Paul Butler

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Paul Butler is an English multi-instrumentalist known from the band The Bees.

  • Paul Butler of the Bees told the NME of his experiences last month, but was a little disappointed to find they wrote it up as a crazed drug story. "Ayahuasca is most definitely not a drug, it's plant medicine," he says. "Taking it without an experienced shaman is dangerous."
Butler was introduced to the experience after producing What Will We Be by Devandra Banhart, himself an ayahuasca convert. He embarked on a "10-day dieta" in Peru, in which ayahuasca brews were concocted from, among other things, chacruna leaves, following the traditional methods of the Shipibo tribe.
"You drink a tiny shot with a bitter, sour taste," recalls Butler. "It's foul. In fact, it's making me retch just thinking about it! Then you sit for 30 minutes in the moloka, the octagonal ceremonial hut, waiting for the shaman."
What happens next isn't everyone's idea of a good night out. You are forced to face up to and resolve a series of issues and then vomit to cleanse yourself and overcome these problems.
"It can be quite an ordeal, facing your fears," explains Butler. "It can get very heavy, facing up to things in your life, but after these things are purged, the experience is like no other."
One of the attractions of the ceremonies to Butler was that the whole thing is tied up with music. Shamen perform songs or icaros while those in attendance sit and wait until they hear a song that resonates with them.
"The music was like nothing I'd heard before," says Butler. "I could listen to the rhythm for ever. And when they lay out the instruments at the start, you can tell they're special. The songs have been passed on through generations."
After such a third-eye-opening experience, it's perhaps surprising to hear that the Bees' new direction is not so much a psychedelic meltdown beamed in from the cerebral superhighway as a gentle folk song that recalls Simon & Garfunkel. Butler, however, believes the experience influenced his music in other ways.
"The whole thing has brought a lot of joy into my life. I think this kind of cleansing helps with your natural rhythm. Everyone has a song within them or a rhythm that is individual and personal only to you … and this kind of activity unlocks that."