Gavin MacDermott is better known, at least until now, as a producer, but his new solo project, Dashoda, sees him break out of the production realm and bare a little of his soul.
A deeply personal electronic project exploring themes like self-sabotage, and referencing the likes of The Blue Nile and Talking Heads, it’s one of the more unuusal and memorable pieces of music to come out of Dublin in recent months. I caught up with him to talk it all over ahead of the launch of the EP ‘Never Enough’.
First of all, tell me about ‘Never Enough’ and how it builds on ‘Sultan’?
Sultan is just one piece of a five part picture, four songs and the visuals which accompany them. The picture is only something I understood in retrospect to be a document about my experiences with self-sabotage. There were clues in the lyrics, and I can remember certain aspects of the process which might suggest this too, but I didn’t realise all of this until it was suggested to me by a friend and I had some distance between me and the EP.
So, in a sense, the final two singles are the full reveal of the picture. Each song appears to me to be exploring a symptom or cause of self-sabotage: avoidance, self defeat, anxiety, procrastination. These are broad themes and I have no answers, but I do hope that whoever listens to it will project their own meaning on to them.
Musically, I would have taken a lot of inspiration from 80s bands I got into when I was 18 or 19, like Prefab Sprout and Japan. I just loved the sound of Juno synths, drum machines, and chorused guitars. I’ve never really shook any of that. Around the time I started making demos in Ableton in 2014 I had heard Benny Smiles’ music. He had a track out called Somehow Yours Do, which I loved. I was starting to learn more about other Irish artists making this kind of music and it started to feel possible for me then.
Fast forward to 2020 and Ross Fortune (Benny Smiles) asked me to rework a new single he was about to release. I then asked him he be interested in doing some additional production and mixing on several tracks I had, and these tracks became “Never Enough”.
How has your work with Jackie come about?
I’ve known Jackie for a few years and I was a fan of her music before we met.
I had the chorus for Sultan since 2018 but I was never happy with the verse. I played it for Jackie and she vibed with it so we set to work on finishing the lyrics and arrangement structure.
Are there more collaborations on the EP, or any you’d particularly like to put together?
Yes, my friend Jake Curran co-wrote ‘Fooling Around Again’ and ‘Roy Orbison’ with me and ‘Looking For You’ was a co-write with Richey McCourt. There is some additional production by Ross Fortune and he also mixed the EP. Each of these collaborators had a different approach which was fun. I think one of the reasons for collaboration was the pandemic. Lockdown was an isolating experience so it felt natural to have a project that involved other people to escape from that, whether working remotely or during the windows where we could meet up.
Ror Conaty directed all the music videos and Mark O’Brien was also a creative consultant for the visuals. I see the EP as an audio/visual project, when I started to work with Ror and Mark the EP had been recorded and the visual project brought a lot more depth to it, for me anyway.
I think my eyes have been opened to the friendship and camaraderie you can build with others through collaboration, so I will certainly seek out collaborators for my next project.