Glucose owns a sensory deprivation chamber! Find out how his day job alters his music
Glucose (aka Ben Gleason) makes hallucination-inspired music, so it's seems only fitting that for a living he owns and operates an isolation tank -- yeah, just like Altered States, only without William Hurt or the primal-DNA time portals. It's a job that leaves him plenty of time to work on music. He made a lot of the material for his new record during down time while people were floating in the tank.
Over the course of two EPs, Glucose has established a curious signature that involves sampling colorful sci-fi imagery and thought-provoking questions about the nature of the universe from Joe Rogan's podcast, best heard on tracks like "Technological Caterpillar" and "Telepathic Octopus." So it seems only natural that that same source of inspiration brought him to his chosen profession.
On his latest EP, Trust, his new tunes pick up stylistically where last year's Telepathic Octopus left off: blending Liquid Sky-era bass lines and chopped Amen break with more contemporary footwork and IDM nuances. We caught up with Glucose for a quick chat about the making of the new EP and how his experiences in isolation inspired his music and helped him turn around his life.
Westword: How did you start out with the isolation chamber?
Glucose: It all goes back to Joe Rogan, eventually. I started listening to his podcast, and he talks all the time about isolation tanks because he has one. He talks about the benefits and how it's changed his life. When I tried it, I was 300 pounds and smoking cigarettes and eating fast food and not living a happy, healthy life by any means. I tried it and really liked it. Throughout the course of my using it, I lost 100 pounds, quit smoking cigarettes, totally changed my diet and started exercising all the time. I really saw the benefits ... It helps you stay honest with yourself and see your life from a different viewpoint. After seeing how it changed my life, I decided that I wanted to help spread the good word and give that to other people.
It's actually your chamber?
Oh yeah, it's my business. This is basically what I've been doing for the past year. One of the things with running an isolation tank is that there's a lot of downtime because people are off floating, and you don't want to be in the room because that would be weird.
Do people know that you're sitting there making music while they're in the tank?
Yeah, I think so.
Do you ever play stuff for people while they're in there?
What's the response?
I can never tell. Usually when I play my music for people they're not like, 'Holy shit, this is sweet.' They're like, 'Whoa, weird,' which is sort of what I'm going for, I guess.
Is there a link between the aesthetic outcome of the music and the experience of the isolation tank?
For "Nootropic," the third song, a lot of that came from floating in the isolation tank. When you're in the tank, since you have no sensory input, your visual and audio cortexes will continue to display information to you whether or not it's present in this dimension; so you can have auditory and visual hallucinations in there while completely sober. A lot of that song in particular came from experiences inside the tank. I've found that I write a lot of music after I use the tank ...
When I'm floating in the tank, I'm recharging myself. When you come out, it's almost like a rebirth experience: You're coming from complete nothingness and then you open the door and there's light and color and people and cars. You get a new found appreciation for the world you've been living in because you can't take it for granted anymore.
You've spent this time in complete isolation with no input at all. Then you get input again, and it's so much more impactful. That experience has given me inspiration. So far as the sound of the music, that's just an expression of who I am and in the deepest parts of my soul, that's the music that's playing.
Do you go in there solo, or do you have to have someone out there while you're in there?
I go in there by myself all the time. It's like taking a bath. It's not an intimidating thing. It's an eight-and-a-half-foot long, five-foot-tall box full of water that you lay in.
Will you make an album that isn't influenced by Joe Rogan at some point?
There was only one song from Joe Rogan on there. Really, the music isn't specifically influenced by Joe Rogan -- the biggest influence on the music is probably stuff like Dave Tipper, old school drum and bass and a lot of weird footwork-style stuff. Machinedrum's last album was a big influence.
Also, having psychedelic experiences where you're really connecting with your own spiritual being; when you're listening to the sounds of what you are. The better you get at dictating the sounds you actually hear, the better the music actually becomes. I do have to sample Joe Rogan at least once an album, though. I think I found the one I'm going to use on the next album already. It's just so sample-able. I mean, 'technological caterpillars,' come on.