Dibby Dougherty, David Young and Ciara Wilson are just ordinary people, meat and potatoes. They live in the real world. They’d probably tell you they’re not big believers in magic. But their DhARMA label is different. It’s special. The “Other” labels don’t want to talk about it because it scares them. But we all know it. We all feel it…
How long have you known each other for, how long have you been making music together and when did you decide you wanted to start a label together?
Dibby: I have known Davey for 5-6 years now, we first met when he was promoting nights in Belfast and he booked me to play for him and we’ve been making music together for about 3-4 years or so now. The label is something I personally have been interested in starting for a couple of years but I didn’t want it to be a conventional house/techno label. It took until the start of last year for me to have a rounded idea in my mind of the musical and visual direction of where I wanted to go.
David: After booking Dibby, we got chatting and one day invited him up to ‘The Hatch’ and the rest is history. As to how the label came about, we talked about it briefly but Dibby being Dibby he got the bit between his teeth and put the wheels into motion.
Ciara: I have been Dibby’s partner in crime for nearly 8 years now and I met my DhARMA brother David through him. The label was mainly pushed by Dibby’s love of all things electronic and wanting to release music that we all enjoyed outside of the ‘club’ environment. David and I jumped on the band wagon after we found out it would be related to The Island (that is the ‘Lost’ island) but I found that I could convey more with this particular style of electronica as its more to my personal taste, especially when mixed with folk styled music.
People might be more familiar with your successful DhARMA Bootleg edits. Have you had any contact with any of the artists that you’ve done bootlegs of and do you feel those tracks helped you to get you where you’re at now?
Dibby: For sure, I know that the bootlegs really did help get our names out there a bit more, at most of my gigs the main productions that people associate me with are the bootlegs. I think it is a nostalgia thing for a lot of people more than anything. The tracks we bootlegged have always been records that we loved and cherished, people do seem to buzz from hearing an old favorite rock track turned into a club record. I have never sent the bootlegs to any of the original artists, to be honest I wouldn’t know where to start if I wanted to do this, but I really would be interested to hear what they thought of our version.
DhARMA’s releases to date have had a consistently distinct sound, falling in the indie dance, electro/synthpop 80’s-ish side of things. Your own productions, however, tend to be more of the techno-y progressive house persuasion, if you want to classify them. What was the motivation to create a label that focuses on a sound that is different from the type of productions we’ve seen you release yourselves and what do you feel that DhARMA offers that maybe similar labels don’t?
Dibby: The motivation wasn’t particularly to move away from our sound but to expand on what we like as individuals, outside of the ‘club’ environment. What makes the whole experience worthwhile has been the opportunity of working alongside fantastic designers and all the amazing music producers in the DhARMA family, who we are over the moon to have releasing with us.
Ciara: We are trying our best to be a little different to other labels that put out similar styled music. We work very hard in the visual element of the label, from our cover art to videography, and merchandise; people can buy art prints/iPhone covers of our release artwork and we try to give away free tracks every now and then, just as a little thank you. We have a particular interest in the artwork and do our best to promote not only the musical artists but also visual too. We like to think that our music is diverse within the electronic genre and that it reflects our personal taste, not what others expect us to release.
Can we expect a DhARMA label-flavoured production or two from you in the future?
Dibby: The sound we have been aiming for in our own productions is a million miles away from what we put out on the label. I do plan on releasing some music on the label but it will be under an alias, I’m looking into starting to produce some folk influenced electronic music, it will be very down tempo and not at all like any sound I have released in the past.
David: Maybe on a DhARMA sub label, an idea we have been toying with. We are in the process of creating a new studio and have caught the hardware bug (something I swore I’d never do) so you never know a few late night jamming sessions might lead too.
Who would be your “dream” artist to sign to DhARMA, past or present, living or dead, no restrictions?
Dibby: Prince, or Drive Shaft.
David: Thom Yorke, for me, is the best at what he does in the world and also the amazing Bjork.
Speaking of dreams, Dibby and Ciara… you’ve both had the lucky opportunity to travel to a myriad of exotic places all over the world for the past several months. Is that something you had been planning for some time or was it the result of some successful releases in the past couple of years? David… Have you seen or done anything lately that you never would have expected to happen 3 years ago?
Dibby: The trip Ciara and I undertook this year has been something we dreamed of doing for a few years, it took a lot of saving and some serious hard work but it was easily the best thing we have ever done. I hadn’t planned on doing any gigging during this trip but after a while I got the itch to do some gigs. I was lucky enough to be able to play in some great clubs in Argentina, Oz, Bangkok, Hong Kong and in India while away.
Ciara: In total Dibby and I were away backpacking for 10 amazing months, really it was an itch to get out and explore that wouldn’t subside, so we decided if we were going to take a break from our ‘normal’ jobs we would make it the trip of a life-time. We totaled 15 countries, through South America, Austrailia and Asia, it feels so surreal now that we are home again but 2013 is set to be a busy year.
David: Getting signed to Bedrock, that has to top the list, I have the framed 12″ and CD in my living room and I smile at it every day.
How have you found the transition from being Producer/DJs to becoming label owners and managers? Any specific challenges? Do either of you have specific roles with managing the label is it more of a collective effort?
Dibby: Collectively we do share a lot of things, and as we see each other and chat regularly we can all share our ideas. As a DJ/Producer I already have a bit of an A&R head on me, from years of searching for unique music. Therefore adjusting to find music that I wouldn’t necessarily play in a club but music that I love for its musicality has been relatively easy. Contacting bloggers, magazines and promoting the releases has been very time consuming, especially whilst backpacking but it has been extremely rewarding, positive feedback from people who genuinely love the music, well. . .this is what its all about. I handle the majority of the musical direction but Ciara and David also have a great ear for what we want to have on the label.
Ciara: I mainly deal with the visual element of the label, conversing with artists and roaming the web looking for beautiful new artwork. I particularly love writing up the press releases for the promotional pack. This was all very new to me but I’m finding it has opened doors to write for others, particularly an online Folk Radio and website that I have adorned for years. I had never envisioned myself being a part of the label when the label cog was turning in Dibby’s mind but its something that I have grown to love and invest in, seeing the results has been just swell.
David: So far the majority of label work has come from Dibby and Ciara’s end as it has been a large bridge to gap with them being away. To be honest my love affair with music is very hot and cold but thankfully at the minute it’s hot. I think if Dibby hadn’t come home from travelling when he did I would have probably called time on the project.
If you could break it down on a pie chart or percentage-wise compared to your other priorities for 2013 (own productions, DJing, other work, personal life, etc), how much would you predict DhARMA would take up?
Ciara: DhARMA was a little difficult to maintain at times throughout 2012 as Dibby and I were backpacking through South America, Australia and Asia. A lot of places had either no internet (or electricity in some cases) or it was painfully slow which makes working on the other side of the world extremely difficult. I found it particular hard to get motivated when I could have been lying on a beach or hiking up a mountain instead of cramped in a sweaty hostel room writing but we managed to stay a float and still have the trip of a life time.
Dibby: Yeah during 2012 our work and input to the label varied a lot, now that we are back in Ireland we can have more regular DhARMA meet ups and get much more work done on the label. To break it down I would really like to evenly spread things out, I don’t want to ever stop making music but I do think that I will soon start some different aliases. I’m not totally feeling the house/techno scene that’s out there right now as I’m into a more eclectic side of electronica at the minute. DJ wise; locally I’ll not be doing much as I have since left my residency at Yello to travel, but I do plan on continuing to play outside of Ireland. The label is up there as a high priority but it’s not my sole workload at the moment. So time wise, I would have to say, 50% on DhARMA business, 25% spent playing in my studio and the other 25% for my cat, Hurley.
OK, now let’s talk Lost. It should be apparent to anyone even remotely familiar with both the television show Lost and your music that you guys are big Lost fans. What is it about Lost in relationship to your music that you find inspiring, if anything?
Dibby: Lost is a huge part of my life, that may sound sad to lots of people but if you are a ‘Lostie’ you will understand. The emotions that this show evokes within me play a massive part in my inspiration to make and play music.
Which character from Lost do you think best embodies who you are as a person?
Dibby: David has actually given me the nick name of Desmond, so perhaps that is who I may be most similar to? But I think that we can all see a bit of ourselves in each character in the show.
Ciara: I’d like to say I‘m badass like Locke but really I am a Jack, I’m a little sensible and I believe in science, not fate…
David: I would have to go with Desmond also as I’m a little fond of whiskey.
(Possible “LOST” Spoiler Alert) Care to share your thoughts on the ending of Lost?
Dibby: Many people have many different theories and lots of my friends have claimed they were not given answers to things they were looking for, in my opinion anything that needed answering was answered. it is not always the destination that matters, it is the journey which you take getting there. I loved the ending; I loved every second of the show and would not change a single part of it.
David: I loved the ending of Lost as I could relate to it in a strange way (yes I know how that sounds).
Lastly, is there anything parting thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
Dibby: You are here for a good time, not a long time. Namaste…
Here’s a free DhARMA edit download of Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place”
Also, here’s a preview of the next DhARMA release, “Hopeless” by NUT NUT, due out March 1st