an interview with the pop star’s people

Here are some words that were thrown around after my experience with New Zeland-Australian-LA gangsta songstress – Kimbra.

I am pleased with some of the articulations, so I thought I’d extend the discoveries.

We sat down to have a little chat with the super clever, super talented Andy Dexterity. For all you die hard fans out there – you may have noticed the incorporation of sign language in the clip for 90’s music.

This was a collaboration that happened when Kimbra spotted Andy’s original sign language video for Cameo Lover – which in turn inspired us to touch base with Andy and see if he would be interested in coming on board to develop the lyrics of 90’s music! Wow did he deliver!

Andy is one of those extraordinary people helping to make the world a better place by helping those with hearing disabilities to experience the music in a brand new exciting way! We wanted to ask him a few questions so you guys could share in his royal awesomeness!

What do you do for a living? 

I am a visual performance artist and choreographer – anything to do with bodies in space. I also teach performing arts and sign language around Australia.

What are you passionate about?

In this moment of my life, my passion is hungry to explore human to human connections and interactions. I use modalities of dance, sign language and body language to explore the human need and desire to communicate, connect and share.

A strong drive of mine is putting sign language in the spotlight. To create a platform for visual language to be celebrated as an artform and in turn, allowing all people, Deaf, hearing, young, old and Disabled access to a wider variety of communication methods to suit their needs and thus dissolving perceived boundaries between communities.

The themes in my work hover around unity, connectivity and equality. How underneath it all; race, beliefs, ability, disability and language – we are all the same.

When were you first introduced to Kimbra?

Kimbra first appeared on my radar wearing a magenta dress and turquoise shoes in her Cameo lover video clip. Everything about that music video satisfies me to the core and I still consider it one of my all-time favourite music videos.

What inspired you to make the sign language video for Cameo Lover?

I had just begun making sign language videos – giving music a visual voice. These videos were received well, as I was giving the Deaf communities access to audible art forms as well as introducing other communication methods to hearing audiences. One fine day a friend of mine said ‘You like Cameo Lover, why don’t you do that for funzies?’ and so I did!

It was so much fun translating Kimbra’s already poetic lyrics into visual gestures. I asked Kimbra what she meant when she wrote the lyric “love is like a sillhouette in dreams”, and she said “I don’t even know man!”. This gave me permission to translate from a more expressive /feeling /conceptual place instead of a literal one – to really tap into the essence of the song.

What made you connect choreography with sign language?

I was a professional dancer for many years and when sign language found me, I considered it another form of dance. I tend not to draw the line between the two anymore as it’s the whole body moving and talking at any one time anyway.

How long did it take to create the signs for 90’s music?

After listening to the track on repeat for 2 days, I began to workshop some hand and body talk that suited the lyrics and the sentiment of the song. In sign language, there can be many different signs for one word or concept, so it was a process of trying on many different gestures and seeing which ones made sense, whilst feeling good to do with the music and which ones appeared to marry the vibe of the song. In some cases, new hybrid signs evolved – which I find the most exciting part of the process! – Being on the leading edge of language!

For the lyric “the love ain’t disappeared” instead of signing LOVE-NOT-DISAPPEAR a composite sign of I LOVE YOU and CONTINUE was used to convey the same idea in a more aesthetically pleasing way.

I think it took about a week to arrive at a place where the visuals matched the sounds.

What is your goal with crossing the two genres together?

I feel that every human has inside them, an infinite, unlimited, creative source. This source’s natural instinct is to express itself with as much integrity into the physical world as possible, keeping that human being in line with their truth. I really feel that limiting one’s expression to just a few existing modalities can be really stifling and sometimes damaging to the human.

Perhaps sign language and dance are two of the most recognisable and closest representations of how my creative source wants to express itself at this time? And perhaps, over time, a new language will become evident and we will have another platform to express and exist on?

So my goal with crossing the two genres together? To express my true self as clearly and honestly as possible. And in doing so – this may give other humans inspiration and permission to do so too!

Here are some words that were thrown around.

I am quite pleased with the articulation of some of the ideas so I thought best I share.

What can we expect next from you?

The territory of this work that I am allowing is so uncharted, and there are so many directions that it may want to take!

I do know for sure that I will be making an appearance with the Australian children’s group – The Wiggles in their next film and I will also be exhibiting artworks at a few Australian galleries including firstdraft and the MCA.

Andy, you are truly awesome – where can we follow your work?

These adventures can be followed in a few places:

Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/c/andydexterity

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/andydexterityfacey

Web – http://andydexterity.com

Instagram – ‪http://instagram.com/andydexterity

Don’t be afraid to reach out to Andy if you want to help or contribute in any way shape or form! Thank you so much Andy – we love you!

Check out 90’s music again to spot the sign language!
Thom Kerr
The Cave

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