210: East Forest – Music, Psychedelics, and Creative Flow


“You have to allow the messiness and the struggle.”
East Forest

What’s up, my fellow earthlings? Welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio), a space where we explore the worlds of creativity, consciousness, and everything else in between. My goal is to help you optimize your life and to unleash your full potential, and I am so grateful to have you all on this journey with me.

I can’t wait to introduce today’s guest on my podcast — East Forest. East is one of my favorite musicians and a kindred creator. He has created music that has been monumental in my own personal journey through psychedelics and mushrooms. Experiencing my magic mushroom journeys through East’s music has truly been transformative and life-changing.

“There is a glue that unifies everything I do. My podcast, talks, retreats, writings, events, and the music I make are all about inviting introspection. It’s a form of trusting an individual’s inherent wisdom as they dive into their inner world and learn to make their own decisions. I want to share the experiences, tools, and sounds that I have learned for other people to get closer to their own essence.”
East Forest

Through his music, East aspires to bridge the tools of our past with our rapidly advancing future by forging a modern pathway that can act as an antidote to our way of life in this fast-paced world. He has toured extensively around North America and through parts of Europe, bringing his message to thousands.

East is an incredible artist, and his soulful music is loved by many across the world. I can’t wait for you guys to feel inspired by this man’s life and journey. Let’s get to know him a little more —

Who Is East Forest?

East Forest is an American musician who plays blissful and immersive electro-acoustic music. East’s natural talent for creating soundscapes helps him speak directly to one’s heart and can unlock profound spiritual experiences. 

After experiencing depression early on in his childhood, East started using psychedelics and creating music for others on their own psychedelic journeys. What began as an experiment with music turned into a pathway for spiritual growth for many because of the compatibility of East’s music with meditation, technology, and psychotropic substances.

Due to his music’s nature and popularity, East has collaborated with multiple personalities like the late psychologist and spiritual leader Ram Dass and artists including John Hopkins, Nick Mulvey, Dead Prez, and Peter Broderick, among others. He has also partnered with Google, Johns Hopkins University, Yale Psychedelic Science Group, and he has even been a TED speaker.

East is a creative soul brother, and I’m excited to share with you this episode where we talk about creativity, healing, mindset, psychedelics, and how music lies at the core of it all.

Using The Power of Music to Heal

After a brief stint as a photographer, East started making music while under the influence of magic mushrooms. This unlocked a new dimension for himself that allowed him to use his music to help people heal, and over the years, he created a musical language that formed the backbone for all his work. It’s incredible how East channels his music into a tool for healing.

“I don’t know how it works, but it’s a lot about humbling myself and trying to clear my way to open myself to those energies. … I also do a lot of rehearsal, which is a matter of getting fluent with the same gear — … it’s sort of doing any sort of exercise to get your muscles in shape — … and one of the biggest things I am rehearsing is improvisation. … I realized that I couldn’t plan it, and started discovering what worked and what didn’t [while I performed]. … And when I reach a point where I feel that it sucks to keep going … or when things are not working, then I keep returning back to the process and the flow and allow it to develop.”
East Forest

Through the launch of East’s first album, he realized he couldn’t plan the flow of music. So he started improvising and understanding the audience’s pulse, which allowed his listeners to connect with his music and use its power. While practice and improvisation did help East open up a pathway for people that needed his music, he also devoted a lot of time to research.

“I was trying to learn from ceremonies that I could attend to pick up on old technology, whether it’s San Pedro or Ayahuasca. [The shamans] are using ancient technology that they’ve developed. I want to honor that technology by experiencing it in its purest form and not to extract from it but to be inspired by it because at the end of the day I am trying to help people through a process with psilocybin mushrooms [or magic mushrooms], and our culture didn’t carry a ceremonial protocol like in the case of Ayahuasca.”
East Forest

By witnessing multiple ceremonies and experiencing various cultures, East developed a basic understanding of the flow of music when one is on a psychedelic journey. These rich experiences have made it effortless for East to produce music that takes his listeners to a whole new level and to experience the true psychedelic power of magic mushrooms and use it for greater healing.

Psychedelics and Their Influence on East’s Music

For me, psychedelics have played a massive role in my being able to separate from and detach from my ego in this world. East, having done a lot of ceremonies himself, has also experienced a profound influence of psychedelics on his life. 

“If anything, psychedelics help me trust in the great river that we are all a part of … as opposed to moving cross-stream or upstream. When I feel more separate and isolated, I feel that I’m now working against the stream because I am trying to control something. … The opposing polarity to that is me trusting this energy and accepting that I am held in this river whether I like it or not. This river is always at its beginning and its end at the same time, and I am a part of its regenerative cycle, and I can’t fall out of it. Knowing that and having felt experiences of it in these psychedelic states is a grace in itself.”
East Forest

It is this gift, this power of psychedelics, that allows East to walk ahead in life with more consciousness or awareness; this is reflected in his music. East stresses that the world is very dynamic and is going through a significant transition. That’s why creating different experiences through his music reminds him that music is a way for cultivating the feelings of infiniteness and connectedness.

“By making or performing music, I hope that it reminds people that we are feeding each other at the end of the day. That kind of witnessing or remembrance is like a celebration of life. I don’t mean that it’s all just a party, but it’s about celebrating the depth, the sorrows, the process, the grace, and the unknown. … We are all here to have experiences and to learn on-campus, Earth.”
East Forest

Through his music, East creates unique psychedelic experiences for his users by creating a window for the listeners to tap into its depth. East’s song has been a gift to a lot of people, including myself, on my own magic mushroom journeys that take me to a beautiful space. By culminating his experiences with psychedelic substances and experiencing the journey firsthand, East has been able to create music that truly touches one’s heart and helps listeners dive into the depth of their soulful psychedelic journeys.

The Formula For Identity Alchemy

This episode with East Forest has been so inspirational and helps understand what goes behind the creation of his transformative music and his mindset behind it.

If you are someone who has regular experiences with magic mushrooms, then I would highly recommend that you listen to East’s music on your next spiritual trip. East’s experiences teach us that by allowing ourselves to be free and to come in sync with our feelings and emotions, we give ourselves a chance to transform our lives and to become identity alchemists.

Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in ways that are unexplainable.

That being said, I define Identity Alchemy as the process of deconstructing who you don’t want to be in order to realize who you want to become. 

Through it, you’ll be able to identify your shadows or the things you don’t want to be true about you and shed them slowly. I believe that the deconstruction process of life and your inner world is such a huge piece of understanding who you are so that you can curate who you want to become. In general, I noticed for myself that the more inner work that I do — the deeper shadow work that I do to understand myself — the better life becomes towards the path of wholeness. East is an excellent example of an identity alchemist, and I am grateful to have had him with us for this session.

If you are inspired by East’s spiritual and musical journey, then I would strongly recommend you to check out his website. You can also show East some love by following him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thank you so many guys for reading this post. If you found value in this episode, then it would be really great if you could tag East, @eastforest, and me, @nickonken, on Instagram with a screenshot of this episode and your greatest takeaways from it. If you are feeling more generous, then head over to Apple Podcasts and leave a review.

See you folks next time when I come back with another informative and inspiring episode to help you lead a life of creativity and meaning.

Nick Onken

You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!


“Just showing up is the main thing.”
East Forest

Some things we learn in this podcast:

  • How to make music for a psychedelic trip [14:00]
  • How to unlock your creativity [17:30]
  • Which instruments are good for music to accompany psychedelics [40:00]
  • How to accompany a psychedelic trip with music [45:00]
  • Why do psychedelic ceremonies begin with percussion [46:45]

Links Mentioned:

Connect with East Forest on Instagram | Soundcloud | Facebook | East Forest

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