Interview: Daithí

Just before his sell out gig at Cypress avenue, darling of the Irish music scene Daithí talks to editor Kieran Murphy about fiddles, beats and recording in garages.

“It’s my second time here but it was an all ages gig about 3 years ago so this is my first proper go at it” says Daithí as we stroll around Cypress Avenue as his crew get ready for his gig behind us. Daithí, a 23 year old Clare native, has been bubbling up to the forefront of the Irish music scene for the past 5 years with his eclectic mix of Irish traditional music with house synths. While best known for his two stints on reality tv, Daithí was signed to Sony Music 2 years ago and since then has been crafting his own unique sound with help from Cork’s Ian Young of Wonder.

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“I think it’s come on and it’s become a full sound and it’s properly created songs opposed to.. a person playing a fiddle, you know what I mean?”

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“I’d always had these set beats and stuff and I always had small beats but it only kinda started being proper dance music in the last year and a half. It was about 6 months into making the album and I was saying that I want to get more and more fucking beats and I want to make it more fun to play. And then I started working with Ian and we co-produced a few tracks that we were doing as a kind of of test run and we just clicked really well.” The first track released, which they co-produced was the hypnotic “Chameleon Life” featuring vocals from Raye which Daithí describes as a “as pop a tune as you’d get”.

Daithí learned the fiddle at 6 years old but stopped at the age of 13 when he started to view it as a kid’s instrument. Throughout secondary school he was involved with bands playing bass guitar but it wasn’t until he went to Rockwell college that he really learned his craft. “It was like my hibernation period because it’s a boarding school. It was a totally rugby orientated place and I wasn’t into sport at all so myself and 3 other guys just started playing in a band and went underground and did nothing else. As soon as we finished classes we just went straight into a room and play and that’s all we did for 3 years but that’s where I learned how to write music.”

After leaving secondary school Daithí started studying TV, Radio and Journalism in Carraroe where he returned to the fiddle “I went back to the fiddle because you can do so much with it, like you can see in a live show like tonight like you can do all the pluck stuff, you can do bold stuff like use a synthesizer and there’s just so much you can do with the one instrument and that’s also when I started getting into loop stations and started being able to record stuff and build soundscapes live without having a band.” It was around then that Daithí entered his first reality tv show, The All Ireland Talent Show where he made it to the finals and he admits that he hadn’t played for anyone live until then. After the All Ireland Talent Show  Daithí entered Must Be The Music where he again reached the finals but he confesses that he only entered to try and break into the British market: “You’re not doing a talent show to get a lasting good music career.That’s not what you’re doing it for. You’re more doing it for the exposure but I ended up playing in Wembley to 10,000 people and as a fucking guy just 18 or 19 years old it was a ridiculous experience” ”

But having competed in two reality TV shows is it something that he’d rather forget? “I wouldn’t really hide from it, but it feels like it was ages ago that’s the only thing. It was five years ago and from what I’ve seen from my live shows now, most of of my audience don’t know I was on those tv shows unless someone tells them.”

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“I want to get more and more fucking beats and I want to make it more fun to play”

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Daithí’s live shows are something of an experience as you watch him create his whole sound on stage, and this little bundle of energy’s hair flicking extends into conversation as well as he explains “I found through mainly three or four years of trial and error that when I play live people just wanna see you use a fucking fiddle. I try to use the fiddle as much I can iin the live shows.” Rather than seeing Daithí hunched over a laptop screen you’ll be guaranteed to see him fully involved in the show and he works for the crowd . When Daithí left the All Ireland Talent Show he was mostly invited to play at Trad events but soon tried hard to develop his own sound. “I think it’s come on and it’s become a full sound and it’s properly created songs opposed to.. a person playing a fiddle, you know what I mean?”

Daithí explains that Ian has really taught him a lot about producing music, as they work together on his debut album, “We just said ‘If we can make a formula that can just work for a pop song we can totally make a few that can work in that way.’ So we made a few set rules- like with a 3 minute pop song you can get into the chorus as quick as you can. That’s how we came across Chameleon Life and that’s what we’ve been doing and it’s being working really well.”

“You don’t have to be spending a huge amount in studios anymore. I mean the whole of “Chameleon Life”, and the whole of my record has been produced in a garage in Cork. We recorded some of the vocals in a studio in Dublin, everything else is done in a garage. Especially with the electronic. You don’t need a fancy studio anymore, you can buy the stuff off the internet and you can get an amazing sounding record. I signed to Sony and they were blown away by that. They’re only realising that you don’t need to rent out a studio for 4 days to get a good pop single. You can just stand in a garage and do it.”

Daithí is as electric off stage as he has on stage, thankfully doing more talking than I did while we chatted on two old barstools. While watching him do his sound check for his gig that night in you really can’t help but wonder if there’ll be a venue big enough in Cork to hold him in a year’s time.