Jon Hopkins’ psychedelic journey to a new way of making music


Trevor Oswalt, an artist who records psychoactive soundtracks with names like “Music for Mushrooms” and “Spores” like East Forest, had also become a new friend. Years earlier, Oswalt had visited Dass on Maui, recording conversations that he had turned into a beguiling collection of inspiring tunes. When Dass died in late 2019, his foundation, Love Remember Serve, sent a series of archival lectures to Oswalt, who came to Hopkins for help.

Oswalt had already deleted the two-hour reel of overt religious content, creating a 15-minute cut. “We wanted something universal and uplifting that is hard to argue with,” Oswalt said in a video interview from his studio, a painting of Dass peering over his shoulder.

In October 2020, Hopkins sat down at the polished upright piano in the corner of his own studio, improvising on his first impressions of Dass’s lyrics. “Calm the mind. Open your heart, ”Dass encouraged in a voice as calming as a cup of chamomile. This, Hopkins realized it was the end of an album; the music he had found in the Ecuadorian silence was the beginning.

“I always know when the spark of something has appeared,” he said. “It’s one of the best feelings when you know something is going to be important.”

Hopkins spent the next four months of lockdown searching for tones to fill the frame, finding the right sounds by chance – in a beer glass he tapped, and software noise fails. He sent songs to Dan Kijowski, a childhood friend with whom he had shared several psychedelic journeys, and Kijowski played them through eight speakers hanging in the trees around his family farm, recording the reading. Hopkins incorporated the results into the album, listening repeatedly from the sofa in his studio until he knew it was his music model for psychedelic therapy.

“From previous records I knew I wanted them to be commercially successful, that I needed a big chunk,” Hopkins said, frowning under the thin beard that framed his patrician face. “It was an opportunity to give up all levels of pretension. I was just trying to translate the honest experience into life.


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