• Blessing Borode

An Insightful Conversation With The Sleeping Buddha

The beauty of lo-fi is that, while it may not be the kind of genre with songs that are pinned to the top of the charts, it is something that more and more people are beginning to discover. Whether you’re in desperate need of winding down or completing tasks that require a steady level of focus, lo-fi provides the perfect soundtrack to fill your background with gentle hypnotic sounds. Many people channel their creativity through this genre and one artist that has been making waves with his new release is an artist that goes by the name ‘The Sleeping Buddha’. Being a New York resident he is heavily influenced by the Los Angeles scene and draws from other musicians like Flying Lotus and Madlib when stringing together his productions. After spending time in Beijing the twenty-five year old came to discover his spirituality and wanted to interpret this into his instrumentals. With his latest project ‘Urbanisms 001’ he explores the juxtaposition between nature and the busy cities. His music connects to the parts of us that crave indulging in nature but can’t seem to get away from the hustling that sustains us in the city. He explains that ‘Urbanisms 001’ is a reminder for us to stay grounded and present and to appreciate the patches of green that we come across while living our day to day lives

We had the chance to catch up with Sleeping Buddha as he talks us through the other mediums he uses to channel his creativity, the influence his time in Beijing had on his music and so much more.

"Simply put, I just want the listener to be open to exploring who/what they truly are beyond their physical and material understanding."

- Sleeping Buddha

Q: Where does your love for music and production stem from? 

My love for music essential stems from my love of creation, my main goal in life besides complete self-understanding is to be a complete artist - which i think will go hand in hand. To me that means being able to apply my imagination to create anything out of anything despite circumstances. I use production simply as another tool for getting my ideas out in a fluid and cohesive manner. I really love music and production specifically, because it allows me to create sonic pallets and textures I can visualise myself melting into.

Q: You spent some of your formative years in Beijing, how did you take to the culture there?

Beijing will always have a special place in my heart. Living over there really allowed me to understand and approach cultural differences in other people. However it also really ingrained into me the idea that essentially we are all really the same types of beings when it comes to being human. The only differences we have are how we approach our unique environments. That being said I really love the Chinese culture and what it stands for traditionally. Family, unity, brotherhood, etc.

Q: Are there any influences from that time in your music?

While living out there I was fortunate to be able to connect with a lot of underground and independent and DIY artists and musicians. They taught me a lot about being an independent artist, especially in a culture that does not have a lot of support for individuals who pursue careers such as that. From them, I picked up a lot of sampling techniques which I like to incorporate a lot into my own sound now.

Q: What other creatives/genres of music inspire you?

Growing up I was really attracted to indie and alternative rock music. That’s what really shaped my perspective of sound until I got into more electronic beats. That being said, I’m usually not into anything too abrasive on the ears, so I like to stick to more chill or even ambient genres. Things I wouldn’t mind listening to while doing laundry. 

Q: What message are you trying to pass on through your music?

Simply put, I just want the listener to be open to exploring who/what they truly are beyond their physical and material understanding.

Q:How do you go about finding sounds that are able to communicate this message?

Lots and lots of digging and experimenting. I spend a lot of time collecting and designing sounds that resonate with me, so I have a pool to draw from. The difficult part is getting the receiver to accept the message.

Q: What is the concept behind ‘Urbanisms 001’?

Urbanisms is the juxtaposition between forests and cities. Although I enjoy being out in the wild and connecting to plants, there is currently a part of me that cannot get away from hustling and mobbing on city streets. Creating Urbanisms is my way to remember to connect to those intermittent patches of green when I see them sprout up in a city while at the same time a reminder to stay present, grounded and open to receiving other experiences only attainable within concrete jungles. Through my photography, I want to highlight texture and perspective within architecture as I feel like when one is always hustling in the streets, one seldom takes time to look up and enjoy the physical creations of the city. To me, buildings in the city are akin to trees in the forest.

Q: Any stories of frustration or extreme happiness when creating this piece of work?

I remember producing the last track Lionel-Groulx gave me such a rush of fulfilment right after completing it. I was staying with a friend in Montreal at the time, and was having difficulty while making it because I was trying a lot of new things simultaneously while trying to write the drum tracks. I was honestly getting lost and confused within my own work, but I soldiered on through it and there was a point of relief when everything suddenly clicked and it felt like the best track I had made up till that point.

Q: The cover art for the project is intriguing, what is the idea behind the design?

It serves as a reminder for the viewer take time to look up, although one may feel boxed in at times -- especially within the stone or glass walls of a city -- taking a moment to look up will reveal the limitless potential that awaits outside self-restriction.

Q: We are aware that the ‘Urbanisms’ project also comes with a 52 page photography zine,who helped you put that together?

I did all the photography and design myself. While living in Beijing I was initially introduced to the concept of zines, which are simply self-published magazines. After printing my first few, I decided that I always want my musical projects to be accompanied by zines. I feel including them adds an extra dimension to the project giving viewers another avenue of connection. Making zines also puts me into a mindset of doing more. It allows each project to continue living as not just it’s own release but as an ongoing series.

"Essentially by focusing one’s consciousness on the present moment, or task at hand, they are entering into Heaven just by being aware of one thing at a time."

- Sleeping Buddha

Q: You have described your music as something that transfers Universal energy to the listener, How would you describe that energy in musical terms?

It’s a minor key in a high octave with warm distortion and a lot of space. Downtempo, but with a lot of high frequency movement.

Q: If you could summarise your music in 3 colours, what would they be?

Violet, Azure, White.

Q: As well as writing, producing and recording this project yourself, you also did the design and photography as well - how did you come about picking up each of these skills?

I started out as a producer, then as I realised I wanted to be a more complete artist and invest my creativity into pursuits outside of music I gravitated toward photography because I didn’t have any skills in illustration, but I wanted to develop my visual communication. Getting better at photography and still lacking skills in illustration led me to studying design as I wanted a way to extend my ideas rather than sharing straight from the camera. I also picked up digital design out of necessity for creating cover art and being more competent when working and communicating with others.

Q: Which skill took you the longest to grasp?

That’s a good question. Overall I want to say production. Honestly, sometimes I still feel like I don’t really know how to make music. I surprise myself when it comes out presentable. With the other two, the hardest thing for me is learning the technical side. With music, I feel like there’s still something I’m struggling to hold onto every day.

Q: One song title that stood out to me was ‘Heaven is the process’ - what do you mean by that? 

I feel that Heaven is actually in multiple states. One right here on Earth, within every present moment. Essentially by focusing one’s consciousness on the present moment, or task at hand, they are entering into Heaven just by being aware of one thing at a time. One form of Heaven is that flow state.

Q:What’s the link between your spirituality and your creativity? 

I feel that in essence, my spirit is what allows me to create. I feel that I am more than this physical being, but it is my spirit which is the source of my creative ideas, in any capacity, which animates this being to put those ideas into action.

What artists, gone or alive would you love to collaborate with?

Huge list but i'll keep it short:

- Kanye West

- Tyler the Creator

- Childish Gambino

- Toro y Moi

- Flying Lotus

...just to name a few. In the creative realm, these heads changed the game and paved the way for individuals like me to be free to express myself.

Q: What direction do you wish to take years from now as an overall artist? Any aspirations outside of music?

I’m definitely interested in keeping up with my design and photography skills. Thinking about putting them to use to start a clothing brand eventually.

Q: What can we expect from you in the coming year? 

Definitely planning to finish up Urbanisms 002 by the end of the summer, and working on concepts / sounds for a whole new series I’m keen to start releasing.

Any live shows for us to look forward to?

Getting some things set up now, so I’ll keep you updated!

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