8 QUESTIONS WITH DRUMMOND MONEY-COUTTS

From banking heir to TV magician

British cardtrick specialist Drummond Money-Coutts hopes to inspire young boys to be magicians. -- PHOTO: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
British cardtrick specialist Drummond Money-Coutts hopes to inspire young boys to be magicians. -- PHOTO: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

The Eton-educated scion of a banking family has woven a career in magic instead

As the heir to a banking family, master magician Drummond Money-Coutts is nothing like his parents.

The 28-year-old Briton may not have settled for a comfortable banking career, but he is carving out his own success in the world of magic. Coutts & Co, which is based in London, is one of the world's oldest banks.

"It was a long journey. I started out posting homemade videos on YouTube, trying to find and develop a style that had never been done before," he says in a telephone interview with Life!.

His interest in magic was sparked at the age of six when his father took him to Davenports, one of the oldest magic shops in London. The shopkeeper recommended a book, The Royal Road To Card Magic, co-written by Australian magician Jean Hugard and American journalist Frederick Braue.

Money-Coutts moved on to start the Eton College Magic Society at Eton College when he was studying there and presented his first professional magic show in front of botanists at the Royal Horticultural Society at the age of 14.

Today, the card specialist has performed for Hollywood and sports stars, and royalty including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Harry.

He says: "Performing for the Queen was by far the greatest privilege I had in terms of performing in front of someone." He performed for her and actor Hugh Grant when he was a 19-year-old student at Leeds University.

In 2007, he published a book, Mr Magnificent: Highlight Of The Night!, a guide to the professional and financial aspects of magic.

From 2007 to 2012, he also made five films which explored a broader view of magic and its history.

"After film-making, I realised I could use magic to explore bigger and more interesting things," he adds.

He made his debut in mainstream television last year with his first show, Card Shark, on National Geographic, which focused on card tricks and manipulation.

He is now hosting his second show, Beyond Magic With DMC, which was filmed in Singapore with guest magicians like Lu Chen. Beyond Magic With DMC will air its last episode this Wednesday at 10pm on National Geographic Channel (SingTel mio Channel 201 and StarHub Channel 411).

"I would love to get in touch with all kinds of magicians from all over the world and find the meaning within magic, beyond just the joy of impressing people," he adds.

1 What did you think of Singapore when you were filming here?

I absolutely love Singapore. When we were filming, I saw all these incredible sights, colours and architecture. I would love to come back to film here properly one day.

2 How do you come up with new ideas for your performances?

I think you need to have a specific story. Every magician crafts his or her own narrative for the performance and the selected tricks must suit the story. So it can be quite difficult because there are thousands of magic tricks. You just have to start with your story and find tricks to fit them in.

3 With five movies to your name, which is your favourite?

I think Tanzanian Devil - The Dark Truths Behind The African Witchdoctors is my favourite, and it is the most revelatory film I have made. It was a turning point for me. I was looking at the true meaning of witchcraft and sorcery and many people think that witchcraft happened long ago. But elements of it still exist today in different parts of the world.

4 What do you hope to achieve with magic?

My goal is to inspire and motivate young magicians, the same way I was inspired when I watched other magicians when I was young. I would love to have young boys watch my show and also want to become a magician.

5 Were you pressurised to go into banking by your parents?

I did face some objections because, naturally, they were very anxious. When I decided to make magic my profession, they thought it was a ridiculous career choice. And although it had been very challenging, they saw how dedicated I was and finally came around and understood me.

6 How was it like performing for Queen Elizabeth II?

With the Queen and her stature, one must be very careful with security. When I was performing, I was told not to ask her to choose a card during a trick. Instead, one of her ladies-in-waiting chose it for her.

7 What are your plans for the future?

I want to travel more and set up the first chess bar in London (laughs). But for now, I will just keep studying, sharing and performing magic.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered as a magician who goes beyond tricks. I want to take people on a meaningful journey and inform them about things they never knew about or have to look out for.

plow@sph.com.sg

The last episode of Beyond Magic With DMC airs this Wednesday at 10pm on National Geographic Channel (SingTel mio Channel 201 and StarHub Channel 411).