Reduced by Laura BCR

Laura’s outdoor tranquility in Sardinia. Credit: Christophe Gallien

The soundtrack to a reduced frame of mind and an expanding resource to encourage better self-care. Explore the archive.

Students of early hip-hop may be aware of the small print on the back sleeve of LL Cool K’s 1985 album Radio: “Reduced by Rick Rubin”, in homage to his pioneering minimalist arrangement. It’s with Rick’s same approach to musical minimalism that this series emerges: stripping sound back to its most transcendental, restorative and atmospheric textures to block out the noise and aid focus, attunement and relaxation.

Discussions have come a long way in recent years, but there still remains a taboo around not being okay. To accompany each audio presentation, we’ll speak to the creator about their experiences with self-care and, if they’re comfortable sharing, mental health. We’ll unpack personal processes, explore the nuances of self-care across cultures and raise awareness of charities with a personal connection. We hope this will grow into an evolving resource of knowledge and experience to provide solace, inspiration, reassurance and company in difficult times. 

For the third episode, we welcome Berlin-based, Paris-born DJ, producer and founder of On Board Music, a label head and booking agency, working with Akirahawks, Anna Wall, Finn Johannsen, Hugo LX and I:Cube. As a timely accompaniment to this stormy year, Laura has curated two extensive, introspective compilations titled The Meaning of Time, spanning ambient and techno to explore “the rift and alteration in time perception in the global health crisis”. She’s clearly someone who sees the healing power of music, and discusses this in-depth in the interview below, alongside some of her own self-care techniques and how the pandemic has been affecting her mental health.

Laura describes her Reduced mix as “a big very slow trip into your inner self” and will be pairing it with Music Therapy, a UK charity who use explore the healing power of music through therapy and research. To donate or find out more about their work, head to their website.

Laura BCR is one of 17 artists who have contributed to The Meaning of Time, a compilation by On Board Music that finds a thread among the deepest realms of techno and ambient.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download all mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about our decision here.

First off, what does self-care mean to you?

Finding a good way to balance your daily routine in a modern society that asks us a lot of energy with your well-being.

What does your daily or weekly self-care routine look like?

Very basic, chamomile tea before sleeping, I use also some blueberry water on my eyes and some lavender oil on my pillow. I always sleep a lot – 9/10hrs per night. This makes a big difference and helps me to compensate. I drink a lot of coffee and I can still sleep, which is not so bad haha. As I work mostly from home, I also try to walk a lot or use my bike the most I can what is quite nice for that in Berlin. And of course listening or making music – my very first therapy.

Can you tell us about the self-care spot at home you’ve photographed and how have made it an optimum spot?

My flat is quite cosy. I use it to read or listen to records from that spot. This is also the best place to relax and reflect. I like to listen to tapes from where I am – I really like the sound of tapes in general, it gives me a big dose of relaxation, also remembering me my childhood and put me in a comfy zone. I could also have chosen my bed where I spend a lot of time 🙂

Laura’s self-care spot at home. Credit: Sophie Vaillant

Can you tell us about the outdoor location you’ve photographed
where you go to find tranquility.

This picture (at the top) was taken in the countryside in Sardina two years ago – once a year I try to escape from the city and get a big shot of amazing landscapes to counterbalance with the reality of the cities. I was born in Paris but I spent many years in the countryside in the South-East of France, in one of the best places on earth called Les Cévennes. We were surrounded by small mountains, rivers and nature. I need to go there time to time still even if it is quite complicated to access from Berlin to recharge my batteries. I wish I could go more.

What benefits has self-care brought you over the years? 

I will not say I am the most self-caring person ever as I used to take care better of other people than myself I think over the years I try to respect nature a bit more. Eating better, drinking or smoking less, which is also not always easy when working during the night.

What are your own experiences with mental health?

Actually, with the pandemic, perceptions have been altered a lot. Many
people went through emotions they never experienced before. I have
been into a lot of sadness but also anger, of seeing a whole profession falling down and how governments are treating us. My mental health is quite stable at the moment as I am lucky enough to have supportive friends and I also try to adapt myself to new situations quite fast. At the moment, I am very afraid of how the situation is going to affect so many people, not only on an economical point of view but on their mental health. This is going to be a disaster very soon and it is already.

How is mental health viewed in your own culture or immediate
surroundings? Have you faced challenges getting the support you
need from your community?

Since a few years, this is a strong topic and I am very glad people are more open about it. People in the industry in general, artists, agents, promoters – people know what being a DJ means in recent times. More journalists have investigated about the subject as this is a very modern profession. People are interested, artists are also speaking frankly about it. Of course, outside of the music community this is a bit harder. But I truly think mentalities are changing on that matter.

Do you think being part of the music industries has had any implications for your mental health. If so, what have you done to cope with it?

It gives you ups and downs but like any kind of job that are linked to a very strong emotional content anyway. Being an agent and a DJ on top – can be quite stressful sometimes, being always challenged and reached. My job is also my passion so I am doing it with lot of love (and engagement). Most of the time, you don’t feel it is a job and that can also be sometimes overwhelming. But here again, you have to learn to find the right balance to make it the best you can and respect your well-being. I try to manage this stress relatively good but sometime I can fail. Being an independent worker, with instability this is very stressy to live sometimes. As I said I sleep a lot and I have a very understanding partner who helps me a lot. The pandemic situation also showed me, and I think to many people, what your priorities are and how you have to treat yourself better and take care of you a bit more than before. Working in music puts you in a very difficult position for your mental health as you have to be very strong sometimes to face some behaviours and go through constant judgments, opinions, with all this new social media thing on top, being alone, insecure, lake of sleep etc. As an agent also, I had this conversation a lot with the artists I represent as this is a reality that is not easy and you can be very depressed, discouraged, not following the rhyme it asks etc. The new normal has also put many artists in very short terms expectations – not hoping on the long term what is also a shame and can put a lot of deceptions.

Are there any changes you’d like to see to help look after collective
and individual mental health in the music industries?

Groups where you can talk and exchange your experiences of course – when you can speak about what you are going through help you feeling less alone. The fact that artists are also talking about it, magazines, websites, studies etc this is a very good thing. It opens a bit more the discussion. This will be also the right time in the middle of the pandemic where DJs are not able to do their job properly to start real groups of discussion. I think that could really help people who are getting very depressed atm, to give a support.

Are there any initiatives or sources of knowledge doing important work in mental health that have benefited you, that others should check out?

They are quite a few now – it is also very new since two-three years, the
discussion has evolved. Read some extracts of Can Music Make You Sick this is quite developing the topic and has got an interesting point of view if you want to go deeper in that reflexion and get more knowledge about it. I would like also to explore more Music therapy in general, think this is also a very good thing for many anxious people. Personally, I mostly always rely on my friends and my partner who are good listeners. My best friends are always putting me on the right foot and I am very grateful for that. When I feel a bit more sensitive than usual I always have someone calling me or knocking on my door to see how I am.

What advice would you give to people who are suffering from poor mental health and either can’t understand why or don’t know where to turn? 

This is quite difficult to answer – most of the time people should not be afraid to ask for help and talk to a friend – it took me a lot of time to be able to do it but this is always a relief. People should never feel ashamed of not feeling good or not facing situations. We are human beings with our sensitivity. Capitalism societies are putting us most of the time in a situation where we are ashamed of our thoughts and sadness but we are not robots and everyone should be able to respect this and have a minimum of empathy to understand it. You cant be always strong. One of my friends told me recently it was ok to not feeling ok. This is the first acceptance of your situation most of the time that will help – this sentence helped me a lot during the pandemic . You can’t fight all the time.

Based on experiences where others have helped you, what advice would you give to those who are close to someone who’s suffering but doesn’t know how best to support them. 

Always caring, listening and also trying to understand. Never judge. Every one has got its own path and sensibility. If you don’t know, always ask for help to your doctor, family and get advises, other friends etc.

Where Laura recorded her Reduced mix. Credit: Sophie Vaillant

What was the idea behind your Reduced set?

Think this one is a big very slow trip into your inner self going through a lot of emotions. I wanted to create a breath of calmness also, a caress for the ears. It has some deep and also intense moments, very close to the heartbeats sometimes. It has lot of new music in it as I’ve spent a lot of hours on Bandcamp or Formaviva lately. I hope people will like the progression and will feel touched. I grew up with music as an escape from lot of things – this is always what I have in mind when working on a mix – opening the perceptions and elevating the soul.

How would you advise listening to your set?

A couple of people told me in the past they were listening to my sets while walking in the nature. I think this is quite a good approach – I would also be curious to know where people feel the best while listening to this new one. Outside mostly as it is quite trippy at some points, at the office while working, before sleeping – it can be adapted in many situations. When I work from home, I mostly only listen to ambient music.

Can you tell us more about your selected charity, the work it does
and why it holds a personal significance?

The charity I wanted to focus on Music Therapy in the UK. They are developing the use of music and sounds in general as a therapeutic medium used to treat mental health problems. Their work supports the activity of the music therapists and research. 

Laura BCR is one of 17 artists who have contributed to The Meaning of Time, a compilation by On Board Music that finds a thread among the deepest realms of techno and ambient.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download all mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about our decision here.

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