Transcendental Meditation

Jon Hopkins, mixing the modern sounds for Shakespeare's Hamlet

Trained as a pianist at the Royal College of Music, Jon Hopkins turned his back on the classical world in favour of becoming a keyboardist for Imogen Heap, then emerged as a solo producer collaborating with King Creosote, Brian Eno and Coldplay. Today, Hopkins (39) is one of the most critically acclaimed and sought-after performers of alternative music.

In a recent interview for FACT Magazine, Hopkins lifted the lid on why he always finds twenty minutes twice a day for practicing meditation.

jon hopkins tm transcendental meditation meditating

One of the projects Jon Hopkins is working on at the moment is writing a score to a theatre production of “Hamlet” at Europe’s largest performing arts centre, the Barbican in London, UK. “Benedict Cumberbatch is going to be Hamlet, and he’s great,” says Hopkins. “What I always find is, projects that are a bit unusual start off really hard, because they feel impenetrable, but end up being amazing. The fact you’re forced into a new mold – that can be more rewarding than doing endless albums.” Photo:Dan Medhurst

David Lynch, like you, is a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation. Did you get that from him?

Well, I was lucky enough to meet him in his house. And I did a remix for him. And I met a few other people who do meditation. Tim Burgess does it, too. And there’s a certain curiosity and relaxedness about the way they interact with people that I find really appealing. I’ve heard how it takes a lot of complexity out of things. A lot of needless worry.

Were you a worrier?

No, but I feel like you can always do more to pursue contentment.

I’ve been doing different forms of meditation since 2001. I was doing Kundalini yoga, which has a huge meditation component. And I’ve also done self-hypnosis a lot.

But I started doing Transcendental Meditation at the beginning of this year, and it was so much better than all those things – well, perhaps not Kundalini, but that takes an hour and a half a day, which you don’t always have. But TM you can do on a plane, you can do it anywhere.

All it’s really about is learning a certain type of attention – how to not focus on what you’re doing, and repeat a mantra. Once you can do that, it’s like going down in an elevator. It takes you right down into a really pure form of consciousness, which is so good for you. You feel like you’ve had a two-hour power nap.

It literally makes everything easier. It makes the colours you see more vivid. It’s the weirdest thing – it’s like there’s this extra layer of intensity to things. It’s almost being a kid again. That’s the first flush of it, you kind of get beyond that. But the cumulative effects, over months and months are really noticeable.

I’ve been doing it for five, six months now, 20 minutes twice a day, and it keeps getting better. I wish I’d done it when I was 21, because things were a lot harder then. But it’s still a stressful world to live in, especially in a city.

Does it find its way into your music? Can you meditate while you play?

For me inspiration it only happens when I’m in the presence of instruments I’m playing.

So I might have an overarching concept idea if I’m meditating. But if I do that it might come out sounding sterile. I only really get into that zone when I’m in that zone playing something.  Sound triggers something in me. Meditation is a preparation for something. I do it when I get up, when I get home. It’s cumulative. But creativity only comes from hearing the sound when I’m writing.

LISTEN to Jon Hopkins’s masterful remix of “Midnight” by Coldplay:

“Asleep Versions: Jon Hopkins talks transcendental meditation, Twin Peaks and more,” by Louis Pattison, FACT Magazine