Interview with Sonic Alchemist, Dréa Drury

And I do believe it’s true
That there are roads left in both of our shoes
But if the silence takes you
Then I hope it takes me too
So brown eyes I hold you near
Cause you’re the only song I want to hear
A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere
‘Where soul meets body’ – DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE

Robyn Hitchcock told me that music is a form of alchemy – perhaps an invisible attempt to alter people’s moods. Your reactions?

The enormity of this topic is somewhat overwhelming! This awareness, that music is a form of alchemy, is something that is the driving force behind how I approach my art. I most definitely agree with Robyn Hitchcock that the process of experiencing music is a form of alchemy. Music and sound can quite literally transform not only inner psychological states, but physical states as well. We have all felt, at some point in our lives, an instant where music has pierced even the most deep and guarded place within us. The result of this may take the form of ecstatic laughter, extreme discomfort, or uncontrollable tears. It is at this instant that musical alchemy happens. The sound enters our being, and through a series of vibratory changes and reactions, a deep emotional hurt or pressure (lead) is transformed into tears of joy (gold). And this is where it gets interesting because, even though Robyn sees music as an “attempt” to alter people’s moods, there are musical traditions (such as Indian classical music) which have been specifically designed for this very purpose! This is where music, mathematics, and science meet – and it is my personal opinion that if more musicians were encouraged to explore these dimensions, the world would be quite a different place.

Do you write music based on your dreams?

It’s interesting because sometimes my dreams will teach me what I am musically capable of doing. After having a dream like this, when I go to sing or compose, I find that my skills or my techniques have changed somehow. There are also times when I will base a melodic idea or entire song on a particular archetype that shows up in my dream, it’s a way for me to integrate this energy into myself after experiencing it in the dream life.

Hero. Define yours? Are you a hero?

My idea of a hero is someone whose actions are not based on following what is necessarily expected of them by friends/family/society and even themselves, but based on listening to an inner voice that is greater than their own idle chatter. I think that a hero can seem like a selfish person on the outside, but the truth is quite the opposite, because they allow themselves to be moved by the divine. A true hero sacrifices the parts of themselves that betray their intuition. A friend of mine calls this being a “human robot.” You would think that this has negative connotations but it doesn’t, it simply means that you hear the commands of your authentic self and you DO. No questioning, only trust. Am I a hero? On the best of days I think that I am. And on the worst, my robot self is still tinkering with ways to get rid of the old programming.

What are the sounds from pre-history? Do you sample nature?

The sounds from pre-history are all sounds from nature, bird calls, wind in the alpine, waves crashing, silence. There are also the “unheard” sounds, those which are underlying everything but have been tuned out. People who have done prolonged periods of meditation, are clairaudient, or those who are intimate with entheogenic ritual have all heard these sounds. And yes, I would have to say that my relationship with sound is mirrored by my relationship with nature. Listening to bird calls has taught me more about melody than I learned while I was studying music in college.

You stated: “The more that we realize that we are the world, and that the world is us, the more we realize the magnitude of importance that the “green” movement has.” Is the era of sustainability the end of a world? What’s next?

Yes, the era of sustainability will mark the end of a world that is controlled by the paradigm of scarcity and unnecessary over-consumption. What’s next? When I figure that out, I’ll let you know.

“Art, music, and the written/spoken word are the most potent catalysts for change.” This is true for the main stream? What are we really listening to Drea? And what effects does commercial music and television have on our well-being?

This is also true for the mainstream, but the effects are somewhat horrifying in my opinion. Mainstream music, at it’s worst, is a kind of sonic sleep medication that reaffirms our apathy, pettiness, and ignorance. The effects of commercial media on our well-being is enormous, especially for youth. We’re getting all of these mixed messages that don’t line up when you put them all together. This is why I am thankful for artists like Tool who aren’t afraid to stand up and express what our dreaming selves need to hear

“As a musician, my goal is to create a kind of sonic medicine that will help to propel the listener into a different state of being – one that is perhaps more conducive to having dialogue with the authentic self.” What is the authentic self?

The “authentic self” would be the part of us that isn’t influenced by external situations, past conditioning, future projections – and at the same time, is unmoved by inner situations, like emotional turmoil or even profound bliss. It is the self that resides within the eye of the storm, untouched by aversion or want. It is the part of ourselves that wouldn’t think twice about jumping into a fire to save a child, or offering our last piece of food to a sick person instead of keeping it for ourselves. Ultimately, it is the part of ourselves that sees that every action we make has a domino effect. There is no action that we can make that doesn’t effect something/someone else in the universe.

Fascinated with the potentials of sound from an early age, most of Dréa’s inspirations and teachings come from experiences she had growing up in a remote area of British Columbia. Silence and the music of nature have nurtured Dréa’s intimate understanding of sound since birth. She believes that everything about sound and music can be learned from the observation of Gaia, and can be accessed if one listens carefully enough in a receptive state of silence. What is Gaia? Do we see / hear this force in the slums of East Oakland?

When I used the word “Gaia” here, I was using it as another word for “mother nature”, “earth”, or the “great spirit”. It’s interesting that you should bring up Oakland because when I was living in the Bay area, I would often have times when I would experience this energy, even though there were all kinds of crazy things going on around me. However, I realize that it is much more difficult to tap into this in certain areas, especially cities. But truly, when we’re in a situation like that (where there is no escape from noise), it makes some people tap into that source within themselves even more.

After studying composition at a traditional college, while recording and performing original material, Dréa’s intrigue of music led her to study esoteric applications of sound. While living in San Francisco, she completed a certificate in Psychoacoustics (the effects of music and sound on the human nervous system). Is acutonics music? What is Tao? How does Sound Yoga work with the mind body spirit triad?

Acutonics is not generally referred to as music, but instead a kind of sound therapy which uses musical intervals to direct/manipulate energy within the body through the precise placement of tuning forks on the meridians. In this way, it is similar to music in that it uses musical intervals (thirds, fifths, and so on), and is based on what some people call “the music of the spheres.” I would say that “Tao” is the creator and sustainer of the universe. It literally translates as “way” or “path”, and in Taoism, it is a model of conduct usually linked with nondoing and emptiness. And before I go on I’ll stop there. The Tao cannot be talked about or explained with words, and I’ll feel silly if I try.

Sound Yoga is a fascinating practice, one that (in my opinion) I have only waded into ankle deep. To cohesively speak of it would mean that I am fluent in all that it is, and I am not.

Dréa’s main focus is to create a space where people can easily transcend conventional perceptions of their internal/external worlds, therefore facilitating a remembrance of archetypal sound. What is this “space?” Does it always exist whether we are connected to it or not?

This space that I speak of is a kind of spaciousness that all great music creates, a space where the chatter in our heads finally ceases to exist. And yes, this space always exists within us, it’s just a matter of tapping into it through sound, meditation, yoga, dance, ritual, or whatever way works for you.

“Everything in our known universe is composed of vibration. If we take into consideration that our own bodies, physical and otherwise, are also vibration, we will understand the realities at play when we experience sound. We can begin to understand that, when we hear a single note, we are not only “hearing” the note, but physically and energetically “transforming” into the sound itself through the principles of resonance and entrainment. It was the shaman or medicine man who first used music and sound to create change in physical and non-physical matter, whether it was a human body or the weather. How are you a Shaman? Is this a title that you apply to yourself or one that others have given you?

Personally, I have never referred to myself as a shaman or healer, as I don’t like to label myself because it can lead to expectations. Although, there are a few people who have received sound treatments from me or who have listened to me perform who have called me this. In a sense, I do feel that I take on the role of a shaman when I do a treatment for someone – and especially when I perform live. When I was younger, I had absolutely no control over the “trance” state that I would enter, and would literally almost black out during a performance. Words and sounds would come out of me that were entirely out of my control. Now, I am able to stay more grounded, but still allow myself to enter into the dreamtime while singing. I think that any performer who moves people with music can be considered a Shaman. For example, when I go to a metal concert(of which I am a huge fan), I am continuously amazed by the level of ritual involved. It’s like a modern day exorcism. After the concert, there is a noticeable change in energy, it’s lighter somehow.

“In the realm of psychoacoustics, the terms music, sound, frequency, and vibration are essentially interchangeable, because they are different approximations of the same essence.” What is this essence? How does this force heal?

This “essence” is what some people would call “energy”, though I think that this word is greatly overused these days. This essence has the *potential* to heal because we are vibratory beings. There is nothing static about our existence. Many people have a hard time understanding modalities like acupuncture or sound healing because they are stuck in the realm of the physical. We are so closed off and separated from what is happening “under the surface”, that we think that what we see with our eyes is the ultimate reality. To understand this “essence”, this “vibratory state”, one has to have an experiential relationship with it. This means being dedicated to a practice that allows you to become more in tune with this state, through meditation, breath work, dance, sacred medicines, etc. Until then, anything that I say here is just nonsense.

I enjoyed your piece called “Involution.” Please define and give examples of the following terms: ambient sound, new age music, progressive rock.

Ambient sound is more about atmosphere than musical composition and structure (although, the two can be merged). It is usually spacious and relaxing, and I like to think of ambient music as sonic “portals” that help you to access different states of consciousness. An example of this is “Passing Dream” by Bill Laswell. New Age Music is something that I don’t really associated with, and think that it is a slightly vague and outdated music classification. I mean, some people will call Yanni new age, and then others will say Enya. Sorry, it’s beyond me. Progressive rock originally emerged in the late 60’s and was initially an attempt to push out of the verse-chorus-verse hole that most music was in. Bands like Yes, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd all helped rock to evolve in this way, by fusing elements of jazz, classical, and even world influences. Prog rock pushes technical and compositional boundaries, and I would have to say that Tool is definitely my favourite band in this category. Their album “Lateralus” remains unparalled, both lyrically and musically.

“Nagdeo” is a very interesting work with images art by Simon Haiduk. A splash light trance dance song. What is the message?

It doesn’t have one specific message, I think that we would rather have people decipher a meaning for themselves. Although, I definitely wrote the music with a specific purpose in mind – that being: to activate and awaken the listener. I think Simon would say the same about the visuals.

Dréa Drury

Hitchcock Interview by Willi Paul


About [ open myth source ]

The [open myth source] project gathers conversations, symbols, songs, visual art and stories. Building a house for Myth in the Sustainability Age.
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