Dan Whittle, more commonly known as Whipple, is a local musician who doesn’t play the normal types of instruments. He makes his own instruments, like the Shaman stick, which is made of beer bottle caps and a wooden rod, and is known for throat singing, in which his own throat is his instrument. Whittle, 47, has been in Chico since 1984 and plays local shows and parties. He recently played at Jammin for Peace, a musical benefit for the Chico Peace and Justice Center.
What exactly is throat singing?
Basically you’re trying to squeeze and vibrate your throat to achieve the sound. I don’t even know how to explain it. There are a lot of variations of it. People over in Tuva and Mongolia actually have names for the different ones [techniques]. I just imitate different ones.
How did you discover you could do something like that?
I had my head underneath the water in the bathtub. I did it with my mouth closed, and I was listening, making the different noises, and under water it’s loud and I wondered if I could do it out in the air. I started doing it in the air and realized there were a bunch of people doing it in similar ways. I had heard it before but never really focused on doing it.
What’s the attraction?
One of the reasons I do it is because I can access interdimensional space and can distort time and space and can move interdimensionally. Sometimes when I do it I can get the worms to come out of the ground.
What other instruments do you play?
All of them: didgeridoo, overtone flutes, jaw harps, mouth bows, clakamore, which are basically spoons you just play with your mouth. And also the mouth violin—it is a disc you put in your mouth and the disc is connected to a wire or string and when you pull the string it vibrates up into your mouth kind of like when you take a string inside of a can, and talk into the can, but when it gets to the mouth you shape it by putting your voice out. It’s like the jaw harp. Then you can use it in unison and sing the notes.
Why does everyone call you Whipple?
Because it rhymes with Whittle—actually my friends were out fishing for eels late at night and that’s where it came from.
You have another stage name, right?
The Jammin Shaman. Jaw man like jammin and then just shaman. It’s a play on words. The name came from Pat Pape, a didgeridoo player. It came from his air.