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The posthumous biographer’s curse

The last known photograph of Davey Dreamnation

As mentioned in my introductory post, as a long-term fan of Davey Dreamnation and his ouevre, I accepted the task of writing his authorised biography both willingly and eagerly. However, the fact that the troubled star has not been seen for several years—and is, in fact, presumed dead—has made my ostensible task that much harder. How do you write the authorised biography of a person who does not seem to exist?

Dreamnation allegedly disappeared in 2011, right after changing his name to Davves and issuing what would have been his swan-song 7″ single, had he not in fact issued (and then deleted) his actual swan-song, the magnificently barmy The Silence of Untold Sound, in 2010.

Ever since this confusing chain of events, doubts have been cast both on Dreamnation’s masculinity (the 3-second vocal track on the aforementioned Davves single, ‘Pre-Soak’, was clearly recorded under the influence of helium) and his musical abilities (the b-side, ‘Detailed Image Package’ contains no sounds whatsoever, let alone musical notes).

Clearly, as the catalogue entry for ‘Pre-Soak’ makes clear, Dreamnation was under a great deal of mental and physical stress at the time of his disappearance. In fact, given the extremely poor quality of the whole Davves project, it should not surprise us in the least that he should have chosen to retreat from public life in such a mysterious manner.

The last known photograph of Davey Dreamnation
The last known photograph of Davey Dreamnation, who went by the pseudonym Davves in the months leading up to his mysterious disappearance in 2011.
If, indeed, Dreamnation did choose to disappear.

And there’s the rub: as a music writer and biographer, I am often placed in exquisitely awkward positions. To take but one example, during my research for this project I submitted myself to an interview with one of Dreamnation’s artistic accomplices, the alarmingly hirsute Clint Bo Dean.

On entering Bo Dean’s Tribesco lair, I immediately regretted my decision, particularly as he used the occasion of the interview to spruik his personal brand of toiletries, a kind of ‘Panache, by Lentheric’ for men, with a side line in talc.

The awkwardness of this situation should be obvious: having consented to having my own name associated with an ill-fated line of cologne for funerals, my mere presence during the interview itself amounted to some sort of conflict of interest (at the very least, with myself).

However, the jitch I found myself in was also intensely exquisite because by allowing Bo Dean to spray my face with his abominable scent, I came a little closer to understanding the reason why Dreamnation ever consented to associate himself with Bo Dean in the first place—and therefore, to a clearer image of my subject.

A photograph of Clint Bo Dean
Just one of the literally millions of photographs of Clint Bo Dean circulating freely on the Internet.
As I left the interview, my body caked in Bo Dean’s unspeakable odour, and my ears ringing to the unmistakable strains of Bo Dean’s own swan song single, ‘Clint Bo Dean is Really Cool’, it dawned on me that, in order to capture the spirit of Davey Dreamnation, all I needed to do was carry out a process of triangulation, or perhaps dodecahedration.

Over the following weeks and months, therefore, I sat down and subjected all of Davey’s living pals and record label artists to some of the most gruelling interviews I have ever conducted. While the results are certainly not pretty, they do glancingly attest to the complexity of Davey Dreamnation’s character, and of his chain of friends and influences.

In the following posts some of these friends and influences—including Clint Bo Dean, Stung, Eyna, Christy Burr, Mead, Scaramouche and Captain Sans Tenille—will be given an opportunity to speak, in their own words, about the impact of Davey Dreamnation, and DNRC Records, on their own lives.

I think their words will speak for themselves. Hopefully, however, they’ll also speak Davey Dreamnation back into existence, however fleetingly.

Such is the bittersweet curse of the posthumous biographer.

Les Tombeaux

Les Tombeaux

Les Tombeaux is an editor and music writer based in Majorca. His journalism has appeared in Drug Media, Beat Off, Fabulous Tasmanians and Vogel. He is currently working on a biography of musical chanteuse Clint Bo Dean.
Les Tombeaux

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