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.
Anna Wall has long established herself within London’s electronic music circles. For over a decade, through her pursuits as a DJ, producer, label owner and radio host she’s become revered for unearthing forgotten house, techno and UK Garage gems, but what some might not know is the other side of her musical passions. When she’s not soundtracking dance floors across Europe, or in her regular slots as a Fabric and Rinse FM resident, Anna’s playing and creating meditative ambient sounds.
Having already learnt the label ropes through her vinyl-focused imprint The Bricks, in summer of this year she launched ‘Dream Theory’, a new platform to explore ambient and experimental sounds that connect our conscious and subconscious mind. It’s a home for her own creations too, some of which form the sounds she’s chosen for her Reduced mix.
Hoping to give the listener ‘a little moment of serenity and escapism’, Anna draws inspiration from ‘the ocean, the forest and healing frequencies’, piecing together soothing sonics and nature sounds she recorded in Ibiza. She’s paired her mix with CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably – a charity raising awareness and existing to prevent male suicide.
First a nice easy one: what does self-care mean to you?
Feeling balanced; when my body, mind and spirit are harmonious. Taking time to nourish myself with healthy food, sleeping well, meditation, sound healing, walks in nature, and practicing reiki are a few things that bring me back into alignment.
What does your daily or weekly self-care routine look like?
Starting my day with morning rituals is a powerful one for me; if I manage to do them all I usually feel energised and motivated for the day ahead. If I forget them all my thoughts seem scattered and I feel off-centre.
When I wake up I usually practice 20 minutes of breathwork. I’ve learnt so much from Stuart Sandeman and Breathpod with his morning live sessions; it’s incredible and transformational. I’m also an advocate for hot lemon water first thing in the morning, apparently it helps to cleanse the liver and detoxify. I’m on my second read of the amazing book The Artist’s Way, and with this comes the ‘morning pages’ – two or three pages of thought-stream – writing down whatever is on your mind and it can be a powerful way to process your thoughts.
Can you tell us about the outdoor location you’ve photographed where you go to find tranquility.
The sunsets in Ibiza are stunning; always magical, usually rich in colour, with incredible cloud formations. I’m obsessed with clouds. I get so inspired by being by the ocean – the calming sound of the waves, the sun glistening and dancing on the surface, and I’m in awe at the vastness of it. Being in nature – especially by the sea – is where I feel calm and grounded.
What benefits has self-care brought you over the years?
When I practice regularly I find that I’m a lot more focused, inspired and in the flow when it comes to music, work, and everything I put my efforts into. I feel like I have a lot more to give when I’m in the presence of others. It’s been a game changer for DJing too; ahead of a set if I’ve been practicing meditation and reiki I feel like I have this whole new wave of energy when I play.
Are there any specific techniques you favour or come back to more frequently?
Playing or listening to music is my greatest healer; it’s how I escape from the world for a moment and it brings me so much joy. Reiki has also changed my life; when I practice energy healing I always feel super connected and aligned. These two together are usually a powerful and inspiring combination for me.
What advice would you have for anyone who is either skeptical about the benefits of self-care, or is new to it and feels intimidated by the wealth of options available.
Take things slow. I think the concept is unique to each and every one of us, so really it’s about discovering what brings you back into alignment, what makes you feel balanced and connected.
What was the idea behind your Reduced set?
I wanted to create something that can provide a little moment of serenity and escapism. The mix is inspired by the ocean, the forest, healing frequencies, and nature sounds that I recorded in Ibiza. The last track of the mix is called ‘With You’ taken from my debut ambient album forthcoming on Dream Theory.
How would you advise listening to your set?
Maybe lying down, relaxed in meditation with your eyes closed. Maybe on a long walk in nature. Maybe with a microdose of magic mushrooms…
What does good mental health mean to you?
Learning the tools that can help the mind from turning to negative thoughts, old patterns, addictions, and so forth. It’s sometimes overwhelming trying to do this alone. Therapy has been transformational for me.
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’ve battled a lot with anxiety and I also experienced depression when I was younger. There are moments when old patterns from the past surface, but I’ve spent a lot of time learning tools to help overcome them. As well as trying various different forms of healing modalities, talking therapy has been transformational for me – this is something I think we should be talking more openly about – it’s courageous to ask for help and we should encourage each other to do so.
Can you tell us more about your selected charity, the work it does and why it holds a personal significance?
My selected charity is CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably – a charity raising awareness and existing to prevent male suicide. I lost two friends to suicide at the ages of 16 and 19. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject and I hope that with charities like this one, that those who are struggling can get the support that they need.
Press shot credit: Netti Hurley. Other images then by Anna on her 35mm camera.