On Thursday, November 16th, Project Immersed aired another deep dive discussion on the power of Sound, Psychedelics + Altered States of Consciousness. The panel was hosted by Tyler Cymone and featured two phenomenal guests including Zeus Tipado and Michael Sutherland. The three of them spent an hour exploring the role of sound in the psychedelic experience. Unlike previous episodes of Sound + Psychedelics, this one focused on music creators and psychedelics. Each panelist brought a unique scientific perspective to the conversation that made for a diverse and robust discussion that is sure to provide great value to the music and psychedelic community.
Role of Sound + Psychedelics
The dialogue began with a simple question, "what is the role and importance of sound and music in the psychedelic experience?" Both panelists contributed a unique perspective in response, however, the general consensus was that music and psychedelics go hand in hand. This has been the case from the beginning of time when these substances were used ceremonially by indigenous cultures. These experiences were (and still are) almost always accompanied by some sort of music or song, and there is science to support the reasoning for this.
One does not have to be a scientist to feel the power of music. Music is a healing force and its power can be felt by all who choose to listen. This power is amplified when coupled with the power of psychedelics. Both music and psychedelics contain such power due to the ways in which they influence the human brain. In Michael's response to the opening question, he begins to explore the neuroscience of sound and psychedelics...
Audio / Visual Experience of Psychedelics
There's a lot to be explored when it comes to the audio and visual experience of psychedelics. Zeus explains that the current standard for psychedelic therapy consists of a blindfolded person wearing headphones. The auditory information influences the person's experience. Zeus explores the idea of conducting psychedelic therapy in a way that allows our vision to influence our auditory experience, potentially even giving us an auditory trip. He also poses the idea that our human brain can perceive sensory perception without actual sensory perception, something that he thinks could and should be further explored in these spaces. Hear his full idea below...
Michael doubles down on Zeus' position by sharing a personal experience. Michael spent time working with float tanks and even worked to create music for float experiences. He shares a story of a time where he went to float in silence and his brain began to generate music. He relates this to the neuroscience of musical improvisation and goes on to explain how this works. Hear his full contribution below...
Artists Making Music With Psychedelics
This conversation was unique from previous dialogues on psychedelics due to its focus on music creators making music with psychedelics. Zeus shares that psychedelics have been proven to increase divergent thinking and decrease convergent thinking. He goes on to state that if we accept divergent thinking as a fundamental aspect of creativity, we can deduce that psychedelics are a means for increasing creativity.
It is important to note that divergent thinking is not always positive. Thus there is a bit of risk involved. It is also important to note that while psychedelics can be used as a tool to promote divergent thinking and thus creativity, they cannot grant you any creative ability that is not already instilled within you.
"[Psychedelics] can only amplify what is already inside of you"
Michael piggy-backed off of this topic to share his experience creating with psychedelics as well as creating music for psychedelic therapy. He is the mastermind behind Music & The Mystical Experience - a 6-hour work for psilocybin therapies which aligns with the psilocybin experience, is filled with traits which support mystical-type experiences and increases positive therapeutic outcomes in therapy. From his experience, he graciously created a toolkit for our community that is intended to support artists who want to create music for psychedelic therapy. Check it out here.
"Psychedelics are a catalyst for creativity" - Michael Sutherland
This was a very special dialogue with a wealth of information for artists, music creators of all kinds, and psychedelic enthusiats. If you have any interest in making music for psychedelic experiences or therapy, we highly suggest tuning in to this discussion and checking out the work of the panelists. We leave you with a playlist to keep the psychedelic vibes going and inspire your divergent thinking. Enjoy!
About the panelists
Michael Sutherland - Panelist
Michael Sutherland is a musician, producer, and recording engineer with a Commercial Music Degree (with Honors) from Massey University NZ and a certificate from MAINZ both of which focused on songwriting, composition techniques, recording, and music production. Michael is also a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and loop-pedal artist who specializes in ambient sound journeys.
Michael has a wealth of experience mentoring, recording, and producing projects from various genres mostly in the Wellington Region. He has been involved in hundreds of records ranging from solo pop artists to rock bands and also engineering larger jazz & orchestral ensembles. Michael learnt the art of engineering and recording by working alongside some of the best in New Zealand's music and film industry, and has a talent for blending the hands-on practice of the golden era of recording with the mind-bending possibilities of modern audio production.
In 2019 Michael completed his first global project developing a full suite of music for Float Tanks for Dreampod LTD which was the first professionally recorded music for sensory deprivation and is now used in 70+ centres around the globe. This included a year of research development, recording and developing music for listening with ears submerged underwater in the Float Tank environment.
In 2023 Michael led another large-scale project “Music & the Mystical Experience” which was recorded for his postgraduate studies at Massey University in New Zealand, with 28 musicians at Massey's Flagship recording studio. This was based on years of research into the neuroscience of music, psychedelics, and of course recording/engineering. This created a 6-hour work for psilocybin therapies which aligns with the psilocybin experience, is filled with traits which support mystical-type experiences and increases positive therapeutic outcomes in therapy. This has been released a few months ago and is already being used in centres across the world.
Michael is continuing to develop & compose music for Psilocybin Therapies based on the research pertaining to music and mystical-type experiences, collaborating with clinical trials to create music that heals communities, brings incredible artists together and teaches us more about musics’ incredible role in these breakthrough therapies and consciousness in general.
Zeus Tipado - Panelist
Zeus Tipado is a Neuropsychopharmacology PhD candidate at Maastricht University focusing on researching the brain while under DMT inside virtual/extended reality. He’s using fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) to give humanity its first glimpse on brain energy distribution
and perceptual alterations in the visual cortex during this unique psychedelic process.
Unlike the current trend of psychedelic research that investigates how psychedelics can be used to help maladaptive behaviors like depression and anxiety, Zeus is focusing on the perceptual experience of a psychedelic trip and analyzing human brain activity while in these altered states of subjective consciousness.
Zeus is incorporating extended reality technology from Subpac and HTC to modulate perceptual information received within a psychedelic trip and explore the corresponding brain activity through cerebral blood oxygenation levels.
He is also the host of Snoop Dogg’s Super High Score show, and the creator of Stonedgamer. His work has appeared in Doubleblind Magazine, High Times Magazine, Psychedelics Today, Healing Maps, and Psychedelic Support.
Tyler Cymone - Moderator
Tyler Cymone is a creative of many sorts. By day she works as a content developer, digital strategist, web designer, and social media optimizer for brands (Pensado's Place | SUBPAC | Health & Bass) and individuals seeking to enhance their digital online presence.
She is also a writer and contributes weekly to the collection of findings on the Health & Bass platform; a blog devoted to highlighting how sound can optimally impact our health and well-being.
By night she is an artist and creator, making music with intention and using sound to promote wellness. She is the voice and channel behind TILLA, a Producer, Songwriter, and DJ.
Tyler is also the leader of transformational ritual experiences and immersive healing ceremonies utilizing the power of sound, sacred plant medicines, and the natural elements.
Last but not least, she is the founder of a spiritual wellness brand called Energy Infusions combining spirit, science, sound, ritual, and wellness with unique products and services.
In all of her endeavors, Tyler is committed to spreading love in this world. Her mission is to combine the ancient knowledge of our ancestors with the capabilities of modern technologies to bring about a better world for all.
Did you enjoy the dialogue? Let us know @healthandbass :)