A “bush doof’s” transcendent music

Turning passion into a living. Photo Marcus Haritos.
Trigan Yeong has successfully created an unconventional living through electronic music - and an escape from disillusion with the world. Marcus Haritos reports.

The old brick house is eerily dark and quiet, with all its inhabitants having retired to their quarter’s hours ago. It is four in the morning and the living room clock ticks incessantly. The faintest vibration can be felt, so faint that its whereabouts cannot be determined. But take a few steps upstairs and its location becomes increasingly obvious. The bass bounces off the walls within the confines of the bedroom. A raw stench of body-odour and tobacco-laced cannabis becomes increasingly potent. The smoke has escaped under the door but cannot be seen in the pitch-black, with only its strong stink igniting the nostrils. Muzzled between the high and low frequency bass blasts is a faint cough that continuously persists between each bong interval. This is a distinctly uncomfortable cough, one that suggests years of lung damage and neglect.

The inhabitant of the room has only been up since the sun went down and will stay within the confines of his room until the sun comes back up. Other than venturing downstairs to collect his UberEats delivery food, he hasn’t had any reason to leave his den.  This lifestyle is a product of years of experiment.

“The hours between 12 and 5 in the morning without the anxiety inducing distractions of day-to-day life, I am most at ease and motivated during this time. I seldom get things done effectively in the day time because I’m always thinking about what else I could be doing, it’s like opportunity cost in economics, except it’s about how I am spending my time.”

Trigan Yeong is a 26-year-old music producer living in Surrey Hills, Melbourne. Originally from Albury, he decided to make the move to Melbourne five-years-ago to study sound engineering, however he never attained his qualifications.  With no full-time job, Trigan exploits his Centrelink privileges, whilst using his skills in music production as a source of income during ‘Bush Doof’ season- a term used to refer to the popular music and cultural festivals that take place in the Australian bush throughout the summer and warmer months.ys

“I live an almost double life. In winter I am a social recluse and you won’t see or hear from me. Most of my family is back home and I rarely go back these days, so when they don’t hear from me after a while they tend to worry but this is mainly because of my history of depression. But that was at a time when I felt like my life had no direction. Nowadays they understand that my self-imposed isolation isn’t necessarily unhealthy to my mental because I need it – to regain my inspiration and delve deeper into my sounds and explore new ones,”  says Trigan.

During ‘bush-doof’ season Trigan is an in-demand artist, performing at festivals throughout Victoria and NSW. The festivals provide Trigan with free accommodation and transport to and from.  What began as a hobby in his teens, Trigan has cultivated into a career, seeded from a love of psychedelic trance music, and a disdain for fundamental aspects of modern capitalist society.

“The whole idea of a 9-5 job has never appealed to me and I will never adhere to that lifestyle. I look at these festivals as an escape from the mundanity of our capitalist existence. It’s like entering a utopian society for a few days. Everyone is there for the same reason as me, to use the experience as an escape from their lives. I want to enhance their experience by exposing them to music that I have put my heart and soul into, during vulnerable periods of my life.”

Trigan has found that the most effective way to harness his creativity and artistic expression is through complete isolation. Pudji Skibenes is an old friend of Trigan’s who also lives in the same derelict share house. He says you’ll only ever see Trigan when he leaves to buy smokes or coffee. “Sometimes days will go by where you haven’t seen him, I’m out at work all day so I’ll rarely see him and the only reason you know he’s still alive is because it’s the middle of the night and the bass is still pumping. “

A "bush doof's" transcendent music
Trigan at ease, in his element. Photo Marcus Haritos.

“I honestly think he’d go insane without music as an outlet, so we just let him do what he wants up there. It’s a bit of a seedy existence in my opinion, but we all live our lives in our own way that works for us,” says Pudji.

This statement holds true in all aspects of society. Many prominent people throughout history have known to have nocturnal tendencies.

“I’ve definitely got an unconventional lifestyle. But the reality is that we’re all wired differently and trying to adhere to every aspect of the status quo will fuck you up. Believe me, I’ve tried,” says Trigan.

But his reality turns into a different world when the daylight-saving switches back. Fast forward two months, and Trigan is centre-stage at Rainbow Serpent Music Festival deep in the bush of Northern Victoria. Before him stands hundreds of barefoot, free-spirited individuals stomping their tough-skinned feet into the red, hot dust. His music is a perfect composition of fast-paced psychedelic trance combined with heavy bass and soothing affirmations and mantras. The scene here is like a parallel universe to his passive existence in Melbourne.

“What I’ve come to realize is that of the most successful people have been the loners working behind the scenes, quietly mastering their trade. This time is essential to me – it’s when I produce all the tracks that I play at my Bush Doofs, and experiment with my different sounds and styles to evolve as an electronic artist,” says Trigan.

At these festivals Trigan gains inspiration from likeminded people and uses this time to release his suppressed energy. “Bush doofs are a great opportunity for amateur artists to get some exposure and you can make a sustainable earning during the bush-doof season,” says Pudji, who is also involved in Music production, having met Trigan at a doof years ago.

“With music I am at the wheels of the entire production and everything is in my control, I can escape my reality and delve into this alternate universe. I find this so refreshing in our modern capitalist world in which money dictates our lives. We’ve been corrupted by it, and the Arts is becoming obsolete. You go and study the Arts in Uni and your employment opportunities are reduced tenfold compared to commerce or the sciences,” says Trigan.

Ahkasha Ashton is a festival coordinator and producer who expressed a similar outlook to Trigan. “So many societal doctrines dictate how we live our lives; get a job, buy a house, pay taxes. The Rat race that modern society has become is a huge cause for the depression and mental illness issues plaguing society. I believe artistic expression is detrimental to releasing oneself from the mental slavery that has been pushed on us from birth, no single entity has control over our minds, we are all individuals with brilliantly diverse minds.”

Creative Individuals like Trigan feel disenfranchised by our current world, but paradoxically the modern world has facilitated technological advancements that have allowed Trigan to explore his creative talents allowing him to delve into the world of music and providing an escape from the mundanity of life.