Diesel n’Dub is easily one of the most dope collaborations in Australian music this year! The album will go down in history, mark my words. I can’t tell you what has me more captivated: the impressive line-up of our best Indigenous and Aussie artists, the reggae remixes of Midnight Oil’s classic tunes, or the nobility of the project. Declan Kelly, drummer/singer/producer, has recruited his reggae army of music greats to message the people and support our Australian Indigenous communities.
Proceeds from the album go towards the wonderful ‘Indigenous Literacy foundation’, (which occurs this week), who service remote communities with access to Books and also publishing for books written in Language. I caught up with Declan after bumping into him entertaining our local Bondi community a few weekends ago. Declan is legendary for supporting live music and other musicians. Reggae is in his blood, love & equality of the people overflows from his soul, creativity courses his veins. It should come as no surprise that he managed to attract the likes of Frank Yamma, Katie Noonan, Emma Donovan, Alex Lloyd, Stiff Gins, Radical Son and more. Declan even secured Mad Professor himself to mix this album of politically/socially conscious riddims.
When was the idea for Diesel n’Dub born and how did it come about?
Diesel N Dub was a dream of mine for a while now.
I have always heard some of the Midnight Oil songs being sung by other people and especially First Australians.
Then with my love of Reggae Music felt it right to fuse the 2 together. Reggae has always played a part in socially conscious messages in Jamaica.
What were the challenges in getting the project up and running?
Any album has it challenges or more of like piecing a puzzle together. Obtaining the rights to licence the songs was probably the most arduous of the back end side of this album. Without a deadline has given me freedom to piece this album together in the last 3 years.
You have attracted a stellar cast of singers including Alex Lloyd, Katie Noonan and Emma Donovan to name a few. How did you go about choosing who would sing which Midnight Oil song?
The cast of Diesel N Dub is artistically varied. Over the years i have had the pleasure to make music with all these talented singers and musicians and some i have known for years and would consider them family. Alex Lloyd and Emma Donovan have both sung their Midnight Oil tunes in the past so this seemed fitting to have them perform this with a Reggae twist. Other artists on DnD well, i had visions of which Midnight Oil tunes would suit their take on it. All the singers have sung these tunes with great conviction and unique stylings.
Has Peter Garret heard the songs yet? If so how did he react?
Cristina Dio (Label Manager) and i had pre arranged a meeting with Peter Garrett when he was in office. It got bumped a few times before we finally got an hour with him which was met with great curiosity.
He was quite honest and seemed to enjoy the take and twist on the songs which i can’t imagine must have read like for him as these tunes must be embedded into his DNA.
Overall Midnight Oil seem to be very supportive of the project, what it stands for and our take on their great music.
I’m sure there are many highlights from this whole recording… what is one of your favourites?
Hearing Emma Donovan sing The Deadheart in her native language was a real thrill and felt so right to have on the record. And flying down to Adelaide to record Frank Yamma was a real highlight also.
Also i spent 2 weeks with Mad Professor mixing Diesel N Dub. Too many Highlights to choose from.
Is this the start of a new direction for you creatively Declan?
I am due for a new recording of more of my own tunes next. I am in preproduction with my band The Rising Sun getting ready to commence album 3. No rest for the wicked as they say.
Album released today by Diaspora Music | MGM and you can purchase on:
Diesel n’Dub East Coast Launch Tour
Friday 17 October – The Rhythm Hutt, Central Coast NSW
Friday 31 October – The Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW
Friday 14 November – AWME @ The Hi Fi Bar, Melbourne VIC
Friday 28 November – The Motor Room, Brisbane QLD
Saturday 29 November – The Majestic Theatre, Sunshine Coast QLD
More dates & special guests to be announced.
Tickets on sale from Friday 12 September.