The Music Sounds Better Up Here


It should be no secret that cannabis and music go together like…cannabis and music! Whether you’re enjoying a live concert, listening at home with a nice pair of headphones – or maybe even creating music of your own –  cannabis is a substance that can awaken the senses and take your listening experience to the next level. However, science has yet to sufficiently explain exactly how cannabis makes music sound better. And what impact does it have on creating music? Users feel not only more connected with the brain’s emotional and spiritual state, but with physical body as well – which can give music the power to take over one’s entire being.

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I have two jobs (three if you count being a parent, which sadly no one does). I manage one of the most luxurious, state-of-the-art medical marijuana dispensaries in the world (located just off the Las Vegas Strip) and I also write and record music for film, TV and my own band Donato & His Imperfections. Not surprisingly, these two occupations mesh together incredibly well. I have access to the highest quality and greatest variety of medicine in the world, and over the years I’ve assembled a home studio where I can write and record music to my heart’s content.

Creating songs along with cannabis is a fascinating journey of exploration that I have dedicated over 10 years of my life to.

Along the way, I’ve discovered that a high energy, euphoric Sativa can put you in a mood to write a happy rock and roll song about how much you love your girlfriend – while a mellow Indica will put you in the headspace to write a dreamy spaced-out tune about life on other planets. The possibilities and combinations are ENDLESS! And that curiosity continues to drive me and my music to this day. But how did we get here?

Stereotypes are a bummer, and the so-called “evils” of marijuana have been drilled into our brains for decades. I never understood why people believed cannabis makes you lazy, dumb and non-productive. If so, how can you explain the brilliance of artists who quite literally sang their praise for the “devil’s lettuce” in their own music?

Louis Armstronf Cannabis musician music

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong was a daily user and wrote many songs expressing his love of the “Gage” as he called it, in songs dating back to the early 1930s. Paul McCartney exclaimed “I Got To Get You Into My Life!” about his love of cannabis on the multi-platinum selling album “Revolver” in 1966. Several years prior, Bob Dylan had already incorporated cannabis into his creative process, and was credited for introducing cannabis to The Beatles! This little exchange sparked a cultural revolution that would change music and pop culture forever. The truth was getting out!

[Note: Gage is an older term for cannabis. Many musicians in Armstrong’s era turned to cannabis for their creative process because they saw it as beneficial and perceived it as a cleaner form of stress relief than alcohol.]

Those don’t sound like lazy, dumb or non-productive people to me. In fact, it sounds like quite the opposite. Growing up with great music all around me – I couldn’t ignore the positive effects cannabis was having on artists I respected, and it made me question what I was being told. It turns out Sativa can give you hyper-focus and euphoria while shutting off the rest of the outside world – allowing you to dive into a creative headspace for several hours with no comedown or side-effects!

I love to create music, so I’m naturally open to things that might help me break through creative barriers, thereby giving me access to seeing & hearing things in a new way. Welcoming an alternative perspective can be very helpful for a songwriter – or anyone looking to find a solution by seeing the task at hand from every possible angle. Every song has a solution. The right combination of melody, chords, words and special sauce that really makes it work. And as a writer, whether you find that perfect combination or not is ultimately up to you.

“Did I give that song every opportunity to succeed? Or did I miss something?”

I use cannabis as a tool – not a crutch. My songwriting does not depend or rely on cannabis, it simply has a time and place where I can introduce it to gain fresh perspective on something I’m working on. Perhaps I’ll hear a new guitar part that would really take the song over the top, or brainstorm a bunch of crazy song titles for a wild new project I’m working on. I’m able to work at a furious pace, cranking out several new songs a month – despite working full time and raising 2 young kids.

I have been more productive and prolific since incorporating cannabis into my creative process. It enables me to put my busy life aside and hyper-focus on creating a fantasy world of moods and textures for my songs to grow and develop into – all of which requires my full creative attention. Most recently, I was lucky enough to come across an excellent strain by Remedy, a well-known cultivator here in the Las Vegas area that constantly puts out high quality medicine with excellent terpene profiles. The strain is called SFV OG, and is known for its creative cerebral effects. The song that resulted was “Over Medicated”, a wild tale about having a bit too much.

[Note: San Fernando Valley  (SFV) OG is a sativa-dominant hybrid.]

Credits: Bodhi Grey Photo

Music, like life, is a journey – and I continue to wake up excited;

ready to discover what new sounds may pour out of my continued exploration into the wondrous depths of creativity and cannabis. To use a simple metaphor: I like to use drums, bass and guitars to beat down the listener’s door, and then sprinkle in a bit of cannabis whenever the hinges get too rusty.


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