Belgian musician and photographer Gert Stockmans’ ambient project is titled Samatha. It focuses on establishing a mood conducive to reflection or relaxation. As a result, the name Samatha, which is Sanskrit for “tranquility of the mind,” was chosen.
The first song on his upcoming debut album, “Prayers For Patience,” is called VII. Music for the mind and soul. This album was written and recorded in the first few months of 2022, which was a difficult period for the artist. He used to compose these musical works as a form of meditation and rebalancing. Check out the song and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
SAMATHA: my name is Gert Stockmans and I am a 43 year old medical doctor from Belgium. I’ve started making music in 2020, first with my friend Thomas as A Place In Between and later also solo as Samatha. I am also active as a music photographer, mostly for the post-metal band Psychonaut.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
SAMATHA: I am completely self-taught but got some valuable tips from musical friends. I don’t have the technical capacities to play difficult stuff and have always focused on creating something new however simple it may be.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘SAMATHA’?
SAMATHA: my musical influences are all over the place genrewise, from black metal to minimal ambient. For this project I mainly focus on meditative ambient music. That’s why I chose the name Samatha, the Sanskrit term for calmness of the mind.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
SAMATHA: I feel my recording sessions reflect my state of mind in search for “samatha”, sometimes dark, sometimes uplifting. I hope listeners can feel the emotion I put into the music and maybe even relate to or find comfort in it.
5. For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
SAMATHA: I’ve started making music without the slightest theoretical knowledge or technical skill. I’ve never actually thought about developing my own style but just let the music happen.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
SAMATHA: as mentioned before I try to capture my emotions in the music I make. The biggest reward would be for people to recognize this and maybe use my music for contemplation or meditation.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
SAMATHA: for me it is all about connection. First of all with my inner self during the creating process which has already brought me knowledge and also joy. Secondly it would be great to connect with other people through my music. That would be the greatest reward.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
SAMATHA: that’s a tough question. I sit behind my gear and try to get into the moment. Then the music pours out or it doesn’t. I hate overthinking things so when I get into the right flow music gets written very quickly. Sometimes nothing happens at all, but I’ve learned that’s okay. Lately I’ve been collaborating with another ambient musician which I also found very interesting.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
SAMATHA: I must say that I’ve been blessed so far, in life and in music.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
SAMATHA: the friendships I’ve made through music. So grateful for this.
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