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BIO: The story of Diesel n’Dub
It’s been a dream run for Declan Kelly, highly respected Sydney musician and producer, who hatched the idea a couple of years ago of reinventing some of Australia’s most powerful protest songs into dub-reggae anthems. In developing the concept Kelly was motivated by the strong parallels between reggae music’s social conscience foundations and the outspoken political activism in Midnight Oil’s songs. “Diesel n’Dub was a dream of mine for a long while. I had heard some of the Midnight Oil songs sung by other people and especially First Australians, then with my love of reggae music felt it right to fuse the two together. Reggae has always been a platform for rebel music, and Midnight Oil has always been a band that addresses world issues in a powerful musical way. I am always humbled by their willingness to take a stand and voice out what needs to be said. To invite prominent Indigenous singers to sing the parts once sung by Peter Garrett seemed very fitting.”  (Declan Kelly)

In keeping with Kelly’s vision the songs have been reinvented as dub reggae gems, adding weight to their timeless messages of self-realisation and equality for all peoples, while giving powerful Australian voices the opportunity to present these important songs in their own flavor. From the outset Kelly was determined that the project give back and set it up to raise awareness of Indigenous literacy issues and funds for the crucial work of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. “Some of the proceeds from the album go towards the great Indigenous Literacy Foundation who service remote communities with books and access to publishing for books written in Language,” explains Kelly.

The concept attracted a stellar roster of talent. Longtime musical collaborators Robert Woolf (keys), Winston Stephenson (bass), and Ross Fotheringham (guitar) jumped on board to skillfully arrange the tracks in the classic Studio One reggae tradition, accompanying Kelly on drums and laying the solid artistic groundwork for converting these heritage hits into dub anthems. Recordings were done by engineer Richard Belkner at Free Energy Device Studios in Sydney.

The first track to be recorded was Armistice Day by Alex Lloyd. Emma Donovan then recorded a spine-tingling version of The Dead Heart, released as the first single in November 2013 to critical acclaim across Australia and the globe, quickly gaining consistent airplay all over Australia on commercial, independent and community radio including Triple J and ABC Radio National. It made the Top 3 on the Amrap charts for several months and reached international airwaves hitting Top 10 in the Canadian Indigenous Music Charts. The single sparked intense interest from fans, media and critics intrigued by the concept and praising Donovan for the addition of a verse in her traditional Gumbayngirr language. The next single release was Beds are Burning, performed with raw emotion by Frank Yamma with spoken word by Pat Powell. The track was picked up by Double J, ABC Radio National and dozens of independent and community radio stations around the country, with requests for the album flooding in from fans. The album also features Radical Son on the track Short Memory; Katie Noonan on Power and the Passion; Pat Powell & Stiff Gins on Read About it ; Tony Hughes & Stiff Gins on King of the Mountain; Tina Harrod on Put Down That Weapon and Kelly himself on a haunting version of Truganini. Stu Fergie also contributes a breathtaking Yidaki interlude.

The project was given a personal thumbs up by Peter Garrett who met with Kelly and listened to early drafts of the songs. With Garrett’s personal blessing Kelly went on musical pilgrimage to the legendary Ariwa Studios in London to sit alongside Mad Professor who wove his inimitable dub stylings across the entire recording.  Kelly states “…working with him was an honour and a real trip to spend time creating and dubbing the Diesel n’Dub album. I am such a fan of Jamaican music – reggae, rocksteady, ska, dub… it has such a large presence musically worldwide, so hanging with Mad Professor was like sitting in with a musical historian!” What was forged is a major work of considerable depth that unites powerful voices for one important cause while paying homage to the greatest band in Australian musical history.

To further enrich the project, highly acclaimed artist Blak Douglas (Adam Hill) created a stunning artwork to be used exclusively for the Diesel n’Dub album cover. The canvas was unveiled at a small gathering at Blak Active Gallery Space in Sydney where Hill cited his own references to Midnight Oil album covers of the past as inspiration for the work. After a stunning live debut at Australia’s premiere Indigenous event Garma Gathering in August 2014, peaking with a performance on ABC Q&A program broadcast live across the country, the long incubating passion project released the album on 5th September through Diaspora Music | MGM in recognition of National Indigenous Literacy Day. And in a huge boost for the project, the Australia Council for the Arts awarded Diesel n’Dub with a Presentation and Promotion grant to tour the East Coast in October/November.

Diesel n’Dub the Album
Declan Kelly presents Diesel n’Dub
Featuring Emma Donovan (The Dead Heart); Frank Yamma (Beds are Burning); Katie Noonan (Power and the Passion); Alex Lloyd (Armistice Day);  Radical Son (Short Memory); Pat Powell (Beds are Burning) with Stiff Gins (Read About It); Tony Hughes (King of the Mountain);  Tina Harrod (Put Down that Weapon); Stu Fergie (Yidaki Dub) and Declan Kelly (Truganini). Mixed by Mad Professor.

Declan Kelly helms the Diesel n’Dub band on drums and backing vocals. He also sings the lead vocals on his haunting version of Truganini. Diesel n’Dub is the latest addition to a growing body of work by Kelly, a respected and hard-working artist. Firmly established and highly regarded as a musician and producer, Kelly plays regularly across Australia and abroad, at the world’s biggest roots and world music festivals as a solo artist, with his trio The Rising Sun, or as a special guest. Across the industry he is sought after for his drumkit skills resulting in tours and recordings with international artists the likes of Passenger (UK), Spearhead (US), Stranger Cole (Jamaica), and Eugene Hideaway Bridges (Texas, US). Locally he has collaborated with artists Alex Lloyd, Katie Noonan, Karise Eden, OKA and KingTide and most recently had two tracks from his stunning album “Adrift” featured in the BBC series “Top of the Lake” directed by Jane Campion.

For info on all other artists please go to the Artists page.

In August 2014 Diesel n’Dub had the tremendous honour of being invited to debut the live show at Australia’s premier Indigenous event Garma Festival in Yolngu Country in remote Arnhem Land, Australia. The band stunned audiences and made a powerful impression, leading to the invitation to perform a closing song for the live broadcast of ABC TV’s Q&A program, broadcast across the country live from the site. A video of the performance was recorded and can be viewed here. Details of the Garma show are here.

Past Performances

Sunday 25 September – Global Rhythms Festival, Glebe NSW
(featuring Gambirra, Pat Powell & Tony Hughes)

Sunday 31 July – Desert Harmony Festival, Tennant Creek NT
(featuring Gambirra, Pat Powell & Tony Hughes)

Friday 20 November – Australian Music Week, Sydney NSW
(with Declan Kelly & The Rising Sun)
Australian Music Week

Friday 2 October – Caloundra Festival, Sunshine Coast QLD
(featuring Frank Yamma, Emma Donovan, Pat Powell & Tony Hughes)

Saturday 5 September – Jabiru Lakeside, Arnhem Land NT
(featuring Emma Donovan, Radical Son & Tony Hughes)

Monday 6 April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay NSW
7.15PM @ Delta Stage
(featuring Emma Donovan, Radical Son, Pat Powell & Tony Hughes)

Sunday 5 April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay NSW
1.15PM @ Crossroads Stage
(featuring Emma Donovan, Radical Son, Pat Powell & Tony Hughes)

Friday 3 April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay NSW
6PM @ Delta Stage
(featuring Alex Lloyd, Frank Yamma, Emma Donovan, Radical Son, Pat Powell & Tony Hughes)

Thursday 2 April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay NSW
4.30PM @ Mojo Stage
(featuring Frank Yamma, Emma Donovan, Radical Son, Pat Powell & Tony Hughes)

Sunday 15 March 2015 – Spirit Festival, Adelaide SA
Mullawirraburka / Rymill Park
Featuring Emma Donovan, Gambirra, Katie Noonan, Tony Hughes and Pat Powell

Sunday 23 November 2014 – The Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW
Rock the Gate Fundraiser

Friday 28 November 2014 – The Motor Room, West End Brisbane QLD
With special guest vocalists Radical Son, Tony Hughes and Pat Powell.

Friday 14 November 2014 – AWME The HiFi Bar Melbourne VIC
With special guest vocalists Emma Donovan, Pat Powell, Tony Hughes on a massive bill with
Nahko & Medicine for the People, Batucada Sound Machine and Bullhorn.

Friday 31 October 2014 – The Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW
Featuring special guest vocalists Emma Donovan, Radical Son, Pat Powell and Tony Hughes.

Friday 17 October 2014 – The Rhythm Hutt, Central Coast NSW
Featuring special guest vocalists Radical Son, Pat Powell and Tony Hughes.


“Diesel n’Dub is a project developed to support the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, which is a brilliant cause. It gets better, though: it will feature some of Midnight Oil’s best songs reinvented in a reggae style. Emma Donovan’s huge, soulful voice suits the eeriness of this classic Australian protest song and the deep dub that Declan Kelly has cooked up works better than you can imagine.” Double J

“The Oils tracks about Indigenous injustice actually sounded more appropriate when sung by the First Nations artists Kelly had assembled – including Radical Son, Stiff Gins and Emma Donovan. The album’s gems were Frank Yamma’s rough-voiced version of “Beds Are Burning” and the eye-popping, exclusive artwork by Aboriginal artist-activist Adam Hill. Proceeds went to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.” Green Left Weekly

“Diesel n’Dub is an infectious collection which is guaranteed stay in your head for a long time.” Steve Moffat, The Daily Telegraph / News Ltd

“They are joined by singer-songwriter Frank Yamma for the iconic Beds Are Burning, which has people gently swaying with their eyes wide shut as they soak in the wonderful Aussie aura.”  The Music

“An indigenous Australian collective performing the songs of Midnight Oil reggae style…and yes, it was as cool as it sounds!!” Thirty Summers

“A dub style experience raising spirits and awareness featuring some of Australia’s best singers … still very relevant and important insights of these Midnight Oil songs presented in a whole new genre” Life Music Media

“Kelly’s extraordinary musical direction honours the spirit and legacy of the Oils and many of their most important, sock-it-to-me songs.” Brad Syke (Syke on Stage)

“The tracks are reimagined with an authenticity that honours the integrity of the original pieces … Kelly’s reggae pedigree is beyond doubt and he has pulled together a killer band who understand the genre.” Matt Wakeling @ Cyclic Defrost

“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 artists, the reggae remixes of Midnight Oil’s classic tunes, or the nobility of the project.” Sin Mariani, Yes Maam Blog

“Take one seminal album by one of Australia’s most prolific bands, add reggae and the want to raise money and awareness for Indigenous Literacy, and you’ve got Diesel N Dub!” Radio Adelaide

“The launch proper opened with The Dead Heart & the inestimable Emma Donovan on vocals. You might be quite surprised just how well the mid-eighties sociopolitical audacity of Hirst-Moginie-Garrett-Rotsey-Gifford transcribes to a hardcore reggae rhythm. If anything, it tends to underscore the severity of the lyric, an earnest, whitefella stab at encapsulating the emphatic sentiment of indigenes: don’t serve your country; don’t serve your king. Kelly lays down a kickarse, solid beat, while Ross Fotheringham backs it with sharp syncopation on rhythm guitar. The sound is spare, which serves to underline the song’s tough poetry: white man came, took everyone. The fact you can dance to it doesn’t detract: if anything it helps one focus on the potency of the lines; as does Donovan’s astonishing instrument, a commanding smoke machine that veritably defines soul. If she sings it, you better believe it, ’cause she means it. In my estimation, she stands as tall in the musical stakes as, say, a Mahalia (Jackson, though Barnes is up there, too), Sarah, or, to bring it more into the present, a Mary J. It turns out to be a triple treat, too, as we got two more from her: the cautionary and sobering Put Down That Weapon, with Tony Hughes, as well as Power & The Passion” Syke on Stage



Brisbane Times – Caloundra Music Festival – October 2015

NT News – Mahbilil Festival – September 2015

Brisbane Times – Caloundra Music Swells – September 2015

Free FM, New Zealand – Radio Interview with Declan Kelly – March 2015

NITV Fusion Program with Casey Donovan – features The Dead Heart music video – January 2015

NITV – The Dead Heart makes Top 40 Survival Day playlist – January 2015

Songlines UK – Album review and nomination for Songlines Music Awards – January 2015

The Brag – Bluesfest reveals line up additions – December 2014

MusicFeeds – Bluesfest adds 11 new acts to Bluesfest – December 2014

The Music – 5 Hidden Gems of the Bluesfest Line-Up – December 2014

Green Left Weekly – 52 Left-Leaning Albums for 2014 – December 2014

Syke on Stage live review – November 2014

The Daily Telegraph / News Ltd – October 2014

United Reggae, France – Beds are Burning video launch – October 2014

The Brag Magazine, Sydney – interview with Declan Kelly – October 2014

Central Coast Express Advocate Cental Coast NSW article – October 2014

ABC Weekends 702 Sydney – interview with Declan Kelly by Simon Marnie – October 2014

Cyclic Defrost album review – September 2014

Eastside Radio, Sydney NSW – Interview with Declan Kelly and Pat Powell by Stacey Lymbery on Drive show

ARIA Music News – New Releases

Double J – Best New Music album addition – September 2014

Koori Radio – Live interview with Declan Kelly by Pearl Davern on Blackchat show – September 2014

The Music Editorial – September 2014

The Music Album Review – September 2014

YesMaam Blog Interview with Declan Kelly – September 2014

Art News Portal Announcement – September 2014

Radio PBS Melbourne  Announcement – September 2014

SpeakerTV Announcement – September 2014

Radio Adelaide SA Interview with Declan Kelly b y Marnie Round – September 2014

2BOB Radio – “Album of the Week” Taree NSW – September 2014

SACOSS Podcasts Interview with Declan Kelly – September 2014

ABC TV Performance broadcast live on Q&A Show live from Garma Gathering, Arnhem Land NT – August 2014

The Guardian Garma Feature – August 2014

Triple J – July 2014

ABC Radio GoldCoast Interview with Declan Kelly – June 2014

Double J Radio  Interview with Declan Kelly by Myf Warhurst / “Best New Music” – May 2014

Eastside Radio, Sydney Interview with Declan Kelly on DRIVE  – May 2014

Girls to the Mic Online Radio Feature – May 2014

Amrap Great Southern Charts – The Dead Heart hits #3 – Declmber 2013

ABC Speaking Out Charts “Best Indigenous Release of 2014 – #6 The Dead Heart”- December 2013

The Indigenous Top Three #3 The Dead Heart – Aboriginal Music Week, Canada – December 2013

ABC Queensland Just Released Feature – December 2013

Addicted to Noise – November 2013

Diesel n’Dub are managed exclusively by Diaspora Music
PO BOX 1152, Bondi Junction NSW 1355 Australia
For all enquiries please contact media (at)