- 30 Mar 21
Working with artists such as Jafaris, Nealo, Soulé, FLYNN and Mango X Mathman to name a few; Emiji’s knack for sonic versatility has no limits.
The ambient debut album from neo-classical producer/composer Emiji landed last Friday, March 26th, and the timing was undeniably apt. A project designed to cleanse the mental palette of those struggling during a chaotic era; My Journeys also delves deep into the mindscape of the creative, showcasing emotions at their most potent from Emiji’s childhood to the present day. The album also challenges perceptions of psychedelic drugs for therapeutic reasons, exploring the potential for psychedelics to guide those who experience them substantially closer to nature.
Originally from Poland, Marcin Ciszczon is the co-founder of one of Ireland's most successful independent production houses, Diffusion Lab. After spending nearly a decade working with some of Ireland’s most exciting musical talents in his role of producer, composer and engineer, the time has come for his own music to be shared.
Having first moved to Ireland back in 2005, Marcin later returned after a five-year stint in his homeland in 2015 and started Diffusion Lab alongside Chris Bubenzer and Ivan Klucka. The hip-hop, pop and R&B juggernaut helped shape the likes of Hare Squead and Soulé from the beginning of their careers. Emiji used every minute of spare down-time to craft his debut album, designing My Journeys as a soundscape for meditation, breathwork or progressive relaxation exercises.
“I started the album back in 2017, and finally finished it last year during COVID,” Marcin tells Hot Press about the contemporary project.
“The concept of the album was to portray my personal experiences with mental health and holistic medicine, which meant I was reluctant to receive any feedback. I’ve made it this way on purpose, and I totally understand that it’s niche music, so not everybody will appreciate the sound - and that’s fine! It’s my unique story, and the reasons why I’ve made My Journeys matter just as much as the music itself.”
The moving cinematic overture examines the depths of the human psyche, considering the profound themes of nature’s healing power and childhood wounds. A symphony of moving tracks; each song embodies aspects of pain, uncertainty, darkness and the human spirit’s inner workings. Emiji utilises a newfound understanding of the world to encourage others to dive into their own potential.
“In 2017, I became a bit exhausted both mentally and physically,” Marcin says. “Psychedelics were suggested to me, so I decided to give LSD a try. I read about the dangers and side effects of using psychedelic drugs for mental health purposes from various articles and forums. I spent four months researching what to expect; discovering that a transformative, spiritual experience requires higher doses.”
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1984, Misuse of Drugs Act 2015 and the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act 2010 regulate drug usage in Ireland, while the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 classified all psychedelic drugs in the US as Schedule I. However, before the ‘70s, psychedelics were of keen interest to many psychiatrists and psychologists. Dozens of research studies with thousands of patients were completed using LSD and psilocybin with promising results and evidence which entirely conflicted with the restrictive laws.
Psychedelic research began again in the early 2000s to investigate the safety and uses of psychedelic drugs in substance use and mental health treatment. MDMA, LSD, psilocybin (the active compound in magic mushrooms), ibogaine and ayahuasca are all currently being researched for their potential in treating depression, PTSD, anxiety, OCD, substance abuse, addictions and more. Psychedelic drugs are also being evaluated as treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
“I felt like I was torn apart when I tried LSD and psilocybin, both who I was as a person and my internal values,” Emiji says, reflecting on his own experiences.
“Psychedelics showed me what I needed to do with my life. If you’re not scared, they will show you the issues holding you back, as long as you aren’t resistant,” Marcin adds. “I was terrified at the beginning, but you have to go with the flow. I believe that if you know how to take the right dose, in the right environment, with the right people, then it can be relatively safe. The end goal is ego death, where it legitimately feels as though you’re dying - but you come back. I trusted the people who guided me, they were experienced and knew that they were doing.”
“President Nixon criminalised psychedelics in the 1970s, and derailed research projects into their potential for mental health, but I believe that once you know what you’re doing dosage-wise and are using them for the right reasons, hallucinogenic drugs are totally harmless,” Emiji says, reflectively.
“The first time I used LSD for therapy, it was one of the most difficult, meaningful experiences of my life. It turned the way in which I saw the world on its head. Through psilocybin and ayahuasca, I discovered what I needed to do to reach my potential. It’s one thing to gain knowledge, but it’s another thing to actually put what you know into practice to change your life. I became much closer to nature spiritually, Maybe it is why I live in the countryside right now - surrounded by lakes and forest.”
Outside of their use as treatments in clinical populations, psychedelics have been found to enhance self-acceptance, increase openness and improve social relationships. Emiji’s own relationship was strengthened as a result.
“If you use psychedelics alone, you’ll experience a lot of beauty and darkness. It’s like a total disconnection from the matrix but a connection to something bigger than all of us. If you have the experience with someone else, as I did with my girlfriend, it gives the effect of becoming at one with that person. At least it was like that for us, but every psychedelic experience is different.”
A group of people in the Dublin area are undergoing trials to assess the effectiveness of the active ingredient of magic mushrooms in the treatment of severe depression, marking the first time a psilocybin-centred trial has occurred in Ireland. It remains an illegal drug for recreational purposes and its use in the Irish study - based out of Tallaght hospital - is heavily regulated.
“I believe that psychologists undertaking the trial need to try psychotropic plants themselves to truly understand, but I’m delighted that the trial is happening. There are dozens more going ahead in the US and in the UK. Psychedelics have the ability to render those who experience them totally open when talking to a therapist.”
“In my experience, it changed my entire outlook,” Marcin continues. “I feel as though they work the opposite way to regular antidepressant medication. The experience is too intense to cope with on a regular basis, and they often aid addiction rather than cause it. I stopped drinking alcohol, even though I was a moderate drinker. I’ve also transitioned to a more healthy eating and lifestyle in general that I believe happened as a side effect of using psychedelics and making the right decisions. I think governments are often afraid of public reaction, but there are signs of changes in societal thinking towards psychedelics.”
Emiji’s potent examination of his inner psyche and emotional range bleeds into My Journeys. Minimal in instrumentation, the album relies mostly on a unique blend of complex synths and intricate piano melodies. Collaborating with Dublin folk/pop duo Hvmmingbyrd on lead singles ‘Larimar’ and talented vocalist Sandra Maria on ‘Unspoken’; Emiji creates serene, all-consuming musical results.
“Not every song on the album is about nature, but many of them were inspired by it. The forest itself is music, and always calms me down,” Emiji says, smiling.
“‘Dawning’ is about the morning. The idea was inspired by the Bray Head, when I was high up in the mountains. I was trying to emanate what the rising sun would sound like. The track gets bigger and brighter, as the morning does. You’re hit with the bliss of warmth. ‘Helpless’ was completely electronic originally. I was experimenting from totally electronic music to cinematic acoustic. The song was purely beats, but I introduced orchestral sounds and they took over. I wanted to portray how I fell at the time, as if I had no power, even though externally I may have looked well. ‘Wounded Child’ was written about the anger you feel as a child when you can’t express it, allowing it to fester and grow over time.”
A voyage of self-discovery, Emiji offers the project as a gift to those needing tranquility during a chaotic era in history. Stretching his creative limits and ailing his own mental health overtook his desire to create music for the mainstream ear.
“I was still experimenting and editing the album early last year,” Emiji says. “From my work with Diffusion Lab, I’m aware that this country listens to mostly pop, hip-hop, R&B. Much of that group wouldn’t be interested in ambient music, but mental health is becoming an even more critical crisis on account of lockdown. The hope is that My Journeys will offer some sense of peace and broaden the horizons of contemporary music in Ireland. You won’t be hearing it in a nightclub, though!”
Stream the new album from Emiji below: