One of my “quarantine projects” was remixing my first yoga album, Yogis on Fire. I’ll back up to the beginning and then talk about what I wanted to fix.
My lovely wife Candace has taught yoga for many years, primarily for CorePower Yoga. A couple years ago she convinced me to try it and we did the Hot Power Fusion class. I liked it a lot more than I expected.
Skip forward a year or so and we were talking about the playlists teachers use in classes. CorePower teachers embrace their musical tastes but some things don’t always “work.” Candace’s playlists consistently get great feedback not only for choice of classic songs (often themed, but that’s another post), and for her attention to the rising and falling energy of the class.
She suggested I make custom music for a class, and since I was most familiar with the HPF format, I made some experimental ambient neo-soul minimal cinematic techno hybrid music to go with it.
A custom playlist
I wrote out some brief instrumental ideas and recorded folks playing flute, horn, cello, and piano (to click tracks). Then I started making beats and filling in with some synth lines and loops to make the finished songs.
The styles are relatively varied. The first track, “Rise,” begins with synth drones and a quena (Peruvian flute) solo, before breaking into a kind of gospel-soul track with a synth-lead solo.
“Warriors,” which plays during the long Vinyasa flow sequence, is kind of minimal techno with a cello solo and flute highlights.
“Core” plays during a stomach-crunch and boat-pose sequence. This one is a 6/8 hard rock track with guitars and B-3 organ.
“Heart” plays toward the end, when the class features floor-based poses like Camel and Rabbit. It’s a little more jazz-esque, with a completely improvised piano solo.
I released this on Bandcamp but a couple things didn’t sit well for me, so I was glad I had some time to revisit. First of all, I didn’t utilize some of the nuances in Reason, like using Grooves, and percussion velocity. Secondly, the way I recorded horn sounded really bad. It was in a decent recital hall, but the mic placement just made it sound hollow and nasal. Thirdly, some of my mixing/mastering was too aggressive and harsh.
So really it came down to re-recording the horn (thank goodness I live with the player!), tweaking the drums to add more humanity, and dialing back some of my mixing choices (better use of sidechain and multi-band compressor helped).
Yogis on Fire isn’t destined to be a big hit, or my favorite thing I ever made. And people in class probably never noticed what bugged me. But now I feel like it’s a more solid soundtrack to a hot yoga workout. If it keeps you moving and motivated, then that’s all it needs to be.