Built from the land: Daithi’s journey from reality TV musician to unique dance star

Daithí – Photography by Ruth Medjber www.ruthlessimagery.com

AT 27 YEARS of age, Clare musician Daithi O’Dronai has already been through more phases of his career than many manage in a lifetime. Developing from a young fiddle player to a reality TV show star, then onwards to a Sony-signed, offbeat-pop performer and finally a unique and soulful dance act, he’s a hard man to pin down.

Recently relocated to Dublin, the man who simply uses the stage name Daithi’s latest incarnation is nevertheless a profound tribute to the rural roots that connect him tightly with the Burren, and Irish landscape.

“When I was writing the pop stuff I was doing my best to write these perfectly little three-minute pop songs,” Daithi explains of his Sony album, and subsequent departure from the label. “I lost my angles. I enjoyed it at the time, but I kind of lost my identity,” he recalls.

The departure from a major outlet like Sony was, no doubt, a tough call, but one Daithi made on the basis that he didn’t feel able to create things with purely commercial aims like radioplay in mind. His next single – a sentimental track called ‘Mary Keane’s Introduction,’ based around a dance remix of an interview with his 90-year-old grandmother – ironically turned out to be his most acclaimed.

“It was a sign,” he said. “The new record leans more heavily into that idea. I was at a point where I wasn’t even sure I was going to keep making music after Sony to be honest. The thing I fell into was the idea that I was working towards a success of some kind. I’ve started releasing what makes me excited after that track. That seems really simple, but it was a revelation to me.”