Transcript of a terrific chat with Suchita Bhhatia. Check out Episode 48 of The Artists podcast, in which we discuss Binaural Beats: Consciousness, Creativity and Cognition.
Published Aug 15, 2020
Hello folks welcome to the episode 48 of our podcast The Artist and of course we are touching half a century, gonna be soon 50 episodes thank you. Past episodes we focused on the internal life of a film maker, the challenges and how mental health could take a toll. Mental sanity and balance life style are important ingredient for greater creativity. Which is why we have been talking about choicism, we’ve been talking about vuve. We’ve been talking about choosing your sounds over noise. We have spoken to film makers who have shared their internal world in episode number 1, episode number 16 and much more so due tune in and check those episodes. Today we’re talking about the altered state on consciousness. Hacking your consciousness for peak performances and altered states of consciousness is currently a trillion dollar industry and by all means play a huge role in hacking your consciousness.
Today we have artist and creator J.S. Epperson. J.S. Epperson is musician working with Binaural Beats to facilitate altered starts of consciousness. You can find him on his website; higher-music.com. In the episode we also have one of our favorite pieces of music by J.S. Epperson, Ascension. Further results of the brain wave state where Einstein and Edison solved their toughest creative problems. So guys this is an opportunity to act consciously into Theta brain wave state and we are grateful that J.S. Epperson could take our time and take us through the process of creating Binaural Beats and its impact on our creativity, so ladies and gentleman J.S. Epperson in the house.
Interviewer: Hi Jay, welcome to our podcast The Artists and thank you for joining in at 5:00am.
J.S: Thank you for having me here. It’s going very well it’s dark and its quiet.
Interviewer: Are you woken up or you’re continuing your work right now.
J.S: I probably got up and hour ago to kind of clear my head. And get ready for this, no this is actually my normal creative time.
Interviewer: Tell me Jay about this very exciting Binaural Beats that you are into creating and I believe a lot of the present generation you know getting into the whole understanding of Binaural Beats and how it can enhance creativity and cognition. Just to relay simply for our listeners. What are Binaural Beats?
J.S: Well I like to think of Binaural Beats as a form of brain wave entrainment. It’s a type of an audio technology that allows you to entrain your brain to specific frequencies. It does so by using two different signals one in the left ear and another in the right ear and it kind of works like those 3D stereoscopic glasses. They create an illusion of the third signal or the thing that’s not there.
Interviewer: Just creating Binaural Beats… how do you sort of compose them? How do you get into it?
J.S: Well how do you compose a Binaural Beat? Binaural Beats themselves are generated using oscillators: it’s kind of techy. There is software you can use to do this, apps on your phone you can download pretty much from anywhere. The Binaural Beats created can then be used for meditation, sleep, and affirmations. I try to roll binaural beats into musical projects, giving a more artistic take on Binaural Beats rather than a bland, clinical approach.
Interviewer: and of course there is this verification like you get into, the Alpha State, the Beta State, the Theta State, the Delta State. How do you sort of design this?
J.S: I design it by thinking of what kind of experience do I want to create for the listener? What kind of experience do I want to have as a listener? At any given moment the brain is going through a large number of brain waves. Right now we’re probably very Beta dominant. We’re having a conversation; we’re talking to each other. We’re kind of going through our memories and our lessons and having this conversation so that kind of forces us into a Beta state of mind.
J.S: But we’re also experiencing– You know I just work up an hour ago, there’s probably a good chunk of Delta in there and I’m very relaxed right now so there’s also Alpha and what I try to do is take all these different brain wave states and create an experience that you know through a period of time. So I will start with one set of frequencies and in about 5 minutes in I’ll kind of ramp them down if I want you to go deeper into your subconscious and unconscious mind or I can ramp them up if I want you to have a more intellectual or kind of focused experience.
Interviewer: Jay tell me if we want to have an altered state of consciousness or if you want your music to take us into an altered state of consciousness and I’m listening to for example further brain wave. What would happen to my mind and how can I use it as a listener to enhance my altered state of consciousness?
J.S: There are really five main types of Binaural Beats. Five main types of brain wave patterns now there are others but we really categorize them into the Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. Theta that’s one of the lower frequencies. This is your subconscious mind this is the mind you experience when you are deep into mediation, maybe visualization of Theta brain waves are associated with the REM state of the sleep cycle where you have a visual dream experience. So to get into a meditative experience you know listening to audio with a lot of Theta brain waves you know close your eyes, put on some head phones and listen to some Theta waves, eventually through the frequency following a response you will entrain to the Theta signal.
Interviewer: So it’s like we get into it every day unconsciously but by listening to it, really get into consciously?
J.S: Yeah. All these states for the most part can be achieved. You know you can make a choice and you can get there. What I love about altered states of consciousness is that all it really is; is right now we’re in one spot we want to get somewhere else. That’s the alteration. I think sometimes people feel like Binaural Beats are unnatural and these are natural states of minds you experience Beta every single day this is not new to any of us. So yeah we can put our head phones on, dial up some Theta audio in our phones and if we take a little time for ourselves we can get into a Theta brain wave state.
Interviewer: What’s the frequency like for example when you composing. What do you keep in mind?
J.S: When I’m composing, I usual start with an idea. So for example-
Interviewer: Like what kind of effect do you want on your listeners?
J.S: Recently I just have an experience where I released a project call Gyre and it was based on a dream and it was a very swirling Theta experience in my dream and I thought, “gosh I’d really like to recreate that.” So I knew that this was gonna be a very swirling sound, and it has to be in the Theta Rem where we’re going into a deep mediation. So as I build the music, I’m actually matching the Binaural Beat frequencies to the key of the music so that it’s unobtrusive but still very much there, and then I start developing the Binaural Beats with the music to build an experience.
Interviewer: Just for our listeners in terms of figures. We have a lot of creative people who listen to podcasts like film makers, writers enhancing your creativity you know is something that all of us focus on. So you know as a creator of Binaural Beats what do you sort of suggest like for example the internet says that Edison and Deshler they actually got their best inventions in the Theta state so of course that time by Binaural Beats was not something very popular or was perhaps not there so I mean how do we use now since we have a tool with us?
J.S: Well I think that’s a really important point it is a tool and I personally think there are two state of mind I love the most. Theta is definitely one of them. I like to take half an hour, an hour a day and just meditate. Focus on my own my thoughts and kind of letting them go. But when I work I love to listen to Alpha waves. Which to me it’s a very relaxed focus it’s getting into the flow of the creative process and for me it’s really kind of my sweet spot I’m in love with the Alpha state personally.
Interviewer: So I’m gonna ask you later what are the suggestions that we could listen to from your library of music?
Interviewer: When it comes to Alpha which is your favorite brain wave state tell me J when your audience listens to your music and I saw your website where there’s a series of supported by so many different people. Have you interacted with them and try to find out that what is your audience looking for when they are trying to listen to your music?
J.S: You know I do kind of have a motto of “ask me anything”. I’m really open to people getting in touch with me and there have been pattern over the years. Definitely people find my music for mainly one of two or three reasons. The first reason, and maybe the most dominant reason; people are looking for some kind of spiritual connection; a connection to something bigger than themselves. They’ve tried mediation and maybe they didn’t work for them or maybe they’re already very good at meditating but they’re just looking for a different experience.
I find most of my listeners get to Binaural Beats through meditation and spirituality but there is another large group and I would say that those are really-I call them bio hackers. They are really people who are trying to optimize their daily experience. They’re trying to optimize their routine to get the most out of everything they do and they find that if they can get a 10 or 15% improvement by listening to a certain type of Binaural Beat then that’s what they’re gonna do all day to get more out of whatever it is they’re doing. So those have been the two big groups that get in touch with me and tell me how they found me, why they got in touch with my work.
Interviewer: Also Jay you were mentioning yesterday about the left and the right brain theory and the anecdote you said that you would like to share about one of your listeners who listens to your music.
J.S: Ok well. There are a lot of thoughts about how we organize and kind of describe creativity and intellectual processes. You know and one of the popular ways to describe that is kind of the right brain, left brain, the right brain being very creative and inspirational and the left brain being very focused and analytical. That’s a little inaccurate in terms of how the brain actually works but it is an amazing metaphor I really like the metaphor because there really are kind of -there are days and I know you’ve had them where it’s like you know I really would like to do something very disciplined right now, I’d like to do something very focused and work on a spread sheet and that’s really a great period of time for the higher frequencies.
For me personally I find Alpha is a great frequency to get work done. There’s a lot of people also like Beta frequencies for really getting the analytical part of their work done. So one of the weird things I’ve noticed about some of my albums particularly with the Hemi-Sync. The Hemi- Sync albums I’ve done over the years do have more of a focus on the Beta frequencies and for example I find very left brain men, business men, they love the Beta Frequencies. They are very drawn to it. I think Einstein’s Dream was maybe released 1996? And 99% of the letters I go testimonials, emails they were almost all from business men and it was always so interesting to me that wow this album with those frequencies really resonates with this type of person and then I can look at something else like Gammadrone which is kind of available everywhere and that has a lot of Theta frequencies, a lot of Gama frequencies.
Almost every person that got in touch with me was an offer. They were creative, they were people who were creative in terms of big systemic you know story lines and story arcs and they were story tellers and I was just like you know you can’t get that many testimonials from a specific type of person. It wasn’t across the board it was very much focus on people telling stories and I’m fascinated by that. I don’t have a lot of answers for that. I don’t know why this project necessarily resonated with those people but when they hit a certain group of people they really do hit and I find that incredibly interesting just personally that that happens.
Interviewer: That’s awesome. J so you’re saying that it has different effects on different people like for example you mention the Beta for the business man or you mentioned the Theta state for the authors, the Gamma state and the Alpha state is also good for creativity. But the effect of these different beats must be on different levels to people in the same profession. Like for example two story tellers are listening to the same frequency will have different kind of effects.
J.S: Every experience is a personal experience right. You know I don’t know how other people experience it. So all I get is the feedback you know they’re listing to this music while they’re working and they his repeat, and they his repeat, and they his repeat, and before I know it they’re like hey you know what I listen to gammadrone seven times in a row and wrote three chapters of this thing and I didn’t even want to write and so that is an experience I hear a lot from people but then someone else can turn around and say you know I’ve been stuck for so long and listening to this one piece and boom it was like a light bulb went on and I knew exactly how to solve this problem. I started wring a story to get to the solution and thank you so much. The experiences are of course different and personal but they’re definitely some commonalities I find over time that exist.
Interviewer: So of course it triggers something in the brain.
J.S: Yes definitely trigger something in the brain. One of the things that I found so interested about the specific responses from some types of people is that it does speak to maybe a possibility that certain frequency sets just appeal to a type of person that you know people who are authors, they respond to this frequency set for reason I don’t necessarily understand but the respond very strongly. Same with the business men and the Beta frequencies there are commonalities in the types of people. Not to break people into stereotypes and groups but types are types.
Interviewer: and of course now it’s becoming so popular it’s supposed to be like the altered state of consciousness it’s sort of becoming like a billion dollar industry and Binaural Beats are playing a huge role in it.
J.S: Yeah they really are. I mean I’m a city person I’ve lived in cities most of my life. I’m not drawn to the rural experience. I live in a town where I get a subway and I want to tune out some of the chaos going on around me and for that I out some Alpha Binaural Beats, a nice drone, some winds or some surf sounds and I am just in peaceful blissful spot reading a magazine, or reading something on my phone and I think that is an experience a lot of people have we’re all trying to make our best day.
Interviewer: So tell me J is there sort of any specific like you just said I just get into my car and I just tuned into the specific beats that I want to listen to and then I’m on my way and I suppose if I’m wanting to sit and mediate and try to get certain kind of perhaps work on my creativity just not thinking about anything else. Do I just need to tune into for example a certain music which is Alpha and just focus and listened to it, that’s all I got to do?
J.S: No actually you don’t need to focus listen to it. I’m listening to some Alpha brain waves right now.
J.S: Partly to keep me calm. I get nervous in situations like this particular you know you stick a microphone in me and I’m like I’ve got to be smart all the time.
Interviewer: No you don’t need to be.
J.S: You know I mostly just talk. I don’t think about where I’m going in a conversation. I’m not a goal oriented conversationalist I’m just here to answer your questions really. So for me it’s like they’re in the background and I’m working on something else. I listen to very quiet music most of the time. Sometimes when I’m mediating I might turn it up a little bit because I do want to block out what’s going on around me. I do live in a very quiet part of the city fortunately so I don’t have a lot of city noise invading my space. I have birds and butterflies and a yard, I’m pretty lucky that way I guess you know suburban living. But five minutes I can be in the city and I love that too.
So when I’m meditating yes, I do kind of find music that is ephemeral, music that doesn’t necessarily resolve so just in terms of melodic composition there are types of music if the melody lingers and it doesn’t necessarily has a very strong resolution and it goes on to the next idea. You talk about ascension and that’s definitely something I do in that piece of music where if it makes sort of musical statements and doesn’t resolve them it goes on to the next thing and this type of voice leading and melodic leading is very helpful and helping to bring to this other place you know the Binaural Beats are amazing. But there is an element of music design. How does this melody take your design further or somewhere else and I try to combine all that into a single thing and so when I’m listening to music there are times where I think oh this really hits that button for me. Hit the like button and I’m gonna come back to this piece of music when I really want to meditate.
Interviewer: One doesn’t need to focus on it. One just needs for daily task you can just play it quietly and just be around and your subconscious mind is going to absorb it and make you get into that frequency automatically without your efforts.
J.S: Doesn’t take a lot of effort. I think of anything too much efforts can be a little problematic. Have you ever had that experience where you’re sitting there and I just had somebody literally this morning messaged me this on Facebook so it’s very fresh in my mind. We were talking about, somebody posted an album that they like and I said I like that album too, I love that one for sleep and it was like I can’t listen to that music while I’m trying to sleep It distracts me all I sit there is think and headphones are uncomfortable and I’m sleeping and the headphones are uncomfortable and I’m not sleeping. Then I get stuck in this whole loop and it’s like well take off your headphone and get little speakers and just make it real quiet in the background don’t poor all of your energy into trying to make this music make you to sleep just let it happen. Take off the headphones put the speakers on, let it be a little quiet it doesn’t need to blasts and just go with the experience and you’ll find that you’ll probably will get to sleep pretty quick.
Interviewer: Yeah absolutely you know J we’ve got into this culture of putting too much effort on everything that we wanting to achieve or where we are to go and suddenly when I discover about this billion dollar industry that’s flourishing and this is about altered state of consciousness. What do you have to say about in terms of using it in everyday life and sort of making it like a lifestyle to see that you can actually do things effortlessly?
J.S: You know you talk about this billion dolor industry and I think this speaks to something. I think it speaks to a kind of awkward reality and that is that we have more choice than we think. I can choose to be very angry about politics. I live in Portland, Oregon there is a lot going on. But I can choose to really focus on my work, I can focus on creating beautiful things, I can choose maybe not to be so angry and there’s a time and a space for anger but I think a lot people chose that a little too much and my approach to things is if I’m going to drive into work or I’m gonna bus into work depends on the day. I often times chose to have something peaceful plan.
It is a lifestyle for me I have been listening to Binoral Beats for 25, 30 years. I think we are in an amazing place in history where we have these phones, they are so incredible, earbuds are great they work just fine for Binaural Beats I don’t know where this idea comes from that you need to have $300 headphones, you really don’t. My normal beats generally will work, just put them on, have them be quiet. I can put them on as I go to work and I can think about for the last couple of days it’s been like I gotta talk to [inaudible] I gotta do this, I gotta do that and I’m just try trying to let the experience happen and I’m choosing my path and I’m choosing my emotional response to my day and Binaural Beats are a part of that they’re not the answers they’re not the only solution but they are definitely in the mix.
Interviewer: Definitely and especially during these times I don’t know if you are there much on social media but there’s too much rage out there, there’s too much of hatred that we’re getting into currently. The world over and it can become scarier and the human mind is not able to tame it. Do you think that we can do that with a tool like- we can perhaps see the world in another light every day?
J.S: Oh it’s possible. It’s something that can be done. But like I said it’s an uncomfortable choice you have to choose. There’s this popular saying here and it was popularized at least as far as I know by Oprah Winfrey of all people and she would always say; “Do I want be right or do I want to be at peace and you know wat I want? I want to be at peace”, I don’t care if I’m right, I’m usually probably not right and when I am right I can’t make other people believe that. So that’s their choice to go with me on that journey or not so let’s just be at peace and we can worry about who is right and who is wrong later or not at all.
Interviewer: Absolutely. Tell me J when you wake up every morning and you are getting to your work and you’re focused on creating Binaural Beats. What inspires you? What do you want? Where do you want to take it to everyday?
J.S: That’s an interesting question because it always changes. I have a really popular Hemi Sync album call illumination for peak performance and it’s also available on my website, Spotify and all that just illumination and people respond so well to that music like I love this music so so much and honest to God I was living in Germany at the time actually and I was visiting my mother in California so I was kind of half a sleep in the other room at like 6:00 in the afternoon because I’m jetlagged and she was watching the final episode of ‘Sex in the City’ and there was this incredible ostinato over the next ten minutes of the TV show I guess and I was like God that’s so beautiful and I love how it communicates this idea of you know musically communicates the idea that nothing is changing and everything is changing and it communicates this idea that regardless of what’s happening things just go on and I love the establishment of continuity and hope. It was just a really beautiful sound and so I woke up out of my stupor and I thought well I’m gonna just jot down some music and played piano for twenty minutes and find something I like and low and behold six months later it was this album.
J.S: It came from a TV show and one that I didn’t watch. Other times I talked about ‘Gyre’ coming from the feeling I had in a dream. I was like ok well let’s capture that. Other times I’m with Gammadrone we talked about that. I had a lot of people saying you don’t do Gama frequencies. Gama frequencies are supposed to help with inspiration and ideation and bringing in new ideas. I would love something to facilitate that experience and so I focus on very much on ok Gama frequencies, how do we inspire ourselves and at some point I thought well if you bring in and out the Delta frequencies no I’m sorry the theta frequencies and give into that imaginative visual space kind of associated with REM state and meditation combining that with Gama and merging them in and out as they shift that would be really great for creativity maybe.
Let’s try that, so it started with the Binaural Beats. Every creative project I do ha a different source, a different origin point. I think that’s why it’s always been important for me to have a body of work. I mean I’ve never been somebody oriented towards having a hit, I’m not a hit maker but I do like to try different things. I think I stared my record company in 2007/2008 and I’ve created quite a body of work over that time and it’s fun to like ok sometimes it works out really well and other times it does not work out really well. But I got to try it and I usually try to describe those in my album descriptions so that people know where I’m coming from and why I did this thing.
Interviewer: So where can one listen to your work, J?
J.S: I don’t know what services you guys use over there in India but I’m on most of the major platforms. So you can listen on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, you know that list of apps. I have a little bit on Insight Timer. I really recommend going to my website higher-music.com there’s a dash between higher and music mostly because recently Apple has kind of said enough with the meditation music. It has to do honestly with their –they don’t like storing long form of mediation pieces on their servers so I think my work going forward because of that on the services would be more short form meditations and if you like something it would probably be long version on my website. I’m putting out probably about one Binaural Beat meditation about every five six weeks so I’m going through a very experimental period.
Interviewer: Tell me J is there any duration one should listen to Binoral Beats or like you said there is no duration you can just leave it playing in the back ground.
J.S: I think the answer to that question is personal. I find a lot of my listeners- I met this woman one time I was working on a project in Seattle and I was in this recording studio and I’ve been working with this singer for a couple of days and the other person I was working with. My collaborator on this project, his name was Julio he was like hey how about that J.S Epperson and one of the backup singers was like J.S Epperson? The J.S Epperson and she pull out her ipod which we used to have ipods before phones and they used to count how many times you’ve played a song and she pulled out a track of mine on a Hemi sync album. It was maybe seven minutes long. She listened to it 4, 800 times.
Interviewer: Oh my God.
J.S: She’s like oh no I put this on loop.
Interviewer: Oh wow.
J.S: All day long. She said it’s the only thing I listen to sometimes for weeks.
Interviewer: How cool was that?
J.S: Ok there’s one approach, take something short you like and listen to it again and again. Other people I need a half hour, I need 45 minutes and then I’m done I want it to be finished and you know I think that’s a personal answer. Do what feels right for you. I tend to listen to longer things I’ve been listening to a two hour demo that somebody sent me the other day and it’s terrific his name is Brad. Thanks Brad. But its two hours long and it’s not always something you can sit and listen to in one sitting, sometimes I have to pick it up and sometimes I start over and listen again, It’s personal.
Interviewer: And J would you like to recommend some of the tracks to our creative listeners out there?
J.S: Sure let me pull up my website if you don’t mind.
Interviewer: I love Ascension that one track I listen to.
J.S: I did send you a copy of that.
Interviewer: Oh you did ok how lovely?
J.S: Minutes before we had this conversation.
Interviewer: Yes, yes, yes. I did get it yeah.
J.S: Probably in your inbox. Personally I love ‘Surf Series’. It’s a great place to start if you’ve never listened to Binaural Beats. This is available on my website higher-music.com. It’s also available on all of the platforms. This uses some ambient, very ferial ambient drum, a little bit of artificial ocean surf and there are three tracks. One is an Alpha experience called Alpha surf, the other one’s called Theta surf and finally there is Delta surf and It even says in parenthesis relax, mediate, sleep and that’s a great place to start because it’s not terribly engaging its perfect for putting on quietly in the back ground and just hey does is this Alpha thing work for me? So that’s a wonderful place to start in terms of my stuff ‘Surf Series’. Another great place to start is actually Nord wind. This is a project I did for a yoga studio in Berlin back in September so it’s almost a year ago now. This is actually just a remix project of probably about 30 or 40 different tracks. They are pretty much all in the Alpha Category so there’s a dominant Alpha pattern and then it’ll bring in little Theta, a little Delta, A little Gama and it will really kind of guide you through almost entirety of work. Other Alpha thing to listen to –we generate really just good [inaudible] is really popular yeah in terms of Alpha I think those are some good places to start.
Interviewer: Well I’m just gonna check out the surf CDs now and see if I can get myself into an Alpha state.
J.S: Oh do you that’s great.
Interviewer: Yes I will, I will thank you so much J.