russh magazine - rapture

Something happens when we enter into a primal space. Of skin and sound, water and darkness. Of enlivened senses and bodily urges. The tyranny of the mind collapses and we slip momentarily into a state of being, just being. Here, at home with our carnal instincts where form and essence merge, we find absolution. This is DROOL, an audiovisual dreamscape designed by US-born music man John Kirby and Australian filmmaker Cara Stricker. 


One sticky summer evening, the pair took a well-deserved break from the intensity of the studio to have dinner with me and check out the Sydney Festival. Over a bottle of sake, we got deep into the time-worn topic of sex, love and relationships and how they relate to the central theme of DROOL. I’d only met Kirby a couple of times before that night, but from the outset he struck me as an intriguing type. A keyboardist, songwriter and producer, he’s collaborated with some of my personal favourites, including Sébastien Tellier, The Black Keys and Dev Hynes, aka Blood Orange.

 He’s also a certified yoga teacher, regular medidator, loves women but rarely has relationships in the traditional sense, and could probably pull off any outfit you might throw at him. Tellier was once quoted as saying, “John Kirby is the only guy I know that dresses better than me”. Stricker, I have known for years and I’ll just say this: she’s like a perpetually popping creative firecracker. What drew them together was a combination of complementary artistic expertise and a shared creative vision. They also met at karaoke, which has been known to have a bond-creating effect. 


They describe the chimeric world depicted in DROOL as “a post-dystopic utopia ... Where the ultimate truth of universal consciousness disintegrates into everythingness, beyond sexism toward sex, equity and unity”. Between sashimi platters, Stricker showed me a snippet of the opening scene on her iPhone. It’s a movement piece, both graceful and animal, shards of light grazing the skin of the dancers – man and woman – sliding rhythmically through water, over and under one another, with a symbiosis that almost made them appear at times as one entity and at others, starkly polar. Holding the phone close in an attempt to block out the hustle of the tiny restaurant, I could just make out Kirby’s instrumentals: waves of cascading of synths, beats like a choir of palpitating hearts somewhere in the distance, ghostly echoes from another world lunging in and out of audibility.

 In the following days I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wanted to see more. I wanted to know more. Two months later the pair were back in Los Angeles where they’re now loosely based. I got them on a three-way Skype to explore their ideas further. Stricker was being put up in a hotel for a campaign and making the most of the complimentary fluffy bathrobe. Kirby joined us as his usual self – smiling, Zen, and shirtless. Together, they gave me their thoughts on sex, love, and creating your own kind of utopia.


Words by Anna Harrison