Dan Kelly on finally getting to work with his cousin Declan for NGV Triennial EXTRA

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Dan Kelly on finally getting to work with his cousin Declan for NGV Triennial EXTRA


“I remember the first time Declan and I ever started talking ideas. I went to the Big Day Out, somewhere in the ‘90s –  I think Bjork and Soundgarden was playing on the Gold Coast. I’d had a pretty mega night, I remember skinny dipping in Byron Bay and it was about three in the morning afterwards, I ended up crashing at a friend’s place somewhere down there”, he says.

He had a surprise when he went to the bus stop to go back to Brisbane, “The friends I went to the Big Day Out with said goodbye to me and I was just getting on the bus – this big double decker bus –  and my cousin Declan was there. I’d almost forgotten that he lived in Byron Bay because he’d been going to school there.”

Dan Kelly and Declan Kelly will finally get the chance to collaborate on a DJ set at Triennial EXTRA. Joining them will be a host of other guest DJs providing their own soundtrack to the Triennial including Jungle Giants, Tex Perkins, Saskwatch, Cloud Control, Quan and Ben from Regurgitator, and Miami Horror.

This will be the NGV’s inaugural Triennial. Celebrating art and design from across the world, the exhibition will feature the work of over 100 artists and designers from 32 countries. Following the success of events like Friday Nights at NGV, the Triennial will also host Triennial EXTRA, a ten-night festival of dance performance, guest DJs, pop-up bars, architecture, food and talks. The free festival will see NGV remain open after hours.

“[Declan] was probably 15 or something like that. I hadn’t hung out with him for a couple of years. All of a sudden he’s sort of grown up and a teenage dude and he’s like, ‘I’m going to Brisbane to do this thing,’ because he had become a deep house and drum and bass DJ, playing a lot of little warehouse factories and stuff like that,” says Dan.

“He had a Walkman and I had my Walkman and we drove up through the hills in the rain of Northern New South Wales and we played each other what we were into. I was pretty deep into stuff like Pavement, Butthole Surfers and Jesus Lizard, and a lot of whacky guitar bands and he was right into Ice Cube, stuff like Brain Dance, Aphex Twin and some Warp label stuff.”

“I was like ‘Wow, he’s into some really interesting music,’ and ever since then we’ve swapped lots of musical ideas but we’ve never really collaborated. He was in another world, I went into a crazed guitar rock’n’roll world and he went in more of a deep house direction.”

Since bonding over music in the ‘90s, the cousins have each expanded their music tastes. “He worked in a record store near where I lived in St Kilda and he developed a really fantastic, wide ranging taste. I’ve also broadened out away from whacked out guitar stuff.”

The set at Triennial EXTRA is an opportunity they have been anticipating for a while. “We’ve been swapping ideas for 20 years and it’s the first time we’ll actually get to play them to people together,” he says. Dan says the show will be a representation of their musical growth over time. “It will be good, it’s not going to be nostalgic. Uplifting but un-nostalgic.”

For Dan this won’t be the first time he has performed at NGV. “I DJed David Hockney. I felt a kind of colour, I wanted to get his swimming pool period and get his early technicolours and what he was doing on iPads.

“It was a beautiful exhibition. It was really vivid and large scale. So you think ‘Ok, what am I going to play? I might play some sort of early ‘70s Japanese psychedelia or just stuff that goes with the colours or the era.’ We’ll probably try and do the same for this show as well.”