IT HAS been a long time coming, even Daithí admits that, but he had his reasons. “You only get one chance at a debut album,” he explains. Now the album is here, and Daithí’s music, career, indeed life, may be about to go full flight to the next level.
Daithí, the Clare born, Galway based, musician, composer, and producer, who fuses electonica, house, dance, indie-pop, and Irish trad, launches his debut album In Flight in the Róisín Dubh on Friday June 6 at 8pm.
“It’s going to be our biggest show ever in the Róisín,” Daithí tells me during our Monday afternoon interview. “We’re pulling out all the stops. I’ll be joined on stage by Liza Flume; Senita, who sang on my single ‘Case Closed’; Elaine Mai; and some guests. There’ll also be visuals from Feel Good Lost who made the video for ‘Chameleon Life’ - and I couldn’t be happier about having it in the Róisín, because that’s where it all started.”
Prepare for take off
In Flight, released through Sony Records, is the product of three years work. Tantalising hints were glimpsed through the singles - the club-pop of ‘Chameleon Life’, the r’n’b inflected/old-skool electro of ‘Case Closed’, and the soul/dance fusion of ‘Have To Go’ - but there were times when fans wondered if it would ever leave the studio.
Daithí though, was not prepared to allow his grand opening statement be something that he could not stand over artistically.
“It’s the old cliché,” he says, “but you never get a second chance to make a first impression. A year and a half ago I had a full album done. Then I met Ian Ring [of Cork electro-pop group Young Wonder]. We got on really well and thought about doing stuff together. We wrote ‘Aréir’ [available as a free download on Soundcloud] and something clicked. I said ‘Put the breaks on, something good is happening here, we should work on it.’”
Young became a mentor to Daithí. “It was like going into a college course, I learned so much,” he says. “He taught me everything I know about producing, about working with digital and computers. Working and writing with Ian, I started to see a marked improvement in myself and what I was coming up with, so it made sense to hold off releasing the album, as I realised I could do a whole lot better.”
Now the album is about to be released, how does Daithí feel about it?
“It was frustrating sometimes, the time it took, but I would have regretted it had we gone with it earlier. It’s been three years of writing, working on tracks, wondering what tracks are going to be on it, but I’m very happy with how it’s come together. There’s no filler, I’m 100 per cent confident about each one, and it’s nice it begins and opens with an instrumental and in between are vocals.”
And what an instrumental In Flight begins with, indeed, what an opening track for an album. ‘Crosshair’ starts as mellow-electro, before launching into a Kraftwerkian/New Romantic hybrid. It takes a momentary lurch into rave, but just when you fear it might lapse into that genre’s clichés, it morphs again into an indie-electro thumper, held together by a simple, but inspired, bassline, and then, when you least expect it, comes a traditional Irish air on the violin.
The track has a lot of significance for Daithí.
“It’s a very old demo that we recreated again and again,” he says. “The fiddle riff I also had for a long time and I wanted to use it. It wasn’t done with radio in mind, we just wanted to have fun with it. It’s a great intro to the album. It starts off like something from my debut EP Embrace and then goes more digital and dancy, so it’s like the bridge between what I was doing then and what I’m doing now. It marks that evolution.”
In Flight is everything you would hope from Daithí’s debut - accessible and danceable, yet also intelligent pop with sophisticated arrangements. It has the potential to propel Daithí into the mainstream and meet the approval of the indie heads and festival crowds who have been cheering the Clareman on from the start.
One of the highlights is ‘Look Right At Me’ featuring singer-songwriter Elaine Mai, whose own music has become increasingly electronic in recent times. It’s a superb vocal performance, and the song begs to be a single.
“Ian and I wrote the music for that for an ad for Heineken and when the ad went on Youtube, a lot of people were asking what was that music,” Daithí says. “When Sony heard it they also said ‘You’d want to have that on the album’, and Heineken very kindly gave it back to us. I wanted Elaine Mai on the album and she came up with the vocal melody.”
Perhaps the most surprising vocal contribution though, comes from The Coronas’ Danny O’Reilly on the title track. ‘In Flight’ will be familiar to anyone who has been to Daithí’s live shows, but Danny’s vocals, as Daithí says, “blow it out of the park”.
“We made a list of singers and sent tracks to them and one of them was Danny and out of nowhere he came out with this disco vocal,” he says. “It’s really interesting to hear him do something so different from The Coronas’ style.”
Daithí’s ‘unique selling point’ is that he is an electro producer who plays the fiddle. A big question for many listeners though, will be, ‘Where is the fiddle on In Flight?’ Bar ‘Crosshair’, it is seemingly nowhere to be heard.
“I was getting tired of the idea that I’m ‘the lad with the fiddle’ and I found myself trying to come up with fiddle pieces for songs because ‘they had to be in there’, that I have to fill this up with fiddle, regardless of whether it suited the track or not.
“There is actually a lot of fiddle on the album, but it’s used to layer or fill out the sound of the tracks or it’s treated or used for effects, but it’s not hugely apparent. I was concerned more with writing a really good song. There will be a lot of fiddle though in the live shows.”
Support is from Ships and Elaine Mai. Tickets are €10 and include a copy of the album upon entry. Tickets are available at www.roisindubh.net, the Ticket Desk at OMG Zhivago, Shop Street, and The Róisín Dubh.