Daithi O Dronai ( pronounced Dot-hee O Dro-nee and known musically simply as Daithi) has been playing the fiddle since he was knee high to a hobbit. Not so strange for a young lad from the West coast of Ireland. But what is strange is the way he has learned to utilize the fiddle to create a niche in the music industry. Beginning with a few chords on the fiddle which he then feeds into loopstations, he combines the sound with kaoss pads, drum machines and synths to create a highly addictive, dynamic wall of sound all whilst boogeying on down like he was a reveller in Studio 54. After successful runs on not one but two talent shows, Daithi threw himself into his music and has reaped the rewards, playing festivals such as Camden Crawl, Forbidden Fruit, Electric Picnic and the upcoming Body & Soul. His music has also seen him support the XX and secured him a record deal from Sony Ireland. His new single ʻ Chameleon Life ʻ is released on June 14 with a debut album to follow. Chasseur caught up the dynamic fiddle player in Galway City.
Where did your background in music come from?
My family has a strong traditional background which is where I started. When I was five or six my aunt taught me how to play the fiddle traditionally but I stopped when I went to boarding school and I started playing the bass guitar instead for a number of bands. That is where I learned music in the writing sense, by hijacking a room and practicing music every evening with my mates. After three years I had developed where I wanted to go with music, and the band Foals were a huge influence as I loved their party atmosphere sound. Then when I went to college I really wanted to create my own sound musically, so I started experimenting with loop stations as they are a great way to create music on your own. The bass guitar was such a low sound though that I decided to go back to the fiddle as you can create a much more diverse sound with it. I was studying t.v. , radio and journalism and we got an email with details about auditions for a new talent show on RTE and we thought it would be good experience but I brought the fiddle for the craic.
And then you ended up auditioning for the show?
Yes I ended up auditioning and you could see I was getting fast tracked up the ranks and then I got in front of the judges and onto the live shows. It was a bit mental as it was totally unexpected and I had never actually played live before so it was a new experience. I was only 18 at the time but it was a huge opportunity. After that show I ended up auditioning for Must Be The Music in the UK and again it was a great experience working with the media, playing live and working in a studio for the first time. But you are in a bubble when on the shows and when it all finishes you are on your own.
How do you find playing on your own and do you have any plans to use a band in the future?
I think I will keep it just me. When you are in a band you have to rely on other people to be as dedicated as you and that doesn’t always happen. I like playing on my own as I can do what I want and I can do a lot of improv onstage so I have more room musically. Plus I am forced to meet people when on tour and just chat people randomly so I have made some great friends through that.
How do you find the Irish music scene? Are there enough venues to support emerging talent?
There’s definitely enough venues and from early on you try and get some loyalty with clubs. The best thing about the Irish music scene is the guerilla aspect that has sprung up in the last two years. Best gig I played last year was this festival called Drop Everything on the island of Inis Ir which was set up by Mary Nally.
Your new single ‘Chameleon Life’ is getting quite a lot of attention. Where did the genesis for it come from?
Itʼs doing really well so far and we have some more features lined up. I co produced it with Ian from Young Wonder and I have learned so much about the computer side of things during the process. My best friend Brendan was in Iceland and he got talking to a manager from London who happened to have an Irish girl called Raye on his books, so we sent her the track and she came with this amazing vocal. Itʼs a total pop formula built into the song, very radio friendly. The title is taken from the idea that you have to adapt to life no matter what it throws at you, so again it goes back to that idea of adventure and just driving around and not knowing where you are going. You should never be uncomfortable in any situation, you should adapt.
If I am doing visuals I think it is important to have someone who knows you well and knows what you are about. I’m more lucky than a lot of electronic artists as they are just working off a controller, where as what I do is quite a visual thing to begin with. When the visuals work with the music then it looks great, just as long as the visual element doesn’t over rule what I do musically.
How was your experience supporting the XX?
It was cool to meet them. For me they were very XX. Super quiet, all dressed in black. Everything was very calm, but it was great to see them play and see how they work.
What can we expect from the new album?
The main thing for me is that I am not a bedroom producer and I can’t just release things online, so I prefer to create music that will get people moving when it is played live. From that the album has turned into pretty much a house album. Itʼs a big dancy album, super energetic. There is a sprinkling of fiddle over everything, but I am mindful that it does not take over. I have been learning how to fit the fiddle into the music without it overpowering the song. I am working a lot with Ian (from Young Wonder) and he has amazing production skills. We are recording it in his garage actually which perplexed Sony, but we have everything we need in the computer so it works. There is still no title on the album but it should be out probably by the end of the year although I am not committing to anything until it is finished fully and I am happy with it. A few more single releases first!
You recently cut the hair, any significance?
In a word, no. Ha. No we were going to do the video and I thought maybe I needed a haircut but the hairdresser took a bit more than I expected. My mum and girlfriend think I look 18 again so maybe that will open up a new market!
What are your plans for the future?
I would definitely like to travel but with the music. I want to build a really good base in Ireland and then hopefully go on tour. A Europe tour would be an absolute dream to me. I decided not to go off and do 6 months in Australia or something like that as the music would suffer so I am playing the long game.