Harmonizing Creativity: Inside the zen-infused world of Sebastian Mulleart's ‘Circle of Live’

Sebastian Mulleart is an award-winning Swedish composer, producer and live artist. He’s known for a distinct approach to both life and music -  centered around tranquillity, stillness and the convergence of Zen meditation, nature and creativity.

His latest project combines all those elements with improvisation and education.

Circle of Live is an electronic music concept where rotating groups of artists create and perform live shows in the moment. You can think of it a bit like free jazz - with synths instead of saxophones.

The concept has now expanded to include 'In Bloom' - a global education platform that produces workshops, masterclasses, courses and retreats - all with the goal to encourage creativity through improvisation.

Here’s how Sebastian - along with his partners Niko Seizov and Valentina Palange at Starling Works - brought it all to life, plus the inside track on what makes the trio tick.

Sebastian, Valentina, and Niko

Chapter 1: The Catalyst

Sebastian: For over 15 years I’ve explored different ways of improvisation both in the studio and on stage. The insights and experience have been very important for me both in terms of music making/performance but also when it comes to health, happiness and the meaning of life.

Circle of Live is a live electronic music improvisational concept that was created to expand and invite others to improvisation; both other artists but also the audience. The first Circle of Live sessions took place in 2017.

The first one was in the Swedish village of Röstånga, where I live, and the first official booking was at Free Rotation festival 2017. The first year we did 8 different all-night shows with a wide range of different live artists and as it was so well received we continued ever since.

Niko: I have been following Sebastian’s work for nearly as long as I’ve been into dance music. I first saw him play in 1999 and he opened my mind to a sub genre of electronic music I already imagined in my mind hypothetically, but couldn’t find anywhere. This show sparked a few year long total obsession with the Scandinavian minimal scene. Precisely when I started to grow bored of it, he popped out the woodwork, with his wonky, catchy as hell playful bass hooks of Minilogue and reignited my passion for left-field techno once again.

Fast forward 10 years, I was already underway in my career as an artist manager and was coming up to the same place again. I was falling out of love with the underground dance scene again and had put my ear to the ground for an exciting new artist signing.  I’m not one of those paper pusher managers, who can just sign the deals and do the work. For me it’s very important to feel culturally and spiritually inspired by the projects I contribute to.

Our paths crossed with perfect timing as he had just started his solo career and was looking for a manager. We took one video call and pretty much decided it there and then. I tend to overthink such major decisions a great deal, but on this occasion my eye didn’t blink.

A decade deep in our collaboration I can now take stock and recognise the gut feeling I had back then was completely right… as it’s always the case when we actually do listen to our intuition, right?

Expanding into education

Sebastian: Before the pandemic we did many workshops around the world on my tours and the initial plan was to use them as a way to introduce people to our retreats. The pandemic put all these ideas on hold and it was actually Niko who encouraged me to try out an online mentorship program.

I was very hesitant about this initially as I feel the power of live moments and human interrelation is so powerful. But the online courses turned out to be amazing and of course they have many positive aspects that physical workshops and retreats lack.

Most important is the fact that an online course is way more accessible, much cheaper for the students and it’s also possible for us to offer scholarships slots for free to people who can’t afford the courses.

Today, In Bloom is the educational platform that hosts all our workshops, masterclasses, courses and retreats.

Valentina: Starling Works is a creative agency that mainly develops and manages artists, that’s what we mainly do. However we don’t like to set ourselves limits, and our roles as managers means that we are continuous shapeshifters, adding a new frame to our skillsets all the time. We are project managers, artist managers, social media and marketing managers, sometimes video editors and designers. It all depends on the artists we work with and the projects at hand.

So when during the pandemic we found ourselves in a new situation, Sebastian was not touring, and we had finally the time to execute a vision that had been there for years and started the educational platform In Bloom. That’s actually when I started working with them, as I like many people in the industry had found myself without a job.

I was telling Niko that if there was anything I could do to support him or Circle Of Live, I’d love to help. I was out of a job and wanted to stay connected to what mattered to me. So Niko one day called me back and invited me on board to essentially build and launch In Bloom! This gave me a new purpose and it felt really exciting!

The learning curve was steep though. We had to learn an entirely new language, researching online course platforms, learning about online advertising and marketing funnels, becoming website builders and learning to understand APIs…. we knew how to market music, but not an online course or a masterclass! But yet again, it was simply about adding another facade to the bigger piece.

Chapter 2: The Principles

Sebastian: I’ve been drawn to teaching for a very long time and also from an early age got confirmation and encouragement while explaining things and inspiring others.

Already as a 14 year old I started to substitute for my violin teacher. I’m extremely happy to get the chance to inspire others. To start the online courses wasn’t really teaching me something new, but rather confirming something I already felt.

Nature at the core

Nature is the expression of life. It’s the creative expression of the universe in the same way as humans are. Especially untouched nature that is allowed to be expressed without the hands and agenda of humans has an extreme powerful and strong presence. Connecting with this presence naturally reminds you of the presence in yourself.

This is a universal phoneme: presence reminds presence of presence. I know few tools that are so quick and powerful for people to heal and reconnect with their presence than spending time in nature.

"Everything I do is based on the trust in improvisation and to always do things in a way to remind about everyone’s inherent presence and creativity."

Sebastian Mulleart

The art & science of improvisation

Sebastian: I believe that improvisation is the actual presentation of the creative flow. You can also call this life. The energy of life that flows in each moment and through each organism, this is the meaning of life. To allow this energy is to give meaning to life.

Meaning of life is not something we understand nor is it something we do. It is to allow creativity from moment to moment. My workflow in the studio is based on this understanding in a combination of an understanding how certain patterns hinder us to do this.

Everything I do is based on the trust in improvisation and to always do things in a way to remind about everyone’s inherent presence and creativity. Regardless if it’s online classes or physical workshops or retreats I trust that each constellation and moment will guide me in a way to make this possible.

I of course always have an idea, a starting point and a structure but I try to not let them blind me from the energy and need present in each moment.

Valentina: When I started working with Sebastian and he shared his philosophy of improvisation with me, I got very curious, especially because he was also linking it to a mindful approach of living every day life, not just your creative practice.

I thought, “what do you mean we are all creative?”

Of course it has many pedagogical benefits, as a wide variety of skills get refined and able to be used at the same time through improvisation. But I got very interested in the neurological aspect of it.

One main study coming up was by Dr. Charles Limb, studying the brain activity within jazz musicians when they improvise. What he found was that the medial prefrontal cortex, parts of the brain that allow humans to express ourselves, gets stronger. The part responsible for self-inhibition and control, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, quiets down.

Imagery from Charles Limb’s study of jazz musicians

This wildly connected with me because I’ve always struggled with self-doubt and thought that was the way to self-development, when in fact I have learned that accepting our condition as creators of our own lives gives us power to flow much more freely and closer to our authentic selves. Learning to let go and trust myself better has been incredibly useful in both my work and personal life.

5 elements of improvisation

Valentina: I recently came across this diagram ‘Teaching Improvisation through Processes’ (M. Biasutti, University of Padova) which to me represents the feedback loop of elements important for a live improvisational jam


Here’s how I’ve experienced them through Circle Of Live shows and learning through In Bloom.

  • Emotive Communication: Seb talks a lot about the importance of open, non-violent communication, especially non-verbal and eye contact, during his mentorship, and of course this takes practice because playing live is very emotional and bare.
  • Feedback: Being open to feedback and being able to change quickly based on a situation is also a skill that is acquired through time.
  • Anticipation: This comes from being able to read other people, and increasing your adaptability to different situations, whether you expect them or not.
  • Repertoire: Anticipation then leads into use of repertoire. Sebastian for example helps himself with some practical tools and hacks when he improvises (like pre-recorded sketches or loops). These help him feel prepared and emotionally in a safer space to perform.
  • Flow: Finally, the state of flow. That is achieved through perfect balance of all the elements, trust in your own capabilities and skills, whilst also allowing yourself to express things in the moment without overthinking. This is where the magic happens.

Chapter 3: The Experience

A 10 week journey

Sebastian: My mentorship program is designed to remind the students about what creativity is, introduce different tools in how to include them in their life, share my workflow in the studio and share my studio set up and live set up.

The second part of my mentorship program I go through my work process (the four step process) during 10 weeks.

In physical workshops I normally focus on one topic and elaborate more deeply on that, often I choose to share about my view on creativity and how I feel it’s often misunderstood in our society.

Valentina: Sebastian incorporates all five elements of Teaching Improvisation through Processes into his teaching, and there is an episode on pretty much every one in his online mentorship programme. Every single activity is heavily based in the philosophy of improvisation, through which students also have secondary learnings such as memory recall, adaptability, increased sensitivity and emotional intelligence.

It feels like a personal journey to understanding yourself better and how you want to express that (as an artist or individual). You connect with the students, even if it’s online, and you build a really strong bond and community over those 11 weeks and beyond.

Learnings & Surprises

Valentina: We've managed to build a community way beyond our initial expectations. Human connection and creativity is what drives this world more than anything and it’s crazy beautiful how much people are willing to go the extra mile to help each other.

In Bloom is truly a global community now with people coming from different fields - and not everyone is working in the creative industry! Some people are naturalists, or pharmacists. Which really just shows how creativity is universal.

Niko: That sometimes blue sky thinking and out there creative ideas, which are objectively out of reach in the context of our current reality, can actually happen way quicker than they are ought to. Almost in a sense fall from the skies right in front us. Any psychologists reading this have probably ticked the imposter syndrome box in their checklist, but that ain’t the one. I’m talking statistically improbable, unbelievable, bat shit crazy convergences between dreams and reality we have touched in our work.

Sebastian: The most surprising thing we’ve learned while creating this experience is the fact that most people think that creativity should be something challenging and frustrating while it’s in fact is always accessible and extremely rewarding.

But we’d do nothing differently, because even our mistakes are part of the journey :)

And from being a teacher? I’ve learned the depth of understanding never ends.

And if there's just one thing everyone should take away from Circle of Live and In Bloom...

Everyone is the flow of creativity.

No one is more or less creative. This is one of the biggest misunderstandings of today. Everyone can reconnect with their creativity - and it’s a life changing experience.

Bonus: Inside Track

The Personal OS of the Circle of Live / In Bloom team

Sebastian Mulleart

Zone of Genius

Something I noticed defining all things I do is - I love to invite people to a space where they can be creative. To a dance floor, a listening session, or my workflow in the studio when I collaborate with other people.

My ‘Zone of genius’ is when I create this safe and free environment in which other people can express their creativity and curiosity. This space can be a mental space, sound space or a physical space (a dance floor, a retreat).

I like to prepare the party - but once the party starts I don’t like to mingle, I prefer to being in the corner.  Circle Of Live is a great example of that: once I invite the artists and get on stage, I like to step back and be the one in the corner looping others and playing quietly, I do not need to be front stage.

3 of the most valuable skills I’ve built

1. Layer, loop and blend sounds

2. Teaching - whether it’s my students or my kids

3. Photography

1 skill I’m building

Keep myself short when I talk :D Because digital platforms dictate the way we interact with people on them, and a lot of them are moving towards short-form content. Fitting into this to be able to post about what we do and share our work, has been a struggle to keep things always under 1 minute, not just time-wise but it overall feels reductive.

The equipment & environment that helps me do my best work…

Coffee. Nature. Solo time in the studio & my Genelec speakers !


Dream country to visit?


What’s one ingredient you put in everything?


What 3 people living or dead would you like to make dinner for?

Hilma av Klint, David Lynch, Brian Eno.

Secret talent?

Board games

A book that everyone should read?

“Free Play” by Stephen Nachmanovitch

If you could switch lives with someone for a day who would it be?

My kids

Your go-to for having a good laugh?

Fool around with my kids

Valentina Palange

3 of the most valuable skills I’ve built

1. Empathy

2. Creative problem solving

3. Adaptability

The equipment & environment that helps me do my best work…

My pair of Sennheiser noise-cancelling headphones, they’re so good. And... SNACKS - because when I do have calls, they usually are long and go well into lunchtime so I’m usually prepared in order to avoid getting hangry and losing focus haha. Either a fruit + protein powder smoothie or a protein bar.

I get most excited about my work when…

I can FEEL the direct results of my work. Either by seeing people dancing at a Circle Of Live show, or hear/receive the gratitude messages from the In Bloom students. A lot of the work me and Niko do is behind the curtains and we don’t often get to experience that human feedback, so when we do, it’s pretty special.

I need help when...

I think we all struggle to some extent when we don’t have a clear purpose in mind. Learning also let go of your own personal opinions and attachments for the greater good of the project is a journey for most people working in the creative field or working with their passion.

Working with people you align with and respect will help you with this. When I struggle with this, I always turn to Niko or other people who I feel have a good moral compass and are also extremely professional.


What’s your wakeup ritual?

Lemon water in the morning and a gooood stretch

Superpower you would want?

Speak every single language in the world. Or at least have real time subtitles (maybe we’re getting there now!)

Dream country to visit?


What’s one ingredient you put in everything?

Olive oil, of course.

If you could switch lives with someone for a day, who would it be?

Do dogs count? :D

Niko Seizov

The key to building long-lasting partnerships

First and foremost we see each other as human beings and friends, rather than pawns on the chequered board of our professional careers.

A lot has changed in the last 10 years, but what has made our relationship last a decade, is that we make an effort to understand where we are personally, how our needs and realities have changed and re-design a functional professional scenario, which evolves around the people behind the work.

Our industry is fiercely competitive, extremely difficult and it takes a level of personal sacrifices few sane folk would commit to. Naturally the people involved in it, tend to be completely consumed by the demands of the work, and mould their life around it. I don’t believe this is sustainable or healthy and I often see how this leads to colleagues and artists losing the passion for the craft. Certain things I’ve dreamt of and aspired towards in the past are practically my current idea of hell on earth.

What keeps us flourishing as a team, is that we are open to allow each other to take a 180 degree turn on mutually agreed goals and a visions in order to keep the creative flare in our work alive.


A book that everyone should read?

“Liberation Through Hearing” Richard Russell

What are three things you can’t live without?

AllBirds Tree Dasher 1 Trainers, Yohann Oak MacBook Stand, Eyepetizer HORT-C-6-27F shades.

Favorite piece of clothing you own?

A collarless print shirt from Stine Goya. It makes people so happy that typically I would receive a comment within the first 60 seconds of entering a room.

What’s one ingredient you put in everything?


What’s your biggest fear in life?

Also warmth. More specifically that climate change is increasingly creating a perfect environment for proliferation of mosquitoes and they will soon take control of the planet. They bloody suck! Literally!

If you could switch lives with someone for a day who would it be?

Nikola Tesla. I will wake up, have a quick breakfast, then spend the entire day in the lab, come up with a ground breaking new technology which will change the course of society forever. Then book a table for one at Delmonico in Manhattan for dinner, go by myself and wonder in the deepest corners of his brilliant mind for an hour. As he did every frikkin day. What a guy!

Most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?

When I was 20 I left to the USA without a prearranged job, a house, a university degree or anything else besides $500 in my pocket. Ended up becoming a project manager in an award winning interior design house and funding my MA in Arts Management i did later in London.

Best advice you’d give your teenage self?

Spend more time alone. This is when ideas are born.

What are you most excited about at this time in your life?

Curating a really special interdisciplinary event production at the Barbican in London next year.

What would you like to be remembered for?

The work I haven’t done yet!

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