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Pulse of Love: The Transformative Power of Music & MDMA with Mikey Lion

Updated: Jan 8

Guests of The Psychedelic Blog do not endorse, support, or otherwise advocate on behalf of any particular treatment approach for mental illnesses unless stated otherwise. The views expressed during this interview do not necessarily reflect the opinions or endorsement of The Psychedelic Blog. Readers should always consult with qualified healthcare professionals and conduct their own research before considering any treatment options. The blog and its authors are not responsible for any decisions made based on the information provided.

Mikey Lion

"The entire purpose of the event was to spread as much love and positive energy

into the world as possible."

- Mikey Lion

If memory still serves me well, it's a Sunday, May 16, 1993 and Sting is the opening act for the Grateful Dead at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. My buddies Dave, Steve, and I arrive early enough so as not to rush. The car's brakes squeal just a bit as we ease to a stop inside the painted lines of the parking lot. Those lines are the last point of contact with any conventional authority for hours to come as we step outside into the liberating chaos of another realm.

I had never felt any particular kinship to Deadheads (the devoted community of people that followed the Grateful Dead around the country from concert to concert): tie-dyed shirts were not a fashion statement that appealed to me, my hair—though sometimes worn long—was never as untamed as theirs seemed be, mind-altering was a vacation but never a lifestyle, and, if I were a bee, it's not likely that I'd find myself attracted to the nectar of the white, tubular flowers of the patchouli plant while Deadheads were quite enamored with this fragrance. Indeed, the gulf between our worlds was wide, but all of that changed on that night 30 years ago.

If you're wondering what freaky fashion, wild hair, patchouli oil, and mind-altering substances consumed at a music event by young, '60s throwback hippie-types have to do with the kinds of groundbreaking studies we focus on for The Psychedelic Blog which are being undertaken globally on psychedelic substances like MDMA to treat mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, the answer is... a lot.

MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, also called Ecstasy, X, and Molly may be at the very center of a psychedelic revolution in psychiatry. Though it's still listed as a Schedule 1 drug, MDMA received "breakthrough therapy" status in 2017 so as to streamline the research and approval process for its potential widespread use in MDMA-assisted therapies. Billions of dollars are stake for the pharmaceutical industry as alternatives to antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilisers emerge to, at least, supplement, if not replace to some degree, the toolkits of mental health professionals. While studies on MDMA-assisted therapy sessions for PTSD are confined to calm settings, researchers are also motivated to investigate the potential neurochemical mechanisms of the prosocial effects of MDMA like those found at the Dead concert I attended back then and the electronic dance music events of today.

Prominent founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS),

Rick Doblin commented that “MDMA increases the release of serotonin and oxytocin, which are the neurotransmitters of empathy, trust, and connection. It also decreases activity in the amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain. As a molecule, MDMA allows us to access trauma without being overwhelmed by fear and to access the compassion, the self-acceptance, the sense of safety and trust, and the ability to feel the love that’s necessary for healing.”

Surrounded by the Grateful Dead and thousands of Deadheads, my friends and I were enveloped in some kind of palpable aura of love radiating from the multitude of souls that night in Las Vegas. We felt a profound sense of connection even without the influence of psychedelics. Of course, this led me to ponder the boundless possibilities within a paradigm of cooperation and understanding, extending far beyond the confines of a football stadium-sized crowd into the broader tapestry of human experience.

My colleague, Sabeet Kazmi and I, Robert Benz, of The Psychedelic Blog, sat down with Mikey Lion from Desert Hearts, an experience organizer bringing house, techno, and love to the world through music events. Just a note, some terms that we use interchangeably to refer to the kinds of music events that Mikey hosts are festivals, edm (electronic dance music) events, and raves.


"A 'love bubble' where people could

just lose themselves."

- Mikey Lion

Robert: Welcome Mikey. What got you hooked on wanting to bring these kinds of music events to the world?

Mikey: It was Coachella 2006.

Robert: [Coachella is a giant and uber successful music festival that takes place over two weekends in April each year in Indio, California with revenues of more than $100 million. The musical genres represented are pop, house, hip hop, edm (electronic dance music), and rock. It's also ground zero for celebrity spotting. Coachella has become one of the must-attend festivals of the year.]

Sabeet: I'm curious to know what kind of rave experiences you're interested in. And, what's the journey of going from, "This is what I'm interested in" to "This is what I want to produce?" Is there a difference between what you like and what you produce? Does what you like inform what you produce?

Mikey: I produce exactly what I want the vibe to be. In 2012 ,we started a party that grew into a festival called Desert Hearts. We're based in Southern California. For our first event, we basically went out to the middle of nowhere, in the Mojave Desert, in total renegade style, and we threw a little 200 person event that, at the time, we didn't see the total significance of it. The entire purpose of the event was to spread as much love and positive energy into the world as possible. That was the ethos of our party.

At the same time, this crazy cold front came through. It was like 20 degrees [Fahreheit] with high winds. We were in the middle of nowhere. We basically became a survival party. We moved the fire to the middle of the dance floor and just danced around it. That was the very first party. People were like, "You guys are going to explode! This was the best party I've ever been to and now I need more!"

I was 23 at the time, a dumbass 23-year-old party kid. That was November 2012. Then we did a New Year's Eve party and 400 people came. 800 people showed up to our next party and it just snowballed from there. The vibe was electric and everything we've always done with our parties is to create the most impeccable vibe, a "love bubble" where people could just lose themselves.

Robert: [I had never heard anyone use the term Love Bubble, but it accurately describes the place in which Dave, Steve, and I found ourselves that night in Las Vegas.]

So, Desert Hearts really began with that one event. Who are your partners in Desert Hearts?

Mikey: It's me and my brother, David Leon, he goes by Porky. I have another partner that I’ve known since fourth grade, Matthew Marabella. He goes by Marbs. And there's actually a token old guy in our crew. He's like 20 years older than the rest of us. His name is Lee Reynolds and he's an absolute party monster, the complete animal who can party the rest of us under the table. It makes for a really interesting group of people. He kind of brought the older generation of ravers who had been doing it since the '90s. We were the young fresh blood who had so much energy when things first got going and still, to this day, that keeps this entire brand and movement going.

The Crew

Robert: What do you think differentiates you and your generation from Lee and his first generation of ravers?

Mikey: I don’t really think much differentiates us. There’s a point, we’re seeing that now, where people [who are] in their early 20s, trying to figure out what music they like and what events they like going to. When they get older, like a lot of my friends who I could count on being at every Desert Hearts party, start to settle down and have families. For Lee, my partner, you know his kids are now 18-20-years-old. I feel like his generation is ready to get back into the scene because they don't have the responsibilities of kids anymore.

Sabeet: So this is a cyclical pattern where people come into it, you're responsibilities go up and you obviously have to deal with family or children. Then, once that kind of subsides, there's a second coming of age where people are coming back.

Mikey: For sure. In my opinion, there’s a very big educational phase where the ravers that have been doing it for 5 to 10 years are always trying to educate the next generation on how to behave, how to give back to the scene and not just take. In my opinion, it's one of the most important parts of our entire culture of dance music. An interesting thing that's been happening is that, because of Covid and the lockdowns, a lot of people that would have been going to festivals at 18- to 22-years-old, got locked down for 2 years. The educational phase didn't happen for the next generation. So, we're seeing this crazy drop off in festival attendance across all festivals in North America right now. That along with inflation where, I guess, costs are crazy high for festivals. It's been a pretty dark last two years for festivals and I'm just kind of hoping that this indoor Tik Tok generation are the ones that will fill in eventually.

Robert: Do you foresee moving into virtual events?

Mikey: During the pandemic, when there were no DJ gigs whatsoever, we actually pivoted our business completely and moved on to Twitch, which is the premier streaming platform for like doing live streams. We were basically DJing on there and we did that for 40-hours a week and it actually paid our bills from all the tips we are getting and the deals that we ended up striking with Twitch. It was lucrative and it totally saved our business. Since events have come back, I don’t think that as many people are really on there looking for music or staying in that community in the same way. I know it definitely died down quite a bit. When it was all happening, I was like, "Holy shit, this is the future, this is what everything's going to be." But it just never panned out when things opened back up. That's not to say that it's not going to go that direction because I think that there is still a lot of potential. I just don't know if everyone's ready for it yet. I know that Facebook was hedging their bets super hard on going to the Metaverse and that’s not taking off in the way they thought that it would.

Robert: Right. I would like to enter the Metaverse and be able to go to one of your events, go to a rave. MDMA + virtual reality goggles? Awesome, no?

Mikey: Yea, it'd be interesting. I feel like such a big part of psychedelics—of MDMA or any kind of psychedelics for that matter—I feel like a big part of it is the human connection of being right there in the moment with people. I don't know if that same energy of human being close to human being can be captured in the Metaverse. You can certainly convey love and have a really deep profound message that you're pushing out there, you know, to an online audience or to some kind of live stream. But you're never going to be able to recreate the feeling of hugging somebody or recreate that dance floor vibe when everyone is in the complete state of collective consciousness. Human beings have been dancing for millennia. They get together, they bang on the drums, and they dance. That dancing energy creates a vibration. We're basically operating on a higher frequency. To me, that becomes the vibe. And it's a tangible vibe that you can touch when the vibe is really good. That's the whole reason why Desert Hearts blew up in the way it did, because we have an untouchable vibe.

Robert: This sounds tribal. We're already talking about the philosophy behind these events. What is the term or acronym, PLUR?

Mikey: Yeah, Peace, Love, Unity, Respect. It's definitely a kind of outdated term in the current rave scene. In the original rave days, I know that that was kind of the ethos of going out and dancing and taking Ecstasy or being on a dance floor and just being in that complete state of oneness with the people around you. The term PLUR is outdated but the actual understanding of what it is, is still very relevant because love is, in my opinion, the biggest driver for vibe, having a good time with other people and sharing these amazing experiences through music. Love to me is everything in the world.

Sabeet: So, obviously, you create really distinct vibes where people are comfortable and you feel safe. It almost sounds like there is a therapeutic element to creating that kind of safe space where you're just kind of suspending disbelief completely. Is that something that plays into the way you plan this, to make people feel like they're in a place where they're absolutely protected from the rest of the world?

Mikey: Yeah,100%. Literally every intention that goes into the festival is to create this loving, healing energy that is going to make a positive impact on people. We let everyone know that that's what the vibe is and that's what we want them to bring as well. It's all very spiritual in my opinion. It's something that I am a big believer in. Every time, before I DJ, I take 3 to 5 minutes and just go to a place that's just me by myself, where I just start channeling all the love in the universe. I basically have a mantra that is asking my body to like be a good vessel to let love flow through me into the crowd. It's very real. It's something that I completely believe in. And, it's something that I pretty much was given during a crazy, life-changing DMT trip that I had a month or two before we threw the first Desert Hearts festival.

Robert: Okay, I want to dig deep into the psychedelics portion of this, but let me stay with the part about you channeling a love vibe for a moment. You see yourself as being responsible for channeling that vibe to the audience?

Mikey: Yes, it’s something that I feel responsible for when I’m performing. It actually was something that took me a while to kind of reconcile with because it feels very egotistical to think that I have this effect on so many people. But, when I realized that I do have this ability, and I started leaning into it, it actually made a bigger difference. I saw more people reacting in positive ways. Yea, the power of music is unbelievable. Think about the best concert that you've ever been to in your life and how the music made you feel. Just seeing that performer who's like blowing your mind. It's healing and it's so much love. It's so much good energy that's going on inside of you and everyone. It's like a big therapy session you know? It's wild.

Sabeet: It sounds almost like, as soon as you can start resonating with someone's soul, that's when you're hitting that vibe that you talk about, when you're making them feel safe and all of that. How does people using psychedelics impact your ability to deal with the crowd? Does that ever get in the way or, if you go with the flow, it works out by itself?

Mikey: Yea, I think that, for, I would say, 99.9% of people, if the vibe is in a good place and people are on psychedelics, they're going to react very positively throughout. There is a term called, Green Dot. That is when you have somebody that's having a psychedelic break or they're having a rough experience and they start to lose it. You call on the microphone or the wireless radio that there's a Green Dot happening. We have a lot of harm reduction people in place that are completely equipped and trained to help people that are having rough experiences.

Mikey Lion in healing mode.

"I think of myself more as a healer."

- Mikey Lion

Robert: Let's go back to the cultural piece of your work. Do you consider yourself a shaman?

Mikey: I don't. I never really resonated with that word. Well, in a way, I do. I think of myself more as a healer. I don't know why but that word just always resonated a lot more with me. I'm trying to help people. I'm trying to give them healing energy and positive love energy when I'm playing.

Robert: Have you ever been part of a shamanic ceremony?

Mikey: I actually haven't had ayahuasca or peyote at a full on ceremony. And, I feel very called to it right now. I've been trying to find the right group that can work with my dates off tour. So, if you´ve got anyone I'm interested.

Shaman during healing ceremony. Courtesy of

Robert: Have you guys done anything in Colombia?

Mikey: I've played in Medellín once before. Are you there now?

Robert: Not today, but I will be there shortly. I asked if you considered yourself to be a shaman because much of what you do is steeped in shamanic tradition. Through personal experiences or through conversations with taitas—a southern Colombian term for a shaman—I’m learning more and more about ceremonies surrounding the consumption of traditional medicine or ayahuasca.

At the Desert Hearts events, you’re hosting an atmosphere with flashing lights, bright-colored costumes, and a hypnotic style of music, where participants have consumed a mind-altering substance. These are all tools of the taita who is facilitating a spiritual experience that leaves one feeling love and interconnectedness. The taita is the community's healer.

What is it like when you’re DJing and the crowd is at the peak moment?

Mikey: There’s normally a lot of cheering. You can hear it from the crowd when you play a song that they're really feeling. They’ll let you know. It's loud when I'm playing; it's something that's pretty incredible.

Robert: Do you ever get people my age?

Mikey: Yeah, all the time. In fact, my mom goes to all of our events.

Robert: I met your mom. And, I’ve met your dad a few times. Good people.

Mikey: Oh, awesome! Yea, my mom does all the accounting for our festival and for our business. She's been going for a long time. She's also been going to Burning Man. [Burning Man is week-long festival in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada in the United States.] I've gone to Burning Man for 8 years and we've brought my mom for five of them. So, you know, she's very involved in the scene. And, people love her. She's like a celebrity out there. It's crazy and it's really fun.

Robert: I need to make it to one of your events. Maybe I can get an AARP [American Association of Retired Persons] discount.

So, this IS The Psychedelic Blog and I definitely want to talk more about MDMA/Ecstasy/ Molly and about your DMT experience. We started this blog to try and deliver information on what's happening with psychedelic clinical trials and to create a less stigmatized perception about mental disorders by talking about them. We also want to better understand contrasts and comparisons between modern western societies and indigenous cultures. There appears to be a widespread desire for change among many people and certainly this is vividly exemplified by the cultural phenomenon of Burning Man. It feels almost like we’ve built our skyscrapers too high and they’re collapsing under the gravity of wealth inequality and climate change or whatever other mistakes we’ve made in contradicting our nature. It seems like people want to migrate back toward essential connections.

Mikey Lion @ work. Image courtesy of Desert Hearts

Of course, you've heard about these clinical trials using MDMA-assisted therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Scientists are still in the early stages of studying these substances, so they're being very careful with the therapies. The protocols use a two-on-one approach where it's you and two therapists. But, obviously, it’s different from what you describe at your events where touching and feeling someone else's energy plays such an important part of it. Do you think the music, the lights, the dance, the atmosphere, and the Ecstasy at raves act as a kind of group therapy? Do you think that healing therapy can be found in groups?

Mikey: 100%, I think so! Yea, there's something about moving your body to the rhythm and getting into the music. That's what essentially creates that connection on the dance floors, it's this singular beat that everyone's dancing to. At our festivals, we only have one stage for a reason because we want everyone on that same frequency. It keeps the vibe completely congruent throughout the entire weekend. I really think that there would be a way to incorporate group dancing into therapy with the MDMA.

Robert: I guess this is called entrainment, right? When everyone is locked into a groove and moving at the same time. [Entrainment means synchronization of the beats of music with natural body function or processes.]

What if I'm someone who doesn't want to take a psychedelic when at your event? How should I approach my night? How I should act? Am I just another participant?

Mikey: You’re just another participant. There's no expectation that anyone is on drugs or on MDMA whatsoever at our festivals or events. Anyone can go. I mean, we have a sober camp at the festival and they have just as much fun as everyone else. You can tap into the music and the vibe when you have a collective dance going on.

Robert: When the outside world interrupts, how do you guys, how does Desert Hearts address concerns regarding personal boundaries and potential issues related to sexual violence within this atmosphere that celebrates openness and unity?

Mikey: I think the biggest thing is education and letting it be completely known before the festivals that consent is one of the main rules of our festival. You know there are going to be some bad moments that happen for sure, but it's a very small portion of the people that are there. Once people feel a really good vibe and good energy, it makes you a better person in my opinion. It makes you not want to do harmful things to other people. So, you know there are the odd incidences but, for the most part, it's not something that has been a significant problem.

Robert: What about the police? Do you usually have an understanding going in with law enforcement about drug use at your events?

Mikey: Well, for a long time, we did our events on an indian reservation where we didn't have police or there were one or two tribal police. They wouldn’t come into our event at all and those were, for sure, the best events that we had. When we moved locations for another event that was on a state park, we did have to have the state park rangers involved. And that did cause a little bit of a hiccup, I think, with our crowd who are completely used to just like total freedom, to do whatever you want as long as it's not hurting anyone. Having state rangers, looking at people on the dance floor, and they arrested a couple people... well, it wasn't too bad. Honestly, the best way is to just find places that avoid law enforcement as much as possible.

Robert: Most of your events are outdoors, yes?

Mikey: Yes, most of them. But we also tour and do a lot of club tour dates every weekend for the most part. Then there are the big festivals outdoors, it's the way to go.

Robert: Can you just name some places, some cities, countries where you guys have been?

Mikey: Yea, we basically play every major city in the US and Canada. We’ve played Ecuador, Colombia, UK, Germany, Australia. We do most of our touring in North America and throw most of our events in North America but we have been expanding recently.

Robert: So, in the psychedelics studies world, especially psychedelic-assisted therapies, they talk a lot about integration and how we might integrate psychedelic experiences into the rest of our lives. It's really hard because they recommend taking these substances in a room with the therapist(s) and, after you've come down, you walk out the door into the world from where you came which may have caused some of your issues in the first place. Desert Hearts, in a sense, is doing therapy where people are feeling love and unity and interconnectedness. How do you communicate with your base after the event to extend these feelings? Do you stay in close contact?

Mikey: Yea, that's a huge part of the very end of our events and a lot of the messaging that goes out to the people at the end of an event. Generally, at the end of the festival—it would end on a Monday morning—we would all get on the mic, on the stage, and just talk. We thank everyone for being there, thank everyone for all the energy that they contributed to the event and ask them to take all the feelings of love that you felt and all the things that you learned over the weekend and try to use them in your everyday life. To bring that love that you felt on the dance floor at the festival and share it with as many people as possible. It's just part of the message that we're pushing. Is it a scientific way of integrating it in people? No, but it's just the constant message of love and positive energy that we're always pushing that has separated us and, I think, has made our vibe and our events so effective in helping people.

Robert: What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of the edm or rave culture?

Mikey: I think some people assume that it’s just a bunch of druggies going out and trying to escape their everyday life when, in reality, it's a celebration of love and positivity and Hedonism for Hedonism's sake, right? There's so much good happening. It's the most beautiful thing in the world in my eyes and it's something that I’ll fight for every day. So, yea, from the outside looking in, some see it as just people partying and trying to just be degenerates. In reality, there's so much more. There's a really spiritually fulfilling aspect of the dance music scene. That is something that's hard to explain to people who haven't had the experience themselves.

Sabeet: Do you think the perspective of degeneracy comes with ignorance?

Mikey: I think a lot of it comes from ignorance. Not to say that there isn't degeneracy going on. Some of the most fun times that I've ever had are just me and my friends in our camp shooting verbal diarrhea back and forth at each other you know. Good fun. It's not like someone going into the bathroom and huffing paint. It's cultural energy being exchanged and it's beautiful.

Sabeet: It sounds like community is the key part of this. Taking certain drugs in isolation, for instance, are likely to have a negative impact and that just exacerbates itself. But what I'm sensing here is more that it doesn't matter if there's substance-induced verbal diarrhea between friends as long as the vibe is pushing you forward and elevating you spiritually. That's all that matters at the end of the day. Would that be a correct characterization?

Mikey: 100%. Community is everything to Desert Hearts and all the other festivals and dance music scenes out there. We also have a strong community of artists and healers—an entire spiritual section of the festival with workshops, sound healing, massage therapist, and whatnot—but , yes, the community as a whole is people who rally together. Everyone wants to feel a part of something and, when you're locked into the groove of the music, it's undeniable you feel completely part of that. You want to talk with the people around you and you meet everyone. It’s beautiful.

Robert: Coachella was when you saw your path, yes?

Mikey: For sure, yes.

Robert: In the years between then and now, 17 years, how do you think you've evolved in that time?

Mikey: I've become a much more spiritual person. I also just found the right scenes. I found my people. For a long time, from like 2006 to 2010, I didn't really know about other types of festivals; I guess they call them transformational festivals. I was just going to Coachella for those five years thinking that Coachella was the end all, greatest weekend, greatest party in the world. Then someone took me to Lightning in Bottle which is kind of the gateway transformational festival between Coachella and Burning Man, with Burning Man being the grandest of them all, top-of-the-food-chain party pyramid event in my opinion. There's nothing more wild and free. There's nothing that teaches you more about what it's like to be a good human being than Burning Man.

If you haven't gone to Burning Man yet, either of you, try to go as soon as possible because it is magic on magic. Just incredible. I learned more at Burning Man than I ever did in college or school or anything. We took our vibe from Burning Man and the 10 principles of Burning Man

Like I mentioned earlier, I had that really powerful DMT* experience. It was my first time ever taking DMT.

*DMT, or N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, is the main active ingredient of ayahuasca and one of the most potent hallucinogens known. It's naturally produced or endogenous to some plants, animals, and to humans. The chemical analysis of a ritual bundle containing DMT from modern Bolivia dates back 1,000 years even though its use is thought to go back much further. The pioneering psychedelics scholar, Dr. Rick Strassman says in his book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, "[T]he euphoria brought on by DMT helped volunteers more unflinchingly look at their lives and conflicts. These ecstatic feelings may be, in part, related to the powerful DMT-induced surge of the morphinelike brain chemical beta-endorphin."

I was in my parents backyard, I had my eyes closed. Like a minute into [the DMT experience], when I open my eyes, every single leaf on every branch on every tree...they're all just looking down at me going, “Yes yes yes!” with huge smiles on everything. My parents' backyard, to me, for 23 years of my life, only meant yard work. I had no spiritual connection whatsoever to the plants in the yard that my dad had planted. Literally every single tree in that backyard he planted when we moved in. So, they basically had grown up with me and now the plants were talking to each other. I could see the fractal information and you know, in my mind, I could understand what they're saying. They're saying how amazing is this that he (meaning me) finally understands that we're just as alive as he is. I was pretty atheist at this time so I'm already kind of getting my mind blown.

At that time, we were throwing a party called "Jungle" where we would cut all these branches from the trees and we would use them to decorate the club that we were playing. So, I'm like, “Oh my God! I'm so sorry for cutting you guys down!” And, the trees told me, “No, don't you understand that, what you're using us for, is to create a positive impact in the world. You can use us anytime you want. For me, that's the secret of life given to me. Love and creating a positive impact and giving back and fostering that love environment is the secret of life given to me from the trees that I grew up with. Yea, we started Desert Hearts with that ethos two months later and it's given me my entire life.

"My job in life is to give people

spiritual ecstasy through music."

- Carlos Santana

Robert: It's interesting, the idea behind ayahuasca and some of the communities that see it as their central organizing force, believe that this vine was a gift from God and that the ayahuasca speaks to and teaches the shaman or taita who, in turn, imparts the plant’s wisdom and healing upon the community. When you learn that ayahuasca is a brew that draws its power not from one plant but a combination of two plants found in a vast rainforest, you naturally wonder how many thousands of years of trial and error it took to figure out how well they work in unison. But the taita will say that it wasn’t trial and error at all, it was the plants that told him the secrets of this magical brew. And, just a note, I’ve been encouraged not to place ayahuasca into the category of psychedelics. We’ll dig deeper into that in a future blog. I'm not a religious person either but certainly substances like these have opened my mind to the possibility of a spiritual world or worlds that maybe I hadn't seen before.

Mikey: Yea, I completely agree. After my DMT experience, I realized that I know nothing and now I'm open, you know. I started leaning into different things that you kind of pick and choose. I don't subscribe to any religion, but there are certain things from each one that I’ll take. That was the journey of going from having that experience as a 17-year-old to the path that I got put on, pushing love through events and through dance music. Yea, it's been a wild, wild ride with lots of ups and downs. I noticed that when I'm not doing well is when I'm not focused on the love and not focused on pushing the thing that I know in my heart is my spiritual path.

Robert: Does evolution for you and for Desert Hearts mean growing your audience?

Mikey: Yea, I think so. That's ultimately the goal, to try and help as many people as possible with this vibe and this energy that we have. I don't know if it ends with us going into politics or something like that where, because, you know, just trying to have that global effect on people, try to share this wisdom and knowledge and energy that we know is so potent and is so good. I think ultimately, we're trying to grow and expand our reach and play bigger shows. We're going to throw a festival out of state in 2024 for the first time so we're pretty excited about that.

Robert: Where will that be?

Mikey: In Arizona, near Flagstaff.

Sabeet: Before we go, I've got a couple of very, very important questions. Glide or Above the Clouds?

Mikey: I would say Above the Clouds.

Sabeet: DMT or Ecstasy?

Mikey: DMT.

Robert: Did you smoke that?

Mikey: I did, yea.

Robert: And it lasted for how long? Five minutes?

Mikey: Yes, five to seven minutes. But now they have these little DMT pens, that are incredibly potent and really pretty amazing. Because smoking of the DMT is really harsh but the pens are more manageable and you can just sit there and just kind of stay in and out of the realm for however long you want.

Robert: What’s your favorite mainstream band or individual musician?

Mikey: Probably Wu-Tang Clan when I was younger. Rage Against the Machine, Blink-182. Now, there's this guy named Petey. He's got my number, everything from his lyrics to his music.

Robert: We appreciate you joining us for this conversation, Mikey. Your perspective on what's behind today's electronic dance music culture seems to validate the feelings that my friends and I felt with the Grateful Dead and the Deadheads that night 30 years ago. For me, this all speaks to a universal desire, an elemental yearning for something that we're missing in the reality that we call our "normal lives". Perhaps, that something was always meant to be fulfilled through rituals of human connection.

Follow Mikey @MikeyLion on Instagram and checkout

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