LA beatmaker Sweatson Klank has just released his first ambient album, contributing to a wave of contemporary ambient music that is greatly received as we travel onward into the unknown of 2021.
Commonly found gravitating around the LA beat scene and leftfield labels like Brainfeeder, Ghostly and Warp, Sweatson Klank's been dreaming of an ambient album for a minute and finally got round to laying it down as the world entered a new decade and reality dissolved.
The result, 'Path Of An Empath', is as dreamy as it gets and the artist has also crafted an ambient mix to celebrate the release of the LP – so you're getting twice the dose of Sweatson Klank-approved ambience, which is more than fine by us.
Check out the mix below as well as a Q+A that explores the making of the album, the music that inspired it and an insight into Sweatson's career as a musical polymath.
Why did you decide to make an ambient album?
I've been listening to ambient music for as long as I can remember. It's always been a go to music for me when I need to escape the chaos of life, or relax/sleep, or just calm my anxiety. As the pandemic set in and we were all locked up at home I found myself listening to mostly ambient music and noticing its profound effect on my mood and general outlook. It was helping me a lot. I had been wanting to make an ambient record for years but had never really gotten around to taking it seriously. With more time on my hands due to stay at home orders I decided to why not just play around with some ideas and experiment. The album came really easily and quickly. I sat with it for a couple months playing it continuously to see if it invoked the same calm and inner reflectiveness as all the ambient music I had been listening to and basically using as mental medicine, and it did.
Was the process different from your usual production work?
The process was different in the sense that I knew I would not be using drums to drive ideas or melodies. This really opened up a sense of freedom for me musically. Tempo was less important, and it became really all about the textures, melodies and the feelings they would evoke in me. It was actually super rewarding and like being freed from the way I normally work.
How did you put the album together? Did you use many samples or field recordings?
There are a few samples but not many or rather not many big ones. I resampled from my own hardware synths a lot on this album. A lot of the main themes on the record came from me just hitting record and jamming these 20 minute noodle sessions with a synth and then finding any special moments in those and resampling them, looping them and then building off of those motifs. As far as field recordings there were tons used. In fact, every song has some sort of field recording from a natural setting somewhere. Going out into nature on hikes is one of the few things you can do in lockdown. It brought me a lot of peace and gave me even more appreciation for the natural world than I had before. I found that having the sound of nature in this music really gave it the calm and 3rd dimension it needed to take you somewhere as you listen to it.
What images did you have in your head when you made it?
Trees, rivers, open fields, deserts, mountains, tropical jungles, lakes in the forest, misty and foggy city nights, children, animals, and rain.
What's the meaning of the title?
An empath is someone who is highly aware of the emotions of those around them, to the point of feeling those emotions themselves. It's a gift and a curse and it's always been who I am. The album is really me trying to soothe the collective pain of mankind through an outpouring of self-centering sounds. A musical antidote to help us, even if only temporarily to escape the thoughts that keep us in fear.
Why is ambient relevant to 2021 and what other artists/albums would you recommend?
2020 was a year like no other. 2021 is likely to keep on kicking our asses. I won't go into all the problems we face as a human race, but just being aware can often cause sadness and anxiety. Speaking for myself, ambient music is a gift in helping us to slow down our minds, reflect on ourselves and maybe find some inner peace while the madness goes on around us.
The world of ambient music is very broad. I suggest people explore it and find what resonates with them most. A couple of my favorites to check out are: Loscil, Hirosi Yashamura, and also Green-House.
Do you have any tips for mindfulness or relaxation?
Get out into nature as much as possible. Stretch and breathe slowly. Try meditating even if you think it doesn't work for you. When you are having anxiety or negative thoughts, try to focus your brain on doing two activities at once. For instance, tell your mind to focus moving your pinky finger in a circle and flex your big toe at the same time for three minutes. It will help you stop focusing on the anxious thought until it has passed you by.
What's your routine to get you into the creative zone?
I work best in the morning with a refreshed body and brain. I used to be the opposite and be an all night studio owl, but I've found I do all my best work, and much faster in mornings. Wake up, stretch, meditate, have some nice coffee or tea and my musical mind flows by itself.
You do work for video games, tech companies and brands – what's your advice to other producers looking to diversify their professional output?
I think the best advice I have for anyone in music is to not be afraid to diversify. It's easy to get stuck in one lane, but being versatile is a skill that can get you work in many different music related fields. At the end of the day, I view success not as being famous or having millions of dollars or fans, but rather being able to live a somewhat comfortable life doing what you love. In other words, for me, If I can avoid having a job that I hate and support myself off doing music in various forms, I've made it.
Tell us about your In Session mix?
Easily in my top 10 favorite mixes I've ever done. This is 1 hour of music that asks you to step back and listen to the spaces between your thoughts until your heart rate slows to a mindful calm.
Sweatson Klank - Light Bridge
Steven Halpern - Seventh Chakra Root B Note
Satoshi Ashikawa - Still Space
Helios - Cullen Hill
Quiet Evenings - Wormwood
Teddy Larsy - Birds Of Space
Mindbender - Mediterranee
Eric Van - Quiet Water
Hiroshi Yoshimura - Something Blue
Smokin' Toad - Occupied Clouds
Claude Larson - Streamdrift
Spell - The Temptress
Green - House - Peperomia Seedling
Peter Davidson - Glide V
Brian Eno - Thursday Afternoon
Sweatson Klank - Sitting at the lake in Zurich