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INTERVIEW: Dolly Denko

INTERVIEW: Dolly Denko

By: Morgan Y. Evans
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Dolly Denko is a fascinating delightful budding Australian pop artist who is causing wider and wider ripples with every new single. It was a pleasure to discuss directing her own new music video "Give Me Love", a risque yet fun and bold provocation. Once you hear her melodic and sensual yet bold voice you will agree she is probably gonna keep getting her cake and eating it too.


Spacelab: Hello Dolly (couldn't resist). First, congratulations on your new EP. I love the sort of flirtation between pop and darker alternative music traditions. What were some of your inspirations for this body of work? Also, you have great hair.


Dolly Denko: Hi, and that's ok, at least it wasn't reference to Dolly the cloned sheep!


Thank you, I appreciate all the compliments, though if you could see my hair night now, you'd take that back! I'm glad the crossover of Pop and Alternative can be heard, those two genres have always been my biggest influences. I didn't discriminate music when I was a kid and I still unashamedly love some really different genres. I grew up on bands like Garbage and Marilyn Manson but I totally had an Avril Lavigne and Britney Spears phase, which I'm not ashamed of!


Spacelab: What was it like stepping into directing with your new video for "Give Me Love"? Obviously you know your material best but sometimes, for example, an author will read their own audio book and it'll come off as too self important. I think you did a good job. Were you nervous? I like when you ate the cake at the end (it made me laugh).


Dolly Denko: Yes, the red velvet cake was a must - I love that scene too!


Directing was great, that was my second time and I enjoy it a lot. I get what you're saying, I think I'm a harsh critic of myself, I'm not looking for my best angles all the time, I just want the story to be told the way it is in my head so that's what I look for. My reasons for self directing are more about keeping budgets down, not an inflated ego. When I write a song it's usually about something personal and even in the early demo stages, I start seeing visuals that go along with the track or the story. When it comes time to make a video I've been sitting on an idea so it makes sense to self direct and keep the team small. I wasn't too nervous on that one, it was a very relaxed set and every one was super chill.


Spacelab: Do you think sexuality is becoming a more comfortable topic around the world or are we still too shallow about the many facets of it?


Dolly Denko: I think there are always going to be people with different beliefs and ways of conducting themselves, the battle with sexuality is about having freedom but trying to not force people to think or act certain way, and that goes both ways. I know a lot of conservative people that don't feel comfortable talking about sexuality and I respect that, they also respect me for being the opposite. We won't, and shouldn't, all be the same, everyone is entitled to their opinion and way of life as long as they're not forcing it on anyone else.


Spacelab: When did you first start singing? You sound very confident to say nothing of the confidence you...(laughing) portray in your video.


Dolly Denko: Oh, why thank you! I started taking myself seriously as a singer in high school and had lessons on and off. I did have some time where I was just doing it for fun and not really thinking about it as a career, I always wanted to but life just took me on a different path. I had a moment about 4 years ago after I lost someone close to me and realised how short life can be, so I quit my job and and started a band which eventually lead to Doctrin. I've always felt a pull to the stage, I can be quiet and reserved when I'm not on it but as soon as I'm up there I'm switched on and something else takes over, I love that feeling.


Spacelab: I've been thinking a lot about Bowie for obvious reasons and how people more than ever need to be cool with stepping up and letting their freak flag fly. It is 2016. We can't let the chickenshits out there confine us into boxes anymore. That's why I love some freakier pop artists like Kerli or Lion Babe or coming across your stuff. You don't seem afraid to be yourself.


Dolly Denko: Yeah that was the beauty of Bowie, a true artist and he just did his thing and owned it! I think that there are a lot of artists out there letting their freak flag fly but they're not getting the attention they deserve. The (western) world seems to fluctuate with what is generally acceptable or what is considered to be 'freakish', right now I'm sensing a lot of PC which feels like a step back in some ways. I just do me and if anyone has a problem they can switch off - I don't think I do anything particularly shocking but who knows what is ahead - that's the best thing about art, it's always evolving with us.


Spacelab: What was a formative record for you growing up that got you into pop? For me it was George Michael's Listen Without Prejudice. I revisited it the other night and it is still pretty amazing. I like versatility. Your song "Take Me" for example almost has a tiny bit of country in it. Do you currently live in Australia?


Dolly Denko: For Pop, it was definitely Gwen Stefani L.A.M.B, though I had also found and loved Alternative music just as much, with my favourite record being Marilyn Manson, Mechanical Animals. I could list pages of records that have shaped my musical wiring but I'll save that for another time. That's an interesting pick up of country from 'Take Me', I guess I can hear what you mean in a way, the timing is 3/4 so that may have something to do with the feel of it, it's a hard track to classify a genre but it had a lot of feeling behind it when I wrote. At the moment I live in Los Angeles but I'm heading back to Australia in February which I'm excited about!


Spacelab: Do you have a favourite part of the United States?


Dolly Denko: Yeah easily, that would be Muir Woods in California. I have been there so many times and it always makes me feel great! I love hiking so I get out there or to any great hike spots near me (in Los Angeles) as much as possible. I still haven't done New York, but friends tell me I will love it so I can't wait to get there!


Spacelab: How much did you really scare that boy in the "Give Me Love" video? Some of it looks (ahem) like fun. But in a few scenes the dude looks genuinely freaked out, hahaha.


Dolly Denko: Luckily he was a good friend so there was a lot of trust but that wax scene was totally real and he was not expecting it to hurt so bad - I din't stop though because I knew the shot was going to look great, and it did - he forgave me! Zac was a trooper on set, he stayed tied up for hours and actually endured those moments, most of them were hilarious so the hardest part was keeping a straight face!


Thanks so much and best of luck on a prosperous 2016. any parting words to potential new Stateside fans?


Sure thing, thanks for having me! Any new fans I'd say thanks for checking out Doctrin and check back for show dates, come say hi!


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