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May 16, 2021

Interview with Kellie O’Dempsey and Mick Dick for Dark Science

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Intergalatic Dub Lab Kellie O’Dempsey and DJ Wonkytooth

Kellie O’Dempsey Botanica

Dark Science

The Quad, 11 Rural St, Lismore  |  Friday 16 & Saturday 17 August  |  5–10pm

A free after-dark festival celebrating all things experimental, brave, and mysterious.

Kooky, wacky, weird, and wonderful. DARK SCIENCE is a new freaky festival of fun that will occupy Lismore Quad for two nights after dark on Fri 16 and Sat 17 August. Set during Science Week, DARK SCIENCE is a free event celebrating the intersection between provocative art, performance, and the sciences – for adults! Presenting The Intergalactic Dub Lab are Mick Dick (aka DJ Wonkytooth) and KellieO.

They spoke with The Echo about what they are bringing to Dark Science…

Kellie O Dempsey.

You have a great depth of experience in creating works ‘hybrid in form’ that ‘can incorporate projection, video, collage, architectural space, gestural line, performance, and digital drawing’. How have you come to use such a diverse conglomeration of disciplines in your art?

My practice started with a love of drawing combined with my love of music. I started drawing bands and musicians I knew and watched. This grew into drawing large scale using projections in architectural spaces, in collaboration with dancers and musicians.

You have an extensive work and research history in the northern New South Wales area. What is it about this area that has kept you living, working, and creating here?

I finished my Masters in Visual Arts and taught at SCU in Lismore. Northern NSW has become home. I have lived here longer than anywhere else in the world.

You are collaborating with musician / music producer Mick Dick for your joint Dark Science show in August. You and Mick have worked together numerous times over the years. How did your collaborative relationship begin and develop?

In 2009 at the Tweed Regional Gallery we did a live sound and drawing event for my exhibition The Spectacle of Performance Drawing. We have continued to evolve creatively ever since. We have established a language that is responsive and fluid where the sound follows line and movement and vice versa.

What can people expect from your part of the show this time around? Will it comprise similar elements to your recent productions / performances, or are you planning a different direction with your pieces for your side of the Intergalactic Dub Lab show?

Intergalactic Dub Lab is different for us as it will be driven by Mick (aka DJ Wonkytooth) and the spaced-out delay and deep bass that he is jammin’ on the mixing desk with all his analog gear. I will animate and draw with light that will project all around the dome housing the gig.

What aspects of science will your performance be accentuating to coincide with the Dark Science theme for the ‘micro-festival’ there at The Quad?

The sounds will captain this interstellar journey as I create a cosmic atmosphere of colour and shape of shifting interplanetary weirdness with a psychedelic twist.

What else is coming up for you as a performing artist? Is there anything else on the horizon that you would like to share with your local fans here in northern New South Wales?

I currently have a show at the Museum of Brisbane that is an interactive drawing space as a part of Brisbane Art & Design Festival.

Mick Dick 

Your body of work is incredibly diverse, from a formal education in Jazz Studies at Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts in the 80s to collaborative projects with local Byron musicians, passion for and production of DUB re-edits, incorporating musical and instrumental experimentation, across production roles, cultures, and audiences. What, if anything, has been the consistent element in your drive to create across all the facets of your career? 

Probably the use of space, from the more minimalist view of confronting silence to the rhythm of a filthy Jamaican bassline. Space is the place.

It seems that much of your output is founded in your work as a bassist. Did you train formally as a bassist while at the VCA or did you study something else and develop as a bassist after your Jazz Studies years? 

Yes, I studied double bass at VCA, under the guidance of the late, great improviser Brian Brown, who encouraged me to play ‘free’ as an arts practice.

Has your role as a bass player, and that instrument’s usual role as a provider of harmonic / rhythmic foundation for other instruments, musicians, performers to work on top of facilitated / resulted in the diversity of your creative output, pushing you to provide that basis for more and more diverse collaborators?

Yes, especially when I get to play the Deadly Bow, a custom-made one-string bass with no frets. It gets way down low and opens up your imagination, making it possible to explore space and textures and allowing a more open, evocative sound to collaborate with visual artists such as Kellie or dancers and other musicians.

You collaborated numerous times with Kellie O’Dempsey. Where did your collaborating process begin? How did you two meet, and what kind of show did you guys create together first?

We met in Billinudgel. Our first show together was at Tweed Regional Art Gallery back in 2009. I was improvising on double bass, and Kellie drew massive canvases with giant bamboo sticks with charcoal and ink brushes on the ends… brilliant!

What can people expect from your Dark Science show? What elements will you guys be working with in Intergalactic Dub Lab?

This should be a fun gig, exposing the dark science of live dub mixing. People can expect thumping drum’n’bass to move your waist, with fragments of shattered sounds that reach out to other galaxies. I’ll be working dub techniques live as DJ Wonkytooth, on an analog mixing desk. Add tape echoes and spring reverbs together with Kellie’s cosmic live drawing projections on the inside of the dome, and TOTEM sound system… it should lift us all into the stratosphere.

Dark Science is at The QUAD in Lismore 16 & 17 August 5–10pm. Free.


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