Is there anything better than Irish music?
We don’t think so.
VIP Magazine caught up with Julie Dawson, the singer of Galway band, NewDad, who are preparing to release their first album. The four-piece decision to form in secondary school (to get out of performing solo in their Leaving Cert exams) but have recently moved to London to pursue their career.
Let’s chat to our Rising Stars…
Hi Julie, how are you?
Tell us a bit about NewDad!
We’re from Galway and we moved over to London about a year and a half ago. We formed in school, but once we started to take things seriously we thought that we should move to London. The classic! [Laughs]
When did you realise that you could make music your career?
It was the only thing I liked doing. But I never thought it was realistic. When we started off in 2018, we would play one gig every four months and we would practice the day of. We didn’t take it very seriously. But then when we started releasing music we realised that people really liked it. That’s when we thought that maybe we could do this full-time. But it’s the dream job, so it is really crazy. I’m very glad that it’s working out because I don’t know what else I would do! We’re all just hoping for the best.
How did your parents feel about you making that leap? Did they want you to go to college first?
They were like don’t go to college. They knew I obviously wasn’t good at school, they didn’t want me to put myself through that again. [Laughs] But all my friends were going to college so I just had to go. I went for three weeks and dropped out. I was like, “Oh, you were right. Sorry about the fees.” I started college in 2019 but when I dropped out I started working full-time.
View this post on Instagram
Parents always know best! And it all worked out for the best…
Whatever money I was making I was just putting it into buying equipment to record music at home and being able to afford mixes. I did that for about a year or so, then we started releasing music then. People reacted really well to our songs so I decided that I would focus on that full time.
And moving to London, was that scary?
Yes! But we felt like we were ready to do it. We had been living together in Galway for a good two years. It had gotten a bit small. We could have moved to Dublin but…there is nowhere to live. [Laughs] So we went to London. It was scary but we were itchy to get over here. Now I miss home desperately. It was the right move. It’s the place to be because there are so many different opportunities and opportunities we wouldn’t have if we were in Galway.
You have your first album, Madra, coming out in the new year. How are you feeling about that?
I’m very excited. It took us a while to get to a place where we felt confident releasing an album. I mean, we could have released an album last year. We had a lot of songs ready to go. But in our hearts, we knew that it wasn’t the best thing we could put forward. It took us a bit of time to get the songs together that we knew were special. One of the songs on the album was written two years ago, a lot of them are written a long time ago. But it’s starting to really come together now.
Tell us about writing music!
Some days it’s easier than others. We’ll usually jam together and get down a rough demo. Then I’ll write vocals over it. We get the song to a really good level before going into the studio, a lot of stuff that we record before that might actually be in the final song. It’s fun, it’s the most fun part.
Do you ever get anxious about people hearing the lyrics you write? It must be like publishing your diary!
Definitely. Even when I write lyrics to a song, the rest of the band won’t hear it until it’s out. They’re like, “Oh that’s what you’re saying.” Usually, I’ll record the lyrics separately and in practice I’ll just whisper the words. The album is a little bit deeper so it is scary. Even playing it to my parents was scary. I just want it to be a comfort to someone, because it’s been a comfort to me.
What are you most excited for when the album comes out?
I think to cement ourselves as a rock band. We had dabbled before but this is a rock record. It’s really, really cool. I think people will be surprised about how heavy it is. I think we really just want to cement ourselves in there. But I think once we have the album out, we can be like, “Yeah we’re a real band.”
You’re an Irish band and the Irish music scene has always been incredible. What is it like to be part of that?
The reason why we all started taking it seriously is because we went to see The Cure in Malahide. Just Mustard were opening for them, who were a small Irish band at the time. That is what dreams are made of. So we thought that maybe we could do that. I think people are really paying attention to music in Ireland now. So we’re really grateful for these people for paving the way and gaining that attention. There has always been really good music here in Ireland but I think people forgot about us for a little while. I think there’s an Irish resurgence, which is really cool.
It is really cool! Who are your musical inspirations?
Collectively we love The Cure and Pixies. But I think we’re really inspired by Irish bands, like Fontaines and Just Mustard. We draw a lot from Irish bands. No matter what music you’re making I think you can always tell when someone is Irish. That’s something I really like. It’s just how the songs are written.
You’ve been a band since 2018, what has been the most exciting part so far?
That’s hard but probably getting to play shows and getting to hear people sing our songs back to us. It’s the most surreal thing ever. Even people messaging us telling us that our music has helped them. It’s so nice because I have so many bands like that. It’s cool to be that even for just one person. That’s why I do this.
That’s so lovely! You have a few singles out already, how has the reaction been?
It’s been really good, especially with our most recent release, Angel. We released kind of poppier songs but we were just trying to fill the void because we couldn’t release any of the album stuff. We’re still a dreamy guitar band but I think we have progressed a lot. Everyone seems to be enjoying it. So I’m happy!
Okay, before we let you go – what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Probably only one drink before you perform. [Laughs] I think the line gets blurred with gigs. You associate gigs with going and having drinks, because everyone else is drinking. But it’s my job. And one drink is the perfect amount to give you a bit of courage. But performing gives you all the feelings that you could need. You don’t need anything else when you’re on stage!
NewDad’s debut album, Madra, is out January 26th. Tickets are currently on sale for their Irish shows here.