The Great Southern Drone Ensemble: A Gateway To Drone

  • Written by  Talia Freeman
  • Sunday, 15 July 2018 14:21
The Great Southern Drone Ensemble is part of the 2018 Umbrella: Winter City Sounds programme. The Great Southern Drone Ensemble is part of the 2018 Umbrella: Winter City Sounds programme.

From the creators of Dark Matter, at last year's Umbrella, comes another grim offering of sonic torment – The Great Southern Drone Ensemble.


This unique, once-off public performance will see a handpicked ensemble of Adelaide’s darkest electronic and noise artists congregate in a public space for a four-hour marathon of live drone and ambient soundscapes.

We had the chance to talk to Michael Ellingford and Liam Somerville, who are organisers and performers of the show.

You're back this year with The Great Southern Drone Ensemble. How are preparations coming along?
We are in the process of massaging out the conceptual presentation of the ensemble. The event will be akin to an art installation, however the ensemble itself will perform with live instruments and electronics. It isn’t your typical event and we’re looking forward to presenting it in a way that is unique to both the public and the space itself.

The event is described as a 'four-hour marathon of live drone and ambient soundscapes'; what can people expect from the show?
People can expect a full-sensory experience through light, sound and atmosphere. A journey through the wonderful world of electrical signals, a gateway to the meditative nature of drone music, all within the parklands that surround our beautiful city of Adelaide.

What do you hope people who attend will get from the performance?
We’d like to generate interest in what we do and ultimately what we are most passionate about. We don’t think the typical show goer would have experienced a performance like this one before, so we hope that our audience will take away with them an experience that is like no other.

How did you go about selecting the artists who are playing this event?
We have been working with local artists in the experimental realm for some time and have had the pleasure of witnessing some seriously cool performances. When we first conceptualised the ensemble we thought a lot about how important it would be to put together a diverse skill-set for maximum potential.

We are currently working on the piece and its form – a mix of structure and improvisation will inform the collaboration, which will be conducted by Michael. Our ensemble has 40-plus years of shared experience and we are absolutely stoked to have the opportunity to bring that experience to the public arena.

You’re working with Capital Waste who will be creating the visuals for the event; what can attendees expect on that front?
There will be a heavy dose of analog glitch made with bent and broken video gear. It will be a mix of 3D animated, interactive landscapes and crunchy VHS.

How do you guys come up with these ideas for shows that are quite out of this world?
We are concert goers too and we often discuss what we want to get out of the live-music experience. We get a real kick out of events that think outside the box - a lot of what we do comes from experimentation and organising our events is no exception.

In just two years, how important has the Umbrella: Winter City Sounds programme become for fringe-type events and adding to the city's cultural chops?
The Umbrella platform works best when it promotes music right across the board - seeing such a broad range being represented under the Umbrella banner is what it's all about; a celebration of local music. Fringe events like ours have a voice too and we feel that Adelaide could be a lot louder.

Anything else you'd like to add about your event?
Everybody is welcome and encouraged to come and choose your own adventure.

The Great Southern Drone Ensemble takes place at a secret outdoor location in the Adelaide CBD parklands on 21 July (4-8.30pm).

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