Damon Albarn says heroin "completely changed" him as a musician.
The Blur rocker has been open about his drug use, which features in some of the lyrics on his new solo record Everyday Robots. He began taking heroin when Blur were at the pinnacle of their fame in the '90s, and initially he didn't think it would be a problem.
"You know I hate talking about this because of my daughter, my family. But, for me, it was incredibly creative. It freed me up," he told Q magazine. "If you're talking about odysseys, then that was definitely an odyssey. A combination of that and playing really simple, beautiful, repetitive sh*t in Africa changed me completely as a musician. I found a sense of rhythm. I somehow managed to break out of something with my voice. I can only say [heroin] was incredibly productive for me. Hand on heart... But it does turn you into a very isolated person and ultimately anything that you are truly dependent on is not good."
The 46-year-old musician is quick to point out he is not advocating drug use. He is now clean and has been for many years, but that doesn't mean he has forgotten how he used to live his life. He still lives in the same area of the UK capital London and occasionally sees people from those days when he is cycling around.
"Those ghosts are around me every day," he explained. "Just because I changed my reality doesn't mean it isn't still going on. They're looking pretty rough now. Horrible to be so dependent on something. It's a cruel, cruel thing."
Damon has a 14-year-old daughter called Missy with his long-term partner Suzi Winstanley. Although he dislikes revisiting some areas of his past because of his child, he knows it's important to be open.
His new track You And Me includes lyrics about heroin use and while now he finds them hard to discuss, he is pleased he was strong enough to include them.
"In those two lines I said everything about it that I wanted to. You know, 'My ship across...' it has some poetry to it. I'm happy I found that poetry. I can move forward not without all the nudge nudge, wink wink innuendo I've had in the background for years. It was a long time ago," he said.