Interview with Ed Drury (From Desert Sounds Review, Vol1 ,Issue 1 (c) 1994 )

Q: Ed, how did you get started with the Didgeridoo?

Ed: It's kind of a strange story. I became interested Australian Aboriginal Peoples first. I went to a friend of mine for a Rieki treatment. Reiki is a form of hands on healing. Anyway, he said to me, "I have some music that I don't normally use for these treatments, but I think that you would really like it." It turned out to be a recording of didgeridoo music which he had brought back from London with him. I recognized it on some level, I felt very familiar with it, and after the treatment I told him, "that's a didgeridoo." He was surprised that I knew what it was. I don't remember where I first heard the word, but somewhere in the past I'd been introduced to the instrument. I don't know if I'd even heard it played before, but I had a very powerful sort of journey experience during that treatment where I went through this little story and I told him the story. It's about a didgeridoo player (old feller) and a dolphin, and how he used to communicate with this dolphin while he played the didgeridoo by the sea. I don't know if this was a story I'd been told of long ago or what, but that's the story which unfolded before my minds eye as I was laying there receiving Reiki. I became quite keen to find an instrument from Australia, which took me almost a year. I knew if I could find the right one that it would teach me the sounds I was seeking. I just intuitively knew that from the sound of that recording. After hearing it, I said, "That's for me! That's the instrument I want to study next."

Q: This is like an innate gift you have, just to be able to pick it up and play it?

Ed: I don't know I'd go that far, I certainly continue to go through a learning process. My playing hopefully improves everyday, but I'm a big admirer of the Aboriginal players. Most of them start very young. So I've got a LOT of catching up to do.

Q: Do you make your own Didgeridoos?

Ed: No, I don't. All of my instruments with the exception of a couple are from Australia. I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance and become friends with a fellow here who runs an Australian shop. He had begun to import Didgeridoos a short time before I met him. So all my Didgeridoos that I generally perform and record with come from Australia. I have one which comes from Tucson Arizona.

Q: One made from Agave?

Ed: Yes! I enjoy that one a great deal. And then I have a couple that were made for me here. They are what we call didgeri-bones or slide didgeridoos and they're made out of a form of plastic pipe called PVC. The main feature of that is you can adjust the pitch by sliding the pipes across each other.

Q: Now, in listening to your tapes, it sounds like you have a synthesizer in there. Is that true?

Ed: Yes

Q: What other instruments do you incorporate in your tapes?

Ed: Well, I've always collected flutes. I have some Native American, some from Bali that I picked up on our trip there, and I have some from Hawaii and Japan. I don't have a classical European flute; by collecting flutes, I mean wooden ones. I also play guitar. I play mostly slide guitar on "Beginners Heart" and some blues harp.

Q: What are you favorite titles that you've recorded so far? One of my favorites is "Crow Butte" and then "Shaman's Dream", but I like them all for different reasons.

Ed: That's very nice of you to say. I think that I am fond of "Sanctuary". It uses an Elk hide drum that belongs actually belongs to my wife. It's a very unique drum because it was dyed prior to the skin being stretched and some very beautiful patterns on it. One thing I love about that drum is that in different types of weather it sounds different. it's somewhat tunable in that if you put some water on it, it will tend to tighten up the head and the pitch will go up. So, I never know what I'm going to get. On that particular one ("Sanctuary" from the album "The Healing") I played it on my lap which kind of muted it and I got a nice, kind of dull thud out of it. I liked that sort of "heartbeat" like quality.

Q: It sounds to me, in listening to your music, that there's an underlying Spiritual theme. Is this intentional?

Ed: Yes it is intentional. For example, the very last track on The Healing is called "The Grounding" and it's a very simple track. What I'm actually doing is chanting through a very low pitched didgeridoo the word "Nameste" while the keyboard is actually playing a very slow rendition of "London Bridge is Falling Down"? I'm really interested in my music being felt on several levels but in addition to that I like to use influences that are kind of out of, for lack of my understanding such terms, what I'll call "Collective" memories. When I first head the Didgeridoo, my little story about that and recognizing it right away - it's something that may belong to us from our shared past. I believe people carry these, "memories" and I want to resonate with those. One thing I don't want to do is blatantly steal from the traditions that hopefully I'm learning from. It's an honest effort to combine the influences and feelings and not the specific nuts and bolts or "dogma" in some cases.

Q: Even though you first recognized the importance of the Didgeridoo to you in what might be described as a "Vision", should people look for anything in particular when listening to your music?

Ed: My experience is that when I'm looking for something in particular whatever it is, is not quite there. When I just look and don't have expectations is when I "see" the best things.

Q: So you wouldn't be targeting any specific listener although I could see that therapists and meditators might be helped....

Ed: Well The Healing was, actually when I first came up with the concept, it was targeted toward the Reiki Practitioner. In the course of doing the work, I broadened it to anyone who is doing energetic work. Now, I don't really have an interest in targeting any specific group. I'm very keen about inter-species communication through music, so future work may be recorded in natural settings....The tape we just completed mixing down is called Beginner's Heart and it's very different from The Healing, very different. I hope that all my work will continue to reflect the fact that I'm on a path rather than locked into a certain thing. It would be kind of hard to have a "following" as some artist who have a unique style all their own. I'm really on a path and I try to avoid getting stuck in just one thing.

Q: I can appreciate that. I can also see a difficulty certain recording companies might have, you know they like to say : "This belongs under New Age, or this belongs under Earth Sounds or Jazz" or whatever. I respect what your doing, very much so, it wouldn't be proper to describe your music as always falling under one specific style.

Ed: To tell you the truth, I try not to listen to (my older recordings) any more. I am almost depressed when I actually produce a tape because it's frozen in the moment and I want music to be living. It's that whole illusion of permanence thing.

Q: Right now your recording your own music. Do you have plans to sign with a commercial label or would that stifle your creativity?

Ed: Because each tape reflects another stage unfolding, it seems more practical at this time to record as an independent. In fact, recently three of us have combined our efforts to record a Didgeridoo album which we hope to put on CD. However, since I'm interested in working with other musicians who may already have commitments to labels, I wouldn't rule out anything. Sometimes what would appear to "stifle" creativity in theory simply causes you to focus your efforts.

Q: How can our readers find your music?

Ed: They can call me directly at 503-246-9683. People who are interested in Didgeridoo music, instruction and instruments (not to mention my efforts) should write to Australian Originals, 28 SW First Street #103, Portland Oregon, 97204.

-Brent Ferre