Emon Hassan

Q & A with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

Emon Hassan

leoFor those of you who don't know who he is (yes, the 5 of you) Leo Babauta is the author of the extremely popular, Zen Habits. If that title alone doesn't give you an idea what he writes about, you ought to check out his starter guide page. Why Leo for Guitarkadia? First of all, if you read his 'about page' it will inspire you no matter who you are, musician or not. Secondly, his work and writing focus on an aspect of life, if not the only, and that is 'clarity'. Sometimes you get clarity by simplifying, sometimes by doing less, and sometimes by refocusing. I think he is the right person to talk about the power of less. He has written a book about.

Now I don't need to tell you how all these things would make sense to you as a guitar player. Or...how the guitar makes sense to non-guitar players. It's just that, it does. How about we talk guitar with Leo?

Leo Babauta: [Zen Habits] [The Power of Less] [The Power of Less Blog] [Twitter]

G: What kind of music were you listening to growing up? What are you listening to these days? What's your top 3 favorite guitar albums, if you have any?

LB: I was a fan of the Beatles, music from the 60s, Bob Dylan, Dire Straights, Tracy Chapman. Today, I like mellow music like Jack Johnson, Snow Patrol, Ben Harper, Feist as well as some rock like Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the Spoons, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Killers, the Ting Tings and Weezer.

G: What is your favorite instrument and why do you like it? Do you play one?

LB: I love guitar! I'm also a fan of the cello. I don't play any instrument, though I still want to learn guitar -- my dad plays (as an amateur) and played to us when I was a kid.

leobookcover3

G: What do most people not understand about Zen Habits and The Power of Less?

LB: The most important parts of my philosophy relate to small things: always start small, take baby steps, improve gradually, focus on less, simplify, and do one thing at a time. When you've grasped these simple concepts, anything is possible.

G: What habits do you think guitar players need to form to become better focused towards their goals?

LB: I'd say beginner guitar players probably need to get into the habit of playing regularly -- set aside a time each day and make it a habit. For more experienced players, who have a lot of other goals, I'd recommend focusing on one goal at a time. You'll be much more effective with them, and accomplish them more regularly. Complete one goal, move on to the next.

G: Can one compare the practice of writing and blogging to practicing the guitar? What key elements make for fruitful practice time? LB: Both writing and playing are creative expressions, and both take hard work. It's important to learn to be in the moment when doing either -- clear away other distractions, learn to focus only on what you're doing, really pour yourself into it, until the world around you disappears. It's the most effective way to do anything, especially something creative, and it's a lot more fulfilling to work this way as well.

G: How has music played a part in your life, esp. during the changes you've made in the past few years?

Music, for me, is inspiration. It inspires me when I write -- and in fact inspires me to write. It inspires me when I run. It brings peace to my life at times, and other times excitement. It moves my soul and brings happiness.

G: If you were a guitar, what type of guitar would you be? Which guitar player would be perfect for you? And what would be your favorite track from the first album?

LB: Definitely an acoustic guitar, although I like all kinds. My favorite guitar players are probably Jack Johnson and Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits), although I like so many that it's hard to choose. My favorite track? Gosh, it's so hard to decide! Right now I think I'd choose "Breakdown" from Jack Johnson, although tomorrow I might choose something else. :)

Like this interview? Check out some more over here. [Interview with Iron Horse, Mar 2nd]