The Spiritual Process of Creating Psychedelic Music with Producer Random Rab – HPP 108
Creating art is for music producer Random Rab a spiritual experience, and this is obvious in the art he creates. Rab’s prodigious output of compositions over decades has gained him invitations to play at some of the world’s biggest festivals and venues, and his warmth and connection to his audience is legendary.
In psychedelic assisted psychotherapy, the right music is a key element of the healing. In today’s episode, we’re delighted to have music producer, Random Rab, whose music has been used by therapists in their sessions to help soothe the mind as well as promote healing.
How Music Plays an Important Role – 02:52
Like I said, it has kind of become slowly or it has become for me, like slowly integrated into my psyche and into my soul and into my skin and everything of who I am at this point. So yeah, it’s a slight obsession but I guess that’s like, the key is to do what you love. So I’m happy to be doing it.
How Music is Transformative – 06:18
So it’s all these little nuanced emotions that are all interconnected. So the way that I feel like when I’m working with music is like accessing emotions that I want to feel I want to feel good, I want to feel feelings that really lift me up or make me think about something in a certain way, or basically bring me to a place emotionally that feels like I’m here in the now and experiencing life to its fullest.
Perks of the Music Industry – 11:34
I mean, that’s sort of the biggest bonus to this whole thing is the ability to, I guess shortcut the social process of introducing yourself, meeting someone, getting to know someone, they start to trust you, you start to trust them, and then your friends, I guess. And so with a show you kind of like cut all the way to the chase.
Living in the Present – 13:41
So yes, it’s become critical for me to really be in the present moment. And that’s sort of how I live my life at this point. Riding the now like a wave because life is just we only get one shot and I want to do it right. And I want to have the best time ever. That’s sort of my goal and experience of things right now.
Experiencing Music Anew Through Psychedelics – 15:30
It wasn’t until I really took mushrooms for the first time that I had a transformational experience about experiencing music in a completely different way. It no longer was an identity thing. Whereas you know, when you’re in kids, and you’re like, Okay, this is my favorite band, it’s kind of like, that’s your identity. I’m into Rage Against the Machine or I’m into Metallica, or I’m into whatever this is who I am as a person. And that was sort of how I related to music. And I didn’t really ever understand what the power of music really was until I took mushrooms and understood that there was a much more psycho spiritual connection.
A Connection with the Crowd – 24:19
I mean, as a performer, that you’re going to have your good nights and your bad nights where sometimes it is much more internal, where I do kind of feel like I’m not connecting for whatever reason. That’s For me, personally more rare, but when it’s really happening, it’s almost like there’s like this invisible heart in the middle of the dance floor that I can like, look out and see it. And I’m not really looking at any person in particular, it’s just sort of the vibe.
Full Episode Transcript
Dr. Will Van Derveer, Keith Kurlander, Random Rab
Random Rab 00:00
It’s all these little nuanced emotions that are all interconnected. So the way that I feel when I’m working with music is like accessing emotions that I want to feel. I want to feel good. I want to feel feelings that really lift me up or make me think about something in a certain way or basically bring me to a place emotionally that feels like I’m here in the now and experiencing life to its fullest.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 00:26
Thank you for joining us for the Higher Practice Podcast. I’m Dr. Will Van Derveer, with Keith Kurlander and this is the podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health. Today, we are joined by well known music producer, DJ, Random Rab, whose journey composing, performing and recording psychedelic music began in high school and has taken him to heights in his career as big as playing Red Rocks Amphitheatre. And I’ve had the good fortune to get to know Rab as a friend over the last few years, and I can honestly say that the beauty of his music compositions is a reflection of who he is as a human being. His music over the years has been a mainstay of soundtracks for psychedelic assisted therapy, both in my own practice and the practice of lots of psychedelic assisted therapists I know. Today we explore Rab’s relationship, his spiritual relationship with music and his creative process. So I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did in exploring what it’s like for a creative to be in relationship with the music. Random Rab, welcome to the show. Great to have you.
Random Rab 01:39
Thanks for having me.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 01:40
It’s a real honor to have you here. I’ve been a fanboy for many years of your work, I remember approaching you at, I think more than one show in a kind of hysterical teenagery way saying, Hey, I use your music to help people heal with MDMA therapy and with MAPS and it’s so amazing views your music to help people get well and it’s huge what your work is doing in the world around healing and I’m just really grateful for the contributions you’re making.
Random Rab 02:07
Well, thank you. Yeah, it’s a huge honor that my music can be used in different ways that I never even really expected. So it’s always like, what an awesome thing to learn that, like, it’s out there working for me, even when I’m not. So yeah, I love hearing that.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 02:19
Yeah, it’s kind of a subject of our show today that we wanted to get into with you is this whole vortex of healing, of spirituality, and music, and the role that music can play in deepening in people’s lives, and then feeling more connected to themselves and to the universe. I am so psyched for this conversation.
Random Rab 02:39
Glad to be here.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 02:40
So I wonder if we could start with maybe a personal place of what music has meant to you in your life and your journey as a human being? And what are some of the different roles that it’s played for you?
Random Rab 02:52
Well, you know, I think we all start as fans, that’s kind of how I, as an interest in music as like a listener and, you know, like in high school and stuff, and I played in bands and whatnot. I think over the course of when you start to become a producer and really dive in deeper and deeper into it, it slowly becomes kind of an integration into who you are as a person and the music becomes kind of a way to work through different parts, your thoughts and emotions and your own brain and it becomes kind of almost like a necessary tool to help move things around and experience different emotions and share different emotions. So now it’s almost like sometimes I forget that I’m even really making music. I feel like I’m just experiencing myself at this point when I’m producing. And then I kind of zoom out and I’m like, oh, yeah, I guess I’m working on a track instead of just working on myself and working on my mind. Like I said, it has kind of become slowly or it has become for me, like slowly integrated into my psyche and into my soul and into my skin and everything of who I am at this point. So yeah, it’s a slight obsession but I guess that’s like, the key is to do what you love. So I’m happy to be doing it.
Keith Kurlander 03:59
For you, when you create different pieces is it just very, like a creative, spontaneous process and the end piece didn’t really start with a big intention or some intention of healing something specific? Is it just more a big creative kind of outpouring, and then there’s this piece that gets created from that or is it ever kind of bringing more of an intention behind certain tracks and certain things you’re trying to create in order to evoke certain experiences?
Random Rab 04:26
It’s always a mixed bag. For me, it’s sort of half science and half artistry, I guess, is the way I approach it. So a lot of what I do is really technical. It’s like figuring out how to process a certain sound to get it to sound interesting or have more bass or balance things out. And so it’s very technical. So you do end up spending a lot of time sort of in that part of your brain where you’re working with more of like mathematical understanding of what sound is and then setting yourself up for a flow state. That’s kind of how it usually works for me is I’ll get to a point where, and sort of like I was saying before, I almost forget that I’m working on music. And that’s what I know. It’s like it’s good, or it’s going to be something that I’m going to want to share as what I can get into that flow state with a piece of music and just spend hours and hours and hours and I never want to stop and I know the song was done basically, when I’m kind of tired of working on it, or I’m just getting pulled out of the flow state and start overthinking small details. So is there intention, yes, there’s always intention. But it’s really easy to kind of, if you’re using too much, I guess, intention of what you think the piece is going to be in the beginning, then that can be very limiting to where it might actually take you. It can be completely, maybe that’s where the song wants to go is something completely different than what you intended. So unless I’m doing a project that’s more of a commercial piece, or a piece that kind of has a place in like a movie or something towards very specific, I usually just completely let go of what I think the song should be, and just go where I feel like it should go. And yeah, I’m always surprised what ends up happening because it’s really hard to create the sound that you want to create, it’s more like finding things that are interesting, and then pursuing them and enhancing them. So it’s always rolling the dice. In fact, I have like a whole bunch of dice here that I keep on my desk to remind me of the chances of sort of experimentation.
Keith Kurlander 06:18
Nice, maybe share a little bit more about you said how much music has transformed you and the creation of music and I’m just curious if you can articulate that in some way to kind of explain that to people listening because you’re such a involved musician, we’ve been out to so long and out there in the world bringing this music to so many people like how do you personally, if we just talked about you first, like how is music transformed you?
Random Rab 06:45
It’s transformed me so completely, that it’s hard to even really know what I would be without it at this point. But if I could try to articulate it, the way I feel is that every sound is kind of directly connected to an emotion. And it’s a really complex sort of grid of emotions that we can feel like happy, sad, joy, sorrow, confusion, fear. And it’s really hard to directly access one particular emotion, everything’s kind of interconnected. And so it’s a very kind of a cosmic puzzle that plays out in our brain. So we can experience the sorrow of existence and still feel joy, or we can be in fear, but then still feel excitement from that. So it’s all these little nuanced emotions that are all interconnected. So the way that I feel like when I’m working with music is like accessing emotions that I want to feel I want to feel good, I want to feel feelings that really lift me up or make me think about something in a certain way, or basically bring me to a place emotionally that feels like I’m here in the now and experiencing life to its fullest. I often when I’m working, I just go with what I want to feel. And so by doing that process, it feels really good, it starts to dig in and start to process me rather, memories will come up or feelings and it gives me an opportunity to sort of work through emotions that would otherwise become stagnant or just get pushed away. Quite often I’ll be producing a track and have a total like existential crisis in the middle of working on a song and have to pace around my studio for a few minutes to work it, some feeling will come up and I wasn’t expecting and then I kind of work through that and process it. And so it’s kind of like medicine, in a way very self healing. And so it gives me personally an opportunity to get in there and make myself feel good. And so it’s become, like I said, almost like fully integrated into who I am as a person. Because without it, I start to kind of get really congested feeling emotionally and mentally, and I can’t think straight. So it’s really helped me be a happier person. And I think every artist kind of struggles sometimes with some aspect of depression or self doubt. And by working, going into the craft, and not thinking about the end results that can really be beneficial to those feelings.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 08:59
That’s really beautiful. I mean, I think as a healer or someone in the healing arts, I can relate to what you were just saying about that there’s healing and being in the process rather than focusing on the result or getting too mental or too wrapped up in Balcombe that you’re trying to get to
Random Rab 09:13
Yeah, that the outcome is really sort of secondary. It’s an exciting part of it. And it’s very awesome to be able to share it and to have a career and to do all these things. But at the end of the day, if that’s your focus, that’s kind of a trap because you’re always thinking about You’re never in the present moment with what you’re doing. And with all art, but especially with music, it exists in time. You can’t pause music and admire it, you have to experience it in the now and so to really be able to create a good piece of music you have to be extremely present. And that’s sort of the most fascinating and interesting about how playing with time basically.
Keith Kurlander 09:48
Let’s switch a little gears to playing live shows. Actually, let’s first start with what it was like to not play live shows? That’s like part of who you were, I’m assuming right? Like it was like a kind of a party or Identity like being up in these shows and the experience of that? Is that a pretty deep part of you?
Random Rab 10:05
I mean, I’ve been doing it for 20 years playing shows, like almost every weekend and pausing some breaks along the way, but nothing like when COVID hit. And yeah, it was really weird. It was really, really bizarre. I don’t want to complain about it because I know that so many people had so much more suffering than I did, where I was just like, I can’t play shows. But really, it was interesting to feel so disconnected from everyone and try to play these live streams. That was actually like the most, that was the hardest, because there’s no, by myself or just with my lady and Michelle, and just like this is so bizarre not having an audience. So yeah, it was really weird, like what’s coming back, and now people are, it’s coming back in full swing, it’s been really kind of crazy to see how people are ready to party.
Keith Kurlander 10:47
Tell us a little bit about what it’s like to play shows and like, what do you experience when you’re guiding sometimes thousands of people like up there and what’s that like for you?
Random Rab 10:56
Usually, it’s the best feeling in the whole world. There’s nothing quite like it, it’s sort of, it just feels really good. I feel it makes me feel really happy. It makes me feel like I’m sort of hanging out with every person in the entire room all at once. I’m having a conversation with every single person all at once. So it sort of cuts through some of my social awkwardness where I’m like, Okay, now I can have a conversation with a hundred or a thousand or more people all at the same time. And it’s exhilarating, because you feel like you do feel kind of like this feedback loop. And if you can make other people happy. I mean, what could feel better than that? So I love seeing people have a good time and to make people happy.
Keith Kurlander 11:34
Yeah, I’m assuming you’ve met a lot of interesting people along the way?
Random Rab 11:38
Oh, gosh, the most incredible. I mean, that’s sort of the biggest bonus to this whole thing is the ability to, I guess shortcut the social process of introducing yourself, meeting someone, getting to know someone, they start to trust you, you start to trust them, and then your friends, I guess. And so with a show you kind of cut all the way to the chase, people who come to my shows kind of have a pretty good idea of who I am as a person, or at least what I stand for, or what kind of person I am. So the people I meet at these shows are the best. And that’s just been an incredible gift in this whole process. I’ve made the most amazing friends and I feel a part of so many different communities. It’s really incredible.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 12:17
I’m wondering, as we’re coming out, as you said, arrived from the pandemic, and people are more hopefully, we’re coming out. I mean, you got this whole other Delta thing happening now. But what are you sensing in the audience that you’re playing to, at this point in time? What are you feeling out there?
Random Rab 12:31
It’s been kind of interesting, people are ready to get down and have a good time and go nuts. But then there’s also kind of an impending fear of some sort of doom around the corner, we all experienced what it was to do the lockdown the first time. And there’s sort of this hint that it might happen again. A lot of the shows that I’m I’ve already cancelled shows as well, that I’ve booked for the fall, because there are areas that are experiencing, they are just kind of freaking out about what might happen, and sort of covering their bases. So there’s a lot of anxiety in the scene right now. I guess, behind the scenes, and people are very cautious about it I mean, I just announced like a bunch of shows on the West Coast. And in Seattle, Eugene, San Francisco, and each one of those shows sort of teetering on whether it actually might happen, because we don’t know and there’s nobody I can call and ask like, is it going to happen? There’s just no way to know, I’m hoping that we can get this thing under control. But that means the shows that have been happening are really exhilarating, people are ready to jump off the walls. So it’s been pretty fun feeling like this taste of what total freedom might feel like, again.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 13:41
I wonder what your thoughts are about for me, it comes up a lot in my mind of how do we live fully knowing that there could be an impending thing that could happen, whether it’s a pandemic or whether it’s getting older, dying, whatever the thing is in front of us, like, there’s always something in front of us, right? We could get sick or whatever can happen. But can you say more about living in the present moment or living in flow? Is that how you relate to it as far as the quality of life or living a spiritually fulfilling life as being in the present moment?
Random Rab 14:13
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think that there are times where, like, just in the conversation, we’re just talking about where I can like, look at my bank statement and think, Okay, I’m taking on a bunch of expenses in my life. And now I have a show that might get canceled. And I don’t know, and I can worry, and I do sometimes get in that state of mind, like, oh, what’s gonna happen, but there’s no way to know. So what are we doing if we’re just living in fear? So yes, it’s become critical for me to really be in the present moment. And that’s sort of how I live my life at this point. Riding the now like a wave because life is just we only get one shot and I want to do it right. And I want to have the best time ever. That’s sort of my goal and experience of things right now.
Keith Kurlander 14:53
Is music a big part of your family’s existence like you guys listen to music a lot
Random Rab 14:58
we did when I was younger. My dad was always playing classical music records, a lot of records. And he was a singer. And so he walked around the house singing in his baritone voice, which I thought was amusing as a kid. But yeah, and my mom is the furthest thing from a musician, but she appreciates music. Music was a big part of my life growing up, for sure, but mostly through things like church choir, and that type of I didn’t really discover, I guess my own sound until probably like 18 or 19 years old, I discovered, oh, I could make my own music
Keith Kurlander 15:30
that happened around then when you started really getting into making music. And when did you start realizing you were like, on a path of basically making it a career and really going for it? When did that start happening?
Random Rab 15:40
I guess like in high school, I was in like a heavy metal band to this thing for like, five years. And I wanted to be at that point I just wanted, I don’t know what I just wanted to be in a band, you know, I just wanted to be like, I guess famous, you know, I was young and naive about really, I didn’t really understand it wasn’t really the music itself, it was just sort of the world around it that I was most interested in me. It wasn’t until I really took mushrooms for the first time that I had a transformational experience about experiencing music in a completely different way. It no longer was an identity thing. Whereas you know, when you’re in kids, and you’re like, Okay, this is my favorite band, it’s kind of like, that’s your identity. I’m into rage against machines or I’m into Metallica, or I’m into whatever this is who I am as a person. And that was sort of how I related to music. And I didn’t really ever understand what the power of music really was until I took mushrooms and understood that there was a much more psycho spiritual connection. And that music was a tool to kind of lubricate the senses and sort of dissolve the divisions between the different dimensions of our mind and reality itself. There’s a connection to what music is and how the flow of the universe and the planets revolve around the sun and the mathematical principles that sort of hold the universe together. And it’s all interconnected, somehow, very mysteriously, but very real. So before what was really a fascination with sort of songs and shows and bands and identity be turned into more of a real relationship between what the mystery and power of music itself was. And that’s sort of been the path I’ve been on ever since. And so whether or not Yeah, there were decisions along the way about career and quitting my job and all these different things. But it was always secondary to the passion and the love and the obsession that I had with trying to understand what the power of music and what music really is. And that’s sort of been my study and my guiding force. To this day, I still don’t really understand exactly what music is. And I feel like that’s sort of the goal with this whole thing is that I’m hoping that maybe like I’ll have a glimmer right before I die, like Oh, I get it. And
Keith Kurlander 17:51
I’m hoping that too. Yeah. Oh, that’s what this was.
Random Rab 17:57
Keith Kurlander 18:00
So how old are you?
Random Rab 18:01
Keith Kurlander 18:02
So I’m 45. So were you into like, did you get into the rave scene in like the mid 90s? Early 2000s? Were you into that whole scene with that with like, trance music and everything?
Random Rab 18:12
Not really at all actually. I did not. I had never really been to a rave. I’m not even sure if I’ve ever been to a rave yet. I think so. Maybe I played some. No, I actually didn’t really even like electronic music around until probably like ’98, ’99 I started to kind of tune into it. But for me, it was more kind of like psychedelic ambient music was sort of what drew me in at first and so I didn’t really understand trance music or anything. And I never even really understood trance until probably like a few years ago. So yeah. I was more into concerts like, like I said, like metal and those types of things. And it slowly got into ambient and started creating ambient music around the millennium is when I really started to kind of tune into electronic music, but I never really started going to electronic shows until much much later except for the ones that I was playing. So I sort of felt like I was on my own path for a really long time and sort of converged with the scene. As a producer.
Keith Kurlander 19:08
Were there any influential musicians when you started really coming into your own style that you were listening to or it was just really organic and kind of came out of nowhere for you?
Random Rab 19:20
I think in the beginning I remembered electronic music, in particular Tangerine Dream, just hearing arpeggios for the first time. Like I didn’t really.
Keith Kurlander 19:31
That’s such a blast from the past. I haven’t seen those guys in 20 years. I’m like, Oh right.
Random Rab 19:36
Yeah. And they were doing stuff that was so cutting edge and I just remember listening to them sitting in front of my speaker like what is happening. I didn’t even understand, it was such a mystery to me and just what an arpeggio is, how do you make an arpeggio? I remember I thought you just had to play it really fast. I had no concept there was like a sequencer, you know, and that sort of blew my mind because I started to get into that. But yeah, I’ve always been sort of finding influence in music that’s really unlike my own as sort of, that’s sort of what I listen to now mostly except for my friend’s music I guess. Once I’ve gotten to this point where I am with my music, I kind of have a hard time really, really listening or appreciating music that’s somewhat similar to mine, without really overthinking it. So I have to really force myself to kind of get out of that mindset in order to really appreciate it the way I used to, I guess.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 19:40
I’d like to go back for a minute, Rab, if you’re open to this pivotal psilocybin experience that you talked about? Did you say you were about 18 or 19? Or something like that?
Random Rab 20:36
I was 20, maybe 21?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 20:39
Okay. 21. Yeah. And it sounds like there was just a massive shift in your relationship with music. And it reminds me of, there’s this kind of, I tend to think of like the personality as like a middleman between the inner divinity and the ambient divinity, if you will, and was psychedelics used in the right situation in the right context, right set and setting there can be like this dissolving of the veil between the inner divinity and the outer divinity, or the not outer, but that everywhere divinity. And I just wonder about, did that become a benchmark for you, as far as like, you’ve talked about like going into flow states and creating music and then kind of noticing that you’re done working with a track when the little voices or little thoughts start coming in, and you see yourself kind of leaving a flow state and it’s like, Okay, I’m done working on that. Have psychedelics been like a way has it become like a touchstone, where you kind of know, when you’re in more of overthinking mentality with regard to something versus like being in a flow with it?
Random Rab 21:38
Yes, absolutely. I think that, like you said, I liked the way you said the ambient divinity, and the dissolving of self. Having never experienced that before. And then taking shrooms for the first time, it’s sort of a feeling for the first time, like, it wasn’t just me as a person, kind of like a ball floating around this outer world, like sort of dissolving like an ice cube into it. Like I said, as a touchstone. I think that had I never done mushrooms ever again, or any psychedelics, I would probably have been completely fine. I only really needed that one time to understand that. And to understand how through music, I can reach that same state of mind, the power that I’ve found in music, I mean, it’s been the most psychedelic, creating music, especially for me has been the most psychedelic thing I could possibly imagine. I’ve just gotten into places with it, where it just, I’ll actually start hallucinating auditorily or with my eyes even and start to feel something sort of arise where I start to dissolve into the music itself, and knowing that it’s okay, and it can be a really joyous thing and feel good. And so yeah, it’s a critical part of my journey. I can’t really imagine, I think it could be done with having never done it through things like meditation and those higher forms of spiritual practice. I just don’t have the time or the patience for that. And I don’t think I ever would have. So yeah, it was really necessary, kind of a turnkey moment where I understood what my path was, and how to sort of interact with something in that way with the ambient divinity of what’s happening around.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 23:08
That’s really cool. And I, I wonder if over time, has it become easier for you to kind of access the states through practice with music?
Random Rab 23:18
Yes and no. I mean, yes, I guess from a technical proficiency level, absolutely. I can sit down and I don’t have to, like, bust out the manuals, or think about it too much in order to figure out how to make a song, but accessing the creative space, sort of like that, getting into that flow state, that can be a challenge. And I have to be in a good headspace. If I’m not feeling good, my body’s whacked, or I haven’t slept, or I have a lot of stuff going on in my life. It’s just too stressful, then, I kind of feel like I’m beating myself up and nothing’s happening. That’s working. So it’s really important to have your life sort of together. Or at least for me, some people work great under depression and stress where I find that it actually I work more effectively when I’m feeling kind of like, not a lot of anxiety and not a lot of stress and not a lot of heartache. And I find that if I’m feeling good, then that’s when the good music happens. So I’m not afraid that the original question was sort of my roundabout way of answering it.
Keith Kurlander 24:19
Yeah, yeah. Thanks. And I’m also interested in the psychology we talk about at MIT with our kids, right? And then people I’m like, we’re tuning to their cycle, emotional presence and responding. And I’m wondering your thoughts on like, well, how does that play out when you’re attuning to the crowd? When you’re playing music, or you just have your own flow state and something’s flowing through you? Are you somehow tracking the crowd? Like there’s some kind of back and forth process?
Random Rab 24:47
Yeah, there’s absolutely yes. I mean, as a performer, that you’re going to have your good nights and your bad nights where sometimes it is much more internal, where I do kind of feel like I’m not connecting for whatever reason. That’s For me, personally more rare, but when it’s really happening, it’s almost like there’s like this invisible heart in the middle of the dance floor that I can like, look out and see it. And I’m not really looking at any person in particular, it’s just sort of the vibe. And I think there’s some part of our lizard brain that can kind of pick up on the subtle cues of how a crowd is reacting like an organism. And especially like, when you get a really substantial audience, you can’t really see anybody in particular, but you can just see the movement of energy and feel. And that’s the best feeling when you start to feel like you’re actually interacting with this sort of massive organism and you kind of become a part of it. And you’re no longer really thinking for yourself, you’re just making decisions, sort of instinctually based on where you know that it needs to go. And that’s such a great feeling, it just becomes really easy. At that point. It stops being hard. When it’s hard. It’s like, something’s wrong, when Alex Honnold was the climber he was talking about, when he does these free climbs up, like his massive things, that when he starts to get scared or something, then he knows that something’s wrong, something’s not right. And he needs to make a decision to like, get out of that space. So that’s sort of like the same feeling. For me, it’s like, if I start to get intimidated or scared or feel like I’m gonna make a mistake, that sort of, I know, something’s wrong with how I’m connecting with that sort of giant heartbeat on the dance floor.
Keith Kurlander 26:22
So sometimes it sounds like you’re like start going into a stress response of some sort in your system, where you’re like, either getting a little nervous, or you’re getting in your head or something,
Random Rab 26:32
I kind of think of it as sort of like fear, you start to fear your audience. And that’s like, the biggest mistake you can possibly make as a performer when you get into that place when you become intimidated by the audience. And it’s not really necessarily because anyone’s booing you, or because people, even maybe people are loving it. But you feel like you’re kind of like one step behind, and you’re getting kind of run over rather than you’re riding the train and not driving it. And you have to sort of force yourself to get ahead of it. And a lot of times, it’s like getting into the music itself, like dancing, while playing or just really starting to feel it. It can’t happen. Sometimes you just start to stand there, you’re like, What am I doing up here, but that’s part of being a performer is learning how to overcome that fear. And that or that kind of like, intimidation factor. And so it happens less and less now I kind of like I’ve learned to basically not give a shit as much in the beginning. Now remember, a lot of times a lot of shows are just really nervous and scared of the audience that I’m going to disappoint them or something like that. That’s insane. It’s important to learn how to overcome that.
Keith Kurlander 27:38
Yeah, that’s just quite a psychological process. performers have to go through life, just getting used to that. I mean, cuz you gotta face yourself up there, right? You’re facing things, especially when you’re not in the flow state, you’re gonna start facing something.
Random Rab 27:53
Yes, absolutely. Yeah. That’s why it feels so good, is because maybe you walk into the show, and you’ve had a bad day, you just got in a fight with somebody or whatever. You’re just kind of like, Ah, I just don’t feel that great. I don’t really want to play tonight. You’re kind of down, like, what am I even doing here? You get on stage and you start to play and you’re like, oh, my gosh, like, I’m not not here right now. And then I have to be here with the tickets very seriously. I’m going to get into the mode, I’m gonna give it all and then slowly, you kind of become one with a show. And then you start to feel really good. And then the show’s over. Like, I feel great. I can’t even remember what was upsetting me before. I don’t even remember, you know, just kind of like that feeling is a big buzz you get from it afterwards, you’re like, and then I’m like, social and talking to everyone. And so I always see it myself almost every night, or it’s like right before my show. I’m really inward and tired and quiet. And then afterwards, ah, can’t shut up. Yeah, there’s something it’s feels really good. Well, for
Keith Kurlander 28:47
people who haven’t really gotten to your music yet, is their song or track or something you would like, yeah, start here. Like, check this out. First, this is something.
Random Rab 28:56
I guess these days probably give me that hope. It would be the song I probably recommend people check out first, just because it just seems so poignant. But this time that we’re in right now. I mean, that’s what we need more than anything. So that’s like the beginning process. I mean, I am beyond that. I have a pretty broad spectrum of types of music that I’ve created, whether it’s really chilled down tempo to really fast dance music. So it’s kind of where you want to go at that point. So I think it’s just kind of Yeah, that’s a good place to dive in, though.
Keith Kurlander 29:21
As we wrap up. Did you have something Will, before we wrap up?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 29:24
I just have one more question before we start heading toward wrapping up. I’m curious, Rab, just from your perspective. To me, it seems like we have a lot of challenges as a species. One of the hard challenges I think, is kind of like an undercurrent of what we’re talking about here today. It’s like how do I actually be present in my life and not be panicked or operating from fear or be in my head and live from my head? And I’m curious if you’ve thought about the role of music in regards to life. I mean, obviously, there’s no easy answers for species, but music has been with us for a long time, right? As soon as somebody could stick on a tree or haul out something and put a skin on it make a drum? Or do you have a vision of what needs to change? I mean, as far as like in terms of music and humanity, like, we used to go to church, and they would listen to the choir, or they would listen to beautiful music. And now people go to Burning Man or go to shows or they put a record on in their living room, or just wondering what you have to say about that.
Random Rab 30:19
I think that it’s really important to recognize that, like I said, music is a tool. And it’s the thing that brings you into the present moment and helps you actually experience the now in a way that really nothing else can in the greatest celebrations of our life are those greatest moments that we look back on quite often. Music was there, what’s a wedding without music? What’s a funeral without music? What’s really any kind of gathering? It just almost isn’t real unless music is there? And whether that’s even in the background, or whoever adds someone over to your house, you’re like, Why does it feel so awkward? Like, oh, cuz there’s no music playing music, I’m like, Okay, now I can like be in the present moment, and not in our heads so much. And I think that celebration with music is so critical to who we are as a species. And I think we really, as a species need to really value it more. And I don’t really mean values like me, I’m saying that as a musician, like, oh, I should be valued in our society, what I’m talking about is music itself. And gathering and celebration need to be really critical values for us. And so when we start to cut them out of our lives, like during the pandemic, how like, okay, no shows socially distance shows. And I mean, I think that a lot of people were going crazy, just not having an opportunity to celebrate and get together. And it wasn’t really seen as sort of a critical part of who we are as a society, when in actuality it is, and maybe more, maybe a hell of a lot more important than making sure that the DMV stays open or something like that, we should really find ways to prioritize gathering and safely and to use music. Because we’ve become so disconnected from the present moment, as a species, we’re always worried about our 401k, and our kids future, and what’s going to our jobs and all these different things that are really not related to the now. And they’re really related to the story that we want to write about ourselves. And if without the experience of the now and the celebration of the now it makes anyone insane, it makes everyone it leads to a really dark place. So I think we need to really not feel bad about celebrating and really let go of the guilt and shame around getting together and not see it as some sort of opulent thing we do just for fun every once in a while. But it is really a critical part of who we are as a species and how important it is as people to do that and to experience true joy in our lives. And not just the satisfaction that we get from more mundane things like our jobs and things.
Keith Kurlander 32:45
Beautiful. That’s powerful. Something really linked up for me on this last thing you said, when you said celebrate the now and you connected that to music like that really hit something for me. I was just thinking before you said that. I just know, obviously for all of humanity, we come together in ritual with music and move our bodies together. And when you said celebrating the now I’m like, right, we’re coming together to celebrate that we’re here, we move together and we think together and we dance and we it’s just it’s so critical, like you’re saying that like that is actually deeply respected in society. I think that you’re right. Like we often view that more as entertaining, like, let loose kind of venting place to just kind of like go over the top and lose ourselves. And it’s actually a place to celebrate life together. Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s just powerful. When you said that, It’s just like, right, like, we come together as large groups of people to celebrate.
Random Rab 33:44
I think it’s so important to be present with each other and to celebrate the now and so easy to forget. I think that’s the role that music plays. And yeah, it’s amazing.
Keith Kurlander 33:54
This leads well into our last question we ask every guest, which is you kind of get to answer this question all the time anyways, as a musician, but with music, but we’ll ask it so if you had a billboard, everybody would see once in their life, there’s a paragraph on it.
Random Rab 34:08
My words I probably just put the cover of this book up there probably remember to
Keith Kurlander 34:13
Is that here now? Yeah.
Random Rab 34:16
Just remember to be here. Now that is probably the thing I would want to quote from Rom Das.
Keith Kurlander 34:22
Well, he said it well. Great. Well, Rab, thanks so much. That was a great conversation.
Random Rab 34:28
Yeah, thanks for having me on, guys. I really appreciate it.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 34:35
We look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the Higher Practice Podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health.