Axel Mansoor and the Power of Mindfulness [Q&A]
Axel Mansoor is a critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated artist whose viral electro, funk-soaked music has been gaining attention from listeners across the globe. His single, "Paradise" is the perfect summer anthem to transport you to that sandy beach, and we just can’t get enough. Bursting with vibrant synths, warm vocals and uplifting toe-tapping melodies, the track narrates taking a step back from everyday life and living in the moment - something that we all need to be reminded of in our current world of social media mayhem.
Though "Paradise" is all about being grateful for what's right in front of you, his newest track, "London Grey," has a different meaning. The song is a narration of escaping to a place where you don't have to try as hard, and it exudes a more melancholy tone.
Whether it's demonstrating gratitude for what you have or finding peace in a place you call home, each song has an element of mindfulness within its message. The young songwriter credits his routine of meditation and mindfulness for the success of his creativity and we found out why.
OTW: So "Paradise" is thematically all about living in the moment – can you explain that idea in more detail and where the inspiration came from?
Historically I'm an anxious, neurotic kind of person, and I spend too much time in my head; so moments where I can be in my body and really attend to the present moment feel not only peaceful but healing as well. The instrumental track itself is so bouncy and energetic that it definitely inspired the lyrical concept of "Paradise," but I thought an interesting and important idea that Paradise is NOT some sort of destination but rather that conscious state of presence.
OTW: I hear you have a routine of mindfulness and meditation; when did you start practicing this and how has it impacted your creative process?
I started meditating about five years ago, mostly because I was super depressed and read a bunch of articles online about the efficacy of mindfulness style meditation for productivity and happiness. I also liked that there wasn't a religious feel, it was just practical. I ENTIRELY thank Headspace (Andy has the most soothing voice ever, headspacers you know what I mean) for guiding me from being a complete novice to less of a complete novice.
The practice of mindfulness has significantly impacted my entire life, and that's definitely bled into how I approach my creativity. Mindfulness is very much about letting go, and true creativity is about letting go. In both instances you end up in a state where you're less attached to the needs and desires of ego that usually just get in the way. I find that whenever I "try" to meditate or "try" to be creative it goes nowhere and I just end up really frustrated, so I try to remind myself (in life and creativity) to find that delicate balance between being present but not attached to "doing it right."
OTW: How do you incorporate mindfulness during a chaotic tour?
Life is a chaotic tour! I think the point of incorporating a mindful approach is that it applies to all parts of your life. To answer the question, sometimes it's as simple as closing my eyes and taking 10 deep breaths before getting on stage. Sometimes it's waking up and meditating for 10-15 minutes. Sometimes it's about finding gratitude in the small realities of life; like REALLY appreciating every bite of a meal and trying to experience it as if it was for the first time. Especially when you're traveling, the unexpected always happens and thing rarely work out exactly the way you want them to, so it's important to be able to have a way to stay grounded and keep a center emotionally.
OTW: I understand you've lived in five countries across four continents but currently reside Los Angeles, how has this shaped you as a musician and as a person?
Because of how I grew up, I'm classified as a 3rd Culture Kid. It's a very specific way of growing up with a unique set of challenges so a lot of TCKs have similar characteristics. It's pretty fascinating, and I didn't even know there was a term for people like me (thanks Wikipedia!). An easy one is that I'm extremely social even though I don't always want to be and am more introverted than I act, and I'm also highly adaptable to any social situation. Because I'm so used to big life altering changes, I also struggle with questions of identity (when people ask me where I'm from it can be a 10 minute answer) and being decisive. In terms of my relationship with music, it was very clear to me early on that music was one of the only things I could count on as a constant.
OTW: What's next for Axel Mansoor?
I'm put out a new song called London Grey on Aug! The song has one of the best choruses I've ever written so I'm stoked on that, and I'm actually flying to London today so the timing is crazy!!
The rest of my summer is pretty busy. I’m going to Paris, Mykonos, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Israel. I'll be writing new material with folks in different places, doing some fun private performances, and making posts that I find hilarious to my Instagram.
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