Sonic Shamanism: An Interview with Ebbot Lundberg
Ebbot Lundberg, front man for Sweden's The Soundtrack of Our Lives, is a true storyteller, a modern sonic shaman exploring the innermost depths of the human soul and condition, and the very same fabric that makes up the omniverse.
Although The Soundtrack Of Our Lives is entering a new sun of their own, Throw It To The Universe is the band's final LP. They were just on their farewell tour before departing at the close of 2012. Ebbot's sonic manifestations continues on with his solo release of There's Only One Of Us Here, a sonic shamanic journey pitched to the Universal Harmonic (432Hz). Throughout their last tour, Ebbot and I corresponded about the cosmic roots of TSOOL, Ebbot's unique gaze on the effects of music on consciousness, the entheogenic experience, the power of sound to shift consciousness, and our ability to awaken to a higher plane of being.
Chris Kaplan: Throughout your lyrics, your musical compositions, and even in the name of the band itself, there's this sense of "the Witness," that the band is a barometer of this one time and place along this expansive sea of the cosmos. Each song, each record, is a guide stone--a sonic archeological record--for generations to come that says, "Hey, it's alright. We've all been here before, and life will continue on." Do you feel that's the transcendental power of music, art, and story? To offer a hand by sharing your own experience?
Ebbot Lundberg: Correct. That has always been the purpose.
CK: How do you feel the accessibility of technology has changed the arts, specifically music in particular?
EL: It is rapidly coming together in this transition period. Commercially, it has been a backlash for the record stores and companies. However, that is a part of the whole collapse that we now are experiencing. The good thing is that music and art will find its way out before anything else. In fact, it's already there, in a way.
CK: I'm reminded of the lyrics in "Thrill Me" on your last album Communion: I was 1010 when I heard this song/Now I'm 2012 and it's the same old one. It seems that you're speaking of the cyclical nature of time and life, and history repeating itself. But there's also a call to arms to Thrill me now/Just show me what you've got that paints a portrait that people need to wake up, become conscious of their lives, their world, and the illusions we fall into. Halfway through 2012, there arose a myriad of beliefs, "desiccated scientific facts," and speculation from across the board about what this milestone means for humanity, and the earth as a whole. What have been your thoughts on 2012, and where we are on this cosmic journey? Do you feel that people are "awakening" to another level of being, and reclaiming personal power?
EL: Hopefully that is what's happening. I'm grateful for receiving real questions and insights for the first time in my career as an artist. I am thrilled, so to speak. Thank you.
CK: That makes me both happy and saddened to hear! I feel you deserve the thanks for taking the time to do this, and your commitment to sharing your energy and wisdom in your music. You are very welcome--it is my pleasure! One thing that I always admired about you and your band's music is how you accomplish this unified spectrum of light and shadow, a shamanic accumulation of the pain of life's growing lessons, and the beauty that is inherent in all. Can you speak of your own journey into life's shamanic depths, and how you manage to keep one foot in both realms? How do you feel music and art can aid in the process?
EL: That is the meaning of making music. Like any other being experiencing ascension, my own experience and journey had to go certain ways to find out or remember.
CK: Many people forget that and get bogged down in their own shadowy depths, especially during this time when we're faced with such collective growing pains. However, it requires a bit of a limber body to just go with life's flow, and to trust that you are where you need to be. How do you personally keep your head held high during life's more Scorpionic moments? Any tips for the rest of us celestial passengers?
EL: Forgiving the self and others is the only tip I've got. To tell you the truth, it feels like I've been struggling with the Scorpionic moments for eons. Curiosity and desire are the obvious driving forces for where I need to be at the moment.
CK: In Communion, there's a track titled, "Pineal Gland Hotel." Are you familiar with Dr. Rick Strassman's groundbreaking research in the U.S. on dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the "spirit molecule" that is produced endogenously in the human body through the pineal gland? What, if any, are your encounters with psychedelics? How do you feel they can be used as tools for personal transformation?
EL: I am familiar with Dr. Strassman's work, and I believe everything is within. I believe we share the omniversal information through brief levels in our holographic interplay as beings.
CK: Do you feel it’s possible to consciously tap into that “holographic interplay,” that Event Horizon point where all light is captured, since everything is within? Do you feel that's the meaning of the ancient mystery schools: to teach how to tap into the inner cosmos as a means to access the cosmic sea? Many feel that psychedelics--that working with hallucinogens in a shamanic context--are a way to do that. However, the ancients and our ancestors have left us many methods to enter that ecstatic trance state where the doors of the omniverse are pried open. What's your preferred method, if I can make a crude attempt at simplifying it? Do you have a certain meditation practice? What's your personal cosmology in that department?
EL: I am trying to find out. So far, the experiences are mostly on stage, or during recording sessions. To be honest, my meditation period is ahead of me. I'm looking forward to it.
CK: Throw it to the Universe, released in the US in June, marks your band's seventh LP. I must say, it was a thoroughly enjoyable musical treat, and it spoke to me as a perfect example of the power of music on consciousness, and music/sound as a fundamental vibratory force of life. This is an age-old notion, called many different things throughout the world, of the "Word of God" sparking life and reality into existence. What are your views on the power of sound and music to transform people and create our world?
EL: We are music. The power of will and sound is the greatest. Everything we do or struggle for is to try to stay in tune. Or not.
CK: How important to you is sound healing? Some believe that there's a particular frequency for every ailment. They believe in every possibility imaginable, that one can tune their body and intone certain vibratory patterns to realign their bodies as well as accomplish amazing feats like the fabled construction of the pyramids. What's your interpretation on that?
EL: I know there is a lot more to learn about sound and that there will be a recognition of what has been lost on the way from the ancient past. It will generate itself. That is the meaning of generations. That we are reborn to generate vibrant patterns to experience existence. What's the matter? The matter is us trying to figure out. And we all invented it.
CK: Do you think that the buzzing heard on the onset of altered states of consciousness is the pineal gland vibrating, or tuning to a “higher” plane?
EL: It could be both ways as we are struggling with dual forces. But I i believe that's the feedback from God through a flanger pedal into the pine cone-shaped microphone we are equipped with. And obviously a lot of microphones in this world need to be repaired.
CK: I'm happy to say that I feel every discipline is starting to realizes this thanks for the strides of physicists to rephrase the same old story in a different language that our current frame of mind can handle. We're starting to look at ancient structures in exactly that light, finding that the pyramids from around the world are beaming a frequency of 27Hz as well as the Rosslyn Chapel. Similarly, with archeo-acoustics, researchers have been studying the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum on the island of Malta, and found that an atmosphere of resonant sound in the frequency of 110 or 111Hz would have been “switching on an area of the brain that bio-behavioral scientists believe relates to mood, empathy, and social behavior.” Now that these ancient purposes for these sites have become to resurface in our collective memory, wouldn't it be cool to hold a concert there to fully explore the depths of these states, how far of a stretch do you think that would be to accomplish?
EL: I would certainly do a concert for that purpose.
CK: Over the years we've been returning to the knowledge of the ancients, and this includes healing where the body is considered a bio-electrical system that can be literally tuned for optimal well-being, have you any experience with sound in this modality? Also, cultures around the world have used sound to enter what is called the theta state of consciousness [4-8Hz], a shamanic/altered state of consciousness that allows for conscious navigation of these unseen realms. As a musician, have you ever experimented with this technique, and what is your interpretation of the trance and flow states that music can bring you to?
EL: We're on a final tour in Scandinavia/Europe and it has been the reason why I did not get back to you earlier. But the fact is that now I've just released an album--as I'm writing this--that is recorded in 432Hz called There´s Only One of Us Here.
Most instruments has have been tuned to 440Hz since the Nazis in the 1930s--led by Joseph Goebbels--started to use higher frequencies to create more aggressive behavior for the German troops. It has subconsciously been one of the distortions in the so-called western culture since then, because most record machines and popular music are pitched to 440 Hz. And probably that's one of the reasons behind diagnoses like ADHD.
The reason for making this album in 432Hz was that it obviously vibrates on the principals of natural harmonics and unifies the properties of light, time, space, matter, gravity and magnetism with biology, the DNA code and consciousness. 432Hz natural tuning has profound effects on consciousness and also on the cellular level of our bodies. So I am, from now on, recording in 432Hz, which nowadays is the new true "punk" frequency in order to restore a fucked-up world out of bounce. It might be very possible that we will do an alternative re-release of all the TSOOL albums in that frequency too!
CK: I did not know that was such a recent shift, from 440Hz to 432Hz, amazing! For the readers who may not be aware, 432Hz is considered the Universal Harmonic, a frequency that the human body and voice naturally tunes to, so what you're saying makes a lot of sense that this subtle switch can have very drastic effects on consciousness. Evolver, which is the company that publishes Reality Sandwich, has also launched a book line with North Atlantic called Evolver Editions this past year. One of the books that we've published is called the Venus Blueprint by musicologist Richard Merrick, which is an account on the ancient design of sacred structures following the Venus transits, which also create the stagger acoustical properties in these structures. He found that these structures mentioned previously are designed for 432Hz attunement which I found to be a beautiful representation of the holographic reflections of the cosmos and life in its entirety, which also is cause for reason that there would be more synchronicities and parallels regarding that number, and it turns out that 432 can relate to the Yuga cycles--Kali-Yuga = 432,000; Dvapara-Yuga = 432,000 x 2; Treta-Yuga = 432,000 x 3; Satya-Yuga = 432,000 x 4--so maybe there's something more you can play with there for your next album.
There has always been an intimate relationship between performers and the audience, an energetic give-and-take that feeds off of each other. What are your views on that relationship? Being the performer on stage puts you in a unique role to see first-hand the power of a collective, unified consciousness, can you describe the awesome force that must be? We see it everywhere, as people are holding mass protests against the dying paradigm, and we have seen both testaments of the positive change that unification can bring, but also the dangers of manipulation for darker deeds. How do you feel music can be a guiding force for a more positive collective experience?
EL: It depends on who is making the music and the whole idea behind it. Like begets like. To be the echo of a narcissistic purpose, or to walk on water as a narciss creating beautiful flowers. For me personally it's been a combination of these two paths. First, in service of self to serve others, and then the other way around. To find out that there is indeed only "one" of us here.
CK: In the song "Faster than the Speed of Light," you and Ian Person write that The past is always present/And the future was right now! and even the album title "Throw it to the Universe," suggests to me that we are a part of this unified continuum, where we can both seize our future by creating the reality we want by throwing it to the universe. Continuing in this metaphysical direction, what are your views on the relationship between the reality we perceive--and desire--with the one we receive? What do you feel is the importance of having a worldview larger than oneself, especially in this fast shrinking globe?
EL: I am under supervision of my higher self in struggle to make this experience as interesting as possible, and to share that experience wherever it leads. We are all born to bounce back to where we came from, sooner or later, in the reality of cause-and-effect. But when the shit--in this shrinking globe--finally hits the fan, the importance is always to focus on the cause, not the effect. And to try again.
CK: To not be afraid to fall, to pick yourself back up and learn from your mistakes?
EL: Exactly, and to understand your mistakes, I must add.
CK: Last, but not least, there's a delightful track on the new record called "Busy Land," where In a forest so dark/Lives a little white dwarf/With his digital hands in a busy land, who "used to trip with his wife," I must ask, were either you or Björn inspired by the so-called mischievous "machine elves" often encountered with DMT and psilocybin mushroom experiences?
EL: This was first written in 1995 when the band started and the Internet exploded as a new medium. I could not find out what the song was really about until Steve Jobs died, and then he became this little white dwarf in the dimension he obviously wanted to be in, as a star, and where he now is--all because of having the psychedelic experiences he had in his youth. He fulfilled his Piscean purpose of this age "with a little help from his friend" Mr. Gates, who paid the bills to make it happen. The wood stands partly for both being wood goats in Chinese astrology. It's a lot of fun to write silly lyrics sometimes, and to throw apples into space.
CK: That's truly beautiful. How important do you think it is to have psychedelic experiences at a early age? I guess, like everything, it all depends on the context, but do you think that the world at large is looking at psychedelics in a more mature light, as a tool for profound change?
EL: It has to to do with the personality. It certainly helped me as a child of Neptune. And it revived me from a losing streak, though I only did it perhaps five times. I think in general there is a more open-minded relation to psychedelic experiences, since all the acid tests started. Reality is not what it used to be, because there is a distortion field, revealing itself as we are entering a certain sphere. We are, I believe, slowly returning to base.
CK: Thank you for time, and for all of your hard work. We hope to see you in the States soon, are there tour dates on the horizon?
EL: I surely hope so. We will split up as a band by the end of this year, so I guess it may be a bit difficult to arrange, unfortunately. Right now, we don't have a management or booking agency in the states, so the gates are open for any idea. Hope you have all the answers you wished for!
CK: Ebbot, thank you so very much, I truly wish you the best and hope that you continue to make music and enlighten us with your sonic musings!
EL: I will as long as I can... thank you.
Image by MandyHallMedia, courtesy of Creative Commons license.