Productivity Secrets of a Master DJ (Meditation, Morning Routines, and More) (#62)

The Tim Ferriss Show - Glitch Mob

(Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Justin Boreta is a founding member of The Glitch Mob. Their music has been featured in movies like Sin City II, Edge of Tomorrow, Captain America, and Spiderman.

In this post, we discuss The Glitch Mob’s path from unknown band to playing sold-out 90,000-person (!) arenas.  We delve into war stories, and go deep into creative process, including never-before-heard “drafts” of blockbuster tracks!  Even if you have zero interest in music, Justin discusses habits and strategies that can be applied to nearly anything.  Meditation?  Morning routines?  We cover it all.

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Ep 62: The EDM Cinderella - How The Glitch Mob Exploded

The Glitch Mob’s last album, Love Death Immortality, debuted on the Billboard charts at #1 Electronic Album, #1 Indie Label, and #4 Overall Digital Album. This is particularly impressive because The Glitch Mob is an artist-owned group.  It’s a true self-made start-up.

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This episode is also brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What music do you listen to when you work? When you really need to get in the zone? Please share in the comments.

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, could you please leave a short review here? I read them, and they keep me going.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Website | FacebookTwitter | Instagram | YouTube

Learn More about The Glitch Mob




Commercial Work

Show Notes (Time Stamps Approximate)

  • World-class attributes of Justin Boreta
  • The Grant Korgan story
  • Unique attributes of The Glitch Mob and the feeling of being on stage in front of 90,000+ people
  • Defining “indie” and “artist owned”
  • The makeup and evolution of The Glitch Mob team
  • Tools and software of The Glitch Mob
  • What exactly is “mastering”?
  • Deconstructing audio engineering software and Ableton
  • How to have your music featured in massive motion pictures
  • The story of the Sin City II trailer
  • Justin plays Animus Vox [approx 36:30]
  • The fourth member, Kevin, and his role in the success of the business
  • Developing the creative process as success comes into play
  • Soliciting feedback, Justin Boreta-style
  • Describing a day in the studio for The Glitch Mob
  • Commonalities of the most successful songs
  • The importance of traditional instrument skills when performing/producing music
  • Justin plays the never before heard 6th version of Our Demons, followed by the finished product [57:30]
  • A rapid learning program for music production
  • The draft version of Fortune Days, followed by the finished product [1:03:15]
  • How many separate tracks are running in a Glitch Mob song?
  • What percentage of samples are custom vs. off-the-shelf?
  • Current revenue streams for The Glitch Mob
  • Favorite pastry, pre-show meditation, defining success, and advice for his 20-year old self
  • What EDM show should the uninitiated go to first, morning rituals, meditation and morning workouts
  • What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? [1:40:20]
  • Justin plays us out with Can’t Kill Us [1:48:45]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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236 Replies to “Productivity Secrets of a Master DJ (Meditation, Morning Routines, and More) (#62)”

  1. 1. Alleluia – Julia Lezhneva

    2. Bach, Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould

    3. Bach, Cantatas, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

  2. Anything by Chopin. I find that it distils the mind of clutter and brings about a calming effect to help focus on the wirk ahead.

  3. Tim, related to the question what it would take to teach you basic production skills.

    There’s a cool app called “Figure” by Propellerheads (who make the music software Reason), which allows you to create cool tracks DJ-style within minutes and play around with grooves, chords and melodies.

    I’ve done dj gigs using only this one app on my iphone. You don’t need any music theory knowledge.

    Enjoy it.



  4. Sunshine Adiago in D Minor – John Murphy

    The City Surf – Jamin Winans

    HR 8938 Cephei – Deadmau5

    Hans zimmer:

    Man of Steel


    The Way of the Sword

    Main Theme Interstellar

    Why do we fall

    Another Brick in Hadrians Wall

  5. I love listening to Passenger’s music. The meanings of his songs like Holes, Life’s for the Living and the likes always leaves me meditating. But when I’m working, I prefer to listen to instrumental music or if to avoid getting drowsy, I listen to Japanese anime songs. I prefer to work with music as it helps me concentrate. It’s amazing though, how people have different ways to motivate themselves and become more productive.

  6. I go for chilled out beats kinda stuff for when I’m writing. Or any yoga/meditation type music. There’s a bunch of tracks on youtube that last several hours long.

    I pause the track whenever I take a break, so at the end of the day I can check how long the vid has played for, and have a rough idea of how may hours I’ve put in.

  7. When hitting the gym primarily Public Enemy, Skrillix or Wutang Clan. But when relaxing any Jazzanova and a glass of red wine!

  8. As a classical singer, I usually get sidetracked if I listen to anything with vocals, so Pfutureprimitive is hands down my go to for digging in and getting it all done. Superb electronics plus a bit of dubstep feel…can’t beat it.

  9. My go-to music to get in the zone is Telefon Tel Aviv’s album Fahrenheit Fair Enough. Electronic music that is the perfect middle ground (not metal, not easy listening) to keep me on my creative wave.

    Also, the vinyl was recorded at a higher speed, so you can slow it down to get a much longer and eerie version. Love it!

  10. I listen to a whole bunch of stuff… Vampire Weekend, Jack White, The Glitch Mob off course, One Republik, The Album Leaf, etc, etc…

  11. I listen to neo-classical – Nils Frahm is a favourite

    or Ólafur Arnalds. In my university days I would listen to Raein a lot in study

    Lyrics and words tend to distract me as I’ll start sing-a-long like a violent infection. On some occasions, I do like to play a Tim Ferriss podcast in the background while working 🙂

  12. I’m the biggest hip hop head out there, but I just discovered that hardcore techno is like coffee for me during the day, and at night when I want to stay up. After a few months of iTunes radio hopping, “Dyro Radio” seems to be the ultimate. Set to ‘variety’ of course.

  13. Any mix by Berlin based techno/house duo Pan-Pot.

    It’s got that deep driving rhythm, no lyrics to distract you and a tempo that just keeps you in the zone. It’s a plus that the mixes go from 1-5 hours!

  14. I’m a bit fan of Bonobo and Tycho for writing code. No lyrics, which is great for coding, because my language center doesn’t like having to process two different languages at the same time. This Rdio playlist also rocks:

    I might have to add The Glitch Mob back into my rotation… 🙂

  15. After finding focus@will this is actually the only place I listen music to as I don’t have to try finding the one I like. If I’m meditating or doing some focused work I choose “Alpha Chill” channel. If it’s more surfing around net or just need something more active then it’s “Up Tempe” channel.

    Also have a few chill out songs on my laptop/phone for those moments when I’m offline.

  16. Music makes moods, so pre-work music in the car is open and dynamic, everything from one-hit-wonders like Echo Beach to modern music with an real energy signature. Moving to modern media (all in the cloud) means you have the flexibility to design tracks, over time, based on what you rate.

  17. In calm environment, it usually vary from classical piano and Led Zep. In a very noisy environment, I have my home made 6-hours-long track of white noise and pink noise. People find me quite weird to listen to that but I like it.

  18. Tim – I live in SF and frequent the electronic show scene. I’d love nothing more than to provide you with some color on the scene and a few shows you would love. Justin was absolutely correct about Daft Punk but they won’t touring for a while. A good show can truly change your life and your perspective on it. Thanks again for being amazing!

  19. I listen to glitch/crunk electro to get in the zone. Minimal lyrics, yet technical.

    Examples: ill.gates, Bassnectar, Defunk, Grammatik, Big Gigantic

  20. Fantastic that a band like this got to shine. I wonder how many other top drawer bands there are out there we never get to hear about.

  21. i listen from Domenico Scarlatti to Yann Tiersen on Spotify, this playlist covers everything. spotifyspotify:user:117277286:playlist:3zAV86vsbFBeOBBBtgrzof

  22. Tool or Metallica. Or some Ambient Melodic Chill Dubstep mixes on YouTube. It depends on what I am working on and what mood I am in. Sometimes I need something that calms me and helps me focus, other times I need something to help me crush it and get sh*t done like a maniac. I like listening to 50 Cent’s Massacre album when I lift weights.

  23. I listen to Baroque music – mainly – when I need to get in the zone- something about all those moving note patterns on violins, cellos or pianos and organs just makes me work like crazy.

  24. alt-J’s An Awesome Wave live is great for when I want to be productive. Also, Lana del Rey’s Pandora station consistently keeps me engaged with my work.

  25. Right now I listen to Lost In The Dream, by The War On Drugs. Neo 80’s ish ambient rock. ( ) I mainly create 3D graphics and video games so lyrics don’t interfere with my work. I have been systematically listening to your podcast for the past two months after reading the 4 hour work week. Thank you for the huge source of valuable information and more importantly the massive inspiration and encouragement to start achieving much bigger goals.

  26. Great Interview Tim! First Arnold now Glitch mob badasserry…yes that a word I created. Im a huge fan of Glitch Mob and it was great hear some of their out of the box ideas but the details of the software used to create some of their sick beats. Keep on bringing kickas

    s interviews to the podcast 🙂

  27. Dear Mr. Ferriss,

    I am writing to request permission to use a three minute excerpt from your October 15, 2014 interview with Tony Robbins and post it on the web. The segment I would like to post is where the two of you discuss cryotherapy.

    Thank you for your time and attention.


    Ed Parker

  28. Awesome!

    By the way, I’d like to suggest an interview with Eben Pagan. I’ve seen some of his videos about productivity and I think they’re great.



  29. Another strong episode! Really have been digging your entire catalog these past couple of weeks as I’ve been dipping into the archive (I’m a bit of a noob). I’m not sure why I feel so compelled to share with you my wishlist of future potential guests (assuming suggestions are welcome on the comment thread (if not, sorry to annoy)), but I’d love to hear an episode with:

    – George Packer (New Yorker columnist)

    – The Andreesen Horowitz dudes (Marc, Ben, and/or Chris Dixon)

    – Tyler Cowen (Marginal Revolution)

    – Sam Harris (round dos)

    – David Brooks+Gail Collins (NY Times columnists)

    – Parker Palmer (author)

    – Michael Arndt (screenwriter)

    – Krista Tippett (On Being)

    – Jonah Perretti (BuzzFeed)

    – Jonathan Haidt (author)

    – Melinda Gates (Gates Foundation)

    – Katie Couric (Yahoo)

    – Ethan Hawke (actor)

    – Brene Brown (author)

    – Roger Goodell (NFL commissioner)

    – Charlie Rose (CBS)

    – John Herrman (The Awl columnist)

    – Grace Helbig (YouTuber)

    – Ezra Klein (Vox EIC)

    – Bill Simmons (Grantland EIC)

    – Judd Apatow (director)

    – Rony Abovitz (Magic Leap)

  30. Tim, thanks for this! I think this is my favourite so far just because of the comments. Nice to hear about the kind of music (and the different artists!) the 4 hour community listens to. 🙂

  31. I listen to Explosions in the Sky, Red Sparowes or the Lord of the Rings Soundtracks – something without words that is epic in sound. I’m an attorney and work with words all day, so anything spoken is a distraction for me. P.S, Huge fan of Glitch Mob – I listen them when I run.

  32. I’m a metal head, so I like something heavy and loud when I do physical work. Black sabbath to judas priest to strapping young lad to motorhead, and iced earth, you get the idea. Its energetic and gets the blood pumping. When I need to consintrate I listen to classical like beethoven or holst, i’m not into opera but I like some good classical.

  33. I actually listen to THE GLITCH MOB. I can listen to a Glitch Mob playlist for hours, and it helps me focus whether I’m in the office and the gym. This group is truly versatile in what they create. So awesome to hear this podcast, as I have been listening to the group for the last year or so. If you haven’t seen them live, I highly recommend it. Thanks for the interview, Tim!

  34. I listen to a mix of a few ‘go to/focus’ classical pieces, including 1812 overture (the whole thing, not just the ending), Brahms German Requiem, and Pictures at an Exhibition; good techno house; show tunes; or just plain old rock ‘n’ roll.

  35. The Glitch Mob has inspired quite a bit of my design and artistic work recently. Bonobo, Tycho, Pink Floyd, and Tool all seem to put me in the right mindset as well.

  36. Tim, I use Focus@Will as a streaming service. Really useful for concentration in a busy office. Their channels are programmed to aid focus using instrumentals and nature sounds. I like Ambient and Alpha Chill stations the best.

  37. I listen to the Four Seasons, Vivaldi. Sometimes, I listen to Midnight in PAris’ or Amelie’s soundtrack. It really works.


    Enjoy your podcast, however, this one, with the discussion of outboard equipment and inboard reminded me the audio quality of your and most podcasts is not great yet. (Actually kind of bad)

    I listen to noagenda with Adam Curry and John Dvorak. I am entertained by the show but, for you Please listen to their show and how great the audio quality is as well as the audio clips they add.

    Adam has said he will sometime describe his set up, maybe you could interview him about his show, he is the Adam Curry from MTV and the ‘podfather’. Their show is all listener supported, so you could talk to him about that also, (no commercials)

  39. It varies on the project I am working on (a lot of projects are for musicians so I listen to their music to get inspiration for creating the artwork) or on the type of work. If I am reading and typing/writing a lot then classical, or piano music, as well as a lot of breakbeat/glitch/experimental (tipper, amon tobin) future bass (TroyBoi, Ambassadeurs, Daktyl, Hegemon Collective artists), house music (Chocolate Puma, Eric Morillo, Defected Records artists, etc), and chill/ambient/downtempo (clubroot, aphex twin, eskmo, tipper ambient pieces). Other times when needing to really crank out a project it will be hip hop (Zion I, The Grouch and Eligh, Onyx, Mez, Tempa T, Brother Ali, etc) or Electro House (Frederik Mooij, Alex Mind, Motez, Ac Slater) and then while working out, a lot of metal and hardcore (Norma Jean, Born of Osiris, August Burns Red)

  40. For writing and creative synthesis I need something unobtrusive. Something chill like Amethystium or Solar Fields. If I want something acoustic I’ll go for Chequerboard (The Unfolding album) or “Bela Fleck’s Overgrown Waltz” on repeat.

    “Grinding” writing (less creative- 1st drafts and technical/science writing), I go with dubsteb/EDM, heavy on the bass.

    For data processing/analysis- AFI, Sing the Sorrow on repeat

    Bench Lab work: “Wicks” playlist on Spotify (keep it fun and lite), Iggy Pop or QOSTA

    There was a good page dedicated to this on Lifehacker not long ago (complete with it’s own great comments section- I will keep both your thread and theirs in my bookmarks for branching out!)

  41. “Producer” not DJ. Justin was being too humble not to correct you but “DJ”s mix other people’s music and producers create music. It’s considered a big difference (of esteem and respect) in the community. Anyway, I love your podcast. Have listened to just about every if not every one. It was worlds colliding when I saw you had on Boreta.

    I became an instant fan of the Glitch Mob when I saw them at Burning Man in 2007. Got one of their free albums at a show in Maui in 2008 and listened to that album for a year straight- that was all I listened to. It’s great music to work to because it has no lyrics (I guess used to). Their side work (edit’s in perticular) is a huge favorite– check out Pantyraid… But the GODFATHER of Glitch whom you must check out, and I thought Justin would have paid tribute to is Tipper Music. He has been tweaking speakers out since 1999. All these guys (Glitch Mob, Bassnectar, etc) got their style from him. Check out “Tipper – lllabye” for the ambient dream journey… but considering ur theme song, you might check out his song “puzzledust”.

    Listen on great soundsystem, David Tipper is a soundscape genius.

    Other killer current music producers “Ta-ku”, “Mr. Carmack”,”Emancipator”, “Evil Needle”… check out the soulection soundcloud….

    Thanks for awesome podcast. My most memorable: your confessions, Josh Waitzkin, Chase, The memory guy, Diamandis, Kevin Rose (where’d his podcast go?), brainpickings, Alexis ohanian, Neil Strauss, and gotta throw in Altucher who I find annoying and endearing and now subscribe to him!

  42. I’ve experimented with many different types of music including classical and others.. But for some reason I get the best results listen to these 5 songs on repeat when working/writing/coding. I have no idea why but they help me focus laser-style!

    Snakeblood by Leftfield (the beach soundtrack)

    Cocaine by Yakooza (dj wag mix)

    Arnold by Luke Million

    Mortal Kombat Theme Song (yes really)

    This is not Miami – Sander Kleinenberg

  43. Wow! I love the track endless pure music of about 17 minutes. Have 200 plays in just a few months. Grateful for that track

  44. Band = The Necks

    CD (showing my age) = Sex

    The Necks are a trio from Sydney, Australia. Purely improvisational.

    But what’s cool about Sex is that it’s one chord. The bass just plays octave. The piano comps on top. It’s beautiful, but it’s totally non-obtrusive. I’ve listened to this THOUSANDS of times… It blocks out noise and doesn’t distract me.

  45. I listen to “Black Violin Radio” on Pandora while drinking coffee with a side-car of water and lemon every time. I can’t “create” when words and lyrics are the focus of music.

  46. I listen to a Pandora station called “Beach Bar Lounge.” Electronica and rhythmic beats keep me going. Lots of energy and not a lot of vocals. Thumbs up to Thievery Corporation, Blackmill, Kascade, Gotan Project, Insigma (Open Your Eyes), Imogen Heap.

  47. QOTD. I’ve found I need different music for getting into different work-zone mindsets, here are mine …

    For writing: Debussy with in the background. Been experimenting with this for years now, and he’s hands-down the best for concentrated writing. Chopin is a close second.

    For task oriented work: Schumann, or the Irish band Altan. Both are also good for editing … not proofreading … (silence is best for that).

    For research: Anything with a driving beat that encourages rapid-read and move-on type stuff. Basically, a brain that’s fired up. For me, it’s usually Irish Punk. I can research for hours and hours and find stuff no one else can with a driving soundtrack of Irish Punk. Try it!

  48. Justin, thanks for discussing the Ableton pitch plugin! It solves my creativity dilemma of the C Major trap. I’m hacking my way back into my EDM production hobbies and this does the trick.

  49. I love me some good ol’ drum and bass when I need to white knuckle it and get it done. Anything from dark (Dieselboy, Black Sun Empire, Ed Rush) to liquid (Random Movement, etc.). Interestingly Mozart and Beethoven chamber music really get my neurons firing and make me feel smarter.

  50. I’ve got Drink The Sea by The Glitch Mob as one of my favourite work playlists but my ABSOLUTE favourite – one that never fails when I just need to stay in the zone for hours, is 28.18 Moment by SomethingALaMode. It rises and falls and keeps you going for hours, without tiring you out. Just the most amazing soundtrack for concentrated work. I listen to everything from deep house and classical to rock while working and nothing does it quite like SALM does. Check them out!

  51. When I work I listen to Pandora. The stations include Bluegrass, Country, Alternative, Metal, EDM, and Blues. My go to station is Alter Bridge.

    If I really need to get something done it’s usually all metal of various flavors. Groove metal bands like Lamb of God or Five Finger Death Punch, or more progressive bands like Vildhjarta and Periphery.

  52. Hey Tim, really enjoying the podcasts first thing in the morning whilst out walking. They set me up for the day so thank sincerely. Someone you may wish to research and interview…Professor and Nobel Laureate Eugene Fama. He is an American economist and Nobel laureate in Economics, known for his work on portfolio theory and asset pricing, both theoretical and empirical.

    He explains why active fund management is never a good thing.

    Keep up the great work!


  53. I always use to listen to a generic country radio station on Tunein when I was working at University. I guess being in the UK I only ever hear that sort of music whilst working and now it really gets me in the zone.

  54. Tim, I started a 60 day experiment 2 weeks ago of quitting booze, cigarettes, sex, masturbation all at the same time and I went on the slow carb diet one week ago. I’ll let you know how it goes. Dreams getting weird. People starting to approach me randomly in public spaces (an interesting and consistent side effect of celibacy) -Scott from the Leave Podcast.

  55. Tim, A couple of world class folks I’d love to hear you interview. Kyle Bass of Dallas (shorted Greek debt, among other things) and Burt Rutan (Space Ship One).

  56. I just finished reading The 4-hour Work Week and I was inspired to email you. Do you (or anyone else that might be reading this) know of a person that is offering one-on-one mentoring? I have wanted to start my own business that would allow me to have the freedom of living anywhere in the world for years. Back in 2012, I left the US and corporate America to travel and have settled in Sydney, Australia. Since I have been here, I have struggled financially and have had visa issues that only allow me to work part time. I have been supporting myself through property investment in the US and would love to turn some of my passions into another profitable (automatic) revenue stream. Can anyone help?

  57. Re: Meditation

    Check out the works of Dr. Glenn Morriss. Highly recommended. There are several books, as well as some very useful guided meditations that are available. He was an industrial psychologist, a well known and highly regarded martial artist (Bujinkan, Hoshinjutsu), and a kundalini survivor.

    “Path Notes of an American Ninja Master”

    (Meditation, Bujinkan, Taijutsu, Kundalini, Chi Kung)

    PS: Ableton is a blast. Flexible, stable, and efficient.

  58. Can anyone tell me Tim’s recommendation for the best database of recipes online or an online recipe book?


    The question above is to Tim or anyone else that can answer me.

    I know in the four hour chef Tim mentions a monster recipe book stretching over several volumes and I was wondering if there is a similar online version.

  59. This interview was super rad! As a musician it was great hearing about the music mob’s creative process, why they use Ableton, The Blade, and just hearing a more mature been-doing-this-a-while perspective. (: Totally dug the advice at the end, it really hit home as a 26 year old dude trying to make it as a creative.

  60. Very cool…good stuff. I’ve picked ups few ideas to try. For the past year or so I’ve been listening to Catherine Wheel’s Ferment on repeat when I need to get in the zone. Here lately, I’ve been mixing it up with a playlist that I’ve put together of songs from their other albums and some Tool. I also found that I like isochronic tones and have found some pretty good ones for focus on YouTube.

  61. Any of the old Cafe del Mar albums generally keep me in the work zone. Though sometimes, you really can’t beat a bit of an 80s soundtrack…

  62. Hi Tim!

    Great podcast. I am starting on the 4HWW (again – the first time I wasn’t ready, but now I’m all in). I have also purchased your other books and can’t wait to “choose my own adventures.” Thank you for all the experiments and the work that you do.

    I was wondering if you ever considered adding outdoor adventure sports to your repertoire??? For the past few years I have been dabbling in rock climbing, white water kayaking and long backpacking trips. I would LOVE to hear your take on adventures like these.

    Let me know what you think.


  63. I cannot thank you enough for introducing me to Glitch Mob. I have been looking for sound that will help me stay in a flow as I study for my CPA and the “bad ass” quality has helped me focus during my study times. Excellent podcast as usual and thank you for the quality of work that you do.

  64. In addition to the most excellent Boards of Canada, I recommend Spongle and The Books for some mind-blowing mix music (tho not dance). On the advice he got from his sister, I recommend a book by Dr. Karen Wyatt called “What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying.” She runs something called the End of Life University and was one of my favorite guests on my show…a very wise woman!

  65. Love what you’re doing Tim!

    I wanted to ask you a tiny question:

    In one sentence, what do you believe to be the purpose of life?

    I am contacting those who have had a big impact on my life (that’s you!) with the intent of putting together an article.

    Thank you!

    Maria from Sweden

  66. Hi,

    Just a quick question. Do you have transcripts of the podcast here? I searched for them but couldn’t find it.