A Different Drummer
by Jaclyn Killins
When Elijah MacDougall was 18 he used to sneak into bars. He wasn’t there to drink. He was there to take in the music. He would sit mesmerized by the musicians on stage, learning as he watched.
It wasn’t long after he became a part of that music. He played in the rock band AnnaPilla, providing the drums for six years. More recently he plays drums for Andrew Murray’s pop/singer-song-writer driven band. “I’m just kind of following him and taking his lead. I’ve been into rock music for a long time and wanted to get into pop,” MacDougall said.
When he started playing the drums he was limited and would concentrate on the basics, but once he was comfortable he started to experiment. “I learned how simple it was just to throw things in,” he said. Now MacDougall is playing gigs with the Island drummers he always admired.
He comes from a musical family. His father is into gospel music and plays the accordion and his little brother is a pianist with a full music scholarship at UPEI.
Like many other musicians on the Island, MacDougall is not only a part of a band but he is working on his own stuff. He opens for bands, performing solo on guitar from time to time. His own music is heavy and thoughtful, nostalgic without being too melancholic. “Basically you sing your diary to everyone,” he said.
MacDougall’s diary would include a lot more than just personal laments; he pays attention to global issues and politics. “I think it’s important for people to be aware.”
When MacDougall plays a bar, 95 percent of the people may not pay attention, but the five percent of people that listen will come up after and tell him how much they liked his stuff. “I think people can relate to it,” MacDougall said.
He writes about the way people handle themselves in difficult situations, with his own spirituality and beliefs coming through. A lot of people concentrate on writing catchy songs, but MacDougall isn’t interested in that, he wants to say something meaningful. “I want my stuff to be something people listen to by themselves at 2 am,” MacDougall said.
One of MacDougall’s favorite musicians is Matthew Good and if you were to liken MacDougall’s music to that of another musician it would be Good’s. They both share a consciousness to the world around them and deliver this with an affecting weight.
MacDougall’s advice to young musicians is to be confident with the way you are playing. “Don’t let anyone tell you there is a right way to play your instrument.”
He is a strong believer of the power of music to educate people. “If you are not school smart there is so much to learn with music.