Robert Rich interview

One of my favourite contemporary artists, Robert Rich:
MB: Already as a young person, you had the idea of creating an equivalent to shamanism, that would make sense in our modern society, by the means of sound, or music. Did your interest in shamanism precede, or rather grow along with, your interest in music? Was there any special impulse that triggered, or any influence that nourished your interest in matters like spirituality, or psychology? Or did it evolve over time? Did you, at any point in your life, follow any special spiritual path?
RR: All of these interests grew together since the beginning. I would journey in my mind, using sound as a key to unlock imagination. Also I was very drawn to the earth — to the power of nature to give us a sense of place. I was always seeking meaning in my actions, trying to fix something unknown about the world that felt broken. I did have – perhaps typical? – adolescent crises of spirit, asking myself how I best could make myself useful. I realized that I had a skill in journeying in the mind, but how to use that? Art seemed like the best way. I saw the way a rock concert could bring people together, but in a more Dionysian way. I was more introverted, more attracted to quiet stimuli. So I looked at ethnomusicology writings, and sacred music from all traditions, trying to understand how it worked, how it transformed people. The question became: How to create a shamanic journey without the trappings of appropriated cultural languages, but rather with our own relevant language? How to create a 21st century shamanism that allowed room for a more scientific critical mind, rather than trying to obscure things in magical language? I saw Psychology as a middle path, which could help us to understand the power of the mind without resorting to obscurantism. Especially the questions in State Psychology, such as the work of Charles Tart, and the work I got involved in with Stephen La Berge, studying Lucid Dreaming. I was already doing sleep concerts by then – all these questions grew together.
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