Nick Onken is a fashion and lifestyle photographer for today’s top brands, performers, and game changers. On ONKEN radio (Formerly NION radio) Nick explores the body, mind and soul of the creative entrepreneur, bringing you inspiring and influential guests to help take your creativity, business, and life to the next level.
210: East Forest – Music, Psychedelics, and Creative Flow
“You have to allow the messiness and the struggle.” - East Forest
Today's guest, East Forest is one of my all-time favorite musicians and a kindred creator. His music has been the soundtrack to many of my magic mushroom journeys and in this interview, we talk about the ins and outs of creativity, healing, and mindset. After a difficult childhood plagued with depression, East Forest started using psychedelics and making music for other people on psychedelic journeys. He maintains that you have to allow the messiness and the struggle to unleash your creative potential.
We touch on many key questions surrounding music and psychedelics, like how to create music that can accompany a psychedelic trip, which instruments he uses for his albums, and how to unlock your creativity. We also answer some questions that have been nagging me for a long time, like why psychedelic ceremonies so often begin with percussion.
Listen in to this episode as he and I discuss the line between commerce and art, why we need to take back control of our consciousness, and how music informs psychedelics journeys.
You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!
“Just showing up is the main thing.” - East Forest
Some things we learn in this podcast:
How to make music for a psychedelic trip [14:00]
How to unlock your creativity [17:30]
Which instruments are good for music to accompany psychedelics [40:00]
How to accompany a psychedelic trip with music [45:00]
Why do psychedelic ceremonies begin with percussion [46:45]
Listen to the Ten Laws Podcast
Listen to IN exclusively on the Trip App
Connect with East Forest on Instagram | Soundcloud | Facebook | East Forest
209: 11 Life Values in Creativity & Life Optimization
“Follow your feels.” - Nick Onken
Let's talk mindset, folks. Your mindset controls so much of your world experience, why not make every effort to optimize it? Along the way, you'll solidify your values and optimize your days to suit the life you seek. That's what I've been doing over the past few years and it has made a world of difference in my creativity, productivity, and overall happiness. I put together a comprehensive list of the things that have been working for me as I seek a more expansive life. They might not work for everyone, but they can be a great jumping-off point for your own journey.
In this episode, I share steps you can take to access your creativity, live a better life, and feel better doing it.
You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!
“You attract who you are.” - Nick Onken
Some things we learn in this podcast:
How to deal with your trauma [4:00]
What is the difference between medicines and drugs [5:00]
How to optimize your health [6:00]
How to create healthy habits [6:45]
What is intermittent fasting [9:15]
How to set a routine for success [13:30]
How to optimize your sleep [16:15]
How to destress the body [20:00]
How to monitor your media intake [26:00]
11 Life Values in Creativity & Life Optimization
Staying in my zone of genius
Space curation and optimization
Sleep optimization for mental health and productivity
Personal creative projects
Learn more about Ascension Leadership Academy
Learn more about Organifi and use the code 'onken' for 15% off
Get the recipe for Nick's Protein Smoothie Bowl
Learn more about Nurish.Me's CoreCumin and Cogninurish
Listen to Onken Radio Episode 184: Todd & Tara Youngblood – Chilling Your Way to Better Sleep
Use the code 'Nick15' for 15% off the Ooler Sleep System and Nick25 for 25% off the chiliPAD
Learn more about the NuCalm sleep system
Learn more about the Aquatru reverse osmosis water filter and use the code 'ONKEN299' for $150 off
208: Blu – Turning Your Traumas Into Your Greatest Gift
“Whose story was I living?”
Hey, fellow earthlings! Welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio), the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey!
As a creative person, I believe it’s essential to integrate creativity into every part of your life — mind, body, spirit, business, and anything else you can think of! That kind of creative alchemy is what I live and work for, and I want to inspire you to do the same.
Today, I’ve got an extra special guest for you. She’s a personal creative hero of mine, and her art and mission to bring beauty to the world has massively inspired me in my own career as a photographer and creative entrepreneur.
Her name is BLU, and she’s here today to teach you how to deeply listen and carve out your own unique path in this world. Here’s a little preview:
“The more people living from their heart, living from that gift, and the more people sharing their creative gifts unabashedly and like fully just going for it — it will heal the world.”
It’s so true. Whatever your creative gift is, it is essential that your creative projects, at their core, are true to you. When you’re being your true, authentic self, that’s when you can impact the world in a big way.
And you guys, that’s just a little taste of the love bombs BLU dropped in this interview. We’re about to dive into a ton of knowledge taken from the transformative journey she has been on. Today, she’s going to help us discover that our greatest struggle can actually be our superpower. Let’s go!
Who Is BLU?
BLU or BLU Cosmic Eagle is an artist and musician from England. She grew up in a boarding school for girls and served in the Royal Air Force before moving to the States to attend college in Florida. She found herself living a perfect textbook life, but she felt empty inside — like all of her creativity that she enjoyed as a young girl was stripped from her and replaced with a sterile cubicle. She knew her life had to change.
Her neighbor invited her to try magic mushrooms or shrooms for the first time, and that led her on a path to becoming a curious mystic. She discovered that everything she grew up knowing may have been false, which included her internal narratives. When she learned that she would gradually lose her hearing due to an incurable hereditary disorder, she decided to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a musician. She bought a guitar and went traveling with it.
Now an accomplished musician, BLU had to work through her own shifting identity alchemy to reach the point she’s at today where she sees her hearing loss as an invitation to listen deeper. She encourages others to turn their traumas into their greatest gifts in her recent TEDx Talk where she shares the amazing story of how she turned limitation into liberation.
In this episode, BLU explains what it looks like to live to blow your own mind. We also discuss what it was like for BLU to lose her hearing, the difference between prayer and performance, and why she wants everything in her life to be beautiful.
Making Beauty a Calling
BLU’s name is an acronym for “Beauty, Love, and Unity.” She named herself when she discovered that her life’s work is to bring beauty and light everywhere she goes. By renaming herself she was rebirthing something new in her life.
“If I was to summarize everything in my life’s work, it is to restore beauty, love, and unity on the planet again.”
BLU does try to bring beauty into as many facets of life as possible, whether that’s how she decorates her house, how she treats her body, how she interacts with people, or how she creates her art.
207: Detaching Your Self Worth From Your Identity
“Our ego is our teammate.”
- Nick Onken
Hello my fellow alchemists! I’m your host, Nick Onken, and we're back with another solo episode of the ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio), the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. Today. I'm going to talk more about identity alchemy, and I want to share with you my journey of finding my self-worth and my identity.
As I've gone through this journey myself, I've realized that the more you attach your self-worth with the identity that you put out into the world — whether that's your career, your relationship, or your family — if you're solely attached to that identity, what happens when that goes away? What's left for you?
What I have learned through my 20 years of experience as a photographer is something that I am applying to help people tell their visual stories and build their brands. People want real authenticity, and the story you are telling the world is what needs to resonate. This is where identity alchemy comes in — to help you tell a personal story that is authentic to who you are and allows you to find your self-worth.
My Journey of Finding My Self-Worth as a Photographer
Photography is a personal and creative outlet for me. I often find myself putting my heart and soul into my work. It's always been something that fills me with joy, but my journey wasn’t an easy ride — it’s had ebbs and flows.
Believe it or not, I actually started out as a graphic designer. I went to school for graphic design. I bought a digital camera to start shooting for my design work, and that was the start of my journey as a photographer who has been building and enhancing brands for almost 20 years now.
When I started doing commercial photography, I figured out that it was what I really wanted to do. Being a commercial photographer is who I wanted to be in the world. So I pursued my passion, even to the point of slaving myself away, working up to 16 hours a day doing foot tests, photoshoots, building my portfolio, designing my website, and marketing myself. I was living in a small room in a house in Santa Monica where I paid $800 in rent per month.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I started all over again, building my business from scratch. It was a long journey, but I knew that's what I wanted. I wanted to be a commercial photographer shooting campaigns for lifestyle photography, traveling the world, and doing various campaigns. Eventually, I got a job for Nike shooting some pro sports players that catapulted my career as a commercial photographer.
However, after completing the job for Nike, I wasn’t able to get another photoshoot job for the next two years. So, I started to question myself. I started to question who I was. I started to question if what I was doing was the right thing. A mentor told me, “Just keep going. You’ve got to keep pressing through because nothing happens overnight.”
It’s true! Success doesn’t happen overnight. When we look at others’ Instagram stories, sometimes we envy their successes. But what most people don't realize is how much work goes into achieving success. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and commitment to reach your goals. There will be times when you want to give up, but if you push through the hard times, then the good ones will come.
For me, the good came in 2008 when I finally got my first big advertising campaign. It was a full production campaign with 30 people working under me on the set in Miami, Florida. It was a campaign for Secret deodorant, which ended up being a huge print ad. I could still remember sitting on planes and noticing somebody flipping through a magazine and seeing my ad — it was a cool feeling and an ecstatic experience.
When I moved to New York at the peak of my career, I was throwing parties and going around the city ti...
206: Maejor – Healing the World Through Music Frequency
“I have made a conscious decision to evolve without pain.”
Hello, my friends! Welcome to another episode of the Onken Radio podcast (previously NION Radio), the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey!
Today, I’m excited about my special guest and music master, Maejor. I really wanted to have him on because he is all about frequency and healing the world through frequency in his music. He’s produced albums and songs for Justin Bieber and is also a leukemia survivor.
All these things have given him a unique perspective on life, making him a great guest to talk to about the alchemy of life. We will also share with you his mission to heal the world through frequency by creating all of his music in 432 Hertz and other healing frequencies.
Here’s a quick taste of what’s to come from my interview with Maejor:
“I believe this year has been a rebirth in many ways for myself [and] for a lot of people. How can I use this moment in this time in the best way to give love? I’ve made a conscious decision now to evolve without pain.”
Maejor is a quality guy who feels deeply connected and has the greatest heart. In my opinion, I think most people that reach his level of success live in a different world — one that’s not tapped into what most people experience. What I really appreciate about Maejor is he’s still tapped in and because of that is challenging his own creativity to be a light in the world for healing.
Who Is Maejor?
Brandon Michael Green, known by his stage name Maejor, is an American record producer, singer, and songwriter from Detroit, Michigan. Maejor has written and produced songs for several prominent artists in the music industry — most extensively Justin Bieber — and is half of the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) duo Area21 alongside Dutch DJ Martin Garrix.
In honor of Maejor’s grandmother, Edna Mae, who passed away, he used her name in the spelling of Maejor because of the closeness of their relationship and her impact on his life.
Maejor has been producing music from the age of 17, and it’s been his focus ever since.
“I always had a vision that I was going to do something very positive and impactful for the world — I don’t know where that came from. I just had that thought when I was a kid.”
As Maejor’s career progressed, big names started noticing him in the industry. Part of his vision for making an impact in the world was to create centers that teach underprivileged kids music. However, this plan always felt like something “down the line” that he was going to do. The success in his twenties led him to rapidly build on the momentum he was creating until he was dealt a devastating blow.
“I got leukemia when I was in my twenties. [I thought] ‘Whoa, this is pretty crazy — what does that mean?’ I never [even] knew that word, I never [even] knew what that was. My timeline switched [from] ‘something I’m going to do [in] 20 years’ to ‘who knows [if] I’m going to be around [in] 20 years?’ What could I do now?”
Maejor’s second chance has given him a different perspective on life and how to create an impact in the world using his music. It’s a great honor to bring you his story and dive into the creative process that he’s developed. Maejor’s connectedness to the world we live in and journey through spirituality made this a magical interaction.
Let’s jump straight in!
How to Remain Present
The past year has created chaos in most people’s lives, and while it’s easy to say things like “Be more present,” putting that into practice when the world feels like it’s collapsing around us is another story.
205: Onken & Eleven – Blurring the Lines Between Artist and Muse
“Nick was such a huge part of capturing the beauty of our relationship.”
Hello friends! Welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio), the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey.
Today, I’m excited to bring to you another episode with my dear friend, Eleven. We chatted in Episode 204 about their transition to non-binary. As a follow-up, we both decided to create another podcast that dives deep into how our relationship has progressed since we first met in 2013.
We’ve been able to explore different spaces in our lives as friends, creative collaborators, and Eleven’s even been a muse for me, my photography, and ONKEN hats. Today’s episode is all about blurring the lines between the muse and the artist as we explore beyond friendship. Let me just give you a little preview here:
“We’re dealing with sexual identity and identity alchemy and it makes a lot of different processes. [Throw in] a kindred relationship with best friends [and we are] blurring the lines between the artists and the music in a really potent and powerful way.” - Eleven
Through all of our experiences, we’ve remained friends. As our friendship deepens, we wanted to share that journey with you while challenging ourselves and our friendship in a space of vulnerability. It’s a powerful episode I hope you find value in as well, so let’s go!
Who is Eleven?
Growing up as Lynette Cenee, Eleven was raised in a world blended between religion and stage magic, with parents that were both involved in the church, as well as practicing magicians. This provided a pathway to growing up as a performer and developing a keen understanding of hair and makeup to create all the glitz and glamor needed on stage.
“I found myself living in LA and getting cast to be the hair and makeup [person] for some really incredible projects. I felt very conflicted, because I grew up on stage as the talent, and then found myself behind the scenes thinking, ‘Okay, this is great [but] I really want to be the one that people are preparing to be on screen.’ I just needed to believe I’m worthy of it, and decided to start seeking outside of being the hair and makeup [person], and seeking casting calls to be the talent.” - Eleven
Choosing to focus on being in front of the camera again led to an opportunity to be cast on a new TV show that required hair and makeup professionals on camera as experts. Participants would be given help to launch a new YouTube channel with a whole production company behind them, as well as a team of 13 people to manage all the social media components. That’s what launched the career of Lynette Cenee — the name Eleven was given at birth — for the next 10 years.
The show focused on creating different beauty videos while also telling Eleven’s story transparently online, which included their marriage in 2015. It was a challenging relationship requiring a lot of alchemy to work through. It was after deciding to leave the marriage though that Eleven was invited to visit Peru.
“I had been feeling the call towards doing deeper plant medicine work with ayahuasca. This whole evolution began in 2018, and it’s been this wild journey into this space of psychedelic Renaissance and deeper work and a whole new transition. A new avatar kind of made its way through the process and now I am identifying as Eleven — a non-binary cosmic being, and it feels more myself. I’ve never felt this authentic and true, and it feels great.” - Eleven
Each step along Eleven’s journey to becoming the person they are now has built upon the lessons they’ve learned at each growth stage.
Nick and Eleven’s Backstory
Eleven and I were first introduced on set in 2013 when our mutual friend Sc...