Articles and interviews are
listed in chronological order (latest first)...2013 201220112010
Articles & Interviews
Saturday Courier Mail, Brisbane 2 February 2013
to enlarge and read the above Courier Mail article
2012 Articles & Interviews
InFlight Magazine Issue22 2012
to enlarge and read the above Talk Back article
ABC Brisbane Afternoons (broadcast 16 April 2012)
Emma speaks to Kelly Higgins-Devine about her music,
including her album Dr Dream and the Imaginary Pop Cabaret,
her New York shows, a side project with Jake Diefenbach,
and the Crossbows Festival to be held at Southbank Brisbane
in May 2012 (See Gigs
for further details).
Duration:18:38 (includes two songs from Dr Dream)
Adelaide Breakfast (broadcast 13 April 2012)
In this interview broadcast 13 April 2012 on Radio
Adelaide Breakfast, Emma spoke to
Angus Randell about the Adelaide
Cabaret Festival to be held in June 2012 and
of her Festival show Stripped....
Magazine Brisbane 12 April 2012
to enlarge and read the above feature article by Frances
In this interview broadcast on 14 March 2012 during
Cabaret Room show, Emma provides a
sneak preview of An
End to Dreaming, performed in Melbourne on
the following Friday.
Sunday Mail Brisbane 31 July 2011 -
U on Sunday Magazine
Click here to
read the above feature article Edge of
by Sally Browne (photography Adam Armstrong)
Magazine Brisbane 26 July 2011
INFORMER ARTS: Cabaret - Emma Dean Interview
ZENOBIA FROST and EMMA DEAN talk CABARET - where
does Sally Bowles (hot pants and all) fit into Brisbane
It’s not the first time Zen Zen Zo and cabaret
have tangoed. In 2010, a duo of performers schooled in
the physical theatre company’s characteristic style
shadowed pop-cabaret partners-in-crime Emma Dean and
Jacob Diefenbach in My Sublime Shadow. Dean returns to
the company to take on the lead role in Cabaret – Zen
Zen Zo’s first foray into musical theatre.
“If there’s any musical Zen Zen Zo should
be doing,” says Dean, “it’s Cabaret.” We
are sipping coffee in oversized red armchairs in a cafe
near Dean’s temporary Brisbane digs (where, incidentally,
Dean has been teaching your humble arts reporter the
tricks of the singing trade – brave woman). “As
a company, I think they really embody the spirit of the
Weimar Republic era.” That the cast’s majority
aren’t necessarily trained dancers or singers is
no hindrance; in fact, Dean believes it’s what
will set apart this production of Cabaret – that
infamous celebration of the decadent, the grotesque and
It’s not only a new experience for Zen Zen Zo. “The
choreography’s very elaborate – and very
athletic,” admits Dean. “I had to be very
open to working with my body, but the training schedule
has been fabulous.” Just as Dean had to adapt for
a physical theatre troupe, Zen Zen Zo’s crew took
a little convincing to realise the dangers of belting
out Liza Minnelli tunes for eight hours a day – but
Dean emphasises the company’s supportive environment. “We’ve
all been learning about each other’s special skills
and how we fit together as an ensemble,” she says.
Perhaps a few surprise wake-up calls helped bind the
cast and crew together. Cabaret takes place against what
Dean calls a “political backdrop” of Nazism
spreading like fire ants over Berlin. “We easily
forget,” she says, “being surrounded by such
open-minded people, that this shit still goes on.” It
was just outside Brisbane’s Old Museum – Zen
Zen Zo’s traditional stomping ground – that
part of the cast encountered a bus stop covered with
anti-Semitic and homophobic graffiti. Later, the Cabaret
cast came to a chilling realisation: had they stayed
in Berlin in 1933 doing “what we were doing as
cabaret performers, as artists, as activists” – the
entire ensemble would have been sent to concentration
The character of the Emcee, played by Sandro Colarelli,
is for Dean the voice of these artists – “the
voice of the underground,” she says. “He’s
the one who goes down with the ship.” Dean describes
Colarelli (fresh from DragQueensLand) as “a superstar” – the
right choice for a memorable role. Dean describes her
own role, Sally Bowles, as something of an onion. “She’s
very hedonistic, totally preoccupied with herself, with
having fun, with fucking around with men and drinking
gin,” Dean explains, but these traits hide layers
of insecurities. “She’s a bit of an onion.
As each of my scenes goes on, layer by layer comes off,
and in the end there’s a moment where Sally’s
In a show concerned with grotesque fantasies and burlesque
parodies, those moments where what is real sneaks in
are all the more resonant. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Give
a man a mask, and he’ll tell you the truth.”
CABARET runs at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC,
from Thursday Aug 4 to Saturday Aug 20.
Pop-cabaret starlet Emma Dean was in Adelaide over the
weekend for her only show, “Stripped”, during
the 2011 Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival at Tuxedo Cat.
Today, I managed to catch up with the singer/songwriter
over email to ask her a few questions…
RC: Who inspired you to take up dancing and music in
your younger years? ED: My father, Christopher was one of the founding members
of a station called 4MBS Classic FM. Every Saturday morning,
when I was about 3 or 4, he would go on air as one of
the radio announcers and I’d listen intently at
home and try to talk to him through the speakers. Of
course, he never heard me (he he). But, being around
music from such a young age sparked something deep within
me. If I wasn’t playing music, I was dancing. I
loved to move and to feel the rhythm of life flow through
me. It’s such a natural and inherent thing for
RC: Tell us about your first-ever on-stage appearance… ED: To be honest, I’m sure I was far too young
to remember the very first time!! I started learning
ballet at the age of 2 and began at a music school at
the age of 3. I’d guess that I would have been
amongst a large group of obnoxious yet stupidly cute
toddlers playing the recorder (badly)…
RC: The last time you were in Adelaide, you
performed as part of The Wheel of Frank Confession at the 2010
Adelaide Fringe. How does performing your solo show ‘Stripped’ compare
to performing as part of quartet? ED: When you are performing as part of a group, you tend
to feel supported at all times (that is, if they are
awesome like my group were!). When you are solo, it’s
all up to you! So in that regard, it can be quite high
pressure. Having said that, I love the musical freedom
you have as a soloist. If I feel like drawing a phrase
out…I will! If I accidentally skip a verse…that’s
ok! ha ha. I’ve learnt so much about myself as
a performer through “STRIPPED” and I feel
I’m one step closer to achieving some of my performance
goals. When you strip back to the bare essentials it’s
either make or break. It’s my aim to be able to
command a stage, even in stillness. I continue to work
Emma Dean's Latest Album
RC: You’ve just released your second album, Dr
Dream and the Imaginary Pop Cabaret. What inspires you
when writing songs? ED: Everything and anything. This particular album is
like a therapy session! Each song has it’s own
RC: On your most recent blog entry, I noticed that you’re ‘ [keeping]
open to possibilities after “Cabaret” ‘.
Where would you like to see yourself next – perhaps
returning to ballet? ED: Oh god no!!! My bum is too big (or so they tell me!).
To tell you the truth, I was never much of a dancer!
It breaks my heart to say that, but it’s true.
I would love to continue some physical-theatre and actor
training to keep “topping up” my performance
skills. I feel that this has been an integral part of
my development. I’d also like to tour overseas
and take some time out to reflect and ponder before I
launch in to any new projects or albums. It’s a
bit exciting, really. I feel like I’ve got a creative
volcano bubbling away inside of me. :)
Emma Dean's Pop Cabaret Universe by Lena Nobuhara Cabaret Confessional Associate Editor
Singer/songwriter Emma Dean, who hails from the city of
Brisbane, has created her own unique, magical universe
and established herself as “pop cabaret” performer.
Her signature style of catchy alternative pop music and
visual feast of imaginative costumes, make-up and theatrics
has won over many fans – including the New York Post,
who named her as “1 of 10 Artists to watch in 2011”.
With her Cabaret Fringe Festival show in Adelaide approaching
fast (see gigs), Emma takes us through her quirky and creative
You’ll be performing your show Stripped
soon. What was the process for writing the show like?
To be honest, it was a very backwards process. I had been
hired to perform every week for three consecutive weeks
at a wonderful Cabaret venue in Sydney called El Rocco.
I wanted to make the shows low-key but still involve my “theatrical
flair”. I knew I couldn’t afford to include
any other performers so it needed to be a one-woman-show!
I had just released my new album Dr Dream and The Imaginary
Pop-Cabaret so I had already rehearsed most of the songs
that I wanted to perform. In the end it became a question
of how I could string them together in an interesting and
different way using just one person on stage – me!
Remember, I’m used to performing alongside flamboyant
physical-theatre performers, so I was feeling the pressure!
I decided the theme of my show would be about stripping
back the musical layers and revealing the raw emotion and
some of the stories behind the songs – all the things
that are sometimes lost in a big theatrical production.
Then on another layer I’ve incorporated a mannequin
in to the mix who helps me with my costume changes where
I literally “strip” on stage. Don’t worry…no
pink bits. Totally PG!
How did you decide which songs to include and which ones
to leave out?
I always find this tough. But, the great thing about this
show is that there is so much room for movement. The formula
is set, so I can now add and subtract songs as I write
them as long as they fit in to the four scenes/themes.
In fact, my Adelaide show will be different to my Sydney
The shows and videos you create are visually striking
and dreamy. Where do you get the ideas and inspirations
for the costumes, make-up and the whole look of the stage/videos?
I am so lucky to be surrounded by an incredible creative
community of artists, dancers, costume designers, make-up
artists, actors, musicians and dreamers. Most of us work
independently and understand the financial difficulties
that sometimes exist in our chosen fields, so we often
help each other out with various projects. Some of the
artists I have collaborated with on a long term basis are:
Angela White Costume And Couture (who made many of my film
clip and performance costumes), Lia Reutens (who features
in my “Something They Can Hold” video and is
also an imaginary friend), Amanda Laing, Walter Davis-Hart,
Giema Contini, Dale Thorburn and Jamie Kendall (who all
act/have acted as my imaginary friends) and Jonny Williams
(who has made two of my film clips), and Tony Dean and
Ben Stewart (who have played in my band and recorded my
Outside inspiration comes from all things magical. I’ve
always loved Tim Burton movies. I’m fascinated in
exploring the world where reality meets Gothic-fairytale-fantasy
and the place where music and theatre meet and explode!
This is the world I want to live in when I’m performing
How would you describe your distinctive ‘pop cabaret’ style?
To break it down simply, I’d say it’s “piano-driven
alternative pop music presented in a theatrical or cabaret
You were named as “1 of 10 Artists to watch in 2011” in
New York Post. Apart from the size and competitiveness,
what are your thoughts on the American market?
The American market is something I’d like to explore.
I’d been working really hard in Australia for 9 years
without much airplay (which is a shame) and then BOOM…New
York came calling! After the New York Post surprise, my
single “Sincerely Fearful” was in the US specialty
radio charts top 15 for a month alongside the likes of
R.E.M and PJ Harvey. Surreal.
I often wonder if America, due to its large population,
has the ability to sustain an artist like me who sits outside
the mainstream box. I’m not sure. But I’m going
to go over and find out whilst having an adventure at the
How did you discover cabaret?
I’ve always been theatrically inclined and have
been interested in musical theatre since I played the lead
in my high school musical. Cabaret was an obvious step
for me. After working with a company in Brisbane called
Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre, I became interested in performance
techniques, which work on the power and energy of the body
in performance. That’s when I began to incorporate
some physical-theatre actors into my show. It was a really
natural progression. To listen to my music without seeing
the visuals often doesn’t seem like a typical cabaret
experience, although, my songs and themes are clearly theatrical.
For me, it’s all in the live show!
Cabaret to you is….?
A medium in which the “others” of the underground
have a voice…
What appeals to you the most about performing cabaret?
I love the feeling of being in a cabaret club where the
rules of society have flown out the door. I love the freedom.
Of course, it was not always like this for cabaret artists,
especially during WWII. I feel very lucky to be able to
express myself artistically to the fullest extent.
The biggest source of inspiration?
I’m so inspired by the people around me, particularly
my friends and family. Some of my musical inspirations
are Tori Amos, Queen, Wicked (the musical), Cabaret (the
musical), Chicago (the musical), Kate Bush, Silverchair,
Jacob Diefenbach and mucho mucho more!
The best thing about performing as part of the Cabaret
Being in Adelaide again for the first time since the 2010
Adelaide Fringe Festival. Being recognised as being part
of a thriving musical genre that has SO much to offer.
Seeing my dear friends and meeting new ones.
What’s in store for you next?
I’m playing Sally Bowles in the next Aussie production
of “Cabaret” with Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre!
Then I’m planning some shows overseas! Can’t
AU Review - we were there (posted website 8 April
STCH Tour Show @ The Basement 14May11
(Photo Courtesy Johnny Au for AU Review)
Emma Dean announces May/June 2011 tour by Layla Clark
With The New York Post naming her one of "10 Artists
to Know in 2011”, Emma Dean is starting to glow in
the international spotlight. On her latest national tour,
however, she's decided to find a shadowy corner in which
to embrace her dark side and ponder the release of new
single “Something They Can Hold”...
After her sold out album launch tour in November 2010,
featuring the kooky talents of her 'imaginary friends',
Emma is back on the road in celebration of the latest single
from internationally acclaimed album Dr Dream and the Imaginary
Pop-Cabaret, the haunting Something They Can Hold. These
shows will distill her chaotic, spellbinding show to it's
most basic visceral elements. She'll leave the 'imaginaries'
at home and embrace the black, nebulous, murky world of
a neurotic cabaret songstress fronting a group of musicians.
“Singer, songwriter and self proclaimed ringmaster
Emma Dean is a hobobag full of crazy pills. Like the really
awesome hallucinogenic kind. Driven by her child-like imagination
and bouncy exuberance, her new album “Dr Dream and
the Imaginary Pop Cabaret” has a title that describes
it's sound with sheer perfection.” Ryan Brockington
, The New York Post
So, why is it important to indulge in the darker side
“As an artist I think it's important to indulge
and explore all parts of life!” Emma explains. “I
don't see myself as a particularly dark person but as a
songwriter, I often find myself drawn to the piano when
a dark or turbulent thought hits. I think it's healthy
for me. Perhaps it's a kind of free therapy? I'm very intrigued
by the underground world where the fringe folk live as
well as the cabaret scene, where the rules of society fly
out the door. That's why I'm constantly drawn to working
with company's like Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre and artists
like “my imaginary friends” who are known for
exploring this territory. It's dark. It's sometimes twisted.
And the line between crying and laughing is often very
"...Curious, funny, astute and above all, weird.
She could well stake a good claim to be the new Millennium's
Kate Bush with (her) theatrical approach to music...."Patrick
McKiernan allgigs.co.uk , United Kingdom
"Its just right. Move over Rufus and Tori. You have
company" Noel Mengel. The Courier Mail
Make Believe: Emma Dean with dancers
Reuters, Walter Davis-Hart and Amanda Laing
The Muse has many identities (text)
Brisbane-raised songwriter Emma Dean gets physical
to take her music to another level of art, writes Noel
EMMA Dean is enjoying sharing secrets with some of her
closest friends. Imaginary friends, that is. And they say
things she'd never dare say in public.
The friends first started appearing in her songs, and
then in her stage show, and now in the Brisbane-raised
songwriter's second album, Dr Dream and the Imaginary Pop-Cabaret.
"I found different parts of my personality coming
through in my songs and these characters. Henry was my
disturbed imagination, Gee Gee my sensual imagination,
Dr Dream my imaginary psychotic psychiatrist, who is the
part of me that likes to analyse people," Dean says.
"From that grew the idea of this concept album, having
a therapy session with Dr Dream, which is like having a
therapy session yourself, all these little confessions."
Like Kate Miller-Heidke and Megan Washington, Dean is
a graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, where
she studied jazz vocals. There must be something in the
water there; Dean's approach is as quirky as that of the
But Dean's music and her stage show are also influenced
by her passions for dance and theatre. She studied classical
ballet for 12 years and more recently has been involved
in collaborations with Brisbane physical theatre troupe
Zen Zen So.
"A thing that they didn't teach in my musical studies
was an awareness of my body, which is what dance gave me," she
says. "When I see a performance I find a lot of musicians
are let down by not being aware of what their bodies are
doing and how they react to an audience.
"The training I did with Zen Zen So was all about
developing the energy that makes an audience not want to
take their eyes off you.
"You can have that energy even with absolute stillness.
You don't have to be jumping around all over the stage
to have that impact."
That's handy when you are a keyboard player and mostly
tied to that instrument. When she can, such as in her Brisbane
show at the Old Museum building last week, she works with
three dancers, helping illustrate the characters in the
"It's physical theatre with elements of dance, movement,
acting. I knew when I started writing these songs that
I wanted a theatrical element but I didn't know what that
would be. When I met performers from Zen Zen So, I knew
that was the answer," she says.
"Even in the songs I was writing before thinking
of the Dr Dream concept, I found there was an underlying
theme there - of imagination, of hope and dreams. It was
like finding the key to bring it all to together."
Dean also performs with her brother, drummer Tony Dean,
with assistance from her partner in music and life, Ben
After spending all her life in Brisbane, Dean this year
moved to Sydney, where she teaches music to sustain her
But she takes advice from American theatre director Anne
Bogart, who she quotes on the sleeve on Dr Dream: "Do
not assume that you have to have some prescribed conditions
to do your best work. Do not wait for enough time and money
to accomplish what you have in mind. Work with what you
have right now."
Dean has no shortage of ideas, nor the drive to take them
to the world.
Dr Dream and the Imaginary Pop-Cabaret is
available from emmadean.com
This week cheeky pop princess EMMA DEAN and her ‘imaginary
friends’ launch album Dr Dream & The Imaginary
Pop-Cabaret with a flamboyant spectacle at the Old Museum.
Fears, nightmares and confessions – BIRDIE finds
it’s all in the bag and more for this ex-Brissie
“The ‘imaginary friends’ are myself
and three physical theatre performers who act as different
facets of my imagination,” explains Dean. “There
is my sensual side, my disturbed side, and Dr Dream the
imaginary psychotic psychiatrist. The show is incredibly
theatrical as you can imagine; people have been calling
it pop-cabaret with some burlesque.”
Which makes the Old Museum the ideal venue for Dean’s
quirky circus-like performance. Inspired mainly by insanity
and rambling thoughts, Dean says she boldly reveals all
to a usually spellbound audience.
Dr Dream is the part of myself that always wants to analyze
and tell people they’re right or wrong,” she
claims. “He tries to diagnose what’s wrong
with people. So it’s me sitting in his room, on his
big black chair, and I’m letting him basically judge
me as I divulge all my confessions that stem from my own
Letting rip her anger, insecurities, and complaints about
life, Dean says both the live performance and the album
itself have proven to be the perfect combo of being at
once cathartic as well as entertaining.
“Some of the songs are about the music industry
too,” she adds. “Not feeling as though I fit
in sometimes. There is a song called Bigger Than Me, Bigger
Than You, which is about a phase where I felt incredibly
lonely as a solo performer. I wanted very badly to be a
part of a community and I had this vision of running away
and joining the circus. I would be the ringmaster and the
leader of all the circus freaks. I think it was a dream
that stemmed from the fact I’d moved from Brisbane
to Sydney and I was scared of being isolated from old friends
and musicians I’d worked with.”
But the transition hasn’t been as rough as Dean
first feared … In fact, with the success of both
the album and the live show, she’s hardly even had
time to soak it in!
When I moved, straight off the bat I was doing a headlining
tour which was called Emma Dean Meets Dr Dream,” she
says. “It’s been pretty crazy ever since then.
I’d love for my audience to grow and to break into
the mainstream. It’s tremendously important as an
artist to be stubborn. About five years ago I saw a fortuneteller
and they actually predicted the exact costume that I would
wear at my first album launch, which was pretty quirky
when I realised it. They said I was going to be really
big in the Asian market and to try my luck there! Those
were the exact words that were said to me. That was probably
five years ago now, so I’ve got two years to hurry
up and make it happen!”
EMMA DEAN launches DR DREAM & THE IMAGINARY POP-CABARET
at the Old Museum on Friday Nov 26 (all ages), supported
by Safety Dance and The Jane Austen Argument. www.myspace.com/emmadeanband
Pop 5 With Emma Dean (text)
Who first told you about the birds and the bees?
always asked my parents how a baby is born but my mum always
said the same words, ‘with a little bit of this,
and a little bit of that’… So for an embarrassingly
long time I pictured god up in the sky with salt and pepper
shakers and I thought that’s how he made a baby.
Then I discovered ‘The Joys Of Sex’ with my
next door neighbour and got a rude shock when I saw the
graphic pictures. It didn’t look as pretty as I imagined.”
Which popstar would you most like to spank?
I used to really fancy when I was younger was Mark Owen
from Take That. I’d love to see their reunion show
if they come to Australia, it all depends on finances,
Have you ever done anything ridiculous for a dare?
my gosh … I probably shouldn’t say this one … I
was once arrested for stealing the Hanson Christmas album.
It was a dare with my two high school friends – I
got off more lightly than them. They were very naughty
girls! The album was all originals with a few covers, I
think I still might have a version of the album – not
the stolen one!”
What’s the scariest thing that’s ever
happened to you?
“I chopped off my thumb on my nanna’s
exercise bike chain!”
What or who would you like to be reincarnated as?
Tim Burton’s lovechild! With Helena, of course. Actually,
I would love to star in a Tim Burton movie, I’d love
to do music for the movie and to star in it, that would
be the ultimate for me.”
A mistress of entertainment, merging theatre and music,
this singer/songwriter will enthrall Tableland's Folk Festival
goers with her perfect timing, uber-expression, lyrics
and voice range.
With her first album Hanging Out The Washing,
released 5 years ago at the tender age of 22, there's no
this live-wire. Having entertained at this year's national
folk festival and last years's Woodford, Emma Dean is
no stranger to the genre. "I found in the past my music
down well at the festivals. I have a highly emotive
voice and love musical theatre. Story telling is very important
to me and being able to understand lyrics." says the jazz
bachelorette who has been playing to packed audienes in
recent musicals Downside Up and The Tempest..
The multi-instrumentaltist will be accompanied by her
brother Tony on drums, and three physical performers, urging
audience through their wacky pop cabaret journey. The entertainer's
circus of face-painted personalities represent 'facets'
of Dean's personality - Henry, her disturbed imagination,
GG, her sensual imagination and Dr Dream, her imaginary
psychotic psychiatrist. The 'dancers' negotiate the stage
with manic movements while their songstress mesmerises
the audience with keyboard and vocals.
The Tori Amos inspired musician spent two years in Kate
Miller Heidke's band. "I was on the violin and keyboards
and it was lots of fun." This classically trained musician
is vaudevilling her way to the top.
Emma Dean and the Imaginary friends will be playing at
the Pavilion Frisay at 9.30pm, Saturday at 8.30pm and Sunday
To catch a preview of her magical world visit www.emmadean.com
or http://tablelandsfolkfestival.org for the
30th Tablelands Folk Festival site.
Emma Dean is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist
whose music and performances delve into the magical world
where live music meets theatre.
In Real Life Computer Game, the debut album from this
unique performer, Emma continues to delve into new sonic
It's bigger, it's bolder, and it's more ambitious than
anything she's ever done.
Her theatrical fascination led Emma to the dark side in
early 2009 - the decadent world of cabaret.
The musical Downside Up (co-written with Jacob Diefenbach)
debuted to a sold-out audience at The Judith Wright
Centre in Brisbane.
Shortly after, she began another theatrical collaboration
with world renowned Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre Company,
for their óff-kilter'adaptation of Shakespeare's The
Question: What are your influences? Answer: champagne and
the theatre, nfroufrou and Angela White Costume and Couture,
Tim Burton and fairytales, love,
hate, life, death, sex, longong and observation.
Q: What are some of your favourite current artists? A: Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Taylor Mac, Imogen Heap, Amanda
Palmer, The Dresden Dolls, The Killers, Liza Minnelli,
Angela White, Steven Mitchell-Wright, The Danger Ensemble,
Wicked the musical, Chicago the musical, Ben Stewart,
Tony Dean, Jacob Diefenbach and my imaginary friends...
Q: How do you see yourself as an artist? A: A piano slammin',
strange movin', neurotic boofy-red-haired pop-cabaret singer.
Q: What sets you apart from other acts? A: The on-stage
explosion when pop music collides with theatre, the use
of physical theatre creating a visual
feast as well as an aural feast, boofy-red hair and men
Emma Dean will join Australian entertainer Deni Hines
and Toowoomba's Cool Nights Big Band for one night at the
Empire Theatre on Saturady September 25.