From People on Psychedelics
Devendra Obi Banhart (born May 30, 1981) is a Venezuelan American singer-songwriter and visual artist.
- He flicks the pages, through a lot of notes about science: quantum physics, general relativity, the Large Hadron Collider. "I'm genuinely interested in science," he says. "I feel that I'm working in a realm that is moving toward the mystery, and science is trying to dissect the mystery." This is Banhart's "bifurcated path" — the idea that the ecstasy of music and the rationality of science are both valid ways of fathoming the universe, especially since they draw us ever closer to the conclusion that humans and the Earth are more intertwined than we thought possible. In fact, a week before Banhart began recording What Will We Be, he found, oddly, that he couldn't open his mouth. "Couldn't eat a Brazil nut," he says. A doctor gave him muscle relaxants, but it didn't help. A friend recommended ayahuasca, the visionary vine of shamans that produces an eight-hour trip to unknown realms — and, suddenly, his mouth popped open. Two snakes, like the double helix of DNA, are a symbol of the animating spirit of ayahuasca, which is considered by some to contain the essence of life. The tattoos on his feet honor the experience. "But you must be very careful when talking about this, because it is essential to do ayahuasca with a shaman," explains Banhart. "You know, one of my realizations was, 'The baby doesn't realize it's a baby.' I kept saying that over and over."
- That's as clear as he gets about his spiritual beliefs. "I'm really just excited about the banana aspect of God," he says, a smile playing on his lips. "They are perfectly wrapped up for me, I peel them open, and there's delicious fruit full of potassium. Then I throw it away, and it disappears back into the Earth. Wow."
- I remember I was given a handful of tabs at a show on that first tour or two. Like, here’s a bag of LSD that I’m being given, assuming that this is going to be a gift that I’m going to be so happy about. These things are not recreational. Psychedelics are not recreational. They’re not. You can do it with the right frame of mind, prepared, with a guide; it’s a wonderful thing. But I’ve only done it once or twice in my whole life.