Tahlee Rouillon is a music composer & founder of Sonesence. She creates sonic sanctuaries for empaths & Highly Sensitive People through her soothing meditones™️ music.
She’s also the host of The Seekers’ Sanctuary podcast and is obsessed with dogs, forests, good food, good design & laughing out loud. Real loud. When you hear it, you’ll know.
Our interview with Tahlee…
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
I’ve been a music brat my whole life. I started singing when I was a toddler, I learned the flute when I was seven, the guitar when I was 16, I started playing in lots of bands and then did a Bachelor of Music at university.
During my teens and twenties, I struggled with anxiety and depression. Being a Highly Sensitive Person in a chaotic world was really overwhelming. So, I became passionate about creating music for healing. Through a psychologist I was introduced to an audio phenomenon called binaural beats (which I call meditones) that help you create calm brainwaves by hearing them in headphones.
Meditones helped me feel calmer, more confident and resilient. I became obsessed with them and used them in all of my music.
But when I was 27, I went through a very dark transition. I was sick of being a starving artist and I actually gave up music for four years. I had a total existential crisis. I didn’t know who I was without music and was lost for a long time.
In my transition phase, I had become a personal trainer and started a blog called The Attitude Revolution which was all about loving your body. I began health coaching through my website and one day a tiny seed of an idea sprouted. I told a few clients ‘I used to be a musician and I was wondering if you’d like a personalised meditation track to help you in between sessions’. Of course the resounding response was YES!
When I came back to writing music, it was like returning to a long lost friend. The reunion was effortless and sublime. I put some meditation tracks up on the website, and they sold like wildfire – even as I was struggling to get coaching clients.
All of a sudden it was clear that my old business, The Attitude Revolution, wasn’t what I was here for. Healing music was my purpose. I closed up shop and began Sonesence nearly 5 years ago. And we haven’t looked back since.
What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?
Travelling to Finland to write my album True North.
At the beginning of 2014, I had made plans to travel to Iceland and Norway with my brother and sister-in-law. However, one morning during meditation I saw a vivid image of glass domed igloos in the middle of the snow.
It was a hotel where you could lie in your room and look through the glass ceiling to the sky above – hopefully catching the Aurora Borealis as she danced.
I sat up and realised two things. One – this place actually existed. Two – I was being told to wait.
Whilst I had absolutely no idea why (and of course being quite bummed at the idea of not going with my beloved family) I still trusted the message.
With a heavy heart I told my fam I couldn’t come with them anymore. They were sad but understanding. Then a few months later, I got a text message from a friend that begins with the words: Silence.Awareness.Existence
It’s the theme of an artist’s retreat in Finland during the northern winter and they’re calling for applications from all walks of life. Music, Art, Philosophy, Yoga… It sounds absolutely perfect.
So I apply in May and get accepted in November – two days after my brother and sister-in-law get back from their trip to Norway. I create a hugely successful Kickstarter that helps fund my trip. People are stoked about the idea of an album inspired by a still, silent winter and are so supportive.
In January 2015, I head over and write my album True North. And then 18 months later, during the Finnish summer, I return to the same residency to write my follow up album, Luminous.
I now feel a soul kinship with Finland that genuinely took me by surprise, and I feel incredibly grateful that I’ve been able to travel there not once, but twice!
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
Be very clear about why your company exists and who you are here to serve. When you’re clear on your big why, you can align all of your business decisions accordingly. It will give you energy to keep going on difficult days, and inspire you in the long term.
Business is a marathon, so stay focused.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Resilience. Resilience. Resilience.
When you start a company, you are forging a path for yourself. You can read all the business advice in the world, but it will be pointless if you don’t have a great mindset.
You make a multitude of decisions every day so you need to trust yourself; you need to let go of a steady pay check and learn to manage cashflow; in the beginning or if you choose to stay small, you need to wear many different hats – from marketing to customer service, from content creation to sales; plus you need to experiment and pivot quickly when you fail.
It can be a lot of pressure and it’s not easy, so resilience is absolutely vital to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
Generous people. Anyone who runs a company that is focused on being of service, being helpful and participating in social justice. Business can and should be a force for good.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
“Your Most Valued Customer is the archetype of the person who will receive the most value from your business and, in turn, will create the most value for your business.”
This is a quote from Tara McMullin’s book The Art of Growth. It completely transformed my approach to business. Instead of focusing on an ideal customer, I shifted my focus to the customers who were my number one fans. The people who were already right in front of me, who absolutely adored my work.
Now I see very clearly that the people I serve are the sensitive souls of the world. They are deep thinkers and deep feelers; the artists and the healers. And Sonesence exists to empower Highly Sensitive People so they can feel calm and resilient to do the soulful work they’re called to do.
How do you make the most of your day?
I focus on deep work. This means I focus on the activities that are deeply valuable, instead of shallow distractions like social media. I’m very clear about where I spend my time and attention.
I usually begin the morning with meditation or breath work and some journaling. During phases of deep work I focus on writing really helpful blog posts, interviewing people for my podcast, writing music, reading books and walking in nature.
I quit Facebook, I’m not on Twitter, and I don’t read the news. I’m still on Instagram but I use it judiciously and keep my time there to a minimum.
As a Highly Sensitive Person myself, deep work helps me to stay calm and focused throughout the day, instead of getting caught up in comparisonitis or being drained by news of the terrible parts of the world.
When you think of your journey, what is the thing you are most proud of?
Returning to music. I had such limiting beliefs about my ability to make money from my music that it held me back from so many good things. Making healing music is my soul’s calling, and I’m so glad that I finally surrendered into this.
Every day I get to be of service helping sensitive souls feel incredible. I’m humbled and touched by every positive review and how much my music transforms people’s lives. I never thought a business like this could be sustainable, but 5 years on, it still is.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
Hmmm, it really depends. I have a number of rituals and systems that support me, but I’m also flexible in how I use them to honour my needs each day. I like to work in sync with my menstrual cycle, and rest a lot more during my period. When I’m more energised, I might work anywhere from 5-9 hours in a day.
Describe/outline your typical day?
Each day is very different. I love rituals but hate routine! 🙂
Usually the day begins with quiet reflection which can include meditation, breath work, journaling or reading. When I begin work, I like to make a good coffee and focus deeply for a few hours at a time – whether it’s writing music, podcast interviews & editing, writing articles for my blog or guest posts, and communicating with my fans.
Plus of course there are all the other bits and pieces like book keeping, emails, Instagram posts, research, and ideation; not to mention meal prep, catching up with friends and cleaning! I also do Pilates a few mornings a week and roller skate on the weekends.
What motivates you?
Creativity, being of service, learning, new experiences, meaningful work, and social justice.
Who are the women around you that allow you to thrive?
Oh my gosh, there are too many to mention! I’m fortunate to be surrounded by so many beautiful, encouraging women who give me grace, listen to me think out loud, help me process all the feelings and remind me of my strength. I would not be where I am today without the support of all the amazing women in my life.
Here’s where you can connect Tahlee and Sonesence…