LSDREAM On His New Incarnation & “Shadow Self”: Interview
After building a huge following (not to mention pioneering the whole twonk movement), the artist formerly known as Brillz had an epiphany. He wanted to make music that was more closely aligned with his spiritual journey and decided to relaunch as LSDREAM. While the sound couldn’t be more different, the projects are similarly mind-bending, expansive and evocative. Take “Shadow Self,” the just-released lead single from the producer’s upcoming album. The haunting banger was inspired by Carl Jung and the path to self-healing.
I recently had a chance to chat with LSDREAM about his musical rebirth. He opened up about the creation of “Shadow Self” and the direction of his new album, which he describes as heavier and more immersive. It includes instrumentals, spoken-word content and even an electronic anthem with buddhist chanting courtesy of his wife, singer/songwriter Sarah Hudson. Amazingly, the LA-based artist has already started thinking about the concept of his next album, which will arrive in 2020. Find out more about LSDREAM in our Q&A below.
Brillz is such a well-established brand. Why start a side-project now?
It’s really simple. I’m an artist, and I’m here on this planet to express the things that need to come out. I’m very proud of everything I accomplished with Brillz. It was an established brand and I put a lot of work into it. But I hit a point in my life where I had an epiphany. I felt like a bigger purpose came into focus and the way that needed to be expressed was with this new project. I needed to write about the things that move me and are more in line with my spiritual being.
Out of respect for the Brillz universe, the Twonk universe, I didn’t want to start something completely new under that name. It was more exciting for me to just start a new chapter and tell new stories, be able to experiment with new sounds. I think change is healthy and it’s inspiring and exciting. So it was just an intuitive feeling like, “All right, I got to do this now.”
How did you come up with the name?
I settled on the name when I was thinking back on my lifelong influences. Not just on music, but in my spirituality. I think that growing up having psychedelic experiences, it really was the beginning of a journey into understanding that there’s so much more than physical reality. There is this connectedness of all things and there is this cosmic mystery behind our everyday lives. Obviously, that was also paired with just psychedelic music, visionary poets that I related to in that way.
And then there’s the fact that I was a raver growing up. I love rave culture and everything that entails. I knew I definitely wanted to do something that reflected those passions. I also have a passion for science. So I thought LSD was a cool idea to play around with because it’s a scientifically composed chemical compound that’s made in a lab but the result can be very spiritual. I really relate to that idea. I ended up with LSDREAM as this magical journey into futurism and spirit and rave culture and psychedelic art.
This project is so different. Were you worried how fans would react?
If I was worried, it was just an old pattern of fear. But ultimately, my true self isn’t worried because I feel like I’m on the path that I need to be on. I need to risk losing people. I need to risk the idea that it’s going to hurt me in any way to follow my passion. Whoever is meant to be with me is going to be with me. There is a shit load of amazing music being made, so if I’m not giving fans what they want from this project, there’s a ton of great music out there. That’s completely fine.
What has the response been like?
The response has been really great. It has been really inspiring, from my peers in the production world to music fans. I get really passionate messages. I’m building a connection with my audience. They are going through the same struggles as me, they think about the same things. It’s such a strong connection that it motivates me to keep following the path and making the stuff that is true to myself.
What inspired your new single, “Shadow Self”?
A lot of my process is a very intuitive. Ideas come from everywhere and I try not to overthink it as it’s happening. But when I look at that song and, I look at my life, the idea really comes from my journey of healing. I think that in order for us to heal and really know ourselves, we have to be able to face the darkest parts of ourselves. Through that comes humility and forgiveness and compassion for ourselves, because we need that for ourselves before we can have that for other people in the world.
A lot of the inspiration comes from Carl Jung when he talks about the shadow self. That’s where the title comes from. He said the only way to deal with darkness is to bring light into it. That really resonated with the things I’ve been through this year and the things I want to write about.
I feel like “Shadow Self” is one of your most accessible songs. Do you agree?
Yes, that’s why I wanted to start with this one. I want my message to reach more people and I want more people to enjoy my music. I made a decision to kick off my upcoming album with some music that is a little bit more accessible. It’s exciting for me to grow and expand. Hopefully, a lot of new people get to hear it and it brings joy and inspiration to them.
Who sings on the track?
I’m always doing writing sessions. I met a songwriter called Valerie Broussard and we came up with that vocal part. When I left the studio, I just thought, “Man, I don’t even think we need to do another session.” That’s just the vocal that we recorded as we wrote the song and it just has this innocence to it. It had this haunting quality. It was very real, not overproduced. I built the track around the vocals. I don’t think Valerie usually sings on tracks, but she was happy to do this.
I love all the crystals in the cover art and the metaphysical references. Have you been passionate about those things for a long time?
That’s what led to LSDream being the focus of my life in general. Really my connection to spirit and the spiritual work that I do in my everyday life is really first thing in my life, and then Sarah [his wife] and my family and my dogs come after that. And then my work comes after that. I always want to evolve my craft and understand where inspiration comes from. Why do I get goosebumps over shit? I don’t subscribe to religion, but there is something going on here that is very magical and very mysterious and very non-tangible.
Whether you call it God or spirit or in recovery it’s the higher power. These are all things that, throughout my whole life, I’ve been reading about and interested in. I was born in Israel and grew up in a very Jewish household, but even as a young kid, I was very rebellious against a lot of those ideas because it didn’t make sense. There’s a lot of contradiction there. The reason I make music is healing. I have feelings that need to go somewhere and I’m confused about the world and religion and spirit and all these things.
So those two journeys, throughout my life, going side by side eventually just became the same thing. I realized that in creating my art, as I’m traveling towards spirit, I’m getting inspiration to create. I was like, “Okay, this needs to be my new project.” So it’s definitely huge for me. I think without a spiritual connection and without self-love and the spiritual aspect of compassion and forgiveness and gratitude, I think I would just be a drug addict living on someone’s couch.
You mentioned an album. How far along are you?
It’s already made. I’m just putting the final tweaks on it, but it’s done. It has 11 tracks. It’s going to come out in spring, 2019 This is the first song that I’m putting out off of it.
Is the album more vocal-driven or instrumental?
There are some similarities to Voyager. There is a little bit of spoken word content, but it’s heavier than Voyager. It’s a really nice mix for me of some real heavy stuff that you can jump around to and then some slower, trippy instrumental stuff. But I think “Shadow Self” is the most accessible. Oh, there’s also a song with Sarah singing a buddhist chant. It’s cool and probably one of the more niche tracks that only a small group of people will really resonate with, but I still think it’s a pretty dope song to include in the journey.
The message of the album is, “Let’s go on a journey, let’s take this trip.” Pun intended or unintended depending on what your vibe is. But let’s go on a journey, take a tour of the solar system. Each planet has its own vibe, its own color, but they’re all related. I think as I make more albums, I’ll get better at doing that in a more cohesive way. Everyone is going to have their own favorite song on it.
Is this the beginning of a longer journey with LSDream?
Yeah, I have another album concept in mind already. I’m probably going to start working on it as soon as this one comes out. I make all my own visual content, I make all my own music videos, I make my live show visuals. So when I’m done with the music, then I jump into that work. After this album comes out, I’ll spend some time writing and creating this next record and release it in 2020. I imagine there will be one or two after that as well, but I definitely feel like I have at least five albums in me.
Good luck with everything!