Una Mullally

Society, life and culture on the edge

Daithí brings it with ‘Chameleon Life’

The young Irish fiddle prodigy and producer has a new banger of a tune.

Wed, May 29, 2013, 12:54


With ‘Get Lucky’ as ubiquitous as ‘Happy Birthday’ at this stage, there’s a sense of relief that another tune could take over as the song as the summer. Daithí O Dronaí steps into the strobe light with this brilliant tune. ‘Chameleon Life’ is instant, addictive, and offers the same delight and fizz as a well-thrown stone skimming off a lake’s surface, all youthful bounce, enthusiasm and sparky summer frivolity.
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For those who have been following Daithí’s career, there’s an incredible amount of satisfaction in seeing him sprint down a path he’s paved very much his own way. Like Little Green Cars, his development has been a steady upward slope with plenty of changes in direction and influence, but what has always been evident is that talent is bristling, and the ambition is well-placed. Having a keen manager in Gugai, who knows the importance of development, has also helped.

Young acts are like tech start-ups. The first idea or incarnation mightn’t be the best, but you certainly learn from it. The first time I saw Daithí play was when I was working on the first series of The All Ireland Talent Show and this floppy-haired blonde kid stepped on the stage in Ardmore during rehearsals and blew me away. He didn’t come near winning, but flicking on the TV one day a while later, there he was again on the Sky series Must Be The Music. At that time, one of his foundation tracks was the beautiful ‘Carraroe’, which has recently has a new lease of life with Elaine Mai’s vocals.

Since then, any opportunity to see him play, you have to go. In pubs in Dingle, Galway and Dublin. If he’s the support, you get there early. If he’s playing late, you’ll get another pint and stay. On festival stages and in venues around the country, the spark of his invention lights a fuse in a crowd. He’s the kind of act you can bring your mate who knows nothing about him to and they’ll walk away impressed.

Having a knowledge and natural grasp of traditional melodies (Irish trad music is essentially hook after hook after hook) and the high BPM rhythms that typify trad at a young age, as well as an interest in electronic music, meant he was ready to push the fiddle forward, screwing with sounds, looping hooks and sections of tunes, and then bringing beats and samples on board like ‘everyone back to my gaff’. His dedication to craft, an unabashed lust for pop, and putting his head down in a homebuilt studio has reaped rewards in bristling production that now comes far closer to Calvin Harris than it does to fringe Irish electronic music or his trad roots. With the upcoming release of ‘Chameleon Life’ on Sony, The Guardian is also enthusiastic.

He’s playing at 3:20pm on the Undergrowth Stage at Forbidden Fruit this Saturday.

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