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.
Temple Rat’s music is a remarkable marriage of two practices; a folk music tradition that spans four millennia, and up-to-the-minute electronic production. Having been a student of the Erhu, a bowed chordophone with staggering flexibility and possibilities for extended technique, she became equally enamoured with contemporary electronic music. The expressiveness and musical range of the Erhu is a perfect conduit in the deep-rooted yet exploratory electronic music that Temple Rat produces. She reflects her natural environment through the use of field recordings, which she records assiduously at home and while travelling.
Her Reduced mix is a kindred collage of contemporary electroacoustic and ambient music with deep folk traditions; Her own unreleased material sits alongside music from Sunju Hargun, the pre-Hispanic composition of Mexican composer Antonio Zepeda and Young Marco’s work with Balinese Gamelan. It’s a filmic experience, as she describes it. The mix accompanies our interview, where she talks about the peace that making art affords her, managing the flow of time, and recommends an incredible film that ties together many of the points here.
First, a nice easy one: what does self-care mean to you?
The most important for me is to get enough sleep. I’ve also learned how to manage my emotions, and the most important thing for me is to have some alone time.
What does your daily or weekly self-care routine look like?
Let yourself enjoy every part of the day as much as possible. Oil painting has become one of my favourite hobbies, because most of the time, when there is not much to do, I start to blame myself for doing nothing. So sometimes, not thinking about anything and just painting gives me the most relaxing yet productive moments.
Can you tell us about the self-care spot at home you’ve photographed and how you have made it an optimum spot?
The studio under the roof of my home is where I create, paint and read books. I often think of it as my Temple.
Can you tell us about the outdoor location you’ve photographed where you go to find tranquillity?
I like thick forest-covered mountains isolated from the city’s hustle – here I come down, go hiking, rock climbing, record natural sounds and refill my energy.
What benefits has self-care brought you over the years?
It gave me a calm mind. Now I don’t deliberately express and compulsively socialize anymore.
Are there any specific techniques you favour or come back to more frequently?
Besides oil painting, I do yoga and jogging, breathing practices, and learning new musical instruments to reduce distracting thoughts.
What advice would you have for anyone who is either sceptical about the benefits of self-care, or is new to it and feels intimated by the wealth of options available?
I can’t give any more advice than to say, try it out and see the benefits for yourself.
What was the idea behind your Reduced set?
I want to share some fragments of my recent life; some music I’ve enjoyed and created this summer to give it a movie-like narrative. It includes happiness and sadness, with a subtle momentum where good and bad emotions dilute in a long river of time.
How would you advise listening to your set?
I hope it can accompany you when you are alone at home or on a walk.
What does good mental health mean to you?
To follow nature and dare to share my emotions and true thoughts, to me, is incredibly brave. Many people are good at disguising themselves and giving themselves a powerful mask to resist the outside world.
Are there any experiences with mental health that you’d like to share to provide comforts or connections with others who are/have suffered? Dark times you’ve left behind you, or difficult moments you still struggle to overcome?
I had depression when I was 15 years old. I was struggling very much at that time because I was not confident, I didn’t want to go to school or maintain a social life. But at the same time, I was fortunate because I knew where the problem occurred besides communication with friends. I was treated by a psychologist and started daily running exercises. It is normal to get sick and sometimes crucial to receive medication but the most important thing for me was to learn to accept yourself and let yourself be.
My heart becomes stronger and more confident. I understand that the process of healing is a long one. In addition to having an understanding family and the company of your lover, you need to make yourself simple. Discover the beauty in life as much as possible, and do something to make yourself feel happy. I can talk about this experience, which gives me a unique sense of beauty and attitude to life when I create music and examine myself.
What advice would you give to people suffering from poor mental health and either can’t understand why or don’t know where to turn?
Love yourself, accept the unpleasantness of life, don’t try to get everyone’s understanding; this will only make you tired.
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.
Listening and long-term company are indispensable. Trust me, Feng Shui turns things around, and everything will get better!
Are there any initiatives or sources of knowledge doing important work in mental health that have benefited you that others should check out?
The most beautiful depiction of the Buddhist life cycle is the Korean movie Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring by Kim Ki-duk – a truly beautiful masterpiece.