VJDAMUSICMAN (Vybhav Jagannath) stopped by Live and Local this week, just ahead of the release of his new album “Mind-Altering Substance.”


The prolific Jagannath has released four full-length albums in the last five years while pursuing a graduate degree in psychiatry. But “Mind-Altering Substance” represents a new direction – and a new narrative, after a trilogy of albums that wrapped up with last year’s “Chaos on a Canvas.”

“I believe it’s my most mature body of work yet,” he says. “I really took the time to focus on my sound and my craft.”

That sound includes a slight shift away from electronic music, which had characterized Jagannath’s previous efforts. “I wanted to go back to using regular violins, pianos, guitars and drums,” he says, “and I’m so happy because I think that’s reflected in the work.”

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That work is a collection of 14 tracks that follow a new relationship – from the perspective of a psychiatrist, with references to brain chemistry and medication alongside the traditional love-story imagery. The stellar lead single, for example, is “Limerence” – a psychological term referring to an overwhelming, even debilitating feeling of infatuation with an idealized other.

“Kesha said ‘your love is my drug,'” Jagannath says, “(and I’m) examining that from the perspective of someone who works in mental health. Love is a drug: we go through withdrawal, we go through obsession, but ultimately you have to find your own relationship within yourself…

“(And) I think (the album) has definitely changed what I think about psychiatry,” he continues. “It can feel easy, sometimes, when somebody is going through a difficult period, to just suggest a pill – but you’re not actually solving what might be going on the root. You need both the drug and a lot of therapy & conversation, and I like to say that this album has a mix of both of those elements.”

But Jagannath is not just approaching the material as a disinterested clinician: “Mind-Altering Substance” is also autobiographical, with parallels to his own relationship with his boyfriend.

“I start out trying to write something that’s more of a fantasy, and it always ends up going autobiographical,” he says. “The album, in terms of its narrative, actually almost highlights exactly what our relationship has been.”

VJDAMUSICMAN stopped by Live & Local to discuss the album and play three tracks: “Limerence,” “Mind-Altering Substance,” and “My Problem.” Listen:


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