Interview by Will Martin
Photos shot by Ye Rin Mok in LA, USA
You’ve spoken of your album Get Lost being born out of an experiment with psychedelics. Do they play a direct role in the creative process for you?
What I was referring to there was an isolated experience, which took place the night I recorded the last song, ‘Firefly Constellations’. The creative process always changes, but it does often involve altering consciousness in some way or another, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything specific like drugs.
Equally, you’ve spoken somewhat about what you consider ‘the generally psychedelic nature of existence’: the cosmic links between mind, body, spirit and mother earth and how the energy we contain is the same energy that stretches out to the deepest regions of infinity. How do you apply this idea to the music that you make?
The idea that all energy in the universe is connected is something that I feel very deeply. It’s something that makes me feel alive, which is what drives me to do things like making music in the first place. So it’s something that I’m always aware of, and I always try to approach what I’m doing with these types of ideas and feelings in mind. With my music itself, I try to paint pictures of sound to help illustrate these ideas. Psychedelic and meditational music are very good for helping to push you out of your normal frame of consciousness, which is when your mind can really explore new territory.
Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?
That word has a lot of connotations that imply a lot of things that I don’t subscribe to, but in a personal way I think my main driving force is that I feel a very deep spiritual and metaphysical connection to the world.
Is reaching an enlightened stage of consciousness something you strive for?
In a way yes, but I think that’s another idea that has a lot of connotations that I personally don’t go for… I think the idea of reaching enlightenment or being enlightened is fairly misunderstood and involves a lot more than what people generally think, which is actually one of the main themes of my new album.
The theme of the album being enlightenment or the misconceptions surrounding it?
Both. The album is called Along The Way, and is about the journey of an individual entering the world, and his quest for true knowledge about the universe and about himself. The preface of the album explains that because everyone has so many different ideas about concepts like enlightenment, good and evil, and ideas like happiness, that everyone basically misunderstands one another, and most ideas are completely lost in translation. It’s basically saying that people pass things by and really only hear what they want to hear a lot of the time, or only understand ideas in terms of what their mind has already accumulated in their lifetime. Crowley spoke about how every one of us, has thus, a universe of his own. Robert Anton Wilson referred to everyone as having their own reality tunnel, in which everything they experience is filtered. So I’m just sort of exploring ideas like that, because I feel these ideas to be very true.
What’s your opinion on collective (usually drug-induced) psychedelic experiences? Shared psychedelic visions, drug trips, for example. Do you think drugs are able to break the reality tunnel that Wilson talk about?
I mean something like that depends on certain factors… but I think generally yes, certain drugs can. People are so controlled by their ego – and even super-ego many times – that everyone walks around being so self-aware and self-conscious. This creates a whole world of things in itself, but it particularly stifles a person’s natural behavior, communication, and even their perception of the world around them. Drugs can pretty quickly take people out of this state, and cause them to start communicating on levels they have never experienced. This isn’t always the case, and can even have the opposite effect in certain cases. But as far as sharing the same space outside of consciousness or shared visions and this type of thing, this happens because people who are on the same trip, are exploring the same space outside of their consciousness together. It’s happening in real-time, and there is no pre-destined place that you’re supposed to end up. The space is created as you go along, because you’re going along.
Mark McGuire plays Wastelands Festival on 10 August at the Grindbakken in Ghent. The festival is free for members.