I clearly see my ego, which usually expresses itself in fear of being judged. But the fear is not real. My soul purpose is not to get hung up on what others think, but to serve the light, one moment at a time. My goal is to be so deeply surrendered and present that there is nothing other than service, no way I could be deluded into feeling greater or lesser than. I simply am in my truest state—rapturous joy. Ultimately, all aspects of music creation and sharing are my spiritual practice.
Adam Nathan: I recently worked on a remix that took a few sessions before capturing the essence of the track in a direction that I felt good about. I even started the mix over at one point. Do you ever have moments where something isn’t quite working? Have you ever thrown something out and started again at the drawing board?
Parvati: I am deeply inspired by Tibetan monks and how they create sand mandalas. They spend days, even weeks, placing grain by grain to create an intricate orchestra of colours and shapes that becomes a symphonic design. Then, once it is complete, they brush it all away. From ash to ash, dust to dust…The creative process is ephemeral and never mine. It is born from a meditative mindset in prayer and service, then it is released to the world. I am the first to throw something out if I feel it is not serving the highest good. I feel true art comes from not being attached. I have a way of working where I address the content in the third person, impartially, if I am discussing it with someone. I would say of myself, “I feel the singer needs to settle in the mix and be among the sounds,” or “the songwriter needs to find stronger hooks to move people and draw listeners in,” or “the arranger needs to work on allowing the groove of the rhythm section to complement the groove of the melody.” I do this instinctively to acknowledge the different aspects of the creative process and how they are not of me but through me. Whether I am feeling something is good and feeling excited or giddy about it, or something is bad and I am heavied out and self-deprecating, I know I am off path. When a work is complete and my job is done, there is a feeling of attunement and resonance. It is more like how a fully bloomed flower in the garden seems to just sing, by being most naturally itself.
Adam Nathan: You are genre-fluid as an artist. When did you first get into creating electronic music? What was it about that genre that attracted you to it?
Parvati: I started using synths and my DAW of choice, Logic Pro, in my early twenties when I was performing at raves. Before that, it was classical music, then folk-pop. The next step was obviously sound synthesis, and raves gave me a forum to experiment all I wanted. Perhaps if I was living in another century, I may have worked instead with an orchestra to create the sounds I was hearing. But practically, that was not possible. Digital and electronic music provided me with immense creative freedom. I could sculpt sounds the way I was hearing them in my head, heart and soul. This opened up a world of possibilities. Today, I weave what I know of classical music, pop and sound synthesis into all my work. They are simply the colours I have available to paint the pieces to share.
Adam Nathan Adam Nathan is an artist, producer, DJ, Founder and Creative Director of award-winning design agency Jellyfunk, and the lead of Branding and Graphics at Parvati.org. He has collaborated with brands such as MTV, Virgin Mobile, and Space Channel.
Parvati is an award-winning singer, composer, producer, yogini, author, and Founder and CEO of the international charity Parvati Foundation. Her work is dedicated to protecting all life on Earth by establishing the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS).
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