Podcast #15: Finding Inspiration and Clarity in Nature — With Matt from Fog Chaser
“I’ve started to get really obsessed with silent places in our world. I think that’s where the nature aspect comes in; the desire for spaces free of human noise.”
Spending time outside is great for getting fresh perspective or finding inspiration. It’s also a great way to get a dopamine detox from the chaos and overstimulation of the hectic world we live in. Matt, from Fog Chaser explains how he uses this to his advantage when composing music.
“I Think we all just Have to Find what Fills our Cups, as Individuals.”
For Matt, music was an important creative outlet for dealing with difficulties. He didn’t play as a child, learning guitar later in his teenage years and eventually striving to pick up every instrument he could.
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“There’s a Beauty in Being Able to just make Something that Wasn’t there Before. For Me it’s Calming, and Meditative.”
There’s something satisfying and relaxing about the creative process. When I paint, I find the minutes melt away along with external worries and concerns. For Matt, that serenity comes from “meditations” — his name for the monthly songs he sends out to his listeners.
It’s been a while since this particular one came out. But it happens to be one of my favorites, because of how deeply rooted it is in nature.
Matt says the name “meditation,” applies more to his end of the process, and that he hopes listeners aren’t expecting a guided meditation. But I disagreed with him a little on this topic; I think they evoke the same feeling from listeners.
Our culture seems to take great pride in meditation. But its accepted definition has expanded to include a lot of what I call active noise. Many meditation apps and podcasts demand quite a bit of your attention. I find it hard to clear my mind while someone is telling me what to think. In this regard: many of these tools wind up simply adding another layer to the ambient noise level.
0:45 — Introducing Matt
1:45 — Getting into to music
3:15 — Turning to music to cope with adversity
6:20 — Matt’s “meditations”
10:30 — Three minutes of calm
12:10 — Struggling with sensory overload
14:30 — Offering an oasis from chaos
18:00 — Matt’s creative residency
23:00 — How to make others feel what you’re feeling
26:00 — Where visuals and music mix, with Sturgill Simpson
30:00 — Finding an audience, and connecting directly
32:00 — How to break out of a creative funk
35:10 — Go touch grass.
36:45 — Searching for a single square inch of silence on Earth
43:00 — The difficulties of noise and distraction
“I’ve Started to Get Really Obsessed with Silent Places in our World. I Think that’s Where the Nature Aspect Comes in; the Desire for Spaces Free of Human Noise.”
The cool part about quiet spaces is they’re not actually quiet — not completely. Even in the podcast you’re listening to right now. There’s an almost imperceptible noise floor; the sum of all the ambient sound in the rooms where Matt and I recorded our interview. If I edited it out, you’d notice.
A lot of things that make up our urban or suburban ambiance are quite loud: traffic, air conditioning units, appliances, etc. Out in nature, we are able to focus on more subtle sounds.
I’ve written before about my love of walking through pine forests because of the very specific creaking sound the trees make when they twist in the wind. Matt sometimes goes out hunting for sounds like this one. Later, he incorporates the sounds into the songs themselves.
I love the idea of literally chasing these noises, like some kind of elusive animal. The process requires us to shed the distractions and immerse ourselves in a kind of quiet that many of us are uncomfortable with.
Matt’s work inspired me to write more about this phenomenon. I’m quite proud of it and it seemed to resonate with a lot of you. If you missed it: I break down an interesting scientific fact that explains why recordings of nature don’t have the same impact on your body as the real thing.
“I Wanted Folks to see what I’m Seeing in the Music.”
Still, Matt does a great job making you feel like you’re right there with him, watching the steam rise off the leaves and creeks.
Part of the reason I enjoy Fog Chaser so much, is because it pops up in my inbox — a very busy place in my life — and promises me a little oasis from chaos. I don’t need to engage. It’s not about another dopamine hit. I can just let my mind try to find calm
“I Thought it Would be Really Cool to be Able to E-mail a Song to Somebody, that has a Play Button.”
Fog Chaser wasn’t Matt’s first big musical endeavor. He’s also part of a band called Reddening West. But the conventional music industry can be difficult, and often requires you to be more of a social media influencer, than an artist.
“In the world of music… you’re playing shows, and the album release cycle is anti-climactic. It’s very stressful. It’s de-motivating sometimes because you want people to listen, but nobody is really listening.”
Part of his reason for creating the Fog Chaser publication was to develop direct relationships with his listeners. He’s also working to help others better connect to the natural world, unplug from chaos, and focus on the present.
“The relief of that; to feel untethered, and to feel just connected to what’s right in front of you — whether that’s the campfire, or your partner, or your pet, or the birds, or your friends — that’s a feeling I’m chasing now.”
More about Matt
Matt is part of a band called Reddening West. You can check out their music here. You can also receive monthly music meditations by subscribing to Fog Chaser. For more frequent updates about his creative process, you can check him out on Instagram, or Twitter.
I’m doing something a little different this week. Matt and I will be holding a joint discussion thread. This Saturday at 8:08 a.m. MST., we’ll be talking about finding inspiration in nature, and outdoor escapes from sensory overload. You’ll also be able to ask Matt more about his music.
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