Notes on Subway Meditations
For me, riding a subway train is both hypnotic and calming. The sway of the car. The click of wheels against black metal rails. The long echo of brakes down dark tunnels. It's a space that allows me to think, to contemplate. I'm able to forget myself and, in the process, gain a glimpse of how I fit into what writer Willa Cather called "the immense design of things."
These ideas of the subway formed the launch pad for the concept of my album, Subway Meditations. The album uses actual ambient recordings I captured while riding the subways of Los Angeles and San Francisco. These ambient sources were weaved into and became an integral part of the music, and though the album is melancholic and sometimes ghostly, I was also conscious of creating work that was meditative and peaceful.
There is another aspect to the album's concept and that is of "transition". Subways are a medium of migration. As passengers, we are uprooted and planted elsewhere. To mirror this in the creation process itself, I composed all the work outside of my studio (except the final mix process which required a controlled audio environment for a quality mix).
Secondly, I used a very fundamental, portable system to compose with, which consisted of barely more than my laptop, headphones and my composing software. I wanted it to be portable to represent something migratory, like a commuter. This allowed me to compose anywhere (the park, the couch, a subway station, etc.).
My chosen tools allowed me to create how I wanted to, but I wouldn't have access to all the usual tricks that I would normally have in my studio.To my surprise, I created music more fluidly than I've ever created in my life without a compromise in quality or creativity. Operating under these constraints actually gave me a greater sense of freedom. Usually I spend several months or even years working on an album. Subway Meditations was produced in under 5 weeks during early morning and late night sessions.