The Sunday Guardian caught up with Drummond Money-Coutts, world renowned magician and star of the Netflix series, Death by Magic.
British magician Drummond William Thomas Money-Coutts, also known as DMC, has performed the world over but for him, there is something about India that he just keeps coming back to and performing here. For the Englishman, the country of jadugars(magicians) is almost a first home.
His magic journey started in India where he resolved to dedicate his life to magic and today DMC’s audiences have included royal families, sultans, sheikhs, presidents and prime ministers right around the world. DMC, who was in India, said that he decided to give his life to magic when he came to India. “It (performing in India) is very much coming home for me,” DMC told The Sunday Guardian in an exclusive chat.
Narrating his life, he said that right after his education, he was working for Goldman Sachs, where he “did not feel connected with that world in any way” and said that he literally ran away. “I took a flight to Delhi and there was something about landing in the beautiful chaos of Delhi which I hadn’t had in London. I had been in this very sterile, corporate environment for six months. On that trip, I decided to give my life to magic. I have been back (here) dozens of times but it’s always a new adventure, a new story, a new chapter,” he said.
“I’d almost say it (India) is a first home… If I am not needed to be somewhere, India is where I come back to,” DMC added. Magic was a calling for him but there were questions whether it could be made into a full-time career. But sitting in one of the world’s leading investment banking companies, he “sat there every single day thinking and dreaming of magic.”
He is “fascinated” by the appetite Indian audiences have for magic. He stated that India has such wide interpretations of magic. “In India, you have these ‘jadugars’ and magicians across the country and so people know that it is something to be enjoyed and relished. When I come here, I feel that magic is so much part of the Indian mentality in so many ways, but people also have this seemingly insatiable appetite for magic, the reason why it is one of my favourite places to perform.”
He adds, “The Indian spirit almost has that child-like sense of wonder and awe which I adore.”
It has been over 15 years since DMC has been performing magic around the world and it is worth wondering if he still feels nervous about performing his tricks even now. When asked, he says that he doesn’t get nervous now. However, in 2018, when DMC signed with Netflix to create Death By Magic—an eight-part series for the network—there were nerves of a different kind. “In that show, I was performing very dangerous stunts so the nerves would be of a different nature. It wasn’t so much (about) the nerves of performing (but) the immense dangers that were involved,” he said.
On the subject of defining magic, DMC sums it up in just one word—love. “Magic is intangible; it’s something that we cannot touch or bottle but like love, you can see it through the eyes of somebody who’s in love.”
While diving into the subject of being excited by working with magic, he narrated an experience of watching magicians performing in Las Vegas, US, who seemed “drained and exhausted by the monotony of what they do”. For keeping it interesting, he said that he travels with magic meaning that he always tries to change his performance.
“I try to always change up my performances so they are always different… My worst nightmare would be staying in a theatre in Las Vegas and doing the same show seven times a week for many years. For me, the real joy is performing magic in front of small gatherings or large theatres around the world,” he said.
It is human nature to idolise someone and model one’s work like their idols. DMC is no different. He says that he has had many magicians influencing his work such as Tommy Wonder and René Lavand of Argentina. “For me my heroes are those who drive to the core of that human connection,” he said.
When magic tricks come to mind, many say secrets are important but for the English magician, the secrets are less important. He adds, “It’s less important how they are doing it and more about the story that is being told… Many magicians are obsessed with the secret. They only wish to fool somebody. For me, the secret has been only the one ingredient in the whole recipe of a magical experience.”
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing people to stay indoors, many members of the performing arts community were hit hard as they couldn’t perform in front of a crowd—a primary source of income for them. Moreover, the challenges were mental as well. For DMC, he says, it was tough for not just him but many talented magicians.
However, for DMC, with isolation came another purpose. During this time, he detailed, he wrote a book that he was wanting to write for over eight years and launched his very first card game called “ZILCH!”, which is quickly growing to become one of the most popular of its kind. But performing in front of a live audience, after the lockdown, “it is the greatest thing to be back in front of audiences sharing magic again”.
Magicians relish audiences and so does DMC. But for him, the size of the crowd does not matter. It could be a village in Rajasthan or somewhere in Himachal. On a concluding note, he feels that magic is “very much” escapism as it “has this ability to transport us to another place.”