Discover the profound impact of acid on one artist's creative journey. From reigniting artistic passion to transforming music and home decor, explore the transformative power of psychedelics in unlocking new realms of creativity.
My name is Rodri XO. I am a multidisplinary artist and electronic musician and acid and creativity are something I am deeply passionate about. Acid and I have a deep, creative relationship. Since my first experience with it nearly five years ago, I have always turned to it for inspiration and help with creativity. My deep appreciation for it stems from the fact that before I was introduced to psychedelics, I had almost completely stopped dabbling with art, but acid helped reignite my creativity.
It’s hard to explain how acid and creativity go hand in hand, to be honest. If I were to try and find some ways that it has helped, I would say one has been by helping me become more aware of color and composition in my surroundings. My instincts have changed since first trying acid. I also hear things differently now, which inspires me when I make music. Most importantly, acid helped me reconnect with my creative side, which I had neglected for years beforehand.
I can’t quite formulate the proper thoughts to explain what acid did to my creativity, but it did something. It reawakened something inside. It shed years of grime off me that allowed me to glow again. It was an overwhelming sense of freeness. The years beforehand had made me lose the connection I had with my artistic side. The hustle and bustle of life forced me to focus on other stuff to stay afloat. But that all changed after I used acid as a creative tool, or maybe acid used me as a creative vessel rather?
When I first began taking psychedelics, my intentions for my first trips were mostly for my mental health. I was in an unfulfilling job working as a high school teacher, so I asked for guidance on what to do. I was struggling with depression and anxiety, so I sought solace from my dark thoughts during trips. What came from these mental health trips was always the same: you’re not happy where you are, so do something about it. In 2019, I decided to act, so I quit my teaching job, cashed out the little money I had in my teacher retirement account, and decided to take a sabbatical to try and reconnect with myself. I didn’t really have a plan. I only had enough money to sustain me for a few months, so I wasn’t sure what to do – I just knew I had to leave that old life behind.
I began going on frequent acid trips in 2019. My intentions during these trips were just to make reconnect with myself, and from that came a flurry of creative energy. I began experimenting more with music in ways I wasn’t aware I could before. I was creating weird, elaborate soundscapes made of my voice while tripping. I started drawing and painting more. I began sculpting again. I even began interior designing my apartment while on acid. For nearly three years, I used acid to fuel my creativity in different ways. Acid and creativity became my way of life during this time.
For those wondering, I was not microdosing on acid for this, by the way. I was taking around 150-200ug, which was around one to one and a half tabs. It's an average dose. Some people have said that they can't do much of anything while on acid because they feel very disoriented or it is just hard to concentrate on something. I'm not sure if I just react differently, but I find myself being able to accomplish a lot while on acid. Yes, I have the usual hallucinations and all of that, but if I set my intentions early on that I want to be creative, my trip will be very manageable. Everything feels crisp and clear while on acid, which this allows me to better sift through the ideas of my head. To get a sense of how acid has helped my creativity, I will share with you some things I have done during my trips.
Using Acid as a Tool to Create Music
“Have you ever made music whilst on acid?” has become my go-to question whenever a conversation with creative friends or strangers turns psychedelic. Surprisingly, the answer is almost always a resounding “no.” This has always confounded me, as I always imagine that creatives would want to make music while under the influence of a psychedelic like acid. But they always say it’s hard for them to do much of anything under that state, which I understand. It can be hard and disorientating, but I highly recommend musicians to try it.
I have found that making music while on acid has been one of the greatest things that I could have discovered. My experience started by experimenting with my voice. Playing instruments can be hard while on acid sometimes, but singing is really easy, for me. Acid makes my throat feel more open. My voice has a wider range. I’m not sure if it’s something physical or psychological that makes me sound better (or think I sound better?), but whatever the reason, it’s one of the things that has helped me the most creatively.
Acid helped me experiment with my voice and find new ways of using it. I began looping different noises my throat and voice made while on acid and creating soundscapes from that. (I was very inspired by the French musician Camille.) A cool thing I have found occurs during acid is my ability to, for lack of a better word, “become” the music. During my peaks, I can feel myself become the wavelength that comes out of my mouth and into my microphone. When I close my eyes, I can “feel” the way each new noise alters the wavelength of my loops. I can also match a tone in the loops with ease and there comes a time where I cannot differentiate my voice from the recordings of overdubbed loops – it feels like everything that is and was one. Because of this, I can more easily play with time during a loop and make it sound however I want. I can create weird droning songs where it feels like you are falling down a tunnel of my own voice or more hectic creations that feels frenetic.
Making music became a very meditative and introspective practice where I got lost in loops of my own voice. The myriad of overdubbed vocals would then take a life of its own. Where one vocal loop ends, another starts midway, and the subtle overlap of two wavelengths creates changes in the loop that my brain can begin to perceive and form into something else. By the end of it, my acid-fueled mind pulls out lyrics from the ocean of my voice that I created just from the way the wavelengths interact with each other. It is a very strange thing to explain. If a loop has a syllable “ah” and it mixes with another loop with the syllable “eh” at just the right moment, a short little combination of the two can be perceived and from there I can add another loop to play with that, and this continues until I really chisel away at the wavelength and create a song. Strange, I know. Playing with instruments can be hard, but it's doable. I find myself more easily able to find the proper chords to accompany a song. If I'm not making my own music and instead am listening to music, I have found that acid allows me the ability to play by ear much easier. For example, I was listening to Patti Smith's “Land” during a trip (which coincidentally is a song about her own acid trip) and wanting to play along to it, but I didn't know the chords. After the first listen and playing around with some chords on my guitar, I was able to find the correct notes to play along; it all came pretty naturally. I feel like learning music is just so much easier when tripping.
After my many acid-fueled music trips, I have taken certain lessons back into the sober world to further work on my techniques. Looping my voice has become my new way of making music thanks to acid. Before, I would make music the common way of using a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) like Ableton or Logic Pro X, but I often got stuck trying to fit my voice in. After acid, my voice has become the main way my music is composed. Sometimes, I find myself lacking the ability to pick up subtle sonic nuance when I’m not on acid, which can be frustrating. I want music to sound like when I’m tripping all the time, but I know that can’t happen. LSD has opened up a whole other part of my brain that allows me to hear and listen to music better, that I often miss this skill when sober.
From acid trips have also come songs that reflect my state of mind. For context, I wouldn’t say I am the most emotionally well-adjusted person. I suffered from depression and suicidality as a teenager and into my early 20s. I had severe social anxiety until my mid 20s. I can definitely say I am better now, thanks to years of therapy, but I also know myself. I know that certain things can plunge me back into the sea of my depression, or certain situations make me retreat into my shell and make me go into autopilot. But my acid trips have helped me verbalize how I have felt during these low periods by creating sad little bops that reflect a specific state of mind.
For example, I made a song titled “Still Depressed” that I started while on acid that is a perfect example of this. It all started with me setting a kick drum as my metronome and then chanting / vocalizing over it. From there, I added some higher harmonies always working with simple syllabic components like “ahs” and “oohs.” Then, acid took over and out came my inner thoughts:
Everything is so disconnected. Are you still depressed? // Tomorrow is another day that is filled with dread. // There’ll be a cloud in the sky and a storm coming my way. // I simply don’t want to stay awake to see this gray find its way deep into my brain. // I feel like I’m living my life in an awful, rigged game. // I just don't want to wake up.
I wasn’t in the best mental place when I made this song, clearly. Every day felt like a chore. Waking up, work, come home, sleep, wake up, work, come home, sleep, and repeat over and over. The monotony of my life began to depress me, so what I created while tripping was a song made of little loops of me questioning my depression and verbalizing how it feels being stuck in a loop of unfulfilling monotony. Integrating my mental health into my loops has become an important part of my artistic process and even bigger part of my mental health journey, all thanks to what I have been able to experience during my acid trips.
But this isn’t the only way I use acid creatively. It has also helped me make my home more psychedelic, too.
Acid Helped Me Redecorate My Home by Appreciating Color
I grew to have a big appreciation for color after trying psychedelics. I began to interior design my home while on acid trips because of how easy it was to visualize things. My home before psychedelics was the average dull apartment with awful lighting and a limited color palette. But something changed out of nowhere, and I became inspired to add more color to my space. Now, I have a weird little maximalist home that makes me feel cozy and happy. And all of that was due to acid.
But how exactly did interior designing while on acid look like? Well, I would go around my apartment with a pad of sticky notes and stare at each wall of each room for a couple of seconds visualizing what I wanted there. I’d jot down what that certain space needed and stick it on the wall. I would jot down stuff like “warm light,” “desk,” “hanging vines,” “something round and orange,” “a pop of blue”, etc. It sounds silly and weird, but it worked. I would then consult with my boyfriend, and we would choose pieces to fill our home with. I’m pretty sure he’d say that is his favorite thing that acid has done: it made us have a really cute apartment. Many a trip became interior design consultations with my boyfriend where we discussed how to improve our space together.
I now have a very specific eye for color palettes thanks to my acid trips. I have a much better ability to visualize the way I can play with color, too. I was able to fill my world with color after every acid trip. But my apartment wasn’t the only thing that became more colorful. Acid helped me rediscover my artistic skills, too.
Acid Helped Me Unleash My Artistic Side
Before I started doing psychedelics, I went through a years-long artistic drought. I was very artistic as a teenager and would often dabble with sculpture and painting, but once I went to college and then into teaching after graduating, I no longer had the time to make much of anything. My days of making plaster sculptures in my living room at 2 in the morning were over. My days of practicing with charcoals were behind me. I was never very inspired to make much of anything during this time.
But that changed after I experimented with psychedelics. I would spend some trips playing with art supplies because of the way colors looked on paper. It is strange, but I have found that sometimes, I didn’t have to put much thought on what I wanted to make while on acid. I just put pen to paper, and my hand moved on its own creating doodles of faces and eyes almost like if something had taken over me. I'm not sure if others have this experience, but it is very interesting to see your hand move and draw without you really controlling it.
After years of not drawing or sculpting, I got back into it again. In 2020, I even made some money from selling my pieces during the quarantine. During each trip, I began experimenting with different media. I began to make collages out of Polaroid images of myself out of sheer experimentation. I began sculpting with clay again. I learned how to use watercolor. I finally felt the same passion for art again that I felt when I was a teenager. I was staying up into the late hours of the night making whatever my mind wanted to create. This period of creative fervor became one of my favorite times of my life because I felt so motivated by this new flourished creativity. After this, I have seen my skills improve over time. I think acid gave me the confidence boost I needed to reclaim my identity as a creative.
After spending nearly two years locked up during the pandemic, I had come out a whole new person. I adopted a new identity and felt more confident as an artist. I even created a queer music festival in Houston to debut some of the songs I had worked on while showcasing other musicians. After years of artistic solidarity, my psychedelic trips pushed me to become an artist in the whole sense of the word. I began creating space for other artists in my community, collaborating with them, even working with some of my own favorite artists in creating artworks for them. My perception of myself changed completely. I was no longer willing to compromise who I was as a person nor present myself as something that I wasn't. I was more than the person I went to work as. At my core, I knew I was an artist in all sense of the word, but it wasn't until I began exploring that side of me during acid trips that I really embraced my artistic side.
I genuinely believe none of this would have been possible had it not been for my acid trips. While I do not trip as often as I did just a few years ago, I still try to go on a trip every couple of months to reset and get inspired; my acid trips are something I deeply cherish and make time for in my life. My friends know about my deep love for acid, and it often becomes a topic of conversation with strangers when they ask about myself. I think besides the obvious creativity benefits, acid just helped me be more honest with myself about what made me happy. I knew that I was not happy where I was in my life, and little by little I began realizing that making art was my way of reclaiming my life back. With each new piece, I reclaimed back the years that I went without doing anything creatively due to the lack of time. Now, I prioritize my time to do things that inspire me. Acid helped me reclaim my life, my time, and my creativity. There's a lot of stigma that exists around acid still, but I want to show that there are positives that come with its use. Specially for artistically-inclined people. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities beyond what you thought possible.