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interviews 20 October 2021

Music, Community, and Self-Care with Axel Mansoor

Miss being sung to while falling asleep? Meet Axel Mansoor, artist, musician, and creator of The Lullaby Club, tackling disconnection and loneliness with the power of communal self-care.

 Axel in Lahgo Silk

Axel wears the Washable Silk Short Set

Let's talk about home. As someone who has lived all over the world, what makes a place home for you? How do you make your home, yours? 

Starting off easy haha! I think there’s a big difference between a house and “home”. For me, “home” is a feeling of warmth and it’s tied to people as much as it is to physical spaces (see: house). “Home” combines a sense of safety and the freedom to express myself fully. Lately I’ve been working on making my house a home and that’s new territory for me. Growing up, I didn’t ever spend time decorating or “nesting”. I didn’t see the point, because I knew I’d be gone before I could ever finish. Fast forward to today, and the approach so far has been two tiered: 1) hanging out with people I love at my house so we can create amazing memories and experiences; and 2) filling my house with pieces that are reflective of the person I was, am, and hope to be. It takes me forever to find things I like that I’m willing to spend money on, so it’s a slow process but we’re getting there. Oh, also... plants. Plants are rad.

Most hosts would be less than thrilled if their listeners started falling asleep, but for you, that's the goal. How did you come up with The Lullaby Club?

Haha right?! In Lullaby Club falling asleep is, like, the ultimate compliment. It started in October 2020, the middle of quarantine times of COVID, and, like many others, I was starved of connection, really missing live performances, and generally drowning in existential angst. Thankfully, I was introduced to Clubhouse and because it was an audio-only platform, my first thought was “what if I could play songs for people?”. So, one late night I virtually wandered into a Clubhouse room called “The Silly Room” and in a very shy manner asked the folks in the room if they’d like to hear some music. They said yes and after I played a song they kept asking me to play more songs. I ended up playing for over an hour that night. It felt so good, and the people in the room kept making comments about how soothing the experience was and how they wished they could just fall asleep to me singing every night. Those folks became my first friends on the app and were so encouraging…it was a real lightbulb moment. People can’t survive without deep connection. Lullaby Club evolved from there as a way to serve that need.

 Axel Wearing Washable Silk and Restore

Axel wears the Washable Silk Short Set and Restore Double Faced Cardigan

How do you think platforms like Clubhouse change how people engage with musicians and content creators?

I think, more than ever, people want to feel like they really know the artist behind the art. It’s one thing to hear a great song on the radio, it's another thing entirely to hear that same song after you’ve learned about the life of that artist and understood the context around the song. It’s exponentially more powerful. Clubhouse is interesting because its unedited, long-form nature creates a realistic portrait of how someone carries themselves in the world. In that way it marries the art and the artist in a really beautiful way (if you’re a kind person haha). You feel like you really get to know whoever’s talking. As a performer, it means that I can cultivate a sense of intimacy with my audience at scale. Before Clubhouse that would be a paradoxical statement, but now it’s possible! So cool.

What are some of the ways you've seen Lullaby Club help people over the past year? 

Lullaby Club started doing nightly shows 7 days a week on Jan 10th, 2021, and since the beginning there have been incredible stories of the effect it’s had. The main theme is Lullaby Club helping people reconnect to themselves and others. I’ve gotten stories of people tuning in from hospitals while family couldn’t visit; or how Lullaby Club became the only way that they could sleep because meditation apps and sleepy teas didn’t work and that they’d turn to Lullaby Club instead of alcohol and prescription drugs. People who, in the process of grieving family and friends, found solace in being sung to sleep. I’ve seen amazing friendships develop between people from all different walks of life, and international collaborations between artists who might never have met otherwise. People banding together to heal the loneliness. It’s so much bigger than I could’ve ever planned. I often feel like I stumbled into this beautiful thing and I just happened to be first. 

 Axel Wearing Washable Silk and Restore Robe

Axel wears the Washable Silk Short Set and Restore Double Faced Robe

The Lullaby Club seems to represent a fusion between a self-care routine and the power of community. It seems like those ideas wouldn't necessarily complement each other – but what role do you think community plays in self-care?

For me, the hardest part of self-care is giving myself permission to do it. Our productivity-obsessed society is partly responsible. The model we’re taught is that you must “earn the right” to self-care: bleed sweat and cry, then you can go take care of yourself. The irony is that self-care IS work. It’s not easy. Maybe we need a more work-friendly term, like “project: me” or something haha! Either way, being in community is an excellent way to create that permission. If I see someone I love engaging in self-care, I’m far more likely to feel like it’s ok to do it. We’re social creatures after all.

Outside of work, what are some of your personal self-care rituals?

Being interviewed ;) 

Jokes aside, lately I’ve been really getting into breathwork via this app called O-P-E-N. Breathwork is similar to meditation, it gives me similar feelings of clarity and presence, but there’s essentially no learning curve. PLUS because you have to actively use your body, I can literally do it while I’m still in bed in the morning. Not even having to get out of bed to start my morning routine feels like a crazy self-care hack. I realize I sound like an ad right now but I’ve been getting all my friends to check it out with some pretty rad results. Even my anxious manager Bryan loves it. 

There’s a bunch of other stuff I like to do: taking bubble baths, finding pure silence in nature (see: Joshua Tree), drawing on my iPad and pretending I'm making abstract art and it's fine if no one understands my true genius, journaling, yoga or weightlifting… the possibilities are endless. 

 Axel Wearing the Washable Silk Short Set

Axel wears the Washable Silk Short Set

Speaking of lullabies, what are your go-to tips for more restful sleep (or more effective loungetime)?

#1. Charge your phone overnight in another room and on airplane mode 

#2. Don’t eat an hour before bed 

#3. Wear blue-light glasses if you must be on a device (I got Felix Grey’s as a gift and they’re great) 

#4. Apple cider vinegar + hot water + honey is a weirdly hyper effective knock-you-out elixir 

#5. If you’re a stomach sleeper, stop. I was for the first 27 years of my life until the neck and shoulder problems it created almost paralyzed me. There’s a bunch of medical evidence that it’s bad for you. I sleep on my back now.

#6. We spend almost half of our lives asleep, spend the money on great quality stuff that gets you stoked to tuck into bed. It’ll pay itself back. (see: Lahgo Silk).

 

Axel Mansoor is a critically acclaimed musician known for his ability to instantly connect with others through his vulnerability and humor. His music has taken him from a Daytime Emmy nomination to award-winning collaborations and placements with brands like AT&T, McDonald’s, Lexus, and Facebook, your television screen as he performed a song for H.E.R. on NBC’s Songland, the #5 spot on Spotify’s Viral 50 Chart, to your phone’s home screen as the smiling face of the Clubhouse app icon, and to creating Lullaby Club where your favorite artists sing thousands of people around the world to sleep every night at 9pm PT on Clubhouse.

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