A self-described “creative catalyst, musician and mischief maker”, Jamie Catto is not only a founding member of UK’s electronica band Faithless and co-creator of award-winning film “1 Giant Leap”; he has collaborated with the likes of Bono, Dido, Susan Sarandon and Noam Chomsky, and is the best-selling author of “Insanely Gifted”. Today, Jamie leads transformative workshops in the UK, Europe and online. But Jamie’s intriguingly eclectic and accomplished resume only tells half the story. His full effect, and how he’s been able to achieve all he has done in a wide range of fields, come across when you sit down with him. He is instantly likable: genuine and sweet, with an irrepressibly cheeky sense of humour. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Parvati Magazine: You have tapped into creativity as a means to help others. Where along the way did this arise, and what do you think it says about the role of the artist?
Jamie Catto: My whole reason for doing anything is a desire for intimacy and connection. Most of the traumatizing things of our childhoods, that we built our lives around, are big moments of disconnection, rejection, being shamed. The joy of being a human is the connection. There’s no greater experience than being met, being seen. When you listen to an artist you fall in love with, you’re like, “Oh, wow, he’s speaking to me”. It’s like you suddenly felt the opposite of loneliness.
Creativity has been both my salvation for my wounding and my traumas, which I’m still very much working through, and also my way to be intimate with the audience. I think it may be true for all artists: we make something so that people will empathize and connect. That’s what the planet needs, that’s what the human race needs. All the ecological disaster, gun running, disgraceful politics, and total animalistic situation we’ve got ourselves into—the journey out of that is connection. When we have a connection, we feel like we are “us.” And we look after us. But we look at the people on the other side of the world, in Syria, or whatever, or even the people who vote for the opposite political party to us, as “them”. It’s easy to dehumanize “them”, not include them in the circle of generosity and care. As artists and activists, our job is to increase the notion of “us”, and eradicate the notion of “them”. Because there is no “them”.
Parvati Magazine: You have spoken about the importance of honesty and self-reflection. How do you support this process and help people avoid falling into victimhood or self-loathing?
Jamie Catto: The real you is wise and kind. The voices in the head we live by every day, this constant radio station of strategy and protection, what if, fantasy, and pessimism… seem like they’re us because they’re spun so loud, so constantly.
The big turning point in life is when you realize that all the things you think all day, that you think are you, aren’t truth. We invented a lot of little characters when we were little, and ideas in our head, like bodyguards to kind of keep ourselves in line to succeed and keep the love channels open. As adults we forgot we did that, and live as if all those childhood decisions were true. [We] never went back to those little kids and said, “Hey, that’s old data. I’m a grown up now, we can look after ourselves.”
The great awakening is to live in the place which is true. Which is that we’re a rather sweet person. We want the best for everyone, we deserve love. That’s the ultimate honesty to click in to.
And actually, each one of those dysfunctional experiences has a legitimate need behind it. If you don’t meet that need, it will crash into your life in a sabotaging way. So you find out what is the actual need behind this and meet it. It’s usually desperate for self-care of some nature.
We are so self-critical. “Oh, my mess is so much worse than everyone else’s.” The truth is when we all get in a room, like my workshops “Transforming Shadows” and “Insane[ly Gifted]”, we all begin by laughing about how we’re all so f—ing crazy. We’re all totally loopy, there’s so much chaos in there and the full spectrum of dark and light, because we’re human. [We] laugh about that together, throw up our hands, fess up, crack up, and play games with suffering, for example. “Oh, I’m so tired.” “Oh, let me make you a cup of tea.” You kind of got that cup of tea with your suffering offering. We think people will look after us more if we’re slightly martyrish.
We play a great game in the workshop where we make a huge list of all the ways we consciously or unconsciously lead with our suffering to get more looked after, or get our own way, or get love, and feel more deserving in the world. Like looking upset until they notice. And then we ham them up with the operatic version. Everybody else buys into them and gives the sympathy we want. It’s very hard afterwards to carry on your suffering story and the manipulative side of it when you’ve played that game.
I think the path to us healing ourselves is much better shouldered when scattered with banana-skins. It’s not an earnest, ah, “I’ve been meditating for 15 years.” If anyone needs to tell you how many years they’ve been meditating, if they haven’t realized in their decades of meditating that no one gives a f—, they haven’t gotten anything out of it. Spirituality is realizing you’re already here. Where are you going on your path that is away from this moment and where we are right now? There is no anything else.
Parvati Magazine: What do you find people enjoy most about your workshops and what gives you the greatest joy in facilitating them?
Jamie Catto: Well, one thing, liberation. We’re addicted to comfort in our culture. We turn away from anything uncomfortable. Get a headache, take a pill. And therefore the only times we meet our demons in these crazy blocks and the voices in our head is when we’re in a crisis, because the rest of the time we’re just like, “No, we won’t go there.” So it’s amazing in a workshop to suddenly turn towards the demons and edges and go, “Hmm, I’m not in a crisis, I’m just being curious.” The amount of liberation when people do that… they realize all of those demons have skills and just want to help. And you give them new jobs.
Massively reducing the self-flagellation of their lives, that’s what people come out of the workshops with. Self-love, breathing properly, looking after yourself, feeling you deserve looking after. To be around that, it’s like being around caterpillars turning into butterflies. What could be more beautiful?
Parvati Magazine: You started The Academy of Sacred Fools with your partner Lisa Larn. What inspired this lighthearted yet impactful online academy? What has it been like to watch it take shape?
Jamie Catto: It’s 40 things in 40 days, so it’s meditations and practices, and all the best stuff from everywhere that I’ve condensed into what has helped and inspired me the most. It was a way to reach many more people. And also to experiment with not just being one. It is me doing the teaching and stuff, but all the video clips where I’m sort of expounding, Lisa edits. She writes things on the screen, kind of heckling me. It’s a fun way of throwing our hands up and never trying to not look like a fool. So I’m talking to the camera, saying something about, “When you connect to that deep wound…”, and she’s written in the screen above me, “his mother”, or something like that.
It’s a way to be really artistic, to try it in film and reach more people, and also be able to keep the show on the road, because we have a hundred percent inclusive [pay-what-you-can] business. It’s also totally mutually serving to let everyone in. You get a bigger energy in the room, a much bigger workshop full of diverse people.
Parvati Magazine: How did you come up with 40 days? That’s kind of a biblical number.
Jamie Catto: Basically, I went through my book, “Insanely Gifted”, to see: how many actual things do I say in this book? And I broke it down to about 40. The only way to heal yourself, your inner children, meet your projects, is a turning towards, being curious, which is yin, instead of yang control.
When Jesus went out into the desert for 40 days, 40 nights, he was willing to meet his demons. It was an act of turning towards. So to me, the idea of 40 days and 40 nights is a metaphor of turning towards this. That’s why it was profound for me.
Parvati Magazine: In a time when many feel hopeless and alone and suffering is on the rise, what have you learned about humanity and what are your hopes for our future?
Jamie Catto: My hopes for the future are always that we connect, so we empathize and care for each other. It is our contact with each other, and our sharing of our love, kindness and attention, that feeds us most in life. I want a world where we give each other much more attention. I want to dissolve whatever is making people think connection is not for them, so that they don’t need to be lonely.
Jamie Catto is the creator, producer and director of the multi-award-winning “1 Giant Leap” films and albums, founding member of Faithless, and now leader of transformative workshops and one-on-one sessions. He draws from diverse wisdom, techniques and processes encountered in voyages across all five continents to spark professional and personal breakthroughs. For more information visit jamiecatto.com