Thursday, 13 November 2014

Interview with Dréa Drury of Anilah

Anilah is the solo project from vocalist and composer Dréa Drury, a musician based in the Selkirk Mountains of Western Canada. She combines the shamanic and esoteric with modern musical elements. Earlier this year she released Warrior, a mysterious and enchanting EP that features a captivating 36 minute musical experience.


Rolling Thunder (3:19)
Warrior (11:45)
Calling the Others (6:25)
Medicine Chant (15:05)

Femetalism recently spoke to Dréa about the project, her influences and how the project came about in this inspiring interview.

Hi Dréa, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up in a remote village in the mountains of British Columbia. Because of this I spent a lot of time in nature, and a lot of time alone. My creativity was a solace to me, an unseen friend who I could always rely on. From an early age my grandmother taught me music and at 12 I was composing my own songs on piano and guitar. Around this time I started listening to a lot of music which would influence the direction my music would take, artists like Bjork, Tool, NIN, and Dead Can Dance. I went on to study music and composition at college, and afterward pursued private apprenticeships with vocal teachers who inspired me to push past my perceptions of how the voice could be used. My time with Ali Akbar Khan, who is from a long lineage of classical Indian masters, effected me deeply and entirely changed my relationship to music.

Anilah is your solo project.  Can you tell us about how the project was born?

This project was formed after a long break from composing music, and during a very difficult time in my life. In the past I had been in a few projects but my heart was never in it. The music for the album Warrior was my own initiation into a different way of approaching music, a new way of composition which honoured feminine principles and techniques which I learned studying Indian Classical Raga.

Your music draws influences from traditional shamanic sound practices, sacred chant, dark tribal and Indian classical music.  How have you brought those influences together to create your unique sound?

By experimenting. A lot of experimenting. The way that everything comes together remains a mystery to me, it tends to happen organically and is not only effected by the music that I have studied or listened to in the past, but also the landscape in which the music is written. The way that I approach composing music now is very much influenced by my fascination with shamanic states of trance, which allow the intellect to give way to something larger and quite unnamable. It also allows me to care less about creating an "agenda" with music (form/structure), and lets the sound exist for its own sake, taking the listener on a journey toward presence and away from time based consciousness. It seems as though we are starved for this kind of experience, and I like to give people permission to rest in these other states - which are integral for health on all levels.

What motivates you to create your music?

The music of Anilah was born from a practice that is deeply inspired by nature and a willingness to engage with the natural world within a framework of reciprocity. In this way, artistic expression becomes a symbiotic relationship with the elements. All of the music is composed in nature, while walking or in meditation. An unspoken conversation occurs which influences the composition, and by entering into this state, I find myself listening to melodic structures that are inherent within all of nature. There is a widening of the senses, and an unravelling of conceptual boundaries. In turn, my art and music are continuously influenced by these practices which cultivate benevolence, compassion, and gratitude. Especially in regard to the shadow aspects of ones own nature.

Warrior was released in January 2014 and features 4 beautiful, atmospheric tracks. Can you tell us more about these tracks?

Warrior is the debut EP from Anilah, which features three invocations (Rolling Thunder, Calling the Others, and Medicine Chant) and one feature track (Warrior). The invocations were composed and recorded live in a ritual setting and had very little editing in terms of form and arrangement. This was meant to capture the raw feeling that I was trying to convey through sound.

The song Warrior came to me when I was living in a small cabin on an Island off the coast of British Columbia. The whole song came to me in one moment as I was looking up into the sky. Part of the meaning behind it is very personal and I would rather leave it uninterpreted to suit whatever need the listener has. However, the song is ultimately a call toward awakening compassion and grace within ones own heart in order to make decisions that serve the greater whole. It is also a reminder that once we can let go of over-analysing and limiting self beliefs, there is a larger field of perception there to hold us. This can give way to understanding where we are in the present moment so that we can "lay down our weapons" and surrender to a path of heart. Fighting with the intellect only gets us so far, it creates mazes of suffering and isolation.

The music from this album is meant as an introduction to Anilah, and to all of the different forms of her expression. The sound comes from a great love of nature and a need to express this gratitude by offering something of beauty back.

What are you planning to do next?

I am currently working on two projects, one which is very celestial/ambient in nature, the other is darker, heavier, and more tribal with ethnic influences. All of the compositions on these albums come from experiences I have had living in the mountains, and my connection to nature.

Femetalism would like to extend a huge thank you to Dréa for taking the time to talk about her music. We have thoroughly enjoyed the EP and look forward to hearing the new material.

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Originally posted by Emma Sheridan on Femetalism.