In pictures of shamans around the world–from Siberian, Native American, Russian to South American–they are usually depicted holding a drum, so there appears to some kind of connection of a beat to the spirit world. When a Shaman wants to communicate in the voice of the spirit world, he/she will often use music or glossolalia (speaking in tongues…wow i’ve always wanted to get that word into a sentence!) instead of language. Taking psychedelics clearly is a gateway to the spirit world, but to weave all these elements into a cohesive Unified Theory should probably be the subject of a book…. I’m not qualified or knowledgeable enough – I’m just excited to be able to use the word glossolalia, a word i learned from the English TV show QI ! I guess TV isn’t all bad, despite how it seems whenever I switch it on in the USA…
David: How do you envision the future of your music evolving?
Simon: I don’t know. I guess my taste changes throughout the years, with the influences that I have, so it’s hard to say. All I can say about my music is that I will only ever do something that I want to hear at that time–and that’s all I really think an artist can do. If you’re trying to do something to please other people, or to appease the myriad cast of characters that one inevitably has sitting on one’s shoulder while you’re making a tune– judging you, as I’m sure any artist has–then I think that you’ll run into problems. When you’re doing it, you have to ignore them, and basically just do what you like and what you want to hear, and hope there’s a resonance with your audience. As I mentioned before, I just have to hope that my taste isn’t so obscure and off the wall that no one else will like it, and that there will be a few hundred souls that will relate to it and enjoy it.
David: And isn’t that just so beautiful when that happens?
David: Is there anything that we haven’t spoken about that you would like to add?
Simon: Yes, I’d like to think a little bit more about psychedelics and art, generally. What might be interesting to examine, which we haven’t really discussed is how the psychedelic arts also seems slightly bound to the culture from which they originate as well–even though there is a common theme.
If you look at Aboriginal art, and that Mexican indian art that they do with the beads, you’ll see what I mean. They make those masks, with the beads. I forget the tribe, do you know who I mean?
David: Do you mean the Huichol indians of Central Mexico? They do those brightly colored yarn paintings of their peyote visions.
Simon: Yes, exactly. They also make these very colorful masks with tiny beads and sculptures. But there’s an overlap. Both share themes common to psychedelic artwork such as fractal style patterns and spirals or concentric circles. I’m pretty sure the Mexicans took peyote, but I don’t know about the Aborigines. Did they take psychedelics? Certainly it seems like the ancient Egyptians did, or the mushroom drawings in the Tassilic caves. Also it would be interesting to look into the hallucinogenic effects that laudanum and absinthe had on those poets we so revere today. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize psychedelics have probably had a huge impact on art and artists. When will it start to affect our governments and politicians? That’s what I’d like to know!
David: Me too! There’s definitely something universal and archetypal about many of the recurring psychedelic motifs in art and music around the world. Not long after I had my first psychedelic experience as a teenager, I realized that, when looking at a piece of artwork or hearing a piece of music, I could tell, with a high degree of accuracy, whether or not that artist had ever had a psychedelic experience or not. People who have experienced psychedelics seem to pick up on signals that may be completely invisible to others.
Simon: Yeah, it really is like lifting a veil to another world. I think that once that veil has been lifted you can never really put it back. Maybe that’s what scares people who haven’t tried psychedelics– what if it changes me?
David: And it will! (laughter)
Simon: But, I think, generally for the better.
David: I do too. Is there anything else you that you wanted to say about psychedelics and art in general?
Simon: On a slightly sad footnote, it’s such a shame that Bill Hicks isn’t alive. To be able to speak to him about it would be amazing. You’re familiar with Bill Hicks, right?
David: Bill Hicks is my very favorite comedian of all time. Absolutely brilliant and totally hilarious.
Simon: He pops into my head when I was saying that I think perhaps more people have taken psychedelics than you realize. That famous last film show that he did at the Dominion Theater in London was the big venue, and he’s up there as a standup comic, talking about psychedelics, and the experiences of taking acid. As a comic, you’re going to want to be able to relate to your audience, and I think his confidence in doing that just shows that there are plenty of people out there who have had the experience that unites us. I’m glad that MAPS among others are reminding us it’s ok to experiment with our minds, in fact for the spiritual evolution of mankind and art it might even be a requirement. So to finish up I would just like to quote Bill, “It’s just a Ride. We can change that ride anytime we choose… a simple choice between Fear and Love.”
Thanks for the interview….