Mar 17, 2011

Darren Sheehan is an Irish DJ/producer who knows how to bring it. Also known as Dashka, his unparalleled creativity has given him a unique sound that sets him apart from the pack. Learn more about this rising talent in our exclusive LessThan3 interview.

Dashka & Sebastien Lintz - Nubia (Original Mix) [Cr2]
LessThan3: Seeing live instruments incorporated in electronic acts is always a treat, and your saxophone is no exception. Do you think we’ll see more artists emerge who combine live instruments with turntables, or will most stick to the decks? Will we see a totally new technology that blends the two?
Darren: With the way things are going, what will happen is technology will make it easier for DJs who are also musicians to incorporate their musicality into their sets, which could definitely emerge and stand out in the scene. I don’t think people are going to go out and decide to learn an instrument just to play along with their DJ sets, but those who already play instruments could find ways to incorporate them. In my case, for example, I found that with the dawn of Ableton I could free up additional time in my set which would have been taken up by beatmatching, allowing me to play sax in parts of my set. Also, the peace of mind knowing that I can loop sections of a track perfectly on the fly so that I don’t worry about the track running out while playing sax was a big decider in switching over to Ableton.

In regards to seeing a totally new technology that blends instrumentation and turntablism, I think it’s already here to a degree. Sometimes in my sets I also use an Akai EWI4000S wind synth (kind of an electronic saxophone) which I can also use to jack into Ableton and control my VSTs through it, meaning I can use the EWI to play a bassline or the lead melody in a track!

LessThan3: In your opinion, do you think the relationship between EDM and jazz has been sufficiently explored? Which subgenre(s) do you think should be experimenting with more jazzy elements?
Darren: Looking back, I think EDM and jazz have been intermingling for a very long time. There have always been people like St. Germaine setting the standard and making standout tracks for me such as Harry Romero’s Mongobonix and Garnier’s infamous Man with the Red Face. The more funky and housey genres along with chillout have always explored elements of jazz. I think it might be worth exploring jazz with the harder stuff. On a side note, I think EDM is picking up elements from all different musical genres and cultures in the past few years. This is really evident with the influx of Balkan/Eastern influenced tracks, so it’ll be interesting to see what comes out in the next few years.
LessThan3: What inspired you to produce the fantastic rework you made of Deadmau5’s Raise Your Weapon?
Darren: Well to be honest when I first heard Joel’s original I thought the vocal and piano section was sublime, but the dubstep section just didn’t fit with my sets. I’ve always had a bit of a habit of doing my own reworks and edits of tracks to fit my sets, so this was no different. The Raise Your Weapon rework started as an intro for my October promo mix, but with the positive response it got I decided to finish it off into a full track for my sets.
LessThan3: Tell us about your production goals for 2011. Do you plan to go in any new directions, or refine your current sound?
Darren: My goals for this year are to continue doing what I’m doing, put out a few more tracks and do a few collaborations too. A collaboration I did with Sebastien Lintz called Nubia was just released on Cr2’s Miami Compilation and there are a few other very interesting things in the pipeline too. In regards to my sound, my tracks can vary quite a bit from house to more progressive/tech stuff but I never really sit down in the studio and decide “today I’m going to make a house track,” so I guess it’s a case of waiting and seeing!
LessThan3: Who’s your favorite artist that has spun one of your tracks? Describe that feeling of accomplishment.
Darren: I’ve always followed Steve Angello’s sound closely from years back, so it came as a bit of a shock when he supported my first release Klez. Seeing any of these guys you look up to playing something you made is an amazing feeling! Judge Jules is another who has shown massive support for a lot of my tracks since I first sent him a bootleg of Chris Lake’s Changes many years ago, and the motivation from seeing the big guys play your tracks is incredible.
LessThan3: How do you approach your residency nights vs tour shows vs music festivals? Where do you like to let your creativity and risk-taking run wild?
Darren: With residency nights I find you can really be a little more experimental with what you play, and there’s more opportunity to play around as the crowd might know you and trust your taste a little more. With tour shows you’re in unfamiliar territory so there’s a little more testing out the crowd needed to gauge what might work. With festivals it’s a completely different story as I’ve been trying a “Dashka Live” concept over here since last year which involves not only a DJ set with sax, but also a trumpet player and uilleann piper (native Irish version of bagpipes) for several tracks. It might sound a little strange but I find it really works, and the live aspect adds something very unique. Festivals in general seem to be up for pretty much anything anyway, so the more random mischief the better!
LessThan3: What is it with Ireland and EDM? Your country has given us many talented artists. How does such a small country breed such massive talent?
Darren: Maybe it’s due to the weather being so rubbish that we spend more time indoors in front of computers! I know what you mean though, there does seem to be a lot of great Irish producers out there at the moment. I think there’s always been a relatively good scene in trying to promote EDM and bringing international acts and DJs over to play, which in turn influences local guys and girls to gain an interest in making their own music. Other than that, it could be something in the water!
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Darren: That’s a tough one. I think I’d go with Trentemoller’s remix of Royksopp’s What Else Is There. It’s an amazing track combining beauty and grit.
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Darren: Melodic Twisted House.
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