“Lee Negin brilliantly defines a musical realm that is his alone. He effortlessly forges through the uncharted waters of musical Zen and cleverly orchestrates sound into a vibrant, visceral experience. Mr. Negin is a savvy magician welding a maestro’s baton, a mystical boatman guiding the listener on an epic journey through undiscovered sonic terrain.” – Lee Crisman, Pluto Radio
“Negin’s noize is the sound of one hand clapping, and one toe tapping.” – Roshi Kusai Onara, Abbot, Nattoji Monastery, Roppongi, Japan
Your life-story and relationship with your work
Tell us a little about you and your work:
I am a sentient being. I know nothing. I make noise and visuals to experience ‘mushin,’ the cessation of thought, for both me and the listener/viewer. I live in Japan. I have been in 45 countries. I have been creating music for several kalpas. I lived in India 3 times, studying meditation and Indian classical music (tabla drums). I have also studied and received ‘initiation’ with Tibetan Buddhist Lamas, Zen Masters, shamans fakes, gurus and Yogis. I have vast experience with entheogens of all varieties, since the age of 13. I have studied music with with some of the premier musicians of the 20th century in the Western Classical and Jazz traditions. I do Zazen & other meditative forms daily. I am 99% vegan, but 100% vegetarian for decades. My work is meant to act as an aural (music) and/or visual mandala: a centering device to help the listener/viewer to: stop discursive thought (“mushin”) raise the kundalini and experience happiness in the here and now. And, as a veteran of the Detroit Techno scene, to free your mind and body (‘dance like there is no tomorrow’). I am a sentient being. I know nothing.
Currently what projects are you working on? And what future plans have you chalked out for yourself?:
I just released (in May 2016) a new album (CD) (both physical disc and digital downloads) “Entheogenic Dharma Music” with many videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/passingphasemusic) I plan to start doing live gigs soon, at both festivals and solo performances across the universe, with visuals by some of the leading psychedelic artists in the world (my mates). The shows intent is to melt the audiences’ brain and create ecstatic states…much like a whirling Dervish in the Sufi tradition.
What influenced you to get into your field?:
Life. Death. Mysticism. Many esoteric traditions (Zen, Buddhism, Sufism, Hinduism, etc); Entheogens; Philosophy; Pain; Hundreds of incredible artists and traditions; The desire for my liberation and my Bodhisattva vow to help all sentient beings achieve liberation from the suffering caused by a life in Samsara (the illusion of believing you are your body/personality which are both subject to death and decay, causing suffering, fear and pain);
As an artist, what role do you think you play in society?:
“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I have not lived in vain.” -Emily Dickenson To help people get a moment of happiness/clarity–freedom from the never-ending discursive thoughts that torment us and prevent us from living (experiencing life in the here and now); to serve as a societal/cultural ‘gadfly’ in some of my ironic/social commentary pieces (stop being a sheep, passive victim of the mass media/mind-control ‘big brother’ to, as George Harrison said, ‘think for yourself’; to help people ‘wake up’ and perhaps experience a new point of view.
You obviously love what you do…but what do you love the most about your work?:
The process of creation in my studio, in which I “lose myself’ and find ‘my Self’; getting positive feedback via social media that my work has helped someone, ease physical or emotional/spiritual pain, even if just for a moment; to make people question, rather than following like sheep; to bring joy to others.
Creating on a regular basis can be a bloody tough job, so what motivates you to press yourself into the workstation every single day?:
Truman Capote talked about the process of creation in an interview. He said it’s like an oyster creating a pearl. Some sand get’s lodged in the oyster’s craw, and they salivate until a pearl is created. I never consider it a ‘bloody tough job.’ I enjoy every aspect of the creative process, and find it stimulating on all levels, intellectually and spiritually. I am a recording engineer, mixer, mastering engineer, composer, producer, videographer, photographer, lyricist, designer and musician. I feel ‘blessed’ that I am able to create, thus enabling me to express my ‘self’ and create, I hope–sometimes, when the genie appears–something of beauty that will bring joy to others and perhaps (a tall order) transcend time and space.
Everybody has to start somewhere, usually at the bottom of the ladder, either as the bus-boy or the shoe-shiner. What was the very first job you had?:
As a musician? Playing in “bar bands” starting in middle school. Job job? Paper boy (delivering newspapers) and starting in middle school, to get money to buy musical gear, albums and drugs, I worked in a “scrap yard” doing heavy manual labor on weekends and school holidays. Now, my day job is primarily university professor. Only about 2% of all musicians/artists make enough money to “live” (eat, pay for housing, etc.) with their art and most of that 2% are the commercial, vapid, “reality show” ‘popular’ bullshit people that grace the tabloids and popular media (I’d rather not mention their names). I am primarily a ‘recording artist” = an anachronism. Even when I sell hundreds of downloads/streams, and over 150,000 people have viewed my videos (and one of my songs was placed in a major motion picture), I cannot survive on my “art” income. Pity.
What is your second love? What’s the alternative career path you would have travelled if you were not on the one you are right now?:
I feel, for ‘real’ musicians/artists, it’s a vocation, a ‘life calling.’ That’s the case for me. If you’re in it for the money, 1. You are deluding yourself. 2. Just go the street corner and sell crack or your body or be a pimp. You’ll make more (perhaps).
Share your experiences and your characteristics/personality
No man is an island’- they say, in this light, what quality do you admire the most in others?:
My sense of humor (subjective).
Sometimes life can be quite a – insert word that rhymes with witch. Which phase was the hardest/scariest in your life?:
Glitch. Sandwich. (I know you want ‘bitch’ but that’s too easy). Hardest phase: Too many to list.
Any embarrassing moments? Yes, you’d hate to disclose your secrets but we’d love to hear.:
Generally involving bodily functions, like farting in front of a group of people or sneezing and having snot fly out of my nose…. These questions are getting a bit tabloidish.
Everybody’s got favourites…so what’s your favourite work/piece among everything that you’ve designed/produced/dj-ed/created? (Link us up!):
I’ve been making original music for a long time. Cliche” they are like my children.” Please go to http://www.youtube.com/user/passingphasemusic or http://passingphasemusic.com and decide for yourself.
Name a few of your all time favourite tracks. (From other artists if you are producer).:
Too many to list. I have very catholic tastes, and listen to everything from Musique Concrete to Ghazals to Gamelan to electronica to electro-acoustic-to Indian Classical to Japanese Music (traditional) to Shoegazing (love Cocteau Twins) to Prog Rock to a variety of African Musics to Jazz (like Miles Davis, Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Elvin Jones) to psychedelic (Hendrix, Cream, Beatles…) to 80’s pop (Tears for Fears, Wang Chung, The Smiths), Brit Pop (XTC) to “folk rock” (the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, C,S & N, Neil Young, etc.) to country rock, (Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco, etc.) to singer-songwriters (JONI MITCHELL), to Funk/R&B (Prince, George Clinton, P-Funk, Rick James) to Mowtown (Marvin Gaye, Temptations, 4 Tops, Supremes..), Simon and Garfunkel, to Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, the Divinyls, Midnight Oil, Crowded House, The Smiths, Thompson Twins, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Kraftwerk, Krautrock, AC/DC, Allman Brothers, Jeff Beck, Zakir Hussein…. I could continue….
When have you been most satisfied in your life? Care to share one of your happiest memories?:
Here and Now (I try). “The past is history, the future a mystery.”
Habits die hard. Which one word always creeps in your speech?:
Knock, knock, we want to hear a good joke.:
Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clnton? Our current world situation? The current ‘music business’? Kanye West? “Reality” Stars? Mass Media? The illuminati? The 67 people who control everything on this planet? (pathos/bathos). You can laugh or you can cry: your choice.
There’s a book on the shelf. It’s your autobiography. What does the title say?:
Sentient Being. Knows Nothing.
Flash-forward in time. You are now really old. What would you tell your children/loved ones?:
To brush and floss daily!
Into the time machine again. What do you miss about being a kid?:
Being a kid.
Your hobbies and other fun questions
Excessive chopping dulls the axe. Time-outs are a must. What do you do when you take time off from creating? Got any hobbies?:
Balance is essential. The physical body must be maintained. Mountain/ice climbing, playing squash, walking, and nail art.
What’s the last movie/T.V show you saw or book/magazine you read?:
I don’t have a TV or watch TV as such. I enjoy “Project Runway.” The creative process is interesting to observe. I don’t care about fashion at all (clothes are a necessity) but some of the clothing designers transcend the medium. Creativity is creativity. I always read and reread Zen/Taoist/Buddhist/Mindfulness books
Name your all time favourite movie/show/book.:
Too many to list.
With all the X-men and heroes running around. Us mortals would like some powers too. What one superpower would you choose?:
The genie comes out of the lamp and grants you one wish that will change the world. What would you wish for?:
Universal Awakening/Realization, thus ushering in the Golden Age.
Your opinions and viewpoints
Got any theories on how the universe blossomed into existence or on the rationale of life? Are we in the matrix? Did god knit a hologram?:
All these questions are intellectual masturbation. You are in a burning house. The wisest course of action is to escape the confines of the house, and then all questions will be answered. Yet, we sit in the burning house, asking inane questions: “Who started the fire? Who made the house? Why? What’s the house made of? Who is the architect?” etc.” Meanwhile, the flames consume you. The burning house is your physical body, which will die anytime now…it is aflame. Learn to transcend the physical body, then you will have time for questions–if indeed you feel they are necessary!
In an era where most people bear a close resemblance to sandpaper, it’s easy to snap. What are your dislikes/pet peeves/frustrations?:
When people forget to flush the toilet in public restrooms. When people walk and text at the same time and bump into you or block the way. When people talk in movie theatres during the movie. When people send me endless phishing spam or viagra, etc. spam.When people call hacks like Madonna, Lady Gugu, Kanye West or Justin TimberBeaver, etc. “artists.”
How do you connect to the spiritual side of yourself?:
With a cable and some gaffer tape.
Your relationship with psychedelics
Creativity and psychedelics work together. Do you agree? Why/Why not?:
“You get from the party what you bring to the party.” Having ingested psychedelics with many people over the years, it didn’t magically make them creative if they weren’t to begin with. Their “art” sucked before and after. Monet, DaVinci, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, etc. didn’t use psychedelics and yet their work was/is extremely ‘psychedelic.’ “Those who have eyes will see” and no amount of drugs can change that.
Any work/pieces that were inspired by entheogens?:
My work? All of it. I cannot divorce my experience (any of it) from what I create. Part of my experience is having used cannibas, mushrooms, LSD, etc.
Are you pro-weed culture? Why do you think the majority of the population goes against the green?:
I come for the school that used entheogens for greater clarity and to make breakthroughs in consciousness. Like Huxley, “The Doors of Perception,” Ram Dass, Timothy Leary, and Carlos Castaneda (readers too young: do your homework). Recreational users? It’s “better” than alcohol, but escapism is escapism. “It’s better to BE high, than GET high.” – Ram Dass
Any ideas to rectify this mindset?:
It’s happening. Marijuana laws, at least in the USA (where I came from this incarnation) are rapidly changing.
Advice for the readers and fans
At the end of the ride, everyone’s looking for some form of success (tangible or not), what does success mean to you?:
Daily bowel movements.