With the ChillOut festival’s Carnival Day musical headliners announced exclusively in last week’s Southern Star, festival attendees will have two very different acts entertaining them on the day — dance act Black Dogs featuring Zoe Badwi and DJ Mark John, and perennially popular singer-songwriter Deborah Conway.
Badwi told Southern Star she and the other members of Black Dogs were already excited about their headlining slot.
“We can’t wait. It’s going to be a great crowd to play for, so we’re looking forward to getting out there and putting on a great show,” the dance diva enthused.
She said she and her bandmates would deliver a diverse set, with a mix of house, pop and rock tunes.
“We do our original stuff, throw in a few covers, then a couple of my solo tracks like Release Me.”
While they’re still fine-tuning the setlist, Badwi has a few surefire party-starters up her sleeve.
“A little bit of Kelly Rowland, When Love Takes Over… that one might go down well, don’t you think?” she mused.
Those who are more familiar with Badwi’s club-ready solo tracks, produced by the likes of Grant Smillie, might be surprised to find the Black Dogs stage set-up involves a full band. Badwi said it was her favourite way to perform.
“Visually there’s a lot more going on, and it also sounds a lot better than just one DJ and a speaker. We’ve got our bassist Andrew [De Silva, ex-CDB] breaking it down, Tony Kopa on guitar who just shreds away, and of course DJ Mark John behind the decks. It’s a fun show.”
And Badwi’s no stranger to entertaining a queer crowd. “I’ve done Mardi Gras, Midsumma, I’ve done a lot of gay one-nighters like Rogue — too many to mention, really. I love it. The crowds are always so appreciative and there to have a good time.”
Among these many gigs, it’s her performance at the first Australian Sensation party, immortalised in the Release Me video, that stands out as a particular highlight.
“That’s probably the one I’ll always remember. I mean, wow, 40,000 people. It was the first time I’d been to a Sensation party so I didn’t know what to expect, and I remember walking out on stage, seeing the crowd and thinking, ‘Yes. Let’s go!’ ”
Of course, with its location in the heart of Daylesford’s spa country, ChillOut has a far more relaxed atmosphere than Sensation — or even Midsumma or Mardi Gras, where queers shed their shirts at the first sign of a dance beat. Is Badwi prepared to work a bit harder than usual to get the crowd moving?
“That’s no problem, that’s what we do best! We’ll probably start it off a bit slower and gentler, just so we don’t jump on stage and attack everybody straight away. But I have no doubt we’ll get everyone right in the mood, don’t you worry about that.”

info: Black Dogs play Carnival Day, ChillOut Festival, March 7. info: Visit www.chilloutfestival.com.au and www.blackdogsmusic.com.au

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