Ohio Interviews: Dinosaur Special Cassette

Ohio Interviews


OE intern Gillian Bradshaw interviews Billy A-B of the London based art and fashion collective Dinosaur Special Cassette: 

Futura dress, one of a kind, Dinosaur Special Cassette
Futura dress, one of a kind, Dinosaur Special Cassette

Dinosaur Special Cassette is a self-described art and fashion collective but its scope seems to transcend these parameters.  Is there a central notion that holds all your work together?  Is there any medium you wouldn’t consider using?

Art is magic, a key to a different world.

There’s no central notion beyond that, really, and the style and content and media might well change, but we believe art should be positive and fun, and bring you out of your “normal,” mundane reality, like a magical ritual.

Black Metal Yo Yo Fi, Dinosaur Special Cassette
Black Metal Yo Yo Fi, Dinosaur Special Cassette

It seems you’re also a musician: I listened to your “Melba Rain,” which brought Animal Collective to mind. Do you have any major influences, musical or otherwise, for your work?   

Billy influences: the Fort Thunder artists, Misaki Kawai, Steely Dan, R Kelly

Chloe influences: cats (especially black), Ulysses 31, dinosaur express

Sam influences: Twilight Saga, outsider art

What are you currently working on/most excited about?

We’re excited about our upcoming month long residency at Fjuk in Iceland.

Not sure what we’re going to do there exactly, making clothes and costumes and wallhangings and other things out of fabric, and possibly making a sequel to our movie Cool Runnings and a Funeral.

We’re excited about yarn, which we generally refer to as noodles, because yarn sounds too old fashioned. Making wigs, clothes, fur, drawings, etc. all out of “noodles.” In Iceland we’ll have our first art show as a collective and it will feature oodles of yarn. Or we might be bored of yarn by then. We do eat more rice than noodles, but I think spiritually we’re more aligned with noodles.

We’re working a lot on Klushka as well, which is the fashion label Chloe was running before we met. It’s a bit different, but we just did a photoshoot for that and that stuff is in the DSC shop as well. The content is less changeable: we make futuristic clothes using lo-fi processes.

UFO dress, one of a kind, Dinosaur Special Cassette

Do you find your art reflects your surroundings–London, Fjuk, etc.–or does it stem from such an internal source that your setting has little effect upon it?  Also, could you tell me a little about Cool Runnings and a Funeral?  

The season affects what kind of work we want to make: more drawing in the winter, more sculpture in the summer. The local resources/tools affect the form, obviously. London is only a factor in as much as the weather in London and the possibilities of the physical space [affect the work]. Mainly nature and global culture/memories inform the content, so, yes, an internal font in many ways.

Cool Runnings and a Funeral is a title written on a prop in a movie…[but] there is no DVD inside that DVD case which reads Cool Runnings and a Funeral and in fact there is no movie that contains that false prop, because that movie is also imaginary. That doesn’t mean we can’t make a real sequel, though.

Charming children in DSC world

So far I’ve neglected to ask you the more basic questions about DSC:  How/when did DSC begin?  And who does it consist of? 

It began as me (Billy A-B) collaborating with Chloe Liu on a collection for Klushka in late 2013, Chloe’s label. We enjoyed working together so much that we decided to form DSC. When my friend Sam Rees saw what we were doing he demanded to join. So it started at the beginning of this year. Sam lives in Iceland though so it’s just me and Chloe really atm. Sam will work with us during the residency. We’re not sure how (if) this will work…

Cash Seance dress, one of a kind, Dinosaur Special Cassette
Cash Seance dress, one of a kind, Dinosaur Special Cassette

One more question:  If you were to give advice to a budding artist/your past self, what would it be?  

Billy: Talent is self belief, hard work and perseverance. If you want to get somewhere you have to keep going in the same direction.

Chloe: What art school offers is networking. Everything else (learning, developing practice) you can do anywhere. A bad university in a big city is better than a good university in a small city.