Chris Dooks

Sound artist and ‘Project OO’ mastermind Chris Dooks takes on the quick-fire question machine

Hello Chris, your ‘Project OO’ compilation album is a fundraiser for your seven-year-old daughter, Oona. Tell us all about her…

“Oona has a severe undiagnosed condition affecting her movement and face. We expected her to be born with a small disability requiring a simple operation. It was, unfortunately, only the tip of the iceberg, which led to life-saving operations, a lot of specialist physio, and many more procedures.”

What exactly are you raising funds for?

“It costs thousands of pounds to pay for Oona’s therapies, most of which are not available on the NHS. She attends Walk This Way, for strength training intensive therapy, in Scotland, and Footsteps near Oxford where she gets more physiotherapy to train her facial muscles. She also requires specialist footwear, which is absurdly costly.” 

None of this is stops Oona from getting on with her life, does it?

“She loves life! She has a lot of big ambitions. She goes to a regular school and she’s very responsive to therapy and learned to swim last year. She can’t walk more than a few steps, but swimming has been a lifesaver for her.”

Turns out she’s a brilliant swimmer…

“She’s the best swimmer in the family! If you meet Oona, it’s the first thing she will tell you about herself. It’s boosted her self-esteem and her physical strength no end. She’s part of a team called Lothian Racers.”

Where did the idea for a fundraising compilation come from? 

“I’ve done it before, on a smaller scale, with my pals Machinefabriek who I gave stems of Swiss field recordings to and we made a release called ‘AlpenOo’, which raised funds for a specialist desk for her. But our costs have exploded since then. I’d seen the online community Martin at Touched had developed over the years and thought he must know how to do it on a larger scale and so I called him up. Within 10 minutes he was releasing it.”

The compilation is 57 tracks, across five CDs in a luxury wallet. You’re not messing about are you? 

“No. It cost us a fortune! Everyone was given field recordings from Oona’s life. I wanted her centre stage and even though her voice isn’t perfect, I think it’s beautiful. So it’s actually a piece of conceptual, accessible art.”

The list of contributors is impressive…

“Martin and I spent two years bugging people. Getting artists like FSOL, Plaid, Scanner, Kaitlyn and John Tejada was a major coup for the project.”

It’s also a voyage of discovery, with lots of unfamiliar names waiting to be found…

“Oh, it’s been incredible with new names. I particularly like Chevron’s ‘Little Fighter’ and Roel Funcken’s frankly blistering piece ‘Mesosphere’.”

Can’t help noticing ‘The Mermaid’s Song’ by Oona Dooks With Katie Davies And Drake Music Scotland. She’s a pop star too?

“She loves making music. She’s been in the public eye before as a sometime model, she’s also been in theatre shows and advertising campaigns. But this is the first release she has sung on. The next release will be her solo project!”

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