Brian Schopfel is the founder and CEO of sound experiences producer Floating who will be curating Autumn in the Garden. The LAT recently profiled Floating here. Read more about how nature changed his life here.
AJ: For those who don’t already know, what is Floating?
BS: Floating hosts weekly sound and nature experiences in and around Los Angeles.
AJ: You describe Floating’s events as “sound based experiences.” I assume music is one sort of sound based experience, what are the others? What sets them apart from music, as it might ordinarily be conceived?
BS: The artists and practitioners who share their talent with our community tend to embrace the natural improvisational and spontaneous aspect of our events; most don’t bring a set list; some rehearse ahead of time; some play off of their collaborators, the space and the audience; some transform the energy of living plant organisms into sound; sometimes it is simply standing quietly, listening to the sounds that nature is providing. We view sound as a conduit to having a memorable, grounded experience by enhancing one’s ability to open their eyes, ears & mind to what is going on in that exact moment. Sound encourages a heightened sense of presence.
BS: My background is in advertising, marketing and business development. I owned a production company which had about 35 employees between Chicago and Los Angeles. Following my transition out of that business, I oversaw creative, marketing and partnerships for the launch of a high-profile live show in Las Vegas.
After 10 years of working, rarely taking a break, I was experiencing a serious case of burnout. I moved to Colorado for a couple years, bought a used motorhome and drove around the country for six months in 2019. During that time, I found solace in the outdoors and knew that my next project would be focused around encouraging people to establish or reestablish their relationship with nature!
AJ: Floating events include sound experiences (such as regular outdoor sound baths) – what does the research show us about the benefits these experiences might provide?
BS: Spending time outdoors paired with the naturally soothing and vibrational properties of sound provide numerous physiological and psychological benefits: decreased stress and anxiety, increased creativity and cognition, and better sleep. Experiencing sound and nature, either individually or together, involuntarily puts your brain into a relaxed, meditative state and promotes increased alpha-wave production.
AJ: How does Floating think of accessibility and inclusion with regard to its events? And what is Floating doing to welcome the residents of an awesomely diverse Los Angeles County?
BS: Firstly, to create an inclusive space for multigenerational cultural exchange that supports a vibrant ecosystem of artists/musicians, while giving people a way to simply be and relax outdoors.
Secondly, to foster a deeper connection between people and land, we partner with environmental organizations and conservationist groups to help engage their communities via integrated programs of music and ecological education.
We bring people together over forward-thinking musical performances. In doing so, we embrace music as a channel for fostering a deeper connection with community, culture, and land. Through our careful pairings of sound and space, we explore the intersection of music and ecology, envisioning art and performance as integral to the landscape of social organization, all the while rehabilitating our relationships with nature and ourselves.
I also have to say that Floating wouldn’t be a reality without our incredible team of Noah Klein, Jessyca Estrada, May Rose Smeback, Tate Chavez, Nina Keith, Light Liu and many others who have shared their time, space and talents with us as greeters, sound engineers, artists, practitioners, and poets.
AJ: Who should we be listening to?
BS: Rachika Nayar’s new album ‘Heaven Come Crashing’
AJ: What book/article should we be reading?
BS: The Nature Fix by Florence Williams
AJ: What film/video/tiktok/youtube channel should we be watching?
BS: Explained on Netflix