"In the last year and a half or so, the interest in me has picked up."
As it happens, I spend the entire day before my interview with Iasos, the psychedelic musician and artist who invented the New Age genre, crying. Without going into details (don’t want to reveal too much from my upcoming memoir Sad Diary 2k14), at 7 p.m. on the day he performs at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right, I am laying sideways on a sofa, considering the many wrongs that have been done against me by this cruel, cruel world, and wondering if I should just skip the whole night, slide into a pair of boxer shorts and order in.
Then I remember vibes. I don’t want any bad ones, and I’ve already been texting with him:
"Cool, so I’ll see you tomorrow at 7:30 x E"
"I'm curious, what do the letters X E mean?"
Plus how many times do you get to meet a man whose career has spanned 44 years, who came up with an entire genre, and who writes his music with the help of a heavenly being who lives in another dimension?
Like a trouper, I head to the venue.
Born in Greece but raised in Upstate New York, Iasos is a prolific composer and visual artist, whose work has been studied by scientists researching near-death experiences, and acquired by NASA for its healing qualities. In 1967, while studying at Cornell University, he began hearing music in his head, and on graduation in 1968, he moved to Berkeley, California and began experimenting with the types of sounds and compositions that we know recognize as New Age. His albums tend to have a practical lean—over the years his output has included healing and meditation albums and music for advanced love-making—but not strictly so. Other albums are more playful: synthesized jungle sounds from distant planet, an upbeat tropical album called Bora Bora 2000
I’d asked Iasos what I should do when I get there, and his reply had been "FIND ME!" Turns out, this isn’t hard, even for someone who can’t read auras, and so wouldn’t be able to identify him by what is probably quite the epic example. He is standing by the merch desk, on which is spread out the fruits of forty four years of recording music (Iasos can’t remember how many albums he’s made), wearing an embroidered silk Chinese jacket and pant combo. His eyes are very wide, and very steady.
He leads me to the backstage, and starts talking. He’s a fast talker, extremely clear, like someone who is absolutely certain of what he has to say. Every now and then, he will break into a loud, ecstatic laugh:
"You’ve managed to sustain a long career for a musician…"
Our conversation moves beyond the biographical very quickly. Within a few minutes, Iasos is assuring me that, though the world looks pretty shitty at the moment, it's all a facade as we head towards a higher consciousness. He confirms a couple details about extra-terrestrials that overlap with the stuff you might know from popular ufology, stuff like the existence of two different types of alien beings, one of which you’ll recognize from a decade of 90s alien merchandise.
For some reason this cheers me up a lot.
What kind of show are you putting on tonight?
Iasos: Ever since the 1970’s I’ve been doing multimedia concerts, started off with slide projectors, now video. Here’s the philosophy behind it: music has the potential, the capability to induce divine emotions. Visuals have the capability to induce divine thought forms. When they work together synchronistically and synergistically their combined influence can ignite a person into a higher state of consciousness. That’s the whole point of my multimedia concerts.
What kind of reactions do your audience members usually have?
It depends on the person. Some people feel good, some people say thanks for the healing even though I don’t advertise it as a healing. Some people get blissed out. I tell people ‘Do me a favor and be sensitive to the people around you. Some people are ready to just jump up and be social, others will be really far out, or really far in and they need time to come back. If you accidentally touch someone else you might shock them back into their body they might be way out on the other end of the universe. I’ve had hells angels come to my concerts and love them, I’ve had people in wheelchairs to get healing, even though I’ve never advertised it as healing.
Here’s the deal, my focus is beauty, but then I found out that beauty means healing. Love is the cause, beauty is the result, then beauty is the cause and healing is the result. The automatic byproduct is healing, but i don’t think about it.
You graduated Cornell in 1968. It must have been an amazing time to be a student…
It was even more amazing when i came to California in 1968. It was a really psychedelic era. I started out in Berkeley, then made my way to Marin County, where I live now. I love Marin County.
You’ve managed to sustain a long career for a musician…
HAHA! I’m stubborn! Or you could say i feel very dedicated. Let me give you some metaphysics now even though we might lose some listeners. At a certain point in my life at Cornell I started hearing paradise music in my head, and then later I had an experience where I suddenly became aware of a higher dimensional being, and it ignited an aha moment. I realised he and I had made an agreement together before I was born, and the agreement was that he was going to transmit music to me, and his visual ideas also, and my job was to receive them, manifest them, and get them out there to the public. The point of them wasn’t money or fame, it was to create music and visuals that will help people raise their vibrations, to go through the planetary upshift that our planet is going through anyway.
What is the name of your spiritual partner?
Vista. He is the Elohim of the 5th Ray, also known as Cyclopea. he’s a very high being. When I sensed him, it released a flood of love to him, from me to him, and I love him like a younger brother would love an older brother. It is a wonderful love
How consistent is your relationship?
Oh yes, he’s the one who has been transmitting the paradise visions to my mind, once i became aware of him it facilitated our connection now it’s more effective he’s always whispering ideas in my ear, you know ‘Iasos try this’ HAHA!
When I receive a musical vision, I receive three thing simultaneously, I get the mechanics of what the chords and melodies are, I get technical know how, of how to create particular effects, and how it going to affect people when the whole things done.
Has your music evolved as music technology has evolved?
Yes. When i first started I was hearing paradise music in my head and I had no idea how to do it, cause I wasn’t just hearing unusual music, I was hearing unusual sounds, and there weren’t synthesisers then, there weren’t samplers then. Gradually as the technology is improving, what I manifest becomes more and more like the sounds I hear in my head. In the beginning it was pretty crude recreation, now it’s going pretty refined.
I read somewhere that your music is similar to what people report hearing in near-death experiences…
Professor Joel Funk at Plymouth State University was doing experiments on people who had near-death experiences [in 1989]. One thing was they all went through a tube of light, the other thing was they all were met by a loving angelic being, and they all heard heavenly music. He was curious about the heavenly music that they heard, so he played them music—jazz, pop, classical, all sorts—and asked them to rate what they heard. Strangely, one piece of mine, "The Angels of Comfort," got the highest rating by a large margin. A lot of mothers tell me they played that music while they are having their baby, and other people say they played it to friends and relatives as they were dying. The interesting thing is that at a certain point in my career I realized I could play anything I could imagine, so I thought ‘I want to make music that has the energy of the holy spirit in it.'
The holy spirit?
I do not mean in the Christian sense, more in the cosmic universal sense, which is very involved with every birth and every death. It takes the last breath when you die, gives the first breath when you’re born.
When did you write angels of comfort?
I don’t know. I don’t keep track of time.
Have you noticed interest in your music going up and down over the years?
In the beginning there was just two of us, Steven Halpern and me, but very quickly [the New Age genre] got filled with a lot of people and the attention on us was less. Lately, in the last year and a half or so, the interest in me has picked up, but I predicted this for this reason: as the planetary vibrations are increasing, people in general are getting in the range of what I’ve been offering this whole time. That will increase.
When you say planetary vibrations are increasing, is that good or bad?
It’s not destruction, it looks like that on the surface, but if you knew what was happening underneath…We’re about to blossom into a golden age. All the bad guys are going to be rounded up, and the good guys, including our benevolent ET friends, are going to help.
For example, their technology can clean up the radiation for Fukushima, the Gulf Oil spill. They’re just waiting to the point that they can land here without the threat of being shot. They have free energy devices we’ll be using, they even have a version of a cellphone called a PCD personal communication device, and its free. You don’t have to charge it up, and you don’t have to pay a monthly bill, and they don’t have the harmful microwave radiation that our cellphones have.
I know it looks bad now, but believe, there are gifts round the corner. The bad guys have been destroying the planet for 3000 years, but they’re about to be rounded up, and there’s about to be much more money flowing on the planet too. There’ll be less poverty.
That sounds promising. Do you have an organized spirituality that you follow, or is it more personalised?
It’s highly eclectic. I am intensely interested in ‘how does reality work.' I don’t trust science, I don’t trust religion. I think both are totally way off. I want to know how does it really, really, really work. When your mind is really focused on something you attract a lot of information about that stuff and since 1968 I’ve been attracting a lot of information. The highest source of wisdom I’ve come across is a higher dimensional being called Bashar, channelled by Daryl Anka in California, you can find him on Youtube.
Where is Bashar from?
From a civilization called Essassini. It’s many light years away, if it were in this dimension, which it is not. In our perspective they are 300 years in the future, from their point of view we are 300 years in the past. their civilization is the result of hybrid between greys and humans, so they look halfway between the two. they benefit from the advanced intellect of the greys and the advanced emotional richness of the humans.
Do you believe that aliens influenced early human civilizations?
They’ve been around and influencing us all along, they’ve never not been here. As a matter of fact, we are a result of aliens colonizing this planet, and messing with what was growing here on its own.
Do you suggest people take drugs or drink alcohol before your shows?
Alcohol? Stay away from alcohol, it will tune them out of what I do. It’s a dumb drug, it makes them less aware. Anything that tunes you out is not worth it. Anything that tunes you in will help.
I think it’s strange to be on a planet where people need to be healed, haha. Where I’m from everyone is healthy.
After our interview, I join Iasos in the main room at Baby’s All Right, where we watch Laraaji, a "celestial" musician first championed by Brian Eno, who produced his album Ambient 3: Day of Radiance in 1980. Laraaji sits on the edge of the stage, playing a variety of instruments but mainly this plugged in autoharp that he hits with brushes to create sounds I’ve never heard before. At the end of his set, he sings what I guess is a "ditty," like a vocal doodle, into a loop pedal, interrupting it every now and then with his deep, laid back laugh—a laugh so warm and avuncular it makes me want to jot down a Christmas list and hand it to him.
By the time Iasos takes the the stage at Baby’s All Right, the room is packed. He stands there for ten minutes or so, looking neither impatient or like he’s waiting for anything. Then he gives a short introduction where he asks us to say "Laa" instead of clapping, which is destructive, and tells us that when he makes a particular hand signal, he wants us to keep our spines straight, as he is about to shoot a powerful blast of music up our chakras.
He also says this thing about the visuals we are about to see, which I note down in my notebook: “The lady in the veil is called Heaven.”
I mean obviously I was going to walk out of a spiritual multimedia concert feeling different from the saddo who walked in in her oldest jumper some 24 hours from last touching a hairbrush. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this when I was weighing up whether or not to stream an entire series of "True Detective" as therapy instead. Whether or not you have an interest in the stuff that Iasos calls the "metaphysics," the fact of his music is that it includes some extremely high, clean frequencies, sweeping up and down in a way that seems to cleanse your mind of mess or distraction. He uses a variety of synthesizers and instruments, including a flute which he played like a virtuoso, experimenting with different types of breath. The result is kind of like a cross between listening to a live score for a sci-fi film, and going to a spa, but like for an entire day.
The visuals happen to be extremely hip, though I don’t think that’s why he makes them like that. They are so bright and stimulating, they’re almost medical. There are clipart-esque cartoon palm trees floating in shimmering gradients of colors, there are mountain tops from which animated smoke flumes shoot like fountains to the beat of the music. There are lots of sparkles and angels, constant colors. There is a lady in veil, called Heaven. If Iasos is indeed correct and he is transmitting these images from a paradise dimension, then be prepared to spend your afterlife in a magic eye picture.
I don’t know if it’s the music, the visuals, or just the sustained effort of staring at so much moving brightness, but the effect of the concert is to make me feel extremely high. Even though I stay sober, like he suggests, I feel nauseous throughout the show, as well as completely mesmerized. When the time comes and he does the gesture about chakras, he makes three ascending, whooshing sounds that make me and the friend I am standing with both feel dizzy.
At the end of the show, we stand at the bar and discuss staying for a drink but we’re both too spaced out. Crying is out of the question, I don’t have it in me.
Walking home, I feel like everything around me is clearer, not emotionally or figuratively or anything, like literally, it looks clearer. I try to Google some of the stuff he talks about in the interview when I get home, but I find that I can’t look at anything bright, so I just come full circle and lie on the sofa, staring upwards.
But in a good way.
You can stream Iasos’ music for free on iasos.bandcamp.com
Emma also makes music as Emmy The Great and she's on Twitter - @emmy_the_great.