Energizing Instrumental Lofi Beats Music for flow, productivity and creative doings.
Welcome to a fresh batch of musical tracks for creative flow doings. If you are seeking distraction-free music for writing, coding, learning, making, or chilling, I made these songs for you. Enjoy. 🔮
Official Music Visualizer Video for Hopeful Spirits SINGLE
Released on Sept 22, 2023. Written, composed and self-produced by Mark Koester Original Cover Design by Mark Koester using Generative AI Art Tools Stellar Mammals Production 2023
- 01 - Reminiscent Shores (1:36)
- 02 - Unlocked Dreamstate (2:21)
- 03 - Improbablistic (3:09)
- 04 - Hopeful Spirits (2:24)
- 05 - Undercurrents (2:24)
- 06 - Anticipatory Breath (2:13)
- 07 - Bellini–Tosi (2:34)
- 08 - Standard Deviation (1:37)
- 09 - Shiv Shakti Point (2:02)
- 10 - Future Journeys Together (2:16)
About Album: Cosmic Coastlines
Happy to share another selection of songs I’ve made recently. Hope you like them.
Here are a few thoughts about why I made these songs, what they are about and some producer notes.
As naive as it might seem, I believe music can have a positive impact on us–on our world, our society and our selves. Music can help us feel good, stay energized and even relax. As a music producer, I love good sounds and energizing, pensive melodies.
As a producer, my current goal is making music to enable distraction-free flow, meaning to help myself and others “get into the zone.” Whether it’s learning, meditating, creative or other productivity doings, a lot of music can be distracting and prevent you from really staying on focus on a thought or task. Vocals and lyrics are a powerful part of a lot of music we all love but isn’t always ideal when learnign or creating. So this current batch of songs is entirely instrumental.
Broadly speaking these songs continue to be about positivity, openness, exploratory energies and discovery. The titles are indicate of these ideas and moods. A few of these songs were written in slightly darker, depressed and challenging moments but retain a hopeful and vibe of recovery and healing. I continue to find space-related themes as a good spark to my musical creativity too.
Orginally vaguely titled lonely luner lander, “Shiv Shakti Point” felt more fitting and is named after the landing site of Chandrayaan-3, India’s recent lunar lander mission. This mission landed 600 km from the south pole of the Moon on 23 August 2023, and I believe these are exciting steps for humanity’s stellar mammals mission.
Creativity, Production and Producer Notes
In terms of the music production, Cosmic Coastlines followed many of the same tools and production patterns I deployed for my last album, Symbolic Wonderland (see album notes).
I firmly believe that there is no wrong way to make a song and, in fact, there are endless right ways. This album is an expression of that feeling and my main mantra: start anew regularly.
Put another way: make new stuff by simply trying to make new stuff.
If you do that regularly, you’ll find creative gems, a few of which might merit finishing, sharing and releasing.
After finishing my second album, Symbolic Wonderlands, I had no real intentions of starting or releasing a new album. Creating this album definitely had an emotional arch for me as the creator. There were periods of doubt, moments of awe and inspiration, and a good deal of struggle too. Flow and creativity often depends on attempt challenges that are beyond your previous abilities and experience. So as such, I made an attempt to set a new bar or level for my music creations.
I believe music production and music listening are best approached as a nearly endless playground to discover and explore. There are no “rules.” For this album, I initially elected to embrace an opened-ended exploratory phase to making music, which aligned with my original music producer learning journey. This phase entailed trying out more instruments, finding new sounds, and seeking inspiration in early tracks and demos. I also decided to do some collaborations as a way to broaden my skills and abilities too. All and all, I just made a bunch of rough demos, tracks and song starters.
Besides my general mantra around making music regularly, a few other mantras ands organizational step-stones enabled me to nudge these songs along and finish some tracks. Some of the mantras I deployed included:
- Just get started.
- Trial and error on a new instrument.
- You don’t make songs; you make a song and one by one they become songs.
- Seek to find a sound or preset you like or are inspired by.
- Give it a try.
- Open a genre template and move your fingers until you find a riff, melody or sound.
Beyond mantras, there is no real secret that you need to put in the work to make music (or anything creative for that matter). If you want to reach a hard creative goal or do anything entrepreneurial, you need to put in the time. Great art comes from regular reps.
I’m also a strong believer of cultivating and seeking flow. My general creative northstar with song writing and music production remains flow. Basically strive to push yourself via some kind of challenge and then ride that intensive, self-less, immersive focus state until you finish something, ideally a “complete” song to share.
Get into flowing while making music is key activity. Then have a process that ends in a demo or new version of a track.
Assuming a generally well-balanced life situation where I have an hour open a day to create when I won’t be distracted and I don’t need to fully dedicate my time to something else, at the start of a creative music making period I do two things:
- Carve out regular, dedicated time for my music production. In my weekly goals list, I generally set a weekly goal to to spend 5 to 10 hours a week on music. My overall input varied but all in all having this weekly music time goal made it a more consistent behavior.
- Activate making music. Anything that isn’t making a track should largely be avoided. Just make songs is your central activity as a music producer. Avoid most anything else especially YouTube videos of other producers making songs or talking about gear. Specifically I planned or intended to activate my music goal each day after a workout in the early evening. When I finished a run or cycling workout, I was more or less prepared to start producing. As I built up a selection of tracks to finish I also got in the habit of also scheduling regular production time sessions of 1-3h on the weekends. Regardless of when, each session generally started with either starting a fresh track using a template or working to improve my existing tracks. Always Remember: You are either starting new songs or finishing your existing tracks.
In my case, I set aside time in my weekly agenda and weekly goals for music making. On average I was aiming for 5 to 10 hours per week on music.
Time tracking has been a useful support mechanism for this my music making pursuit and all my own goal pursuits. I’m a strong believer in the power of intentionally setting a timer based on project you are working on, work nonstop for at least 25 minutes or ideally over an hour, and then periodically reviewing the time you are putting in.
As I recount in detail in a blog posted called Creative Organization, I wrote, revised and finished my second album over 21 weeks and in roughly 135 hours. That’s about 6 and half hours per week or less than an hour per day.
For this third album, according to my time tracking logs, between end of April and start of Sept 2023, I spent a total of 128 hours and 34 on music. 20h30 of this was spent on collaborations and music production for other artists. Roughly another 5 hours was spent on fun and miscellaneous learning music stuff. All told, according my time tracking logs, I spent 103h making this album.
Put another way over the roughly 18-19 weeks between album releases, I spent 5h and 24 minutes per week on music production, music making and finishing this album.
The biggest blocks of time were:
- Music Production Jamming: 27:34:57
- Album Production Work: 18:03:20
- Album Production Reworking: 10:09:32
- Finishing Album Work: 04:57:15
- Album Reflections and Planning: 03:49:52
- Mixing and Mastering Album: 03:49:14
- Session Recordings with Guitarist: 02:58:41
In terms of my production tools and approach, I largely used much of the same basics, namely Ableton Live for my DAW and a number of starter templates I have and continue to build and tweak.
In terms of sounds, I used a number of instrument VSTs and music production plugins and techniques to generate and craft my sounds. Again I love Arturia’s V Collection for classic synths and I get a ton of mileage out of those instruments on each every track. I like SpitFire Audio’s Labs (mainly for orchestral and string libraries) and Decent Sampler for some guitars, piano and weird strings.
A few of these songs have elements I pulled from iPad jams sessions with AUM and external synths likes the MicroFreak. I captured and used a ton of bird sounds from a trip in in Guatamala too. I continue to think starting from a fun or interesting sound is a good GPS direction for making a track.
To be completedly honest, I didn’t expect to be releasing so many new songs so recently after finishing my second album. That album took a lot out of me. Interestingly, I got pretty inspired by Mac Demarco’s release of a 199-song album. I have yet to listen to the whole album but I have found several really fun songs of sweet musical goodness. Even though I’m not nearly as talented or capable as Mac Demarco, I think we do need to just let go of songs as a regular practice. If your musical process delivers a good sounding song, you should release and share. Even if you might possibly make it better someday, it’s often times better to release and let it go. This mentality of musical abundance was extremely inspiring to me.
Personally I find having too many half finished songs that I haven’t released or shared as a creative blocker. So I regularly review my demo tracks and when I find a few that inspire me and I’m proud of, I start to journal and reflect on next steps. What sound am I pursuing? What vibe to I want to put out? What rough intersection of genres do I want to create in? Following a bit of journaling and open-ended ideation as I continue to explore and create, I eventually settle on and stumble into wanted to finish and release the good stuff I’ve started. From here I found the impetus for this album, Cosmic Coastlines.
This vague feeling of “maybe I’ve got enough songs now” is when I activate my organizer mind and pursuing finishing over starting. I again used a creative organization spreadsheet of my favorite tracks and then I iterated on songs one by one. This might start with a review and taking notes. It might begin with just jumping in and adding a song or improving the production or mix. Regardless, I work and re-work my songs while lightly scoring trackings and counting revisions in the spreadsheet. Revision counts and a hot dog 🌭 score.
Over time after about 5 to 10 revisions on each of these tracks, I often had a selection of songs I was excited about. I’ll then cut or dropped songs that didn’t make it and continued to focus on the songs I had. I might make a new song in the middle of the finishing stage as well. There is really no wrong way as long as I’m having fun, making incremental progress and getting closer to completion.
Admitted, it can be a challenge deciding when you are “done” creatively. It’s largely an instinct about when you decide and feel personally “done” with a song or overall project. Since creating songs is a temporal event, each day I return to a song of mine is an opportunity to listen with fresh ears. Sometimes long breaks are necessary in order to get truly fresh ears on a song or feel inspired to finish certain tracks.
Once I do feel done, I have a few mental strategies to actually finish, keep momentum up and stay organized. One thing is I now do that I wish I did previously was release a few singles first. Releasing a great single you are excited about first can give you something to celebrate and might help you move forward with the project overall and on other tracks. Just releasing a piece of an album can move your work forward on other pieces of the puzzle and hopefully over time you feel like the overall work is up to where it needs to be and you let it go and release it as a multi-track album or EP.
During the last weeks of finishing songs and writing a few extra ones, I was reading a long biography about ambient music pioneer Brian Eno called “On Some Faraway Beach.” Eno’s journey and iterative process felt strangely similar to me. In particular his technique of creating systems for music and then editing and completing songs and albums afterwards fit well with my approach too. It was nice to read about journey of another musical creative during my own journey, and I’d recommend this to other artists. Somehow reading or watching historical documentaries about other artists can help you navigate creative obstacles and mental blockers.
Finally, I’m starting to feel pretty strongly that all I can hope for as a music maker is to “capture magic” or to stumble into a inner world of a new song. I don’t subscribe to a mystical or muse-driven form of creativity but I do believe in happy accidents and weird luck of finding gems in our jams. The drive for anything other than vague, hopeful intentions to “finding magic” is tough target to hit, at least for me. Great sounds and good songs come from a lot of luck. So I try to be lucky by making music often. I seek flow in making music and songs and strive to create flow in those listening and experiencing it.
Additionally in my own flow making, I hope to share flow listening with and for others.
Collaborators / Attribution
- Jake Stills - Electric guitar on a selection of tracks.
Special thanks to…
- Raleigh Tomlison - love, food and first ears
- Jake Still - guitars and production feedback
- Reviews and feedback by Drew Koester, Jordan Krimston, Alessandra Mesa, Kjell Nelson, Eliot Charof, Mike Wallerstein, Kris Cruz, Leo Peng, and several others.
- Various friends, family, neighbors and collegues who smiled and cheered me on in their own ways as I was working on finishing this album.
Listen to full album on Spotify:
Wanna learn more about how I made this album and get access to special updates and releases?
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AIDA (AI Disclosure Acknowledgement): Liner notes were written entirely by me without any AI assistance. I wrote and produced all of the music myself (of course with help and feedback). Album art and short videos were generated by me with the assistance of an AI-based systems (StarryAI, RunwayML).