Whether you know it or not, you’ve seen his work. It might be through the thousands that hold his gensis project and use it as their profile pictures, or through the incredible vignettes his team has launched.The hauntingly beautiful pieces range from hooded figures to highly decorated and complex masked pieces that shroud the true identity of the being.Either way, the enigmatic universe of Psychedelics Anonymous has been spreading through the metaverse like a web3 wildfire. Behind all of this is one man, Lewis Gale, who has become the voice of the anonymous.
We sat down with Gale to discuss everything from the Psychedelics Anonymous universe to the state of the metaverse.
Lewis, tell us a little about yourself. Before launching Psychedelics Anonymous what were you working on?
Before Psychedelics Anonymous [owned by Voltura Labs] I was working at a marketing and design agency I started six-to-seven years ago called Voltura. Voltura is owned 100 percent by me. Initially, it was a creative agency that turned more into a strategic positioning and marketing campaign development agency. Voltura has a number of high-profile NASDAQ-listed clients and a lot of smaller ones as well.
Marketing is something that always interested me, being able to package up a product or service and make it appealing for others to enjoy. As a whole, the psychology of marketing is something I find very intriguing. I studied for a year at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in Business. I’m not someone who ever did ’that’ well in school, had very average grades, and struggled with writing and reading when I was younger – which is ironic considering [copywriting] became one of my specialties at Voltura. After being a ‘drop out’ I ended up lecturing/running workshops on marketing for a few years at the University of New South Wales. I quickly found out that no one cares about your degree, they simply care about your ability to execute and give good advice.
How did you end up in the NFT space, and why did you decide to stay and transition from your previous work? Was it a difficult decision?
I was always a bit of a ’tech nerd’ who wanted to play with the latest smartphones, computers, and cameras. I frequently built my own computers from purchased parts, anything tech-related interested me. That eventually led me to crypto in 2013/2014 which I very lightly dabbled. Q4 2020 I started to get more involved and in February 2021 (a year ago) I got really involved, heavily investing in BTC, ETH and ADA. In May 2021 I took notice of NFTs and started researching which led me to buy my first APE, #2745 on the eight of June for 2ETH which was around AU$6,000 at the time. This was the first NFT I ever purchased. From then on, it was a full-blown 24/7 rabbit hole education into the space. It was not a difficult decision to go full-time into web3. it wasn’t even a decision, it just was the only logical option for my future.
Why did you decide to launch Psychedelics Anonymous as an NFT project? What does the NFT component enable you to do that you otherwise wouldn’t?
I always wanted to do ’something’ that benefited more than just corporations. In order for me to do that I needed two things – an active and evolving market and a distribution mechanism. NFTs in Q3/Q4 2021 were absolutely thriving, and I was also slowly building a name for myself at the time. I was fully aware that when I made my move I needed some influence to get me started. Coming from someone who has about 265 followers on Instagram and is not a huge fan of social media personally, it was awesome to have even 5,000 followers on a single platform. I guess there was no decision to make PA an NFT project, it just was created that way.
The NFT part enables us to distribute ownership in a decentralized way to anyone on the planet, allowing us to build a community with no distribution bias in terms of location, education, gender, background, relationship, or political perspective. It then provides a mechanism where we can distribute products, services, or assets in a controlled and measured way. To this day there is no scalable mechanism to achieve the above, without NFTs or high-end custom web infrastructure.
Your project has a very important mental health component – can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Since I was a child I battled mental health issues, including bouts of depression and anxiety. It took years for me to get a hold of it, which led to a deeper understanding of both it and myself throughout the process. Many of my friends and family members have experienced similar issues, so it’s incredibly close to home. My life I’ve worked to achieve and benefit others, however, I always knew that eventually, I wanted to create something that’ll benefit more people in a scalable way. Psychedelics Anonymous was that opportunity. We will be supporting (both from a community and financial perspective) further research into alternative treatments for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. While also building out infrastructure to assist and educate those in our community about mental health issues, and provide assistance where necessary.
What came first – the philanthropic component, or the artwork?
The idea of educating, helping, and furthering research into mental health issues was always the foundation of Psychedelics Anonymous’ existence. Everything else came after.
The founders of many of the most popular NFT projects (BAYC, for example) decided to remain anonymous. What are some of the positives and negatives you see with anonymity, and why did you decide to use your real name?
In my opinion, to keep the space honest, we needed to move towards ‘doxxed’ founders, the same as anyone running a business – you use your name, it is your reputation. From a positive standpoint [being anonymous] keeps you more secure. Especially if you are incredibly successful, you can have an increased security risk in crypto if you are doxxed. The negatives are clear – someone can promise the world and disappear without recourse or consequences.
In my opinion, all projects should have founders willing to put their name to their work. In essence, I helped encourage this wave of doxxed founders and projects, and am one of the reasons why doxxing is normal in the NFT world today. It was not my aim to do that, but I’m happy that I may have made a significant impact on that trend. I used my real name because of the weight it provides with my experience, and to show everyone I’m here to stay and play ball.
There’s a strong Psilocybin component at play here – from the name of the project itself so some of the ancillary components that have launched? How did this come about?
Psilocybin or Psychedelics are being researched heavily as a new way to treat mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Personally, when I used antidepressants years and years ago I had adverse reactions. I know plenty of people who take antidepressants and they are perfect for them, but they weren’t for me. Initial research shows the effectiveness of Psilocybin as a mechanism to treat these conditions, which has been proven to have a stronger response with fewer side effects. This is all being researched and nothing has been approved, but in order to push forward as a society, we need to research alternative forms of treatment for all types of conditions, not just mental health. If Psychedelics Anonymous can assist in this process in any way, it’ll make me proud.
You built this whole game theory ecosystem as part of the community, can you tell us a little bit more about that and how that plays into the value of the brand?
After observing NFTs for about six months it was apparent that there was a cycle. Successful projects had a run up, initial success pre reveal, then a post reveal drop, and everyone shifts interest elsewhere. It is then determined by the team if the project is ‘resurrected’ by providing utility and value. I wanted to build an engagement mechanism while we’re busy at work building stuff; the project was still growing.
This was where the PAverse ‘game theory’ was born. A series of decisions users have to make in order to progress to one of the many ‘endings’ which provide utility/value to the successful players. It provides value by nature of consistent engagement with the brand and providing value to those who make the correct decisions. This results in an engaged community during our build phase.
Where do you see the PA brand going?
The PA brand will go in many different directions as we adapt and evolve with the times and technologies available to us. One thing is clear, we will be a web3 experience-based brand that stands the test of time.
If you could, what’s one thing you would change about the industry?
I wish I could stop the ‘bad actors’ of the space, which there are many, and help educate users at scale at what to look for in projects, people, and products. However, as any new space matures, much like tech stocks once upon a time, we need a bit of chaos in the micro to figure out the overall macro direction.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.