Productivity Secrets of a Master DJ (Meditation, Morning Routines, and More)

233 Comments

The Tim Ferriss Show - Glitch Mob

(Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Justin Boreta is a founding member of The Glitch Mob. Their music has been featured in movies like Sin City II, Edge of Tomorrow, Captain America, and Spiderman.

In this post, we discuss The Glitch Mob’s path from unknown band to playing sold-out 90,000-person (!) arenas.  We delve into war stories, and go deep into creative process, including never-before-heard “drafts” of blockbuster tracks!  Even if you have zero interest in music, Justin discusses habits and strategies that can be applied to nearly anything.  Meditation?  Morning routines?  We cover it all.

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The Glitch Mob’s last album, Love Death Immortality, debuted on the Billboard charts at #1 Electronic Album, #1 Indie Label, and #4 Overall Digital Album. This is particularly impressive because The Glitch Mob is an artist-owned group.  It’s a true self-made start-up.

This podcast is brought to you by Mizzen + Main. Mizzen + Main makes the only “dress” shirts I now travel with — fancy enough for important dinners but made from athletic, sweat-wicking material. No more ironing, no more steaming, no more hassle. Click here for the exact shirts I wear most often. Order one of their dress shirts this week and get a Henley shirt (around $60 retail) for free.  Just add the two you like here to the cart, then use code “TIM” at checkout.

This episode is also brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What music do you listen to when you work? When you really need to get in the zone? Please share in the comments.

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, could you please leave a short review here? I read them, and they keep me going.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Website | FacebookTwitter | Instagram | YouTube

Learn More about The Glitch Mob

Live

Official

Movies

Commercial Work

Show Notes (Time Stamps Approximate)

  • World-class attributes of Justin Boreta
  • The Grant Korgan story
  • Unique attributes of The Glitch Mob and the feeling of being on stage in front of 90,000+ people
  • Defining “indie” and “artist owned”
  • The makeup and evolution of The Glitch Mob team
  • Tools and software of The Glitch Mob
  • What exactly is “mastering”?
  • Deconstructing audio engineering software and Ableton
  • How to have your music featured in massive motion pictures
  • The story of the Sin City II trailer
  • Justin plays Animus Vox [approx 36:30]
  • The fourth member, Kevin, and his role in the success of the business
  • Developing the creative process as success comes into play
  • Soliciting feedback, Justin Boreta-style
  • Describing a day in the studio for The Glitch Mob
  • Commonalities of the most successful songs
  • The importance of traditional instrument skills when performing/producing music
  • Justin plays the never before heard 6th version of Our Demons, followed by the finished product [57:30]
  • A rapid learning program for music production
  • The draft version of Fortune Days, followed by the finished product [1:03:15]
  • How many separate tracks are running in a Glitch Mob song?
  • What percentage of samples are custom vs. off-the-shelf?
  • Current revenue streams for The Glitch Mob
  • Favorite pastry, pre-show meditation, defining success, and advice for his 20-year old self
  • What EDM show should the uninitiated go to first, morning rituals, meditation and morning workouts
  • What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? [1:40:20]
  • Justin plays us out with Can’t Kill Us [1:48:45]

People Mentioned

Posted on: February 23, 2015.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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233 comments on “Productivity Secrets of a Master DJ (Meditation, Morning Routines, and More)

  1. I listen to Mastodon’s Leviathan on repeat when I’m really trying to work. I’ve probably listened to it a thousand times and have all the lyrics memorized so I don’t have to pay close attention to what’s going on with the music. It’s also a fast paced narrative about whaling so there’s the motivational factor.

    Like

  2. When I really want to do creative work, mainly writing my Morning Pages from Julia Cameron, I have used focus@will, which, according to the site, “delivers various “Attention Amplifying” music channels scientifically designed to engage with your brain’s limbic system. This soothes the easily distracted fight or flight mechanism increasing attention span and general focus.” I don’t care how or why all I know is it works.

    For mundane, energy-sucking tasks, I go to the podcasts of either Avicii or Tiesto. The uptempo EDM music keeps my energy levels up. Plus the lack of lyrics enables me to have the background noise I desire without slowing me down.

    Lastly, for chores I go to good ol’ Pandora, usually something country like Florida Georgia Line or Zac Brown Band.

    Like

  3. I have recently tried the 1-song-on-repeat technique and it works quite well with mellow songs I know very well that don’t have too many sections/variation. So far I’ve used “Codex” by Radiohead and “John Wayne Gacy Jr.” by Sufjan Stevens to great effect.

    Like

  4. Trance is great for working and studying. Few, if any, lyrics and driving beats that help you zone into your work. Andrew Rayel and Above and Beyond are my personal favorites currently. Or check out MrSuicideSheep on YouTube, great variety of electronic tunes of all different genres and he has great mixes.

    Like

  5. usually heavy, instrumental rock/metal. Red Sparowes – “the fear is excruciating, but therein lies the answer” has gotten me through many writing/studying sessions.

    Like

  6. I actually listen to Glitch Mob quite a bit during long design marathons, but also the following:

    Bon Iver
    Jason Reeves
    Olafur Arnalds (Living Room Songs is fantastic, particularly Track 2. I could have Track 2 on repeat all day and be perfectly content)
    OneRepublic (Native album)
    Pretty much any military or general boss movie soundtrack (Black Hawk Down, Bourne, Bond, Expendables etc. Particularly useful when you want to feel perpetually in beast mode and are beating deadlines)

    Like

  7. Ludovico Einaudi
    Elijah Bossenbroek
    Gelka
    STS9

    All allow my brain to get in the zone, especially when it comes to creative projects

    Like

  8. Smashing Pumpkins is one of my favorites, but I don’t like to worry about adding or changing music, so I sometimes put The Fray Station at Pandora alternating with Kings of Leon, The XX etc. Sorry I’m not much of a help….very eclectic.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ornette Coleman: Free Jazz
    A Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders
    Radiohead: Kid A or The Bends
    Anything by Sparklehorse

    (Listening choice depends on the type of project)

    Like

  10. Deadmau5, pendulum, Sp33fy M@n, phoenix, passion pit or soundtrack music (John Williams, Klaus Badelt) for coding.

    All that plus hip hop and diplo for more simple financial analysis work, or negotiation brainstorming.

    Like

  11. My current focus song is by this guy called Rameses B.
    The song is called “The Meaning of Life,” its a really relaxed song, I just put it on repeat when I need to work, Really good song, I enjoy it a lot.

    Like

  12. I love the guest choice! For deadlines I loop the drink-the-sea-part-ii mix from the Glitch Mob (on soundcloud)

    For general creativity I pick something from the LateNightTales series, especially the Bonobo collection.

    Like

  13. 70s lite rock, yacht rock, AM Gold: Bread, America, Christopher cross, Steven bishop, air supply, Gino Vanelli, England Dan and john ford coley, CSN, cheesier the better

    Like

  14. Check out the “Heady Beats” playlist on spotify. Really good stuff, minimal lyrics, cool future synth type of stuff that really dials you in for focus and motivates for creativity.

    Like

  15. I’ve gone almost completely to Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid Maad City” on repeat…. Never felt more productive. It tripped me out hearing Matt from WordPress mention albums on repeat, cause it def has worked for me. Song 1 comes on and my brain is like “it’s crush time.”

    Like

  16. I have always loved listening to electronic music while working. My newest discovery is NIMITAE (https://soundcloud.com/nimitae) I think Matt Mullenweg talked about this a little, but I can’t get distracted by the music (lyrics and stuff). Electronic music let’s me just get lost in a trance and focus on work.

    Like

  17. I have a playlist that immediately puts me “IN THE ZONE” period. I love to write inspirational pieces, so to put me in that place I put in play the playlist I have on my home page of my website. [Moderator: link removed]. The mind is a tool, able to turned on and activated at any point in time. I have journey to the gym music as well as gym playlists. It is imperative for me to use these tools to get the best out of my production time. Every song on my creation playlist is word free for the most part.

    Like

  18. To avoid distractions I’ll put a song with no lyrics on repeat…. The song of choice I’ve been listening to lately has been from the Inception movie: Hans Zimmer – Time

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I change it up….I often like listening to film scores. Right now going through a Pennywise, NOFX, nineties punk phase. Also enjoy classical…usually stuff containing a lot of cello.

    Like

  20. I listen to Childish Gambino’s “Because the Internet” or “Kauai” when I need to get in the zone for either writing blog posts or editing photos. Both collections are very atmospheric and thematically introspective. “Kauai” is especially consistent and keeps me “in the zone.”

    Like

  21. The music (or music genre) I listen to when I have to be in the zone for work is–unquestionably–Classical music. I especially prefer something elegant and flowing, such as Chopin or Liszt.

    Like

  22. I usually listen to movie or game soundtracks. They’re mostly instrumental and I find that helps me get in the zone. The Social Network soundtrack is a current favourite.

    Like

  23. The GoPro Hero 2 trailer is what introduced me to The Glitch Mob. Such a great video and song.

    Favorite writing songs:
    Angels and Airwaves – Diary
    Woodkid – Run Boy Run (instrumental)
    Ludovico Einaudi – Experience
    Goldmund – Threnody

    Like

  24. Lately it’s been the “Code Your Face-off” playlist on Songza. Or Vivaldi. I go through phases. When I’m in the kitchen, my work (well, play really…) is cooking, and there is nothing better than a little country (Caitlin Rose) – with a glass of wine of course!

    Like

  25. I listen to the Skyrim soundtrack on repeat during work, but if I need a higher level of motivation that morning, I switch to a playlist of soundtracks including Iron Man, Bourne Identity and Inception.
    I can’t work with anything that has lyrics.

    Like

  26. I listen to a Phish show or one song from a show in particular that really sticks out to me on repeat. It really helps when I get to that point of an infinite loop. Once in awhile my ears will perk up and notice a Trey Anastasio peak.

    Like

  27. Any Krautrock (Neu, Can, etc)
    Any Jamaican dub music (King Tubby, Lee Perry, etc)
    The Orb – The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
    KLF – The Chill Out
    Augustus Pablo – East of the River Nile
    Jackie Mittoo
    Massive Attack
    Death in Vegas
    Suicide – Suicide
    Arthur Russell – First Thought Bad Thought
    Spiritualized – Pure Phase
    Back to Mine series
    Late Night Tales series
    24 hours of Star Trek Ambient engine noise idleing

    Like

  28. My go to music for long periods of concentration on a work project, or for prepping for killer presentations, is The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, Plini, Nili Brosh, Nick Johnston, Bryan Beller and Guthrie Govan. If I need vocals, Davy Knowles and Queens Of The Stone Age are the first two I go for. Joe Bonamassa and Mike Keneally fall into either group.

    Like

  29. Some of my favorite stations on Pandora include:

    RJD2
    Trance
    Crave You (Adventure Club Dubstep Remix)
    Shrunken Heads
    Junior’s Throwin Craze (Woolfy Mix)
    Ghostwriter

    Like

  30. I always need some mix: jazz + hip-hop, jazz + classical, classical + hip-hop, pop+ classical, rock + classical…etc. it does something interesting to the brain, boosts creativity, it becomes easier to find creative solutions that are in the intersection too and it does put you in the zone

    Like

  31. I may be a bit strange, but I listen to a lot of dubstep, heavy bass music and funk edm when I’m trying to work. My favorites:

    – bassnectar
    – griz
    – gramatik
    – flux pavilion
    – 20syl
    – zeds dead

    Like

  32. Zone out time gets a bunch of cage the elephant, black keys, Leon Russell, and psychobilly a la reverend Horton heat. More chill zoning gets Consider the Source, Leon Russell, and the Mumford breed coming out right now.

    Like

  33. The extended version of a battle theme from a videogame. They are supposed to be looped like this inorder to keep you focused on play the game. I find it great for concentrating for long periods of time on a project.

    Like

  34. Deafheaven’s “Tunnel of Trees”.

    Both their albums are really amazing. I was never really into this genre of music due to the vocals but the vocals for Deafheaven almost act as another instrument that tie the whole sing together. It gets you pumped and focused real quick.

    Like

  35. NeedToBreathe.
    IMHO, the most underrated rock band of our time.

    I encourage you to give them a listen – I put their most recent 3 albums (The Outsiders, The Reckoning, Rivers in The Wasteland) on repeat and go.
    Their first album had some great songs. but was far less consistent. Full disclosure – their roots are in Christian Rock, but they’ve done a lot of crossover work and very little of what they sing is IN YOUR FACE.

    It’s tough to choose just a few songs that are representative, but since this is about flow, below are a few of their upbeat, driving songs. It’s not AC/DC driving, but these are all great, energizing songs. They are equally good with slow, contemplative songs, but that’s for a different day.

    1. The Reckoning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4lJ_4Nehw0&list=PLMgiB3hqtR7SsLT2Nrvv7wxgSm6QjgXP0
    – They had a great documentary about the making of this album on Netflix until recently.

    2. Devil’s Been Talkin’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwX7kkZDvR0&list=PLMgiB3hqtR7SsLT2Nrvv7wxgSm6QjgXP0&index=12

    3. Girl Named Tennessee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_1111678265&feature=iv&src_vid=oge1XYX719g&v=8dGp8F7CHEY

    4. The Heart (silly accolade, but it was just used in the video for Macho Man’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5Yo99VjE2o&index=7&list=PLxZG5lJgCFh9GDyT46SlnSWA_sav7sNW-

    .:BONUS TRACKS!:.

    5. Multiplied (nominated for a GRAMMY!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGF-MGGLpB0&list=RDfGF-MGGLpB0#t=18

    6. Brother (completely unplugged, no mic): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MniaGzM57ws

    7. Brother (Original, for comparison): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ub1q16hLxJg&list=PLxZG5lJgCFh9GDyT46SlnSWA_sav7sNW-&index=10

    Need more? Happy to send a complete list if you like them!

    Like

  36. When my work involves deep thinking, I like to have something pretty ambient, like post-rock or new classical. Spotify has a great playlist called Deep Focus that I use often. If I’m looking for something on my own it would be along the lines of Sigur Ros or Explosions in the Sky.

    Another good Spotify playlist for focus is Indie Classical.

    And when I’m writing, especially if it’s about materially I know well, I like hip-hop. It helps me stay in the flow. I think it helps that I don’t really pay attention to lyrics as it could be difficult to write if you’re trying to keep up they’re saying.

    Like

  37. My biased opinion on the best music to get into a flow state: Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You, Tycho, Andrew Bird – Echolocations, Chopin – Nocturnes, and the classical essentials.

    High energy flow music (workout): Animals as Leaders, Scale the Summit, Russian Circles.

    All instrumental and all amazing!

    Like

  38. Movie scores get me in the working ‘zone’. “The Social Network” is particularly motivating when working at a computer! For more orchestral, adventurous scores, I like “The Hunger Games” and “Kingdom of Heaven”. I also like chilled-out electronic or acoustic music (without vocals). Imogen Heap’s instrumental version of her album “Ellipse” is good (which came with the hard copy album). For unobtrusive music with vocals, I like the last couple of albums by Scandinavian songstresses Emiliana Torrini and Agnes Obel. The music of Scottish folk singer Julie Fowlis is also great because she sings in Gaelic so I can’t get distracted by the lyrics, because I have no idea what she’s singing! Sometimes instead of music I’ll just listen to raining.fm – I’m a musician so it can be very hard for me to concentrate while listening to music (especially vocal music) because I’ll start to analyse it.

    Like

  39. Whenever I’m trying to get into the zone for any of my web dev related work, or if I just want to chill and listen to something awesome, I check out the mix on 8tracks called “I’ve been drinking” which is an edm mix that’s over 5 hours long and has some very awesome tracks in there. You can find it here:

    http://8tracks.com/rynobo/i-ve-been-drinking

    It’s awesome! Check it out!

    Corey

    Like

  40. i listen to “the social network” soundtrack by trent renzor.it doesn’t have any lyrics to distract you and gets you in the zone.check it out.

    Like

  41. EDM: Genevieve, Felix Cartel, Panama, Santigold, Banks, Mr FijiWIji, Flight Facilities, Seven Lions, Phaeleh, Gemini, Emancipator, Banks….

    (Oops – should have read the comment rules🙂 )

    Like

  42. To white out distraction and put my brain into a focused alert state, I follow advise of the great Bulgarian father of “superlearning” Georgi Lozanov and listen only to non-lyrical baroque music – Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, et al. iTunes Radio has a few baroque classical stations that I’ll just loop.

    Like

  43. When I really need to drown out background distractions (I have 3 kids) I use the Coffitivity app. Music is limited to instrumental / ambient stuff: Music for Airports by Brian Eno is a standard choice, also things like the Piano Guys, instrumental covers work well. No deep lyrics please: I’m workin’ here!

    Like

  44. I have a study Playlist that always gets me ready to work. The first track is the Jurassic Park Theme and the rest are from various movie soundtracks: Gladiator, 300, Inception, The Road, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 28 Days Later, etc. I also have some Pentaphobe, Beats Antique, and Amon Tobin mixed in there.

    Like

  45. How can I not say my own music here?? Shameless self-promotion commencing now! I’ve got my debut album coming out this weekend, so have a listen to a track here: https://soundcloud.com/nicoleandrewsmusic/just-another-female-vocalist-2

    Otherwise, I like to listen to a broad range of stuff when I’m getting things done. I guess it depends on what I’m doing and how much attention I need to give it. If not much attention, something really engaging or that I can really get into musically… If a lot of attention, then just something nice or that I’ve heard a million times. Recently I’ve listened to a lot of Bjork, Sufjan Stevens, Puscifer and Goldfrapp.

    Like

  46. Currently listening to:
    M83; Midnight City
    Made in Hights; Murakami
    Indiana; Shadow Flash
    alt-J; Nara
    Vaults; Lifespan
    Gems; Medusa
    Marian Hill; Lips
    Nina Simone; Feeling Good
    Broken Bells; The Ghost Inside
    Leonard Cohen; I’m Your Man

    Like

  47. I usually have music without lyrics so my mind doesnt try to focus on the lyrics and sing along instead of having the attention on work. I also like to have House music as it’s a bit up tempo and makes me more energized than relaxed which keeps me from getting tired easily with the computer (which is my primary work tool).

    Like

  48. I use dubstep for my brain the same way they used “sky flowers” in LAND OF THE DEAD to distract the zombies. I need a soundtrack otherwise my brain just attacks me. Assuming that I need to move or write quickly, I often use the following:

    Knife Party – “Clever Title Like Deadmau5 Would Use”
    Death From Above 1979, esp. The Physical World
    Tinie Tempah – “Five Minutes”
    Sleigh Bells, esp. Treats
    Diablo Swing Orchestra
    Broken Social Scene – “Meet Me in the Basement”
    2 Skinnee Js esp. Sing, Earthboy, Sing!
    Dead Combo – “Electric Cadente (versao orquestra)”
    Big Gigantic
    Boom Boom Satellites

    Like