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#11 Dirty Biker Acid Operators - Dan Boeckner et Devojka

27 octobre 2020

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The lines between work life and home life have been erased by the pandemic and has forced many to be a more consistent self (1:25)

Devokja discusses how the pandemic gave her immense relief. She was deeply depressed beforehand, and found some relief – as others around her were also forced to slow down (3:20)

Dr. Dominique talks about how the pandemic has shifted her practice and the increased demand of patients looking for professional counselling (7:00)

Ronan talks about how he prefers to microdose – and his experience of reliving a childhood memory during a heroic dose last year (10:00)

Dan talks about his first experiences with psychedelics – including ‘dirty biker acid’ ­– starting at the age of 15. Growing up in a small community on Vancouver island – Dan acknowledges the desire to ‘travel without travelling’ and a ‘need to escape’ drove this behaviour (13:17)

Dan and Devokja talk about their recent psilocybin trip. While observing bugs on a log, Dan realizes ‘it’s their house, man’.(15:34)

Dr. Dominique discusses typical themes she’s seen – and how patients using psychedelic-assisted therapy can yield profound personal impacts. And consider that it’s also a connected experience – not necessarily an individual one. Plus she encourages us to look for opportunities to integrate personal realizations (16:50)

Dan talks about their latest album ‘Radiant Dawn’ and working closely with Devojka on the record was a unique experience. For him, the act of performing on stage, gives him emotional catharsis. On psychedelics, he feels interconnected and can process facts that are exposed to him. A fantastical wonder. (21:20)

Devojka talks about being a product of the D.A.R.E program and her first trip – or lack thereof. (24:30)

Dan talks about the appeal of psychedelics, and Devojka talks about how her point of view on psychedelics started to shift with microdosing (28:10)

Dr. Dominique encourages us to accept the trip that you need – not the one that you want. And understand that no one experience will be the same as the next. Her advice: trust, let go, and walk towards it. Set and setting are very important (34:36)

Dan talks about his trip from a few days prior – where he realized that the psychedelic renaissance needs to be contextualized historically (36:40)

Ronan asks who do Dan and Devojka think could use a good trip – and Ronan suggests their next album title (42:20)


Dan: [00:00:00] But I was definitely fully capable of approaching the kind of dissociative but like very mentally open state that I got later on from doing psychedelics. [00:00:11][11.1]

Devojka: [00:00:12] OK, but why did they interest you as something to try? [00:00:15][2.3]

Dan: [00:00:15] I needed to get out of where I was any way I could. It was not an option to stay within that reality and stay sane. [00:00:26][11.2]

Devojka: [00:00:27] So for me, I needed to not feel however I was feeling at the moment, which I think is a little different. [00:00:33][6.2]

Ronan: [00:00:39] This is Field Tripping, a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I’m your host, Ronan Levy. [00:00:49][9.4]

Ronan: [00:00:51] You probably know Dan Boeckner from ‘Operators’, the dark and dancy synthpop band that includes him and electro whiz Devojka. Dan is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He’s a member of Wolf Parade and previously a member of Atlas Strategic and Handsome Furs. Devojka is a multi-instrumentalist Macedonian musician whose own solo career had her playing all over the U.S. and Europe. And then Dan and Devojka met. And the rest is history. Together, they are ‘Operators’, which released its most recent album, ‘Radiant Dawn’ in 2019. [00:01:28][37.1]

Ronan: [00:01:30] It’s my pleasure to welcome you to feel tripping, Dan and Devojka. [00:01:32][2.3]

Dan: [00:01:33] Thanks for having us. [00:01:34][0.7]

Devojka: [00:01:34] Thank you for having us. [00:01:35][1.0]

Ronan: [00:01:36] But let’s also take a minute to welcome Dr. Dominique Morisano, who has a close connection to both of our guests and Field Trip Health itself as our Chief Psychologist. Welcome, Dominique. [00:01:45][9.7]

Dominique: [00:01:46] Thank you. [00:01:46][0.4]

Ronan: [00:01:49] I really try to think that there’s no difference between, professional life and home life, like the notion of being a professional is not something I gravitate towards. It’s like you’re a person, you know, and sometimes we have to wear slightly different hats. But I try to be consistent across the board in terms of what I do because like parenting and having friends and all that kind of stuff, it’s different than work. But it’s all like activity, it’s all like who you are. It’s just you in different circumstances so why should you be necessarily different from yourself? You know, I’m a big believer and like to be true to who you are. It’s a great poet, Taylor Mali, he has this great talk. [00:02:24][35.0]

Ronan: [00:02:24] It’s about how we as a society don’t speak with conviction anymore. We put parenthetical ‘um’s’ and ‘you knows’ in the middle of sentences, and I’m totally guilty of it. There’s this one line where he says, “Say what you mean in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it.” And I’ve always thought that to be a really powerful thing. And so I’ve always extended that to the perspective of, live your life in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you want to live it. [00:02:50][25.7]

Dan: [00:02:50] I think it’s interesting that the pandemic is essentially like erased the lines between working from home and a structured external work environment, which is something I think Dev and I were both already used to because if you’re a self-employed creative, you are technically working from home all the time when you’re not on tour and there are no office hours and there’s no scheduled vacation unless you make one, which you’re probably not going to do. [00:03:18][27.8]

Dan: [00:03:19] So your personality in and out of the job, you kind of have to be a consistent self throughout your work and your own life, which are now like inextricably linked. [00:03:30][11.1]

Dominique: [00:03:32] It’s been like the great equalizer, having meetings with people in suits or even, you know, military outfits normally in offices and then having everybody be at home with a baseball cap or, you know, a pet jumping on their lap or like a kid running around in the back. It’s been a lot more humanizing, I think, for a lot of people. [00:03:51][19.1]

Ronan: [00:03:52] Totally. It’s also brought and some concepts, hockey hair, or the mullet back because I was talking to someone today and he’s like, “Usually I have a dress shirt on and I’m wearing shorts or underwear, like just underwear underneath.” And I’m like, that’s like hockey hair where it’s like business upfront party in the back. So we’re all to some degree living with hockey hair right now. [00:04:09][16.9]

Dan: [00:04:09] I’m totally Porky Pig-ing it right now. [00:04:11][1.7]

Devojka: [00:04:11] Yeah. [00:04:11][0.0]

Ronan: [00:04:14] What about you, Dev? How has this experience been? [00:04:15][2.0]

Devojka: [00:04:16] I’m wearing pants. [00:04:16][0.5]

Ronan: [00:04:18] I like how you say that like that’s an achievement. [00:04:20][1.4]

Devojka: [00:04:21] I mean it is because they’re actual pants. They’re not made out of like a cotton sweatshirt type material. So this is a bit of an accomplishment for me. But again, that wouldn’t be different even during a pandemic time. [00:04:33][12.9]

Devojka: [00:04:34] So I’m not trying to be glib about it, but I definitely one thing for me is when lockdown started, I felt immense relief. And prior to it happening, I was in quite a state of depression, something that I’m prone towards, part of my brand, if you will. And I remember feeling like a sort of relief in anxiety because it felt like everyone else was on a time out. I didn’t have to plan. I didn’t have to feel like I needed to do something. I didn’t have to wonder what I was already doing. It just felt like everyone was just as behind as I felt, maybe in some ways. And it wasn’t really until August that it kind of hit me that there’s something about this that does feel stifling because like any procrastinator listening would know extensions are not always good for you because I didn’t do it. It’s not like I was like, great, I’m going to catch up. I was like, I can’t believe it’s September, I still feel like it’s April. [00:05:33][59.7]

Ronan: [00:05:34] Isn’t it crazy? Like, I’ve noticed that, like, I have no sense of time anymore. Like I have two young kids, I have a four-and-a-half-year-old and an 18-month-old and so like your perspective on time and just general awareness and truthfully, cognitive capacity just disappears after that. But I’ve noticed ever since this started, like my sense of days, nights, weeks, months, like the only reason I know it’s now Fall is because it’s cold outside. But short of that, I’d have no idea, my sense of space and awareness, it’s really changed during this experience but I guess it’s maybe somewhat of like the repetition of you get up, you don’t really leave your house, you don’t really go anywhere. And so there’s nothing to delineate. [00:06:12][37.5]

Devojka: [00:06:13] One thing I kind of want to ask you guys, Niqua and Ronan, because you had offices that you went or places that you needed to go to every day on a regular basis, for me, it was kind of validating to see in a very truncated expedited form, people go through the phases of adjustment that I went through being alone through so many consecutive Montreal winters, you’re like, you know, it’s fun. [00:06:36][23.0]

Devojka: [00:06:36] You know, I’m going to work out from home. I’m going to get get on YouTube. I’ll fucking get some weights, I’ll get some resistance bands, I’ll get a yoga mat. I’m going to do this, OK? I’m going to read. I haven’t read in forever. I’m going to read and then it’s like, oh, I’m going to just drink because what else am I going to do? And just seeing my peers go from like, so, what do you do all day? Like, what do you do? Like what’s your day like? Like what do you do for work? Like how do you work? And it’s just like I’m busy. I can’t tell you, I can’t tell you how I’m busy, but I know that the day goes by but you’re right, there are these weird pockets that I need to navigate around and then seeing other people go through trying to keep their routines up and then getting into day drinking. It’s very validating for me personally. But I want to know if that’s been the case for you. If you guys had any notions of like, oh, it would be so great to just get to work from home, that must be so nice. [00:07:28][52.0]

Dominique: [00:07:29] I was already working from home half the time, which is, I think, part of why I’m so often interfaced in like a collaborative way with musicians. But yeah, like I had this little cottage that I rent in Toronto that was kind of a nice escape and it made me feel I was getting into the country every two days a week to see clients. And now I’m not doing that and I’m still paying rent there, but I’m just kind of hoping for the day when I can go back. [00:07:57][28.2]

Dominique: [00:07:58] I would say it’s been difficult to just have no escape from just seeing, you know, this many clients like maybe working this unresearched study, literally every meeting being on Zoom and my day being like 12 hours these days and not having that space to, you know, get up and go get tacos in between clients or something or like have that little break or go say hi to the person at the front desk or just have a little bit of social interaction. [00:08:29][31.3]

Dominique: [00:08:30] Although I saw a meme this morning, it was like talking about how is it Zoom that’s exhausting us? Is it all the video or is it like the fact that the world is burning and people are processing and there’s political mayhem? [00:08:44][14.3]

Dan: [00:08:45] Why not both? [00:08:45][0.7]

Dominique: [00:08:46] Yeah, I think people are exhausted, like it’s, it’s been exhausting. So my practice personally has just boomed. I mean, I’m getting many, many emails every single day from potential clients looking for mental health. And it’s reached to the point where I’ve closed my waitlist. I don’t know. It’s been it’s been a really challenging period I would say. [00:09:06][19.6]

Ronan: [00:09:06] I’ve found the experience both exhausting and exhilarating and illuminating. And this is usually a question we get to at the end of the podcast so it’s cool to run with the start. I was an entrepreneur, so for a while I was working out of my one bedroom apartment in Toronto, just doing stuff and I never had an office to go to, so I kind of got into a routine. It’s certainly been novel doing it now, being married with kids. It’s a different experience than I was doing it the first time. So it was easy to hop back into, like the work, not work routine to some degree, I’ve always been pretty disciplined around that kind of stuff. But, you know, the life stuff, like I used to be able to go to the gyms, like integrating that like at the start of this pandemic, like I used to work out a lot. I used to go to the gym two or three times a week and like, I just couldn’t do that because, like, either I was working or I was dealing with the kids and like, you’re in the house, so you can’t really escape. Sometimes like that physical barrier of a door closing behind you actually mean something on a psychic level. And I couldn’t do that. So all of a sudden, like, I wasn’t working out at all, I wasn’t doing any exercise, just trying to get through the day. And then I forced myself to get into a routine where I was doing seven-minute workouts like my doctor talked about how like you just need to get your heart rate up above one hundred and fifty beats per minute. You can do that in like four minutes in a Tabata and that became my workout. So that wasn’t too bad. [00:10:25][78.7]

Ronan: [00:10:25] The harder part for me and it sounds like you may resonate with this, that’s like just the incredible anxiety. Like I’m usually an eternal optimist and for the first time, like I did not see a path out of this. I’m like, the world is collapsing. It was challenging. You know, the silver lining is there. And like that eternal optimism eventually returned when Irwin, the guy I work with who’s been like my coach or therapist or however you want to define him, was like, don’t waste this opportunity. Like this pandemic is bringing everything that you need to deal with. It’s bringing everything that the entire planet needs to deal with the surface. It’s like punching you in the face saying like, hey, here’s the shit you need to deal with. Don’t waste this opportunity. And with that little bit of encouragement, it helped me to go deep and start to confront a lot of the demons I had. But there were many, many nights circling back to like the original impetus of this podcast in this conversation where I’d wake up at three a.m. and there is no way to get back to sleep. So I take some mushrooms, a small dose, like maybe a half a gram or something along those lines. Just close my eyes, very much like a psychedelic trip experience and just ride it out. I’ve always found that at least immediately you have a very positive mood-lifting effect from taking the mushrooms. [00:11:36][71.7]

Dan: [00:11:37] Did you find that you sort of climb the peak of the experience and then you come down and did you find afterwards, like once you’ve sort of come down back to earth, you have any sort of ordering of these thoughts or remove any blockages that you might have? That’s been my experience mostly with mushrooms. [00:11:58][20.4]

Ronan: [00:11:59] A couple of thoughts. One is like sometimes they have very clear, vivid experiences that make sense, don’t necessarily heal it but starts the process. Like late last year, I did a large dose and at first, I wasn’t feeling anything. And then, of course, like it hit me. And the first thing I saw was a moment from my childhood when I was maybe four or five years old. And I always knew it was a pretty traumatic moment and I’ll describe it. My parents split up when I was two. My dad was painted as like this evil bad guy that should be feared, notwithstanding, every once in a while he’d come for visitation rights. And I remember one time, like my mom, you know, standing in her living room in Toronto eating a banana. I don’t know why the detail of eating a banana still in my head, but it’s still in my head. And my mom told me that I was coming to take us for a visitation day. And like, I started crying immediately. I spat out the banana. And, you know, with the benefit of now thirty-five years later, I’d know like that was a sincere and intense moment of a betrayal, like a breach of trust of how could you possibly let that happen to me. Nothing terrible happened on that visit but I remember when he showed up, you know, I tried to run away and hide and all that kind of stuff. And so in this trip, I saw that moment. It wasn’t even seeing it. It’s almost like reliving it. And then what happened is like I kind of like zoomed out and I saw how that feeling of betrayal had been experienced at various points in my life. And so it’s just kind of like that smack in the face of like you need to heal this because it’s still playing out over and over and over again. And so sometimes it’s that clear, that vivid, but other times just kind of feel that click of like something happened deep down and I don’t necessarily understand it, but I sort of come to believe that the world is holographic. And so when you fix something up here, you know, something gets better up here, something changes over here as well, and you start to see it happen. And so I’ve just kind of let go and started to accept, like, I don’t get it, but it happens. And I just kind of know something’s happening. And then maybe eventually it’ll figure it out. Or maybe I just find, like, hey, that thing that I’m used to maybe trigger me when my wife does this doesn’t trigger me as much anymore or something along those lines. [00:14:09][130.6]

Dan: [00:14:10] I mean, I started doing psychedelics when I was 15 years old and I started doing I think acid was the first thing that I did, to be totally straight, like dirty biker acid. So, you know, just like very unpure LSD cut with probably PCP and speed. And, you know, growing up in the place that I grew up in, which was an extremely isolated resource extraction community on Vancouver Island, myself and my very small group of misfit friends wanted to do whatever we could to blast our consciousnesses out of that space, the traveling, traveling, without traveling. So, yeah, definitely when I started taking psychedelics, I was a teenager. I overdid it. I did the classic, the classic fuck up of I don’t feel anything, I need to take more, you know, then just having an oh-shit moment where everything is melted away. But yeah, I’d say three or four times I can remember very clearly like experiencing a total dissolving of my own sense of self. [00:15:19][69.0]

Ronan: [00:15:19] What came of that? [00:15:20][0.7]

Dan: [00:15:20] I mean some of it was incredibly like I don’t even want to say cliched because I think there’s a thread of experience that is very true and very real that runs through a lot of psychedelic journeys that people go on, like no matter what they take. And I think the prime one is a feeling of interconnectedness and whether that’s with events in your own life and the way that you dealt with them, how those are connected and sort of illuminating may be behavior that you have because of those connections or just the interconnectedness of the material world that you live in. Like it’s a good example is, you know, if you’re out in nature, you’re extremely high. And you realize, I think everybody’s had this experience of realizing that the flora and fauna around you are part of a living system. Well, that’s kind of like first-grade Gnostic wisdom from psychedelics. And it’s wonderful to return to that over and over again. Like I had that the other day. We did mushrooms the other day and I had that feeling again. [00:16:24][63.7]

Devojka: [00:16:25] We sat on a tree trunk and I was like, oh, these bugs, and Dan just looked at me and he’s like, it’s their house, man. [00:16:33][8.2]

Dan: [00:16:33] The bug’s house! And that’s the moment I knew I was high. [00:16:39][5.4]

Dominique: [00:16:41] Yeah, I think people experience insights both during the trips and after like depending on what kind of resourcing you have who you have to talk about it, what kind of resources do you have within yourself? Like what kind of practices do you engage in on a regular basis to get inside? I’ve seen people have real aha moments during the experience and after the experience that was like, oh, that’s why that happened. Or that’s why I was thinking about that, woah! That all pieces together from like last year, oh my God. [00:17:12][31.8]

Devojka: [00:17:13] Do you think it helps to talk about them Niqua or to talk through them? Do you think there’s something about that process? I think something that’s intriguing to me about that the process of tripping is that it’s sort of you having to confront things that really only you can confront that other people can’t make you confront, even other experiences, can’t make you confront. And in a way, there’s like a solitariness to the endeavor, but not necessarily in a negative way. [00:17:42][29.2]

Dominique: [00:17:43] Yeah, I do. I mean, especially in the way that I’ve been trained in psychedelic-assisted therapy. I’ve seen profound impacts even from group integration circles where people kind of go around a circle and talk about their different experiences. And they’re like how you experience that as well? Or, Wow, that might be a theme in these experiences or wow, that may be a theme in the planet or the universe or humanity. And sometimes people can pick up on things that like you might not pick up on like, oh, you had this experience, you’re talking about it. And then someone might say, you know, like, let’s just say it’s a therapist, which is not always a therapist, but let’s say it’s a therapist that has been working with you for a while. Might say, hey, that reminds me of like when you were talking about not feeling strong in your childhood or like always needing to feel strong and then you happen to feel very strong in this particular journey, you know, what do you think about that and what does that bring up for you? And like some people might be able to notice touchpoints and highlights that you might not pick up on yourself, where friends might notice that for you, especially if you have friends that are kind of versed in this area. [00:18:50][67.4]

Dominique: [00:18:51] I know some people think of it as a very solitary experience. I think of it as a very connected experience, like the social experience of like, you know, how do you then connect that back to the rest of the world? If you just do it by yourself and you just take it in, you kind of leave and you never really think about it, you might have had the most amazing realization like, woah, the planet is dying and I need to do something about it, you know, and like, you might even come up with all the things you might do on that trip. And then you’re actually distracted, you’re like, oh, I’m hungry. I got to go walk the dog. So there’s an opportunity there. [00:19:25][33.9]

Ronan: [00:19:25] You can see it in everyday experiences. It’s like, you know when people get together to bitch about their wives or their husbands, right, like that shared experience for me, it’s sometimes like it’s nice to just to be cathartic and talk about things that are on my mind. But for me and this goes back to like, how do you define yourself and where do you find security from? I find when I share an experience and someone’s like, oh yeah, that that happens to me too. Or I feel the same way. It makes me feel less fucked up and makes me feel less alone being like, oh, I’m not just a failure. Oh, I’m not just an emotional mess. Like we’re all going through something similar, right. And I think with psychedelics it can just add a lot of texture a lot of colour, a lot of nuance to what those experiences are. [00:20:12][46.3]

Ronan: [00:20:20] During our talk, Dev mentioned that reality is attitude, but I think more accurately that can be expressed that our attitude is our reality. For anyone who has listened to earlier episodes of this podcast, you’ll know I touch on themes of reality creation quite often. Reality creation is the belief that our entire human experience is quite actually only a product of our imagination. While philosophers have debated the metaphysics of this for time immemorial, simply consider what the experience of sight or sound is. It’s nothing more than electrical signals traveling down neurons that our brains convert into what we perceive as reality. And because of this, it becomes easy to understand why psychedelics can not only change our attitudes and emotions, but also our living reality. If our experience of being human is literally all made up in our mind and gets expressed through our attitudes and psychedelics can stretch and change those experiences or attitudes, then even those psychedelic experiences inevitably come to an end. Just like putting your thumb on a piece of play-doh and maybe even adding a little colour, they will leave an indelible impression on the rest of your life. What you do with that experience then, is totally up to you, whatever your attitude. [00:21:41][80.9]

Ronan: [00:21:46] Dan, I had a question for you, when I was reading reviews about Radiant Dawn, the reviewer referred to you as a bleary-eyed, raspy-voiced underdog with no love for the modern world. And that, quote, not a moment goes by on Radiant Dawn when Boeckner isn’t feeling crushed by the weight of modern life and fear of imminent ecological collapse. [00:22:04][17.9]

Dan: [00:22:05] We’ve totally called 2020 with Radiant that, I remember some people being like, oh, this is so bleak, man. [00:22:11][5.5]

Devojka: [00:22:11] It’s not just his sentiment, OK? [00:22:13][2.2]

Dan: [00:22:14] Especially that record was a… I’ve never worked as closely with another human mind on like a music product, you know, then working with Dev on that record. [00:22:25][11.1]

Ronan: [00:22:26] One of my experiences having been in the psychedelic industry, I won’t say I’m part of the psychedelic community per se, because I think that’s kind of like a more tightly knit group that I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m a real part of. But one of the things I found is that there’s a lot of behaviors within that community that seem inconsistent with a lot of the values that psychedelics seem to promote. Emotional awareness, maturity, like all of these kind of things just been my experience so far, it may not be accurate, but like in our very brief conversation, you seem like a very well considered thoughtful, you know, not entirely like pessimistic person. But regardless, I mean, even if you are, it seems to be contrary to a lot of what psychedelics purport to be able to offer psychedelic therapies and just wondering if, like, where that comes from. Like this for you as well, Dev. Like, why such bleakness in your art? And isn’t that consistent with your viewpoint or is it art that’s just trying to make a point? [00:23:20][54.6]

Dan: [00:23:21] Not at all. I mean, I think it’s totally consistent with the… to explain it properly, I’d have to say the art itself and especially the act of performing it is for me someone who’s been in court mandated therapy, like various therapy situations for me, like performing, has always given the best results in terms of emotional catharsis. It’s a very personal thing, but it’s done in a group setting. So I would say my experiences with psychedelics, like going back to the interconnectedness of things, if I’m sitting at home and thinking about ecological collapse or I’m reading a newspaper article about the impending fascist creep in North America and then I do psychedelics, I find that the way that psychedelics expose the superstructure helps me process those facts. And I don’t feel that the art itself, it might be talking about things that are pessimistic, but they’re also full of fantastical wonder. [00:24:28][67.1]

Devojka: [00:24:30] Yeah, I think reviews like that are always interesting because it is almost saying that pointing out reality is an attitude and a negative one at that. The personal arc of that album aside side, the more global issues that we were discussing were very, very real to me. I didn’t think that they were worst-case scenarios. I think they were the scenario that we were actually in, or at least very, very swiftly heading towards. And because of who I am and the background that I come from, it really bothers me when there was an elephant in the room and nobody talks about the elephant and that talking about the elephant is being negative and being a bummer. Dan affectionately calls me a nihilist, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like this is reality. [00:25:18][47.8]

Ronan: [00:25:19] From what I understand, like your experience on psilocybin recently was your first or among your first experiences with psychedelics. I’m just curious why there may have been resistance or hesitation to try. [00:25:30][11.2]

Devojka: [00:25:30] A couple of reasons, specifically for psychedelics I always, from a very young age, I am a product of the D.A.R.E. program, and when Helen Hunt threw herself out the window, I took that seriously. But those scare tactics for me, they were effective. But then specifically with psychedelics, I was sort of made to understand that unless you had a very sound mind, it’d be best not to venture into that. Like shrooms were maybe a bit better, but acid, oh boy. Listen, I have no faith in myself. I was like, oh, I could take something and be on the forever gone train, yeah, totally, that would be me. I’m a candidate for that. I just like it, no question about it. I didn’t interrogate why I felt that way. I would like no that will probably happen to me so I’m going to avoid it. I think that combined with feeling like if I was going to use something like I wanted very consumerists, I wanted something to show for it. So either enhance performance or an ability to socialize when I otherwise didn’t feel like it, like unless there was truly like a quantifiable payoff, I was like, I don’t bite. Why do I want to imagine things that aren’t there? I do remember as a child having experiences that I think are similar to experiences you can have on a psychedelic just like sort of disassociating. I don’t know if that’s the proper psychological term. [00:27:01][90.8]

Dan: [00:27:02] I had similar experiences as well too, like as a kid growing up in a house that was filled with trauma. And I think just like as an aside, like one thing psychedelics have helped me do is work through a lot of traumatic events. But I was definitely fully capable of maybe not completely getting there, but approaching the kind of dissociative but like very mentally open state that I got later on from doing psychedelics. [00:27:32][30.2]

Devojka: [00:27:34] Why did they interest you as something to try? [00:27:36][2.1]

Dan: [00:27:37] I needed to get out of where I was any way I could. It was not an option to stay within that reality and stay sane. [00:27:48][11.2]

Devojka: [00:27:48] So for me, I needed to not feel however, I was feeling at a moment, which I think is a little different. [00:27:54][6.2]

Dominique: [00:27:55] I think there like two sides, like two sides of approaching the same issue, like for everybody it’s escape. But I think kids brains are very, very powerful, like they’re very powerful, dissociators in the case of trauma. And sometimes people deal with that in different ways, like some people might seek, like traveling without traveling or a journey or some other fantastical thing that they might have heard about, like by taking this, magic thing or eating this magic mushroom like, you know, Alice in Wonderland, I’ve seen kids completely block out and tune out and become somebody else. [00:28:30][34.3]

Devojka: [00:28:30] So for me, if I was going to turn to any substance, it was just to not feel how I felt. Like at any given moment. And then my interest in it peaked around the time, I would say a few years ago, you know, friends would tell me, oh, it’s like a squeegee for your brain. It’s really good. It’s very clearing and then Dan and I got together in the band and stuff like that and he was very much like all about shrooms and it shows. We have a couple of songs, I meant to point them out in case they’re useful to you, but he’d always introduce them with about how they were about doing psychedelics on Vancouver Island. And I would just like, oh, Dan, come on, please. Like, still weirdly conservative in this first gen Balkan way. But the appeal of what I kind of just interpreted as hacking your mind, that started appealing to me a little bit. But I was still a bit trepidatious and I still wasn’t sure. And then so what I did was I started micro dosing, like really minimal. But one of the times I did it, I didn’t feel anything. But I was able to explain quite eloquently a difficult concept on the flight to Dan, and that’s hard for me. [00:29:46][76.0]

Dan: [00:29:47] And I didn’t know you were micro-dosing either. [00:29:49][1.7]

Devojka: [00:29:49] And he looked at me and he’s like, wow, you’re really like on fire today. And then my eyes really lit up because I was like, is this it because I don’t know if anyone else feels this but then it sort of became this thing of like, what if I’m secretly brilliant? If I do this thing, then suddenly my brain will really come up, come to its own right. It’s it just needs a little extra push. Then I’ll really uncover all the just deeply buried genius that must be living in my brain. But then we scheduled this podcast and it was literally the only kind of homework you really can’t save to the last day. So I did it last week and it was underwhelming. I don’t think I felt it as much as Dan when I did feel it. And I just ended up watching an old Danish movie that I remembered from when I was a child watching on TV. [00:30:44][55.0]

Dan: [00:30:45] No subtitles. [00:30:45][0.3]

Devojka: [00:30:46] No subtitles. Oh, it was Dutch. It was not Danish. It was Dutch. [00:30:51][4.6]

Dan: [00:30:52] Yeah, it was Dutch. [00:30:53][0.5]

Dominique: [00:30:54] But what made you want to watch this movie from your childhood? That’s what I would ask because it’s not the first time I’ve heard this kind of thing. [00:31:01][6.8]

Devojka: [00:31:01] Yeah, so I was feeling very underwhelmed, but also a bit incapacitated. We hiked to the mountain. I remember thinking before, I don’t know, hopefully, I’ll be down to be outside, but like instinctually I was like, I think I kind of want to just be at home and true enough, once we were outside and I wasn’t feeling anything and Dan was, but I was thinking, let’s just get home. I have to pee. Boring, boring stuff. And then we got home. And I think to answer your question, I think it was just that feeling of like, I can’t really do anything else right now. This is a movie that I will periodically remember and then Google. And so it’s always been on the cue of like, if I ever have time, I should watch this thing just for fun because it’s kind of like a weird movie. And then I thought, well, I’m sitting on the couch. I don’t feel like doing anything. There is something concentric about the memory of being a kid sitting in front of the TV, watching the movie and being tripped out by it and being an adult, sitting in front of the laptop watching a movie and being kind of tripped out by it. [00:32:11][69.9]

Ronan: [00:32:12] Did you experience it differently, though? Like one experience I had, it wasn’t a huge doses, like a half a gram. I was at an investor conference actually around cannabis and then someone had mushrooms. I was like, sure, why not? But I was away from the kids, which meant going to bed early was the most sublime pleasure for me because I meant I got to sleep through the night without interruption. And I took it. And like, it wasn’t a super intense experience, but one of my fascinations, like I have two quirky fascinations with television. One is fishing shows. I love fishing shows. And I have absolutely no idea why because for the longest time I’ve had a phobia of fish. And then the other thing is, I love watching those like infomercials like those time life music infomercials where they have seven billion songs of your greatest hits. And there’s an infomercial on of like 1980s like love ballads or something along those lines. And the first thing that struck me, I was like one of the guys is, you know, they have the two hosts who say like oh yeah, they’ll take you back to your favorite memories from high school. And one of the guys was like the former lead singer of some like 80s rock ballad band and like just how uncool he had become. He was like short and chubby and like big glasses and like ill-fitting clothes, I’m like, oh, my God, but I found the intensity of the music and the corniness of it and like the over-amplified love-dovey nature of it, like overwhelming like it just changed that experience. And it wasn’t like I was tripping out, I wasn’t experiencing like different sensations. It was just like emotionally I couldn’t handle that music anymore. Did you find anything like that when you were watching the movie, or is it just kind of the same old thing? [00:33:50][98.5]

Devojka: [00:33:51] What kept confirming itself over and over in various ways to me throughout those few hours was wherever I go, there I am. Whether I know it or not, I think a lot of my idea of what a personal evolution or growth for me would be is something that is very much removed from who I am. And so if it’s related to me in any way, how good could it possibly be? Like I think maybe that’s why I was a bit underwhelmed was because I was like, well, I’ve thought this before. I’ve come to this conclusion before. And it was valuable and so forth. Yeah, I think wherever I go, there I am. And now what, you know, and so that’s where I was left after that experience. But there are other things that are less dramatic or personal that I do find a value, because for me I’m very much more and more it’s like there’s a lot, you know, there’s what you know, you don’t know and then there’s what you don’t know that you don’t know. And there’s something that’s sort of attractive to me in these processes of like, yes, seeing things a little differently, especially since adulthood really has a way of sapping imagination. So just being reintroduced to imagination and to hearing things differently, seeing things differently, being present, there were certainly moments of that time where I felt like this is accelerated meditation in a way, because it’s really an inhospitable state to like look at your phone, right? Which I kind of love. [00:35:26][95.6]

Dominique: [00:35:27] Yeah. They say you may not get the trip that you want, but you’ll always get the trip that you need, right? And sometimes no experience or an underwhelming experience is the experience. And it’s about what you make of that and what you do with that and understanding that no one experience is going to be the same as the next. If you were in, I don’t know, on a couch or something like with some eyeshades and some music with a therapist, it might be much harder to escape and have control over that situation in the sense of like not being able to kind of face some of these things or have some profound insights, because sometimes when people are under the tendency to overintellectualize something or really try to control something, because that’s something that happens all the time, you know, and this stuff. Like that’s when it’s important for, you know, the therapist to jump in and say, hey, time to go back inside or like, let’s put back on the eyeshades or like trust and let go trust and let go, if you see something, walk towards it and not away from it. [00:36:22][54.7]

Devojka: [00:36:22] I think you’re right. Like the overintellectualize, I was actually quite surprised that I was doing that because I was trying to explain to Dan, I was like, it’s not like I don’t want to feel this or I want to come off as impervious. Like I would love it to be really doing to me what it’s obviously doing for you right now because it seems really fun, but interrogating literally every few seconds of experience. [00:36:47][24.6]

Dominique: [00:36:47] Maybe it didn’t feel safe, make maybe there wasn’t enough of a container there for you, you know, maybe there needed to be a different space and your brain went into protector mode. [00:36:56][8.7]

Ronan: [00:36:56] Or also like in my case, like some of it and the way I conceptualize it, and I’m by no means a psychologist or psychotherapist, but it’s like that first experience, it’s just starting to chip away at some of those walls, right? Like those emotional walls, like the things that force us to overintellectualize. I know I was totally guilty of that, I still am totally guilty of it. But I’ve gotten to a point where I can start to surrender. But it’s a process. It’s taken me like sixteen years of working with Irwin to get to probably just the starting line of this kind of stuff. But every experience I think moves you forward. You’re never the same, even if it doesn’t feel profound, like every time like there’s a little bit of emotion. Dan, there was something I think you wanted to bring up from before. I don’t know if it’s still top of mind. [00:37:37][41.0]

Dan: [00:37:38] Yeah, it was a revelation or I would say maybe ordering of information that was already there in my mind when I did mushrooms a few days ago, I was really focused on going on the podcast and talking about the experience. And I started thinking a lot about what my real thoughts about this resurgence of psychedelic therapy is. And, you know, as somebody who is personally therapeutically used it and had, you know, pretty good benefits in my life and what I landed on was I feel like for this movement to be successful, it needs and this is kind of difficult and I promise it ends on a happy note, but it needs to be contextualized historically. I mean, this is my opinion, this is my feeling about it and how I went into the trip that I had, and what I mean by historical context is that you know, since the 1950s, since Hoffman’s discovery, there has been every single decade a movement to change human consciousness with psychedelics, and unfortunately, the way these things got introduced to the public was through a massive covert intelligence operation run by the American government for almost 40 years that touched thousands of people’s lives in an extremely negative way. Then the 1960s movement, which was public, where you had people like Timothy Leary coming into this orbit of the MKUltra Program and bringing things into universities and sharing them with students, with faculty members until it explodes in popular consciousness. And you had this hippie movement that said we are going to do psychedelics, we’re going to change ourselves, and we’re going to not only change ourselves, we’re going to melt down reality and change the political structure of the country that we live in for the better. And it didn’t work. And then you have the New Age movement in the 1970s, which was basically we can’t change the political structure, what we need to do is focus on ourselves. If we change ourselves, then we will be good enough to go out and change the political structure. That didn’t work either. The rave culture of the 1990s, which had a similar experience with ecstasy, which I was a little too young for it, but I was part of the tail end of it. The idea that this communal experience would sort of push the political needle one way or the other, that didn’t work either. So what I’m hopeful for with this resurgence, is that like Niqua, you were talking earlier about the communal experience, if we can kind of apply this stuff that we’ve all had experience with that we all know affects us in a sort of profoundly contemplative way and then externalize it to our immediate community our neighbors, people we work with, people we might be in a political organization with, then it is, I think, possible to push the needle on some things that aren’t just personal. [00:40:52][193.4]

Dominique: [00:40:52] What I always ask people is like if they talk about an epic trip or an epic journey, I say, you know, do you feel like a better person because of this? Like, do you feel that this experience that you had is changed the world at all? Like, do you feel like that you are going out and behaving in a different way, thus that like the world is a better place because of this journey, this epic journey? You know, it’s interesting the conversations that result from that. There’s also a danger in psychedelics movements, for some people, I guess, ego death, but on the other hand, ego amplification and spiritual bypassing. And like we have to think about all of the shadow and the light, the dark and the bright. You know, in this work. [00:41:31][38.4]

Dan: [00:41:32] I just finished reading an incredible book by Stephen Kinzer called Poisoner in Chief, which came out last year, it’s an exhaustive history of the life of Sidney Gottlieb, who started the MKUltra Program. When I was finished the book, it’s very hard to reconcile the public actions of this man who is a monster in almost every way, and his private life, which was filled with studying folk dancing, doing psilocybin on a medicinal spiritual level, deep meditation and contemplation. You know, it was very hard to reconcile those two Gottlieb’s in my mind, and that kind of underpinned like my trip, I was like, I’m going to go into this and think about it. And that’s what I came out with. But for this to be a successful social and therapeutic movement, we have to look at all these other times we’ve tried this and and look at how they failed and why they failed. Then learn how to fail better bypass that. [00:42:39][67.0]

Ronan: [00:42:39] It’s interesting, I mean, I found that very profound because when people talk about this, the way it comes up was how do we not recreate Timothy Leary? Like, very much oversimplifies the reflection that’s involved, which is you’re right, like this has been attempted throughout truthfully history. But there’s a very good narrative that we can look back at from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s to today. And people who don’t study history are doomed to make the same mistakes. On that note, we always ask this question. I’m going to frame it a little bit differently. What do you think the best way to not make the mistakes of the past are or who needs to see the light most intensely? [00:43:19][40.5]

Devojka: [00:43:20] Well, I mean, like Dan was saying, Sidney Gottlieb, he was doing all of that and it really didn’t impact his bottom line. So that’s the tricky part. I feel like historically it swings too far from focus on the individual to overly focused on the community and integrating those two things. You know, I often say if everyone could take responsibility for their feelings while also understand that how they act impacts other people, I think we’d all get along a little better. But that’s very hard to do. So I know we put it in the water. Everyone does it. [00:43:57][36.3]

Dominique: [00:43:57] Unless we had massive integration like blimps from the sky, like afterwards, like I would be very afraid of just like straight psychedelics into the water stream. [00:44:06][8.6]

Devojka: [00:44:06] Well, then I’m back to the drawing board. I really don’t have an answer. [00:44:09][2.7]

Dan: [00:44:09] I think I’ve got an answer, it’s a two-parter. But I think in a perfect scenario, I think it would be a group of friends and neighbors and people from the neighborhood that I maybe don’t even necessarily know. I would pick an arbitrary range and just say everybody’s getting together and we’re going to get to know each other. It’s very hard right now, especially during the pandemic, to feel any kind of physical community with not necessarily your peer group, but the people that you live around, you live above, below or whatever, and that sort of like acid communism, I think that that would be an interesting experiment. And I would like to see what happened. The other thing would be bandmates, if I was, you know, in a deep conflict with people I’ve been in a relationship, a working relationship for a long time. Perhaps some group psychedelic therapy would help. [00:45:02][52.9]

Ronan: [00:45:02] That’s a great answer. And I think acid communism is a great name for a future album. [00:45:06][3.7]

Devojka: [00:45:07] Yeah. That’s really acting locally, but thinking globally. That’s really good Dan, I love that. [00:45:13][6.5]

Dan: [00:45:14] Thank you so much for your time. I found this conversation delightful. It’s been a thoughtful, informative, I’ve taken a bunch of stuff away from it and Dev you made my job a hell of a lot easier. I always go into these conversations super nervous about how it’s going to take off. Both of you made it really easy. So thank you. It’s, it’s been great. [00:45:30][16.5]

Devojka: [00:45:31] Thank you for having us. [00:45:32][0.9]

Dan: [00:45:33] Thanks for having us. [00:45:33][0.7]

Ronan: [00:45:38] There were three key things that I took away from the conversation with Dan, Dev and Dom, first, as Tom Robbins says, we’re making it up the world, the universe, life, reality, especially reality. This is a theme that Dan and Dev touched on quite a bit. And accepting this truth has been one of the most freeing experiences of my life. One of the most powerful feelings that psychedelics offer is a sense of interconnectedness. They help remind me that we’re all part of one living system, which really means we’re never actually alone. We are always part of something and that we’re all responsible for our contributions within that system. Finally, whenever I feel that the pandemic is really getting to me, this conversation with Dan and Dev was a good reminder that everyone is being affected by it from average Joes all the way to incredibly successful musicians. The pandemic has erased the line between home life and a structured external working environment. And it’s OK if that’s been hard or easy or sometimes hard or sometimes easy and never certain, you’re not alone. But on the upside, you probably have a lot more chances to wear track pants every day. [00:46:51][73.2]

Ronan: [00:47:01] Thank you for listening to Field Tripping, a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I’m your host, Ronan Levy. Until next time, stay curious. Breathe properly. And remember, every day is a field trip if you let it be one. Field Tripping is created by Ronan Levy and produced by Conrad Page. Our researcher is Sharon Bella. Special thanks to Quill. And of course, many thanks to ‘Operators’ Dan and Dev for joining me today. Please, please, please check out their latest album, Radiant Dawn. It’s a masterful, inspirational and touching sonic experience. Plus, many thanks to Field Trip Health’s Chief Psychologist Dr. Dominique Morisano for joining us today and bringing Dan and Dev to the conversation. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast and sign up for our newsletter at fieldtripping.fm. [00:47:01][0.0]