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This Is Northern New South Wales

Dream Drone – Si Mullumby

Saving lives everyday is as rewarding as it comes, so how did a Perth student go from studying medicine to setting up home in Byron to play the didgeridoo for over 20 years.  Si Mullumby, known for his work in didgeridoo dance group Wild Marmalade, has only recently revealed his story and I got a chance to learn a bit about the Dream Drone.

Interview & story by Lukas Birch

How does one go from studying medicine to playing the didgeridoo for a living?

I dedicated my life to playing didgeridoo as my spiritual path. My way. I knew that if I kept true to this path and one hundred percent dedicated to the instrument that it would look after me, that I would always have what I needed. And to this day it has.

The transition to playing didgeridoo from studying medicine came from a psychedelic experience that I had on a beach in India. Between my 2nd and 3rd year summer holidays I went to India for 3months, I had an extraordinary time living in old temples and remote places far from the Lonely Planet Guidebook! At one point I went to a beach called Aum. In the middle of the night, under the full moon, I was standing alone on top of a hill above the beach. I heard this sound, a deep resonant primordial vibration, and it came from every direction. It felt like the earth was resonating and it sounded like a didgeridoo. When I heard this sound every part of me aligned. It was a subtle inner alignment; I realized that my path is to play didgeridoo.

Without a doubt you were to be a didgeridoo player! Did it ever cross your mind, what if I don’t understand this? What if I’m no good at it?

When I realised that I was a didgeridoo player, I also realized the mental approach that I needed to play. That was the manual. It wasn’t a physical thing; it was a matrix style download. It was a part of the aforementioned inner alignment. I realized the didgeridoo-combined mediation on the Aum, cyclical breathing, a cathartic element with the voice and music all in the same tool. The trance like state that one entered into through playing didgeridoo would allow me direct access to the inner-net of the collective unconscious, the dreamtime, where all knowledge of humanity lay secretly stored. From this place everything was possible. This was my manual I have followed it to this day.

Your work with Wild Marmalade, took the didgeridoo mainstream, what is the story of the Dream Drone?

Wild Marmalade combines very evocative energetic didgeridoo playing with full power drumming to create a positive energy cycle that inspires people to move, dance and release energy in a very positive way.

Dream Drone works in a different way. It is a state of mind in the player, a place of non-activity. I let my mind rest and just stick with something very simple. Before I know it I’m swimming in an ocean of sound watching the vibrations move around me, around the room inside and outside. It sounds very otherworldly when I describe it but actually it is a very normal grounded experience for me.

You’ve toured all over the world, so what is it that makes you always return to the Byron Shire?

Every year I go to Europe and Japan on tour. Some years I have had as many as 90 overseas concerts in a year. When I begun playing didgeridoo I hitchhiked around Australia for a few years, ending up in Byron. I went through Byron but instead of continuing up north, my journey continued full power but totally inside the Byron Shire. I was caught in the North Coast bubble. I ended up living in a Tipi in Rosebank. It was there that I did my most intensive didgeridoo playing and corresponding inner development. I lived very simple with the fire, no shoes and busking at the markets on the weekends to earn enough to survive.

From that point to now the Byron Shire is my home. The one place on the planet that I have this feeling with. This has been my main resource and place that I draw my good energy from. Byron is a powerful place that inspires me to be vital and alive to the fullest level that I can be.

Roughing it living in a Tipi, did you ever just want to give up and head back to your old life?

No! The period of time that I had living in a Tipi was one of the most amazing times of my life, where I just followed my intuition all day every day. I seldom made plans, I followed my heart, played music and celebrated every day.

My path hasn’t been one of nestling myself into a place of security. It has been quite the opposite. By putting myself on the edge I have gained an inner security that can weather outside changes. When I eventually moved out of the Tipi into a house after some years, I found it very difficult living within 4 walls and often pined to be back in my Tipi on the land.

Studying medicine ultimately enables you to help people. Do you feel your music potentially has the same ability?

Unhappiness makes people sick. It’s the number one source of illness. Happiness helps people stay well. It is the greatest preventative medicine. Playing music that arises from joy on the inside overflows from the player into those with the ear to listen. It makes people feel good and it makes a difference, however slight, but it does.

Si’s finals Dream Drone experience for 2012 is this Sunday 16th December at the Bangalow A&I Hall.

To see more about Dream Drone, visit these websites:

Lukas Birch

Images: Thanks to Dream Drone