Rick Rubin Shares His Secrets To Unleashing Your Creativity | AMP # 451

By Aubrey Marcus February 21, 2024

Rick Rubin Shares His Secrets To Unleashing Your Creativity | AMP # 451

Embark on a transformative journey into the depths of creativity with legendary music producer and artistic genius Rick Rubin.

The insights Rick shares on how to nourish the seeds of your creative ideas, into the fruition of artistic mastery provide invaluable guidance and inspiration for everyone. We are all artists. Along the way you’ll learn practical techniques and hear inside stories from his days working with countless legendary artists throughout his career–all of which will help you tap into the limitless reservoir of inspiration within. 

AUBREY: It's a pleasure to be here with you, Rick. 

RICK: Thank you very much. Same. 

AUBREY: Yeah. I've been really enjoying diving into your book, The Creative Act. Obviously, I've been a passive fan of your creativity for, like most people, for most of my life, listening to the incredible music that you've had your hand in playing a part in. But beautiful to see you distill the act of this into this book. And of course, we also got to talk about the commercial you just produced for the super bowl for a mutual friend, Robert F. Kennedy jr. So much to get into today, but I'm just really excited to sit down with you. 

RICK: Great. Let's do it. 

AUBREY: Let's do it. So, in going through this, I think one of the ways that I felt like might allow us to access some of the wisdom you have is to go to the personal, go to the aspects of the creative act that I know in myself, and then allow you to offer your expertise and reflections on some of that as well. So, in reading this, I find that one of the challenges that I have, and just to give you a little background and for any new listeners tuning in, I've been on the plant medicine and psychedelic medicine path since I was 18, so almost 25 years. And it's allowed me access to a greater level of creativity from the capital C ‘creativity’ of capital S ‘source’, and it's been a great blessing. It's offered a bridge to different ideas, helped me synthesize ideas internally and also the books that I've read and teachers I've studied from and the philosophies. And what I find is, and you talk about the seeds, and these are these ideas, and these ideas that start to come to you from the field, and kind of come from yourself, but somewhere beyond yourself. But I find myself in a sea of seeds. And then I want to do them all. I want to grow and water and nurture all the seeds. And sometimes I do. And then I end up with a whole garden of seeds and I don't have the energy or the water or the attention of my time, like the sun that peers down to actually nurture the seeds. So I ended up getting little tiny baby saplings that don't have enough energy or attention. So what would you do? You know, and what would you advise for myself or anybody like myself that feels like, man, I got all these ideas, but the discretion about which one to go with becomes a real challenge.

RICK: I find that I'm in a similar boat, similar condition that you're describing. I came up with many ideas. I water many seeds. And typically, what happens is something else takes over. It's not so much about me deciding, they kind of take on a life of their own and some of them find their way into the world and get pulled forward. And other ones you can decide you want to focus on and nothing happens. You know, you can just hammer them and they, nothing happens. So, I would say giving up some of the feeling of control. And looking at them all and seeing some of them are going to have more life than others. Some of them are going to, also in your life when you're paying attention to what's going on around you, you'll get clues related to some of them more than others. You'll get pieces of the puzzle showing up in your life. And so, I feel like it has less to do with us and more, just the more we pay attention, it becomes clear how it wants to be.

AUBREY: Yeah, that's really beautiful advice. It reminds me of one particular instance of an animated film that I created, and I have lots of ideas for these short animated films and things. And in this example that you said, we were going to create a film called gathering of the tribe. It's a story told by Charles Eisenstein and we're getting an animator. And I was just showing the idea to the musician, John Hopkins, who's one of the great ambient composers, you're probably familiar with his work, also has his own EDM kind of side to what he does. And he just listened to it. He just saw what we had going in the store and he goes, I want to score it. And I go. You want to score it? I mean, amazing. And it just brought it over the line and to this next level and it became, you know, one of the gems, like one of these things that I'm really proud of. And it was really the universe just conspiring. He happened to be staying at my house. You know, he happened to see it. It wasn't my effort to make it happen. Like you're saying, I didn't decide, but there was a, almost the conspiracy of the cosmos working through to help bring this to fruition.

RICK: Yeah, it just happened to me with the website that I sent you the beta version of. It was an idea that started about seven years ago. And seven years ago, there were all these ideas that made all these notes about it. And for whatever reason, it just never came into existence because there was always other stuff going on. And for whatever reason, not by my decision, the universe conspired for it to come together and happen now. And it's happening and it's cool and it may have never happened, you know, I don't think I would have pushed it to happen because there are so many other fledgling possible projects that I don't think we can decide. I think we can just really pay attention. 

AUBREY: And I want to double click on the, you know, on that website. I don't know if you want me to share the name of it or not. You might want to keep that all private, but yeah, Tetra Gamma time. It was a beautiful compilation of such a vast array of art from physical, tangible to visual, to sound, to poetry. I mean, what a cool fucking thing to be a part of, especially, you know, with who you are and in your eye and your ability to help, collate and collect all of these different pieces of art. I mean, phenomenal. I can't wait until this release. I was already gorging in the short amount of time that I had on the pieces that were there. So again, a beautiful thing that I hope everybody gets to enjoy. And I wanted to just go to one, one danger that I could see in that and just, and ask your opinion about that. One danger I could see is. I've known some people who have left a little too much up to the universe. Ah, well, if I'm meant to be a, you know, a rock star, a musician or whatever, it'll just happen, and I'm like, nah, bro, you gotta play shows. Like, you gotta book that, you gotta book that grimy little dive bar, and you gotta get in there, and you gotta play your music. You know, you got to get, sit your butt in the studio and put out a track, you know, like there's this combination of listening and then like the effort and the will. 

RICK: Absolutely. The work ethic is a necessary piece that without it, nothing happens. And when I say waiting for signs from the universe, I'm not saying waiting for signs and doing nothing. I'm saying we're always working, we're always showing up. I'm saying less deciding we know what to do. It's not about that, that I've made a decision and I'm bringing it to life. It's not that, it's a collaboration and I'm paying attention, seeing what's happening around me and things come up and it's time for them. And we get to support them in their process. 

AUBREY: Yeah, I saw you interviewed Steven Pressfield, who's a mutual friend and he's been such an inspiration for me. One of the things that he talks about is that I think it's 9 a. m. I could have the exact time wrong, but at 9 a. m. He sits his ass down in his seat and he is going to write, he's going to show up like a professional. And I think it was Neil Gaiman who maybe said something similar where he goes to the garden to write, but you sit down at a certain point, maybe it's a hundred words that comes out. Maybe it's 5, 000 words that comes out, but every single day he's going to sit down and show up and then whatever moves through him is going to happen. And I think that kind of structure is something that's really incredible, incredibly valuable and separates really the pro from the amateur. 

RICK: Yeah, having a practice of working on whatever it is that you're working on and could be many different things. I'm always working on a lot of things. There's never enough time to do all the things that I want to do. 

AUBREY: I hear you. 

RICK: But I don't get to decide that, you know, I let that happen on a different plane. I'd love to ask you what, what were you like pre plant medicine? 

AUBREY: So pre plant, so I was 18 when I first had my plant medicine journey. So just out of high school, very focused on girls and basketball, but also with the mind to, you know, a deeper philosophical understanding, but the philosophical understanding led me into a more materialist reductionist, virtually atheist, though mildly agnostic. I actually reread, it's interesting you asked me, I reread a journal from actually my pre plant medicine days. And what was really interesting is I got basically suckered into a church ski trip when I moved to Austin, Texas. I moved to Austin, Texas at 14, wasn't around a lot of religion, didn't experience it very much in California, where I moved from. And I went on this church ski trip. I had fun skiing, but then they were, the pastor was preaching all of these things. So I wrote down the 10 reasons why I disagreed with what the tenets of Christianity that were being taught. And I had 10 serious objections. And it was funny seeing my 16 year old mind go with that. And then I have another section. It's a shorter section and it's the reason why I believe. And there were some like larger scale reasons, but the one that was really funny to me is for whatever reason, I took a particular interest in Rasputin and the story of Rasputin. And I believed that Rasputin had legitimate healing powers. So one of the reasons why I believed in God was I was like, well, but what about Rasputin? How did he get those powers? So I was always thinking about these things, but I think the direct attention of my focus was largely on other kinds of regular lifestyle issues. And then, of course, with that plant medicine journey, I had a direct somatic Gnosis of the divine that moves in me, as me, through me, the ability of the unborn and undying to be felt and known. And that really catapulted me into a different trajectory where I still cared about girls and basketball. Don't get me wrong, but there was another element that really kind of picked up momentum. 

RICK: Do you feel like had you not ever done plant medicine, you would still have gotten to where you are now?

AUBREY: No chance. No chance. I don't think, I think that is, for whatever reason, I would be in some version of who I am, but without knowing anything, like not being able to feel it, like feel the energy of source and feel the energy actually moving through me, I don't think I would have ever believed it offhand. So I think I would have been limited in my exploration of the deeper esoteric concepts inside of the sides of the world. And maybe I would have found it a different way. I could have found it through a profound breath work or meditation practice, or there's many ways that you can find it. Plant medicine isn't the only way, but it's been my way. So it's hard to imagine getting anywhere close to where I am without any way. And you know, that just happened to be the way for me. And yeah, so it's hard to even imagine what Aubrey would be like without those great plant teachers. 

RICK: Cool. 

AUBREY: How about for yourself? Have you had, you know, have you had any experiences with, I imagine the answer to that would be yes. But, any that you're willing to share or talk about that

RICK: I’ll tell you, surprisingly, I've never had any psychedelic experiences from drugs. I've had them from hot and cold. I've had them from breath work. I've had them through different spiritual experiences that I've had, but I've never. I grew up in a time of punk rock where straight edge, while I was never a straight edge person, it was sort of in the air and for whatever reason, I never drank or smoked or any drugs

AUBREY: Well, it certainly doesn't seem to have limited your creativity or your sense of peace and equanimity. I mean, you could have fooled me and I'm around a lot of people who are in space. You show up energetically as someone who embodies the type of deep peace of someone who knows themself and has plumbed the inner world of their psyche. And I have to imagine that the creative act itself, the creative act itself is in its way, its own psychedelic experience. There's the process of surrender. And then there's the process of act of will, and you're always dancing between the two. So I think there's a really strong case. I mean, the book is called the creative act, a way of being. Right? Like the creative act extends beyond the products that we create. It's actually a way to forge who we really are. 

RICK: Yeah. It's getting, it's being true to yourself. And through that, the things that we make are true to us. And if it's true to you, that's the best chance it has of having any place in the world. Each of us is here to play our part, not somebody else's part. And I think it's a big mistake that people see something successful outside of themselves and they want to have that. So they follow the path. They follow someone else's path that led to their success instead of following their own path to lead to your own success.

AUBREY: I see that in music all the time. I've had some friends who.. I don't have that, I don't have the ear that you do, obviously. And I don't know, but we all have an ear. We all have a sense of something that's really special. And I've heard their early music, you know, like just some of the tracks that they just got in there and they just ripped it, it was their heart, it was poetry, it wasn't just music, it was poetry because it came from their soul. And then they got kind of in the machine. And then the machine started tweaking this thing and tweaking that thing and changing the lyrics a little bit, changing the sound a little bit. And honestly, they'll send me the tracks and they'll be excited about it because everybody's telling them it's good. And I'm like, that's cool. But I miss your old stuff. You know, like I miss that raw stuff, the real stuff that, to me just, that really sings and captures my soul.

RICK: Yeah, I understand. And I will say, I don't feel like I have a better ear than you or anyone else. It's not about that. It really is more of, like you say, you can tune into, you can hear something that everyone says is better than it used to be. And you can say it was better before I missed the way it was before. That's my job. That's all I do. 

AUBREY: Yeah. 

RICK: Or I could say, you know what, it's not good enough.

AUBREY: Right. 

RICK: Let's go back and work harder and try to figure it out. And let's think of other things, other directions we can go, that might lead to something good without any expectation that it will. You know, I never know. It's always like everything's an experiment. And then you're experimenting, you're experimenting, you're experimenting. And at some point, you step back and like, whoa, that thing is good. You know, that one is better than all the other, all the other experiments up until now. And that's, that's all it is.

AUBREY: Do you feel like a little click that happens or something in the experimentation process? Like there's this moment where, you know, I find something, maybe it'll be a line of a poem, maybe it'll be the start of a chapter, maybe it'll be some little thing and I'll feel it or even a brand name for a company and I'll feel it and then I'll just be like, it was, there's just this subtle little click, like some kind of nod from the news.

RICK: There it is.

AUBREY: Yeah, and then from there, 

RICK: It's just great feeling

AUBREY: it's a great, it's the best feeling, it's such a good feeling, you know, you feel almost touched by, you're touched by an angel, like literally in that moment, and then from there, I suppose it's just doubling down and then showing up like a professional and really nurturing that seed once you feel that moment.

RICK: And also sometimes we can have a moment like that, and then the project will take a wild turn in a different direction. And it's okay. And the new direction ends up being even better than that first revelation where you feel like there it is. 


RICK: Still being respectful that it may change its mind essentially and find a new way. Or sometimes you work for, you know, you think you have it and then you work for it for a month or two months, three months longer, trying to take this little moment that was so special and amplify it or place it in the right position or find a way to build around it. And you realize after months of working on it, actually it was. The best version of it was in that moment when I first liked it, and that's the real version. You know, it could be like, you do a little drawing, a little sketch, a doodle, and then you think, ah, this would make the greatest painting. And then you spend a long time working on the painting, and you look at the painting, and you look at the doodle, and it's like. The doodle is really better than the painting. So being able to, it's something in the music business that you hear often was the demos were better than the album. It's when you work past something and because you're putting work into it, there's some part of you that believes you're making it better. Your intention is to make it better. But you don't go back and check, or many don't go back and check, is it in fact better? Is the fact that I put so much more time and effort into it making it better? Or was that first rough draft actually the best version? You also can't know that until you go past it. Do you know what I'm saying? It's like if you do the first rough version, you love it. If you don't continue to see what it could become, you may be stopping, you know, at one when it has the potential to get to 10, but we can't know that in advance. No way to know that. 

AUBREY: It seems that it's important to be aware too of the psychological forces or cosmological forces that may be acting against you in this process, right? This idea of perfectionism, like I'm going to keep working on it, making it better when actually, because I referenced Steven Pressfield, I'll use his terminology when actually resistance is coming in there and not wanting you to release your art in some way. So it just has you perpetually tinkering with it and actually making it worse until actually you won't produce it at all. So I think being aware of those elements that work in the psyche, I didn't get to listen to your conversation with Pressfield. What are your thoughts on his take on this force of resistance? I'm sure you've seen it and felt it yourself in your own mind.

RICK: No, absolutely. Absolutely. I think he's exactly accurate. We come at it, I feel like we're coming at it from two different sides, but we're talking about the same thing. He spends a lot of time talking about this force of resistance. And I talk about this infinite source that's available to us at all times. So both are true. You know, both are true. We're just focusing on different aspects of the issue.

AUBREY: Right. Do you have some stories that you could share or that of people who've really had, you know, some kind of spark and then had their own battle with resistance and hopefully made it through the other side or potentially a cautionary tale of the wrong side as you've worked with different artists? I'm sure you've seen all the gamut of people fighting and wrestling with themselves in this process. 

RICK: Yeah, the two that come to mind. The first one comes to mind is a comedian, Andrew Dice Clay, who I used to work with. And I produced all of his albums. I think we did five albums and he was very popular with his audience. He was the biggest comedian in the world at that time. And the people who were not fans of his, didn't understand what he was doing and didn't like what he was doing and he was vilified outside of his audience so he could, he sold out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row at a time when comedians didn't do that people are going crazy screaming, chanting on his behalf, you know loving him like the Beatles but then you'd read something in the newspaper that would say he's a horrible person or people never even interviewed him, they don't know him. And I saw him, the reason he became a comedian was because he wanted to make people happy and be liked. It's part of the.. I think every comedian at some level is doing it to express themselves with the hopes of people accepting them. So, Andrew had this huge acceptance from his audience, but the outside mainstream world rejected him and it got to him and he decided to change his act to try to appease the people who didn't understand him. And it was heartbreaking to watch because he was so loved, but he was really struggling because he was hoping to please people. That's the first one that comes to mind. The other thing that comes to mind is bands who get very successful. And end up breaking up, but the reasons for the breakup are always so much smaller than the power of the band together. And it's just heartbreaking to watch, whether it be a system of a down or rage against the machine or whoever they are. They have so much power as a unit and the pieces of the unit all together create this amazing thing. But then something small or a difference of opinion or a difference of ideas ends up breaking it up. 

AUBREY: Yeah. And, you know, to take Pressfield's angle of that, there's both ways to see it. One could be they lose contact with that higher source that drew them forward and drew them together that impulse for allurement and intimacy that would draw them together, which is the positive side. So they lost contact with that. So it was the absence of the draw in the listening to spirit, or you could say also on the inverse, and they're not mutually exclusive, both can be true, that that voice of resistance, the whisper of the deceiver, is another word that I'll call it, the whisper of the deceiver, got into their ear and just started whispering, Oh, this person is, you know, you could be more famous if you did it alone, or you don't need your band, or you just this whisper of that devil on your shoulder, that kind of can break something beautiful up. And so both aspects, one, continuing to connect to that higher authority and also being mindful to push aside the voice of the deceiver that might whisper into your ear. Let's go into your creative process because, the commercial, and then we'll just do something really recent because it just came out and is one of the reasons why we're talking right now, the commercial that you produced for Kennedy, for the Superbowl. You had to do that as far as I understand it in a hurry, like this was not something that you had six months to mull over and work on. You had an unbelievable deadline. 

RICK: Yeah. It’s a funny story.

AUBREY: Tell me the funny story.

RICK: I'll tell you the story. I'll tell you the long version of the story starting from the beginning, even though it was a crazy deadline and it happened very quickly. The long version of the story is I do a podcast also called Tetragrammaton and when I started the podcast less than 12 months ago, and a friend of mine, Rich Roll said, you know, at the beginning of the podcast, you're going to talk to the audience and explain who the guest is. And then there'll be ads and you're going to read the ads. And I said, I don't think I'm going to do any of those things. And he's like, no, but everyone's going to expect that you have to do that. I said, I don't really feel comfortable doing that. I feel like there's going to be a different way. Like I just, I'm doing this because I want to do it my way. I don't even know what my way is yet, but I know I don't want to do those things. So the idea of solving the problem of commercials, when I don't want to read an ad for a commercial, and I started trying a bunch of different things and trying experiments and started making these commercials that sound like they're from another time, and they're just different than all the other commercials you get to hear. And we were seeing that on the podcast episodes, the most viewed part of the podcast with the commercials, people love the commercials. Now, when I listen to podcasts, I almost always skip commercials. The fact that anyone would skip to a commercial really was a revelation. It wasn't intended to do, that wasn't the intention. The intention was, I was trying to solve a problem. I don't want to read ads. What can I do? That's interesting and not negative and it turned into a positive. So I just recently had that experience. And what's cool about those commercials is they remind you of another time. They remind you of childhood. They remind you of what AM radio might've sounded like when you were a kid. Very different than anything that you can experience today in the media. So I had that experience. And then I get a call. This was last week. I believe it was Saturday of last week. I got a call from a friend who said, do you have any ideas now? But I don't watch football, so I have no idea when the Super Bowl is

AUBREY: And Saturday is, the Saturday you're talking about is eight days from the Super Bowl. 

RICK: Eight days from the Super Bowl. And I got a call saying, from a friend who said, we made this commercial for Bobby Kennedy and it got rejected. And now we have to come up with something else. Do you have any ideas? And I thought, okay, it's fun helping a friend solve a problem. I like to do that, that's fun. So I started thinking about possible ideas and started making lists of things like, okay, maybe music's involved, maybe just making a list of possible directions to go. And then I get a message and it's due in 36 hours. The one before that was like, do you want to direct it? It's like, okay, that'd be fun. I'll direct it. And it's like, it's due in 36 hours. It's like, it's in 36 hours and you have nothing, nothing starting from scratch. So. I looked at my list of possible things to do. It probably narrowed down the list a little bit based on it being 36 hours. And asked my friend, can you help me find an editor? I called my production people, said, can we find an editor to physically make this happen? And then my friend who called me suggested an editor first. So we did that. And we made three commercials of different types. In rough drafts on the first day. Now we have 36 hours, but we still tried three different ideas and of the three, I would say there's another one that ultimately is probably a better commercial than the one that we chose to go with. That said, the reason we chose to go with the one that we chose to go with, which is the, it's an old ad for John Kennedy, basically sampled like a hip hop record and repurposed for Robert Kennedy. That was the idea. And also because we're on such a short time schedule, it was easier to accomplish that than going out and shooting starting from scratch. So, it had something to start on. The other one also was rooted in archival materials. So we were able to create that one too. And then the third one is also mostly based on archival. That one happened as well. So we make these three, we watch them. Me and my friends who called me, we all like number two best. And then we talk about the idea of number one, which is the one that we ended up going with is probably the most radical in the context of the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is the highest profile, most cutting edge, CGI, AI, superstar ads. So, of the things we can make, this one is the most foreign compared to those, the goal was for people to say, almost feel like there's something wrong when it comes on, like, this doesn't belong.

AUBREY: Right. 

RICK: You know, this is a mistake. 

AUBREY: Right. 

RCIK: So my hope was for people to, you know, WTF. That was what I was hoping for. 

AUBREY: Yeah. 

RICK: And, so, It gets done. It gets done in 36 hours. There's all this legal stuff going on. The network is trying not to let it on, a lot of stuff happened. But then it came out and remarkably, it really seemed to touch people, like have an impact with people in a way that you can never plan or guess it. I actually saw people on Twitter saying exactly what I said. I hope someone would say this, a lot of people said that. So it was, it really came together. And it's not, for me, it wasn't a political thing at all. I don't even know what Bobby's platform is, I have no idea. It was a creative problem to help a friend solve a creative problem. And it was a fun project on a large scale. So. That's how it happened. And it's so cool that it had the impact that it did. It's, again, shocking. 

AUBREY: It's still having an impact. I mean, I think I got some, some statistics, 123 million saw it in the game or something like that. And then there's been another 77 million or something that have seen it since. So it's still rippling and it really evoked this. You know, it was archival footage, but it evoked this sense of nostalgia of, you know, for many people, the last time, you know, at least people who've lived that long, the last time they really remembered, having like genuine faith in their government in the in the way that happened during JFK and I think again, I referenced Charles Eisenstein once again, but there was a big break that happened. I think in the American psyche when he was assassinated, you know, it was like something is not quite right here. And I don't think that's been quite put back together yet. So, you know, the way that it was done

RICK: Another part of the ad has no, the commercial has no political content other than Kennedy for president. It doesn't take a position. It's not an attack ad. If you watch TV at all, every ad you see is just this attacking, angry, and it feels like the whole world has become a version of an attack ad. So the feeling of something upbeat that makes you feel good and reminds you of a time when you were less stressed out seems like a good thing. And it's part of why the commercials on Tetragrammaton have the feeling that they do. And it's part of why the Website that you got to check out part of the feeling of that. And I'm realizing the reason it happened now, instead of seven years ago, so many of the things that I used to follow in the past, many things about art, things about, creativity, interesting, interesting things that I grew up watching PBS and interesting things in all these places. All of a sudden now. None of those places do that anymore. They're all angry, political sites. Every one of them, you know, an art column is an angry, political art column when it used to be about the wonders and beauty of art. So, the purpose of the website it's not political. It doesn't take any sides. It's a relief from what feels like this bombardment of anger, unhappiness, it's just unpleasantness that feels like it's making us all crazy. 

AUBREY: Yeah. It's definitely making us sicker and sicker and I think there's a place to channel that anger into art. And I think, like, if you think about some of the great, you know, legendary hip hop groups, like NWA, they channeled a bunch of anger into their art, but they wrapped it in art, and it became iconic, and it became legendary. But there's a difference when you wrap it in the bubble of art and your creativity, and I think we've lost that ability to put this emotion where it really belongs, which is into your artistic expression. And then that's a different, it's a different thing when it comes across as art, you know, it's just I think it's more fulfilling to the soul. And it also allows the contesting of ideas to take place in almost another realm, like by the creative act itself, it places it in a different realm where it's like, all right, you know, like you're expressing your art. And it feels like that's maybe a way forward to help synthesize some of the polarity that we're seeing in our culture is just to help people channel that into their art, you know, write it into poetry or music or painting, whatever. 

RICK: Yeah, it's happened forever this way. So much great art has come out of bad family situations, alcoholic parents, being beaten, being abused, all of those things have led to some of the greatest artists in the world. It's not required that you had a terrible life for that to be the case, but it happens, we see it happen often and it's almost like releasing a valve to let the pressure out. Somehow it can happen through art. And sometimes people can say things in their art that they wouldn't say to their parents or to their, even their best friends, they somehow, when you put it in the context of artistic expression, it takes on a different life. And it's a beautiful thing to take advantage of that. The idea that we can take all of this negative energy that's coming towards us and turn it into something beautiful. And I, you know, I've got to work with bands like Slayer or Black Sabbath or Metallica who talk about dark subjects, but the people who are loving them are not loving them with the energy of whatever's negative in their music. It's they're finding love together because they're sharing an experience of it being difficult to live in the world.

AUBREY: Right. 

RICK: Do you know what I'm saying? 

AUBREY: Totally. Yeah. There's so many directions I want to go with this. I think one of the things that I saw that really seemed off and you know, no offense to the band itself, but I'm going to reference them. I got to see the prodigy recently at a big festival and they haven't produced a lot of new music. Their music came out, I think early 2000’s and they had a lot of intensity and a lot of like, real rage, you know, that kind of came through. And I think

RICK: Firestarter

AUBREY: Firestarter, yeah, it made them really popular, but you know, it's 24 years later, they've been singing the same songs over and over and you just got the feeling like, are you really still that mad, you know, like, do you still like, has that not been alchemized to the same degree? And it just felt like it was now all of a sudden a force, it was almost a parody of what was originally the authentic feeling, but because those are the hits and they got to play the hits and they got to play them that intense, you know, so it was dissonant because it wasn't fresh. It was, you know, like a recitation.

RICK: Have you ever got to see Nick Cave live? Nick cave in the bad seeds? 

AUBREY: No. Uh, But I'll put it on the list. 

RICK: Yeah. Nick Cave, it's the most terrifying show. And the reason is, when you see a band that are in their 20s, a punk rock band and edgy and angry, and we see that all the time. But when you see a band of grown up men in their fifties wearing suits, genuinely angry, scarily angry, it's terrifying because we're not, everyone grows out of it. Everybody grows out of it, they have not grown up and you feel this scary power coming from the stage. That's really exciting.

AUBREY: That’s cool. Yeah. It's cool to hear that the counterexample still exists. And of course, you know, you can tap that universally. I wonder if you have stories of artists that you've worked with who would really say to you, you know, Rick, art saved my life or music saved my life. Like, if it wasn't for this expression, I don't think I'd be here.

RICK:  Well, there's an artist who I'd met who I didn't work with, but it relates to this story named Melody Gardot, who was blind and through singing, she changed her life. I don't know how much she can see, but it was used as a, she learned to sing as a therapy for her blindness. And she's one of the most beautiful singers, her voice is magnificent, and it's truly a case of it actually healing the person, but for so many people, the misfit nature of musicians is many of them who are successful, if they weren't doing this probably would be living homeless on the street. You know, they don't fit in the normal world based on whatever's, based on society's belief wrong with them based on their artistic output right with them. 

AUBREY: Yeah. That makes sense. I find that one of the worst things that I see that exists out there in the social media culture right now is when people stretch to produce their art. They're not really poets, but they put out their poem, or they're not really a singer, but they put out a song. You know, in those instances when somebody else comes and goes to tear them down, you know, just puts cringe with the vomit emoji on their artistic expression to try and stunt their ability to share their art. Like, I don't think people realize just how insidious, trying to tear someone down who's reaching to produce their art really is. Like it's so important. You're attacking some aspect of their soul. Now, of course, at a certain point, you're all going to reach this, but it just makes me kind of sad and a little angry when I see this happening to people, because this is fucking art. Like this is sacred, you know, like if you want to talk about profaning against the Lord, you know, like this is you're profaning against the divine force that's moving through somebody and trying to shut it down. It's a really dark phenomenon that I see in our popular culture now.

RICK: Yeah, I think most criticism of art tells us more about the person who's doing the criticizing than the work itself. It's mostly art works, to some degree like a mirror and you see the reflection and you love that reflection or you see the reflection and you can't stand that reflection. Maybe the one you can't stand is the better reflection. Who knows? You know? 

AUBREY: Yeah. I think that's absolutely true. And it's usually, I would imagine, I rarely see an artist, you know, unless you're talking about Tupac and Biggie or something trying to tear each other apart. Like that was a whole different story. That was just, you know, two icons who were locking horns like a great battle in some mythic forest of two stags looking to see who is the alpha. I'm not talking about that, but I'm talking about artists, any artists, you don't see them trying to tear down other artists, you know, not like politicians do, not like you see so many other people do. If you're an artist, you're not going to spend your time tearing down another artist. It's just, you don't do it.

RICK: No, it's not a competition. We're making things for ourselves and to share. And if you like it, great. And if you don't like it, pick something else. All good. Everybody's happy. You know, turn the channel. Early on in hip hop, I was involved in hip hop early in my career. And there was a tremendous movement to ban hip hop completely from the mainstream. And the same forces now that are trying to ban whatever version of free speech is happening now are the same people who 40 years ago wanted to ban hip hop. 

AUBREY: Yeah. I mean, this country is built on these principles of freedom. And that's the reason why it's the first amendment, the freedom of speech. And it's an important one. It's an important one to uphold. And also, you know, one of the many reasons why I have given my full support to Bobby Kennedy, but obviously he's not the only one talking about this, but he really gets that, that this is linked to the soul of who we are. And if we're not free to speak, what are we free to do? And if we're not free to think also in the plant medicine movement, I've found it just egregious that you, there's a force out there that's telling you that if you, in the privacy of your own home, want to eat some mushrooms that maybe grew in a field next to your house, then you're better off getting locked in a cage. And subjected to the vicissitudes of the penal system then just being allowed to adjust and modulate and explore your own consciousness in your own house. What are you talking about? If we're not free to explore our own consciousness, what are we free to do? And by the way, there's perfectly good laws against harming anybody else or driving while intoxicated. There's perfectly good laws that already exist. You don't even need a new one. Driving under the influence. Keep those laws. Great. But the idea that you could control someone's speech, control someone's thought, control someone's exploration of consciousness, like we're going to look back at these times and go, what were we thinking?

RICK: Did you see, I think his first name is Amos, but I'm not sure. There's a farmer in Pennsylvania who, let me, give me a moment. I want to get this correct.

AUBREY: Anthony, is it Anthony?

RICK: No, he's an Amish farmer and he makes products for the Amish community and for other people who are interested in what the Amish community, natural stuff that the Amish community eats, which you can't buy because things like, unpasteurized milk is illegal, but you can join a club. And if you join the club, club members can share these things. The SWAT team came to his farm with machine guns, destroying all of his food. It's natural, healthy food. It's the best food you can get. 

AUBREY: Yeah. 

RICK: That's what's being targeted. The healthiest food. It's unbelievable. 

AUBREY: It really is. Yeah, I think there was a documentary, maybe not about that particular story, but it was called Farmageddon, I think, something like that. And it's pretty wild the way that the, what I call Empire, these forces are looking to totalize control and really totalized control, not just externally, but internally, what we're able to put in our own body, you know, what we're able to speak, think, and how we're able to be, it's just so overreaching. It's really astonishing that, you know, we don't stand in greater revolt, but it just seems to creep tiptoe, tiptoe closer to less and less freedom. And now, fortunately, there's a big strong movement to reclaim that sovereignty and our ability to be free within the construct of our own body, mind, heart, and soul.

RICK: I hope so. I mean, freedom feels like it's the key to everything.

AUBREY: Yeah, for sure. You know, one of the, to speak to the many different paths that you can arrive at for accessing greater joy and bliss in higher states of consciousness, probably the most profound mystic that I ever experienced was was Don Miguel Ruiz and he's still alive and he's a Toltec, Toltec mystic. He wrote the Four Agreements, Mastery of Love, Four Agreements was a wildly popular book and never done a psychedelic, you know, doesn't, to my knowledge, do shamanic breathwork, but has a deep tradition and an ability to access like deep presence. And both from nature and experience and communication and the way that the lines of his thinking, but the core tenet of the philosophy passed down to him is that there are two fundamental types of people. There's the Nogwalls and the Nogwalls take direct ownership that they are the artists of their life. And their goal is to paint a masterpiece with their life. And that is like, that is the idea is to be the artist of your own life and to paint a masterpiece. And then there's the tonals who allow the collective dream, what they call the Matote, or the marketplace of opinions to paint their own dream upon you, to paint you however they want you to be by hijacking, How much they like you or whether they approve or how many, you know, hearts they put on your posts or whatever. There's these forces trying to mold us and to be just like somebody else. And then there's those brave souls who decide, No, I'm going to be the artist of my own life. And I think one of the blessings for me is, I came across his work early. And that of Carlos Castaneda as well and started to understand like, Oh no, like it's important that I seize the pen of my own masterpiece and I seize my own paintbrush and really write my story the way I want to write it. And I can't imagine living a life where I didn't have, you know, my own quill in my own hand, you know? 

RICK: Yeah. What's also odd to me is the idea that anyone would be arrogant enough to think they know what's best for someone else. 

AUBREY: Right. 

RICK: I can't imagine that. I can't imagine thinking I know what's good for you to do. How would I know that? 

AUBREY: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things from your book that I really loved is you talk about how an artist who looks at the ocean sees a reflection of their soul in a certain way. And I've always found that for myself, like I'm my most creative around a body of water, sometimes a big mountain. We have a place in Sedona where there's a big mountain and that's kind of served similarly to the water, but the water is unbelievably special. I see your background right there. You're right on the water. Speak a little more into that. What gave you that insight about this connection between the soul and the ocean, the soul of the artists in the ocean?

RICK: It's my own connection to the water. I'm a Pisces. I spend a lot of time in the water.

AUBREY: Pisces. Let's go! What’s your birthday

RICK: I’m March 10

AUBREY: All right. I'm Feb 28. A couple of days off. 

RICK: Yeah. But I feel most comfortable in my life in the water and I feel like, a lot of the time it's the place for me. I like the feeling. I like to float. I like the feeling. I like the coolness of it. I like the weightlessness of it. It just feels like it's a place of possibility different than on land. And it's hard for me to put into words, but I feel it. 

AUBREY: Yeah. No, I understand. I listened to a little bit of your Tetra Gamma Tom podcast with Robert Green because I am also a huge fan of Robert Green. And I got to the part where he was talking about how difficult it's been to give up swimming, you know, like his ability to actually enter the water and swim the laps like he used to. He was such an avid swimmer. This was a deep place of spiritual refuge for him, and the struggles of him, kind of moving through that. I thought it was just a beautiful interview, the way that was handled. And he was touching a really deep place that I think is super inspiring for anybody who's dealing with external circumstances that have made an aspect of their life, you know, that much more difficult.

RICK: Yeah, I think about thinking about what's possible instead of thinking about what's not possible. And an artist called me yesterday talking about a throat issue and possibly needing surgery and he's a singer and he's like maybe I won't be able to sing again. And I'm like, a million percent, you'll be able to sing again. What are you talking about? You're going to be fine. You can't think in those terms like catastrophizing, you know, going immediately to the worst outcome. Human body heals itself. You're going to be fine. And, um, he came around to realizing that the doctor told him, you know, in 20 days you'll probably be pretty close to fine. But we hear the worst. Because of fear.

AUBREY: Yeah. 

RICK: And with Robert, he was talking about not being able to swim and I said, can you really not swim? What happens? Can you be in the water? It's like, yeah, I could be in the water. And then he got to, well, I'm going to move to this house where then I can swim in my backyard and I can do it. And so it turned around from this very sad feeling of loss to, it shifted in as you listen to the conversation to a place of what's possible. 

AUBREY: Yeah. There's this idea of like the missing tile syndrome where we will focus on what we don't have or what's missing. You know, you look at a whole mosaic and there's one missing tile in this mosaic and that's all your eyes are drawn to. There's one negative comment on your post. There's one critic who just writes a scathing review and we'll Hyper focus on that and like Andrew Dice Clay who couldn't see became blind to the mad love he had from so many of the people and focused on the other side. It's a difficult part of the human psyche to continue and does take an act of will and awareness to continue to focus on the good that's available and the good that's that you're doing out there.

RICK: One of the things that I read about in the book is if you make something and everybody likes it, chances are you haven't gone far enough. The best work divides the audience. The best work, people love it, and people hate it. Otherwise, it doesn't have a strong enough charge. It's always been this case. It's always been the things that people are picketing are the same things that are the fans favorite.

AUBREY: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. There's that polarity and you even see it with somebody like Muhammad Ali, you know, like Muhammad Ali, people loved him or people hated him, but there was so much energy around him that not only was he a great boxer, he became one of the great icons of the world. So it's not just even with, you know, with Art it's well, I mean, in some ways, boxing is the sweet science is kind of an art in and of itself. All athletics are, but yeah, your point is well taken that the ones that we remember forever, you know, typically had some real charge around them and that created a lot of energy.

RICK: Yeah. And if you think about Martin Luther King. Gandhi, Jesus, they all preached love and all of them were assassinated. You know, it's unbelievable. It's unbelievable. That polarity of you can't win. 

AUBREY: And, you know, but somewhere in there, place of place of rest and introspection that comes on and I believe in the undying nature of our soul I can only imagine that they look back on their life and go fuck Yeah, like I did it even though they even though they killed me, you know, like Robert Kennedy says, you know there are some things worse than death and not living our true our true potential is who we are It's we're already dead, we're already living a fate worse than death. So, to allow that to give us courage to say no, like whatever it is, speak your truth, you know, sing your song and let the world do with it what it may.

RICK: I interviewed Jon Kabat Zinn the other day. It hasn't come out yet. His book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, is one of my favorite books about meditation. And it was just the 30th anniversary. And it was just that he rewrote the book for the 30th anniversary. It's beautiful. And he was saying, people always ask him about like, is there an afterlife? And he said, he's not worried about an afterlife. He's worried about not living this life to fully live this moment, to fully live each and every moment we have now and not project into the future.

AUBREY: Yeah. One of the things that it feels like can hurt is incessant comparison. Like if you're comparing the product of your work with other people's products and using metrics to assess whether you're successful or not, you know, this is something that I think a lot of artists really struggle with, and then you can make a choice to try to modify your art to try and be more successful, but typically it makes it worse. And then at some part of you feels a little bit more dead, but this impulse to compare yourself based on metrics, not to use it as inspiration. Like, wow, that guy, you know, they really sent it like I'm inspired, but in this kind of toxic comparison mindset, I think it has to be one of the greatest detriments to artists out there.

RICK: Absolutely. I think the key is learning to play your own hand. You know, the hand that you are dealt is the only hand you can play. If cards get dealt to me and cards get dealt to you and I see you play two cards, for me to play two cards because you played two cards, that's not how you play. And it feels like that's what happens sort of, Oh, this worked for them so maybe I'll do what they're doing. That doesn't work. 

AUBREY: Right. 

RICK: We're all unique single voices, we’re all here. Our purpose here is to share our, the way we see it right or wrong. It's not about being right. This is what I see. What do you see? I see it like this. What do you see? 

AUBREY: Yeah. And that's the beauty of poetry. It goes through, you know, what's called the hermeneutic Prism Hermes, the God of communication, the messenger, so the prism, the hermeneutic prism of our unique self, who we uniquely are, our unique experiences and traumas and understandings. And then, you know, it comes out in some art form, whether that's poetry or song or whatever, but we're interpreting the kind of the input of the divine and then it's going through our own flute with its own unique holes carved from its own unique trees and the spirit is the wind but we're the unique flute and then we just play the flute that we have with the wind that's coming from spirit and that's a metaphor that I've thought of is just I have a uniquely shaped flute, just allow the wind to move through and try to get out of my fucking head and play a song, you know?

RICK: And the reason our flute is the shape that it is, is it's shaped by our life to this point. So every experience that we have, what we can remember, what we can't remember, all of that is in the flute. All of we're made up of our experiences in life, our memories, our dreams. They don't start with us. You know, we don't have an idea. We make a connection to something that reminds us of something that maybe we heard about a long time ago. So it's not like we're special. We are us. That's what we are. We're the one who lived the life that we lived that has the experiences to be able to share the experiences that we can call up based on what we've experienced. That's it. 

AUBREY: And to send to really celebrate that universally, you know, 

RICK: Beautiful. 

AUBREY: It is beautiful. I see that even with physical beauty, you know, like when someone really has that inner radiance of just loving themselves, there's a beauty that transcends any age, transcends body shape, transcends all of this. It's like when you know yourself in your uniqueness through the beauty of your being, that is so much more powerful. And I find it a tragedy that so many people are getting surgeries and modifications to try and make them look like something else that's worked for someone else on some Instagram page or some magazine cover. And it's not your true beauty. You know, you're trying to whittle away at the flute that that spirit is carved for you. And I remember I got in a really gnarly car accident And it ripped up my face pretty good. It kind of pulled my nose up and I had scars. And so great plastic surgeons who were there in the ER, who kind of stitched me up and did a good job. But there was obviously a lot more work that you could do. I mean, I'm sure you can see my nose as a little crook in it. And I got a tooth that's turning black because it got killed when the root got killed from the impact of it. And then the doctors were all like, we'll get you back just how you look before, don't you worry, you know, just three more surgeries. And I was like, I don't think I need that. You know, like, I don't really don't think I need that. That accident is a part of me. It's a part of my life. You know, like I'm still, I can still laugh fine. I can still smile fine. I can taste food and I can kiss my lover, you know, like, I don't think I need to be like, like I was before, you know.

RICK: And looking at your face, you look like you have fun. 

AUBREY: I do. I do. It's true. I've lived a life. 

RICK: I can see it.

AUBREY: I've lived a life. Same with yourself. Well, this has been an absolute pleasure, Rick. Is there anything else you want to leave people with? Obviously, let me know when the website comes out. I'd love to share that and dive in a little more. But anything else you want to kind of point people to or any other final wisdom you want to leave them with?

RICK: No.Thank you so much for talking to me. It was really fun. 

AUBREY: Yeah, this was great. 

RICK: Cool. 

AUBREY: All right, Rick. Thanks for everything you do. So much love. 

RICK: Thank you. Bye. 

AUBREY: Bye. Bye.