- Words Stevie Carter
- Photography Megan Doherty
With new music and their UK tour on the horizon, Irish band NewDad open up to Notion about their creative process, new music and journey ahead.
Ending 2021 on a high note with the forthcoming release of a brand new single and UK tour, this is only the beginning of an exciting chapter for Irish band NewDad. Tipped as a rising new artist to watch, they are set for another incredible year as we head into 2022 with a new EP on the horizon.
A four-piece indie-rock band from Galway, NewDad consists of Julie Dawson, who fronts the band, alongside Áindle O’Beirn, Sean O’Dowd, and Fiachra Parslow. Formed while still at school, with their unique moniker born out of a random band name generator, they have been honing their easy-going sound and artistry ever since.
Recruiting Sean O’Dowd on bass in early 2020, they made their official debut as a four-piece last year, with this culminating in the band’s debut EP Waves this March. Already boasting over 5 million streams on Spotify alone, they have rapidly been going from strength to strength and capturing the attention of audiences all over.
Notion caught up with one half of NewDad to chat about their upcoming releases, artistic influences, what’s next and much more.
I hear you guys have been super busy lately!
Julie: Yeah, we’re just back from London. We were there shooting a music video so we’re back in Galway now.
That sounds exciting, how was your time in London?
Julie: It was so good, it was so fun. Got to do loads of different bits and just hung around. We gave ourselves a few extra days so that we weren’t just there doing work stuff. So yeah, it was really nice.
Do you tend to do anything special when you come to London or when you travel to a new city?
Julie: Just eat!
Sean: Check out all the interesting shops and eat everything!
That sounds perfect. Did you hit up any good restaurants in London?
Julie: Oh, so many!
Sean: Temple of Seitan, that was so good.
Julie: And Halo Burger, we love it!
Sean: We’re vegan so it’s good for that.
So what have you been up to today now you’re back in Galway?
Julie: Just working on some demos.
Sean: Getting everything ready for the next release coming out soon!
That all sounds so exciting, and you guys have so much coming up and going on at the moment! You have a single coming out so soon [new track “Ladybird”]!
Sean: Yeah, we can’t wait for it. It’s so so good, the more I listen to it the more I can’t wait for people to listen to this!
Julie: And it was our first proper video that we worked with a team, so the video is so good compared to our other stuff. So we’re so excited to finally have that out there.
Would you say there’s also a sonic, as well as maybe visual, difference between “Ladybird” and your previous music?
Sean: It’s a step up.
Julie: Definitely. It is a bigger sound compared to the album, or the EP.
Sean: We got to produce on it a bit more whereas the last one is a bit more…
Julie: A rush job, kinda.
Sean: It was a bit of a rush job and everything was kinda done before hand. So it was nearly exactly like what we played live, what was on the recording. But now, we got a chance to work in the studio, throw in a glockenspiel. So yeah, that was fun.
Wow! It sounds like you really wanted to get more into the production side of things. Was there anything that inspired you to delve further into that creative aspect of music-making?
Julie: I think it’s just like, now everyone in music has to know how to do that, I guess. But once you get into it as well, I think you become quite possessive of your own work and pretty picky. So you want to be very involved in it. And because a lot of people are producing their own music now, you want to have a big say in all of that.
Sean: And it’s so much fun as well! We really love testing things out.
Julie: Making music is the most fun part. Like recording it and stuff, definitely.
Sean: You never get bored then, just playing the same guitar bit. There’s always something fresh and new.
Talking about getting involved in that creativity; being a band, how do you balance incorporating and bringing together everybody’s creative views and input to come together to create one homogenous sound?
Julie: obviously we do disagree on some things, but usually we do have the same opinion on stuff.
Sean: We all come from the same place and growing up we would listen to a lot of the same music so we have the same opinion on, surprisingly, a lot of things which is good.
Julie: Yeah, we’re lucky.
Sean: We trust other people as well. Like if we’re working with someone else, like working with a mix engineer or a designer or something, we know we went to them for a reason. We trust how they work as well. And then a lot of it is just push and pull. We have to give and take and make a decision at the end of the day.
Julie: Especially if you have deadlines and stuff, you learn to let go a bit. Nothing’s ever going to be perfect in your eyes, you know; you’re always going to be so critical of your own work. So you do just kind of learn to just be like “okay, I have to let go”.
Would you say that’s the hardest thing about being a creative? The fact that you’re making something so personal and having to just finally let go of it and have it out in the world, whether it’s perfect or not?
Julie: Yeah, I think so. But once you learn to deal with it, it is okay. But it can be frustrating and you’re not always going to be that happy. Like I am really proud of this next release, but that’s just an annoying thing and it’s an inner thing that you just have to learn to deal with. We get good responses and people love our music, so that does give us the reassurance to be like “okay, this is actually good”. But as well, if we sat on anything for too long, we would just ruin it.
In light of Covid and the last year and a half, has that changed that creative process and/or mindset for you?
Julie: We were lucky that we were able to meet during lockdown because we all moved in together, so we were able to keep writing demos. So it was actually good for us, we were lucky that we could use the time to do a lot of writing.
Sean: Even creatively, I think it kind of helped us find our sound together. Before Covid, it was always like, we practiced once before a gig and that would be it. But then, we were practicing just to practice together.
Julie: Every day, yeah. That’s really what cements your sound.
Sean: I guess it formed a musical bond between us. We figured out how each other works and what we want from each other and how we want to progress musically.
Julie: Yeah, that’s the only way to do it. Just a practice space five days a week and play the same songs to death. But it definitely helped us cement our sound, so we were lucky in regard to that.
I bet that’s going to make live shows and tour even better when you start tour next month, which is incredibly exciting!
Julie: Yeah, we’re so excited. We had a few shows in Ireland but they were all limited capacity and seated. But even they were still so fun, so we’re so excited to go into full cap gigs that are all sold out; it’s going to be so cool. Especially for our first proper tour which is insane!
Have you got anything special planned for the first show of tour?
Julie & Sean: Oooh!
Julie: Maybe we should?
Julie: We actually hadn’t considered it really cause we have just never done it before.
Sean: It’s all for Belfast. We’re kind of used to Belfast now, that’s where we go and record. And we’ve played a show there already.
Julie: Maybe we should learn a dance routine or something?
Sean: Yeah! Open up a bottle of Buckfast!
With live shows having been cancelled for so long, were there any artists that you were dying to see that you didn’t get to, or you would have loved to have seen?
Sean: Yeah! Who did you have tickets for?
Julie: I had tickets for King Krule which is so annoying. It just got cancelled I think in the end. But when we played Green Man, we got to see loads of bands like Drug Store Romeos, who I absolutely love. And Fontaines, Thundercat. We definitely went back into gigs in such a cool way, it was just amazing. But yeah, we got to see loads of new artists which was really cool.
Are there any new artists that you guys are big fans of? I feel like with Covid, there’s definitely been such a wave of new artists; with people just improving, making and releasing music in a more DIY fashion, and just taking the time to get crazy busy making music.
Julie: Drug Store Romeos for one, definitely.
Sean: Wet Leg as well!
Julie: Wet Leg, Yeah.
Sean: Everyone’s saying it but they’re just so good. We’re playing with them in a few weeks as well so we can’t wait to see them live.
Julie: Yeah, they’re playing one of the festivals we’re playing. We missed them at all the other things we’ve been at, so we’re excited to see them. Who else have we been listening to…Swim School, they’re really good. I’m trying to think, but there’s been so much. There’s the thing, I don’t know where to start!
Sean: There’s so much new music all the time.
So who are some of your main artistic influences, and artists you’ve been listening to a lot or draw creative inspiration from?
Julie: We always have Pixies and The Cure. They would always be our main inspirations. But more recently, we’ve been listening to a lot of Fontaines [DC] and… who else…
Sean: Yeah, I don’t really know. I’ve listened to so much music, and it does influence me, but I would never be like “Oh I want to be like this”.
Julie: Just Mustard!
Sean: Just Mustard, their sounds are amazing. A lot of Beabadoobee as well, her new stuff is amazing.
Julie: Her album was so good! And girl in red, another album we were listening to so much over lockdown.
Sean: Such a good album.
Julie: I think those were the main ones we were listening to non-stop.
Can we expect any of those influences to feed into the upcoming single later this month and following EP next year?
Julie: Um. Yeah, maybe a little bit. They were actually all written early lockdown, so before a lot of these songs came out. But I’d say there is.
Sean: It’s still very us as well, but a bit more polished.
Julie: We were kind of leaning more into the bigger band-y rock, anthem-y thing. So that’s very Beabadoobee. Although it’s not too similar.
Sean: A lot of girl in red; a lot of electronic production. It’s not an electronic album or anything but we definitely wanted to lean in more on that just to fill out the sound and make it massive.
Julie: A lot of our music is pretty mellow, and we love that, but we’re trying to do some other stuff as well. Maybe more slightly fun music, but also still retaining a bit of our sound I suppose.
So would you say this is a new era for the band and your sound?
Julie: Yeah I think so.
Sean: It’s just another…
Julie: I suppose, yeah!
Sean: It’s not a new era yet.
Julie: That’s for the album!
Sean: That’s for doing a post-punk, grunge something.
Is that what the plan is going forward? We’ve got the single, the tour, then the EP. Is the album the next milestone you’re looking to hit?
Julie: We’ve already started writing new songs. Thankfully, they’re good to be on the album. I definitely feel like we’ve hit the sweet spot now with writing the album songs. I really, really like all of them.
Sean: Things are really coming together. Everything we’re trying still feels very cohesive, and just bringing everything we’ve learned through recording and demoing the last two EPs; just bringing it all together into the album to make something really cohesive and that we’re proud of.
Bringing everything together, are there any other genres or styles you’d want to mix into that, that you haven’t yet experimented with? And even beyond the album, that you’d love to dive into?
Julie: Yeah. I love grungy-er kind of stuff. I think songs we’re writing for the album are definitely heavier, rockier kind of stuff which I really like.
Sean: And then almost the complete opposite of that, especially Fiachra, we’re all kind of big fans of Irish traditional music, so it would be bringing in a lot of that in our own style. Like having the instrumentation and all that in. It’s definitely something we’re experimenting with.
Julie: Yeah, we’re trying out a few different things. We’re not going to become a trad-fusion band or anything but just trying out different sounds I suppose.
So, with all this upcoming music and your latest stuff being written during Covid, lockdown and isolation, can you talk a bit about how that changed the content, or style of music, you were writing and producing?
Julie: I guess even just, lyrically, what I would be writing about on this EP is a lot to do with restlessness and the anxiety we all had, and leans into that I suppose. Those more internal feelings that you have rather than relationships and stuff. Definitely, there are songs that touch on that, but your environment is where I pick up on my little bits where I’m like “Oh, I can write about that”. Sound-wise, I’m actually not sure.
Sean: I don’t think so, it’s all just very…
Julie: You think it would be a bit gloomier, but this EP isn’t as gloomy as the last one I don’t think.
And what would you say are the main things you’re wanting listeners to take away from these upcoming releases; and your music in general?
Julie: I just hope they like it, and I love when everyone can find something in it for themselves. They’re not always that specific. I would try to write and cover a lot of ground so there’s always people who would find something different in each song that means something to them, and I love hearing about that. I just hope that people, even if it’s just one or two people, can find something in it that is a comfort, I guess. But yeah, I’m not sure. I just hope they like it!
And finally, what is your favourite way to listen to your music? And for all those new fans out there, what would you say is the best way to listen to your music?
Julie: Definitely in the car, blasting it in the car! Some of the songs are for a sunny day, windows down, that kind of thing. Or, if it’s just pissing rain outside and you want to go for a drive, you could listen to some of the other songs. I just think a car is a good place. Everything is so much more dramatic!
Sean: Some of them are big party anthems as well. If you’re on the aux cord at a party, there’s one or two you could stick on that would get the crowd going. I would… but I wouldn’t because that’s embarrassing. *laughs* but I hope other people do.
There’s just something about listening to music in the car that hits different!
Julie: It really does! Like you’re the main character in the car, you know. This is the soundtrack to my life! That’s the kind of buzz we want.