Over the years, we have seen Drum & Bass being put to use for occasions like synchronized workouts, weddings, and sometimes (rather funnily) in a country’s parliament session. But, never has the genre been used to heal ourselves mentally and emotionally, and harness the true energy of the genre.
Drum & Bass has the power to conjure up every possible emotion within us. It can take us to unimaginable heights, console us in our grief or loneliness, get our bodies moving, and bring peace to our hearts. Music also has the power to improve our health and well-being, which only increases its awesomeness.
The guys at ‘Breathe & Bass’ have taken the empirical prowess of Drum & Bass music to create an experience that is a first-of-its-kind in the fraternity. Fronted by Matt Bossa, Breathe & Bass is an experience that helps people reduce stress, worries, and anxiety, with an impeccable selection of deep and melodic Liquid Drum & Bass.
The concept is an initiative to support greater awareness and access to the positive benefits of meditation and breathing by utilizing a genre of music that stirs the soul and provides space to move, dance, or relax.
We were keen to know how the concept took birth, and how it has been put to use. Matt Bossa was kind to share his experience and the breakthroughs achieved through the initiative.
A concept that combines Drum & Bass with meditation and yoga was something that was never heard of until Breathe & Bass. How did the idea come about?
Matt Bossa: Throughout the years I have had very up and down periods of my life where I suffered with high levels of anxiety; then was diagnosed with depression. Something I was drawn to as a strategy was yoga and meditation – being present in the body and I found that time just ‘being’ had a hugely positive effect on me. The idea for Breathe & Bass arrived from this journey into guided meditations and having been a DJ and promoter of deep and musical Drum & Bass for a very long time. I realised that the yoga/relaxation music wasn’t far off the breakdowns in my favourite tracks especially in the feelings they produced in a mix.
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Which got me thinking that the guided breath-work vocals I was using would work well with the D&B! The vision is to raise awareness of self-care and wellbeing strategies to listeners who feel at home within the music, and present them in a way that gives people the chance to refuel emotionally in these difficult and stressful times! Lockdown #1 gave me the space to put form to the idea – even the name just felt right.. Breathe & Bass! To me, it’s a very natural and potent combination that opens up lots of potential to make an authentic and meaningful difference in peoples’ everyday lives. Music is medicine and Drum & Bass is the heartbeat!
What is your process when creating a wellbeing mix for Breathe & Bass?
Matt Bossa: Great Question and this has taken me the longest to answer! I created a journey to go alongside this interview where I have collaborated with a Shamanic Healer on the guided vocals. The question that fascinates me is what makes the music more powerful as a whole rather than individual tracks! Being in the mix is very much my own form of mindfulness and has an instant calming effect so it has been a natural headspace I wanted to explore more.
Firstly it’s all about the music and an intention to create a flow that works to both relax to; but also is able to inspire someone to dance if that feels that’s right – no one says you can only meditate if you are lying down! This meant examining how I would usually construct a mix to ensure the blends are more subtle so as not to ‘jolt’ the listener out of the mood, but still have the energetic impact of a solid D&B set and coherence that fits with mindfulness and meditation, which has a clear beginning and an invitation to commit to the session (to gain the benefits of some self care). I have a midpoint where being in the flow is important followed by a wind-down to end. There are so many talented producers shining through within the musical end of the d&b spectrum right now and I enjoy finding particular tracks; that for whatever reason – could be a sound, a feel, a vocal or particular instrument that resonates with me is important and is always the starting point and where the intention kicks in. I am very organised with my playlists, which are finely tuned to particular vibes and makes recording the journey so enjoyable as I can relax; get in the zone and often be surprised myself in what the musical blends generate – I love how all the tracks work in harmony to create something unique!
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The other exciting part of Breathe & Bass is the opportunity to collaborate with different meditation teachers and healers; so many of them have an affinity with the music from their own experiences of partying to Drum & Bass and totally understand the intent of Breathe & Bass. We consider what themes feel relevant to bring and then once they have recorded themselves talking I will add them to the mix. Placement is key – it is about finding those spots in the musical journey where the vocals are just enough to keep the feeling and intention intact but not become overpowering. My personal favourite mix from last year was where we recorded the first ever ‘Yoga Nidra’ set to Drum & Bass; which is where you bring awareness to different parts of your body and it reduces anxiety bit by bit like turning off switches in your mind. I love the potential of these collaborations as it is what gives Breathe & Bass its authenticity and we have more incoming this year!
As Drum & Bass heads, it is great to see people connecting with the genre they love to heal themselves mentally, spiritually and emotionally. What are your thoughts?
Matt Bossa: When I took the leap of faith to put Breathe & Bass out there into the world, I wondered what the reception would be from the D&B community as the genre’s culture and roots lie in a very different direction; and its perception still lingers that it’s banging drug music’ – which is absolute nonsense!. It has been fun to challenge that stereotype but what did become apparent was how many people are aware of the importance of mental health; especially within the conditions we have been living under for the last two years – being in lockdown had a huge impact on people. With such big changes to everyday life; there has been a shift towards people seeking out well-being & spiritual practices, and the desire in making positive changes in our society.
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People instinctively feel better when they are able to connect to their authentic selves and the people in their ‘tribe’ – these are all deeply embedded needs in our past and despite our fast paced consumer society the awareness is that this does not nourish our soul or contribute positively to our mental health past a shallow short term fix. Drum & Bass has a unique musical vibration that resonates deeply people who have loved the sound throughout their lives – nothing beats that feeling of a well-produced drop in a track and looking beyond the bass face smile – physiologically it alters the brain and accesses that spark within each of us which can literally transform stuck energy, thoughts and feelings in a safe way.
What according to you transcends the boundaries of Drum & Bass music when it starts making connections with an individual’s senses and commences their journey of personal wellbeing?
Matt Bossa: Having considered this very topic in detail over the last couple of years – simply put.. our ancestors have always known the power of music and sound to raise our own vibration – something we sense and respond to in a very primal way and essentially one of the reasons we all love a good Drum & Bass party. People want to connect and music is one of the most powerful ways to achieve this. There is a reason why our brains are hardwired to find dancing around a fire with our tribe boosts our entire energetic state into a state of acceptance and peace. Dancing with your friends makes you feel part of something bigger than yourself, gives a feeling of acceptance which strengthens relationships and builds trust literally re-wiring the brain. Drugs have given ravers that feeling for years; but it comes at a cost with the depression and anxiety that can follow when they wear off. I have noticed young people moving away from that drug culture earlier in favour of their collective generation being much more clued up in spiritual and holistic practices and wanting to not be bound by old and inherited patterns of behaviour in their daily lives and relationships.
Who are the artists that you feel had a lasting impact in your journey as an artist?
Matt Bossa: Breathe & Bass would not be possible without the incredible artists who put their heart and soul into making such beautiful Drum & Bass.. I am always blown away by the quality and richness and very grateful for the inspiration. I have no inclination to be a producer as I prefer the mystery of not knowing that it took 8 hours to get the snare right, but love the endless musical combinations that can be created. I could list so many artists that I highly rate.. but will focus on some of the consistent names that I go to time and time again. Firstly the legend that is PYXIS. Not only do I love her music, She has been a constant source of inspiration and support with the concept from day one. Next ALPHA RHYTHM who has built such a community around the deep and musical drum & bass I am drawn to, but he also writes the lushest music that seems to always be perfect for the start of a Breathe & Bass mix. Then ZEN DUB is another influence as his productions incorporate those elements of ancestral instrumentation which really hits the spot for me and the Breathe & Bass vibe.
What are your plans for Breathe & Bass in 2022?
Matt Bossa: I want to continue the mix series incorporating both different wellbeing practices and around particular topics or areas people find challenging. These will be shorter in length to allow people to listen on their way to work or as a quick support strategy when things feel tough. Also, I hope to develop the live events further so they are both online and in-person and add more elements to the sets such as live instruments and bring Breathe & Bass to festivals – especially conscious ones that have that focus on community and wellbeing. I would also like to create a platform where Drum & Bass lovers can openly discuss mental health and get support! There are exciting collaborations currently in the works and can’t wait to share them with you all!
Our friends at Breathe & Bass also delivered a gorgeous guest mix for us which captures their sound and their ethos. Sit back and enjoy!