Darcy Oake, illusionist and magician, chats with Kevin Cooper about Britain’s Got Talent, his ITV Christmas Special, his friendship with Derren Brown and the forthcoming Edge Of Reality Tour.
Over 200 million viewers tuned in to the Britain’s Got Talent final in 2014, to witness the birth of a phenomenon; the unveiling of an electrifying new illusionist, Darcy Oake. From sleight of hand to death-defying escapades, this master magician grabbed the world’s attention, ushering in an exciting new era of an age-old art form.
After being baffled by an accidental card trick his father showed him at eight years old, Darcy has delved into the craft. He soon became an international magic champion, at aged sixteen beating seasoned professionals at various events and winning the coveted People’s Choice Gold Medal in Seattle, Washington
Since then he has performed throughout Europe; from Paris to London, and across North America, from the heart of Times Square in New York City to the Las Vegas Strip, but it was winning that Talent Show that has brought him to the forefront of the UK public’s attention by delivering spectacular illusions.
Whilst busy rehearsing for his forthcoming Edge Of Reality Tour, he took time out to chat with Kevin Cooper, and this is what he had to say.
Hi Darcy how are you?
I’m great thanks how are you doing?
I’m very well thank you. How is life treating you at this moment time?
Amazing Kevin, it’s been a whirlwind since Britain’s Got Talent, but it’s been fantastic. I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever (laughter). It’s been go, go, go but I love every minute of it.
When did you decide that you would give Britain’s Got Talent a go?
My initial audition, which was held in Manchester, was almost a year ago to the day, and I fully committed myself to doing the show around December time in 2013. I had absolutely no idea as to what I was walking into (laughter). I had no idea that the audience would respond so well to the dove act; it really has been life-changing.
You are currently getting yourself ready for your first tour of the UK later this year. Are you looking forward to it?
I can’t wait Kevin, it is going to be great. I live for life on the road and I love performing nightly. That is the lifestyle for me. It is really exciting for me to be able to do this in the UK; I have a lot of new stuff planned and it is going to be great.
Are the UK audiences in for any surprises?
Well between Britain’s Got Talent and the ITV Christmas Special, I didn’t want people to come to my shows and simply see stuff that they had already seen on TV. We have put a lot of work into coming up with a lot of new stuff and some never seen before illusions, so I am really looking forward to it.
What is the best illusion that you have ever seen performed?
Now that’s a tough one Kevin (laughter). Thinking about it I would have to say……I don’t know, that is a really tough question (laughter). Everybody has their different style and put their own spin on illusions. It is always nice to see someone who specialises in a certain area do something that completely fits their style and their brand. For example, Derren Brown is completely different to David Copperfield but they both have equally impressive material.
So what is your favourite illusion that you perform?
That’s easy Kevin, I would have to go with the doves simply because that is the illusion that I have been doing since I was a kid, and it is the one which launched my career I guess. I feel like I have a certain loyalty to that routine I guess.
Who has inspired you along the way?
I wouldn’t say that there has been one person in particular, as I always seem to find inspiration from different areas and different things. I think that it is important to look outside of the other performers for inspiration because if you are only looking at what the other guys are doing, it is very easy to fall into the trap of simply emulating or copying someone else. It is very easy to spot if one person’s routine is inspired by another person’s, Kevin. So it is important to find inspiration elsewhere so that you are constantly pushing the envelope and coming up with new ideas.
So are you constantly working on new illusions, even when you are on the road touring?
Yes constantly Kevin, especially now since Britain’s Got Talent. I would say that the main focus of the job when I am not actually performing shows is turning out new material. You can’t keep doing the same thing forever, and as a performer you want to keep pushing the envelope. That is where my mind is when I am not performing Kevin; trying to come up with new ideas. I am constantly thinking of new ideas, new illusions, and new routines. Everything that I do on stage takes at least a couple of years to actually perfect; to get it to a point when it is stage ready. So on the tour we are now touching on ideas that I have had in my mind for almost two years now and now is the time to bring them to fruition
When you have perfected and performed an illusion, do you always want to go bigger and better, and do you find that you have to reign yourself in?
(Laughter) Yes Kevin, it is easy to have massive thoughts, hopes and ideas of what it can be but of course, I have to be realistic. What I have to keep asking myself is ‘if we had to do this tomorrow, how would we do it’ which I usually find to be a good starting point (laughter). It is important to be realistic but you always want to keep going with it, and take it as far as you can. There is a balance between being realistic and having the motivation to do something massive that hasn’t been done before.
You say that you are driven to do something that hasn’t been done before. Are you therefore forever trying to reinvent the wheel?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am trying to reinvent the wheel Kevin, but I guess that I am trying to reinvent the way that people perceive the wheel (laughter). In magic there are essentially eight things that you can do; you can make somebody appear, disappear, read their mind, float someone, you can switch places, that sort of thing as there is only a handful of actual effects. So you are always looking to have the variety within the show and try to incorporate a little bit of everything. We are at the stage now where we are filling in slots within the show with new stuff.
My favourite illusionists are Penn and Teller. Who do you look up to and admire?
What! Do you mean that I am not your favourite illusionist Kevin (hysterical laughter)? That is what I like so much about magic and illusionists, the guys that are doing it are all drastically different from each other. That’s what I think is great within this art form, that the guys who have made it to a certain level, are presenting it in a way that people haven’t seen before. For me though, I would have to go with Derren Brown. He’s incredible and such a nice guy too. When Britain’s Got Talent was taking off for me, he reached out and we hung out a bit. He is such a genuinely really nice guy.
My only complaint with Derren is that his shows go on far too long and you get a seriously flat bottom.
(Hysterical laughter) With Derren, at the end of the day you see something that you have never seen before and that you simply can’t explain.
Did you enjoy making the TV show, The Edge Of Reality?
I absolutely loved it Kevin, loved it. It was an amazing experience for me. Everyone at ITV has been an absolute pleasure to work with. It was great and such a good experience for me.
Once you have performed an illusion on TV and it has been seen by millions of people, can you then reuse it on the stage show or do you have to replace it with something else, something new?
Now that is a problem Kevin and that is what we are doing with The Edge Of Reality Tour. We are taking a few of the bits from The Edge Of Reality TV show and putting them together with some new stuff that no one has seen yet. Magic is one of those things where showing it on TV and performing it live, can be extremely difficult. Even if you have seen it before on TV I feel that just because it is on TV people can easily revert back to ‘it’s a camera trick’ if they don’t know how it’s done. That is why we wanted to do the actual TV Special in a theatre; in front of a live audience, so we could say ‘look, if you were here, this is how you would see it’. But yes, the fact that it has been seen on TV is difficult for me because I don’t want to recycle my material. So we are currently coming up with new stuff and I am very excited about it.
Before I go Darcy, are you going to tell me how you do that illusion with the doves?
(Hysterical laughter) Oh no Kevin, that would really be telling (laughter).
On that note Darcy I will thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
I really appreciate it Kevin, thanks for your time.
I am looking forward to seeing you in Nottingham, and good luck with the tour.
Thanks again Kevin. You take care.