SixthSense Talk #4 – Dreadfull Creations Co

We had the pleasure of chatting with two of the unsung heroes of our beloved scene, The Dreadfull Creations duo, Mase Kelly and Rhys Culwick.

SS: What made you want to pursue a career in art installation and stage build and design?

RC: The first thing we fell in love with was the scene. We felt this drive to contribute in the ways that we could, and once we got that opportunity and our foot in the door, we were able to pursue something that we found so much passion in.

MK: Growing up, I was always very creative and artsy. So once I got my carpentry trade behind me, I was able to combine the two in the festival scene. Then the question really was, how far can we take it?

SS: Tell us a bit about what Dreadfull Creations is all about 

MK: It’s a brotherhood based on pure love and a passion to give back to the Australian festival scene. This brotherhood doesn’t just reflect the bond between us, it’s the connection we have to the people working in sound, lighting, stage, project and event management etc.. That’s what we get back – working alongside the best of the best in Victoria. Being able to collaborate, share ideas and constantly inspire each other and strive to be the best we can be. 

RC: Yeah, ditto. 

SS: Take us through your process from idea creation to the final build

MK: Reese is the imaginative thinker and I’m the project manager. The process will always start with our ideas. We imagine the end goal and then we decide on the materials we use and the effect we want to create. With that, we decide on materials needed for cladding, finish, framing, structural support, scaffolding foundations etc. Once you get started, everything changes. That’s the beauty in the art world, nothing ever really goes to plan. 

RC: Using Elysium as an example, our brainstorming was based around the concept of Illuminati, using their symbol as a framework. After throwing around a few ideas, we just flipped it on its head and we decided to work backward. We wanted to create something mind-blowing. So all of our projects start with defining what the wow factor would be. 

SS: What has been your favourite project to date?

MK: If we were to categorise it, our favourite club gig was SixthSense. But we have different connections to each piece that we worked on. 

RC: When we started our business we set ourselves a goal to one day do a build at Burning Man. Another one was to have the opportunity to work alongside people that inspire us, and working with Daniel Popper at Babylon festival in our first season was just incredible. We set up our build there alongside him and he trusted us to pull it down and reinstall it in Townsville ourselves. So our work was commissioned and shipped to Townsville, where Daniel flew us to an art sculpture expo along the beach. This project that started at Babylon was our favourite, because we developed a real professional and personal connection with Daniel there. We also had new opportunities arise from that, like doing a build at Burning Seed. 

MK: That was also huge for us because we both had a hell of a lot going on for us emotionally at that time and were able to write about these difficulties on our piece and watch it go up in smoke, which was a very spiritual and meaningful experience. To build something to then later watch burn down with 5000 other people was powerful and symbolic.

SS: What is your all time festival stage and why?

MK: Well, my two would have to be the swamp stage at Modem and Atman festival because both of them use a lot of raw, natural materials for their builds with incredible detail which is very much our style. 

RC: Swamp stage is also up there for me. Otherwise, the 2018 Shaman piece at Boom Festival by Daniel really blew me away. Just how tall, elegant, and detailed it was. It came to life at night with visuals. 

SS: What is the dream project for you guys?

MK: Well, in our first year we ticked 3 of them off, but the top of the top would be Burning Man. We’d love to work on the temple and man. Both very much are detailed and intricate in their design and they burn and crumble in a specific way with fire, smoke, and even fireworks. The way they are designed and executed distinguishes them and sets them apart from the rest of the world. 

SS: What are the biggest challenges you face in your line of work?

MK: Just the physically demanding side of our work. We haven’t mastered it yet, but enough rest is crucial. You need to rest your body and mind. 

RC: It’s also preparation and communication. Without that in place, the building process suffers.

SS: Richard Bach once said, ‘the bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but respect and joy in each other’s life’. How would you describe the bond you share between you two?

MK: Everyone mistakes us for brothers. Or they confuse us and can’t tell us apart. That’s the biggest compliment. We do live together, we work our day jobs together, we party together, so there really is no other way. 

RC: The connection we have is like no other. From how we can pull our business together, to the preparation work behind the scene, to coming out the other side and being a part of the whole community, everything is easy and tabled between us. 

SS: What do your designs aim to say? 

MK: Our overall message as a company would be the beauty of recycling. When it comes to the meaning of our pieces, interpretation plays such an important role in everything we build. So many people have come up to us asking if a piece meant a certain thing and we tell them that it meant exactly what they felt it mean for them subjectively. 

RC: Yeah, one thing that stands out from our designs is reuse. Reuse of everything that goes into it. It’s all restored. The other message is connection. If our work inspires someone else to create something, or pick up a tool, give us a hand, or to put even more of themselves into their own work, that’s a big motivator for us. 

SS: Who are your biggest influences and why? 

MK: Darkpsy Dan is pretty cool. Otherwise, Daniel Popper is our biggest inspiration and we’ve been lucky enough to build an amazing professional and personal relationship with him. 

RC: We also had some local inspiration and then later had the opportunity to work with a crew called Fulcrum Designs. We feel they are the northern side and we’re the southern side of the same field, so when we come together to work it’s natural. There’s no sense of competition, just collaboration. 

SS: How do you seek out opportunities? And what advice can you give to someone looking to get into the field?

RC: The best way to get your foot in the door is to volunteer and to do everything off your own back. We did that, not for our own personal reward, but because we wanted to be there in a real way. You have to want to be a part of something, be willing to give everything without expecting anything in return. Step out of your comfort zone and soon that new space will become your zone. 

MK: Find your groove, find what you are creative at. Whether it’s string art, stage design, visuals, djing, producing – just find the line that you’re passionate about because your ideas will flow from there. Start at home, create, fail, start again. Then, publicize your work if you feel that you’re ready. Also, find like-minded people to inspire you. 

SS: Do you have any exciting projects coming up you would like to share?

MK: With the static motion of the festival scene at the moment, it’s hard to say. We’ve been invited by Daniel to come to Boom and repair and restore the Shaman piece. So that’ll be really incredible, hopefully in 2022 Dreadfull Creations will be going international!

RC: We’ve been in close contact with the majority of festival owners, so they’ve been keeping us posted, but no one really knows what’s happening for the time being. We know that everyone is moving to a virtual space now, given the circumstances, so we’d love to get in there and be a part of that new experience. We just want to give whatever we can to today’s scene.