Didirri is the most beautiful thing you’ll hear at Boogie Festival 2018

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Didirri is the most beautiful thing you’ll hear at Boogie Festival 2018


There’s an air of clear and quiet confidence that hangs around Didirri. It makes it unnervingly easy to hone in on his voice, even over the chaos of a Carlton cafe during its midday peak. The young Warrnambool songwriter has been lighting fires in the hearts of audience members, drawing comparisons to Jeff Buckley, Elbow, and Robin Pecknold along the way. With his BoogieFest debut and a record on the horizon, it’s increasingly apparent that Didirri is determined to leap headfirst into a year full of challenges and future success stories.


“Music was my lowest scoring subject at school. I definitely failed it multiple times. I was proficient enough but I played it the way I wanted to play it. That’s not what adjudicators want, they want you to play how it’s written, not play your own song or put your own spin on it. I ended up studying jazz piano at university, but I learned how to be a frontman by playing in a million bands.”


While there’s a noticeable lack of jazz piano so far, there’s a definite push and pull in the dynamics and pacing of his music that owes a lot to that tradition.


“I have a habit of making songs that go from 30% to 110% very quickly, I really do feel like dynamics are the most important part. That’s not to say that I don’t like it when there’s no dynamics – I’m a massive Kraftwerk fan. But they’re making a point. If you want to make a song with no dynamics then make it a choice.”


Contrary to contemporary jazz tradition, his songs often rely on uncomplicated structures and chord progressions.


“I was writing in a few bands and I was enjoying that, but when I wrote my own stuff I was using my head way too much. I was being very analytical and being very clever with chord choices and I wasn’t speaking to the songwriting I was doing. I didn’t know how to play guitar, so I decided the best way for me to write songs in the way that I can see or hear in my head is to learn a new instrument and build my songwriting up as I’m doing it.”


After working on his solo material for over three years, Didirri catapulted into the national spotlight with his singles ‘Blind You’ and ‘Jude’. The liner notes on these tracks give production credits to Hayden Calnin, a Melbourne-based artist on his own, seemingly uninterrupted upward trajectory.


“I’d worked with a few producers who were good but who weren’t the right fit and my manager suggested Hayden. I’d never met him before. The day I met him was the day I wrote ‘Blind You’, the day after we recorded it. He was the first producer to say without a doubt that we need to do the vocals and guitar at the same time. Most producers lead away from that because it means less flexibility. We ended up doing 12 takes of ‘Blind You’. We’re on the same wavelength and I know that’s not exactly a sound bite but he just operates in the same sphere as me.”


With work on the EP drawing to a close, the attention is starting to shift toward the touring side of music. At the end of March, he’ll make the transition from punter to artist when he plays BoogieFest for the first time.


“Boogie is genuinely one of my favourites. I’ve been five years in a row now. My old bass player started a company called Box Wars, he builds cardboard structures and armour and then everyone fights in front of the crowd. One year we built a working monster truck and an entire orchestra. AC/DC was on the back of the monster truck, also made of cardboard. We raced down the hill and fought Mozart and his whole gang and at the end I was dry retching. You get so sore but it’s so much fun.


“I really do love the vibe of Boogie. It’s one big stage so you’re at the mercy of whoever’s playing and I like that. I’ve discovered so many artists that way. Often, I’ll renew my own taste when I go to a festival where there’s heaps of options. That ability for a festival to hand you stuff is vital in building and maintaining diversity in a lineup. I’m really keen to see Angel Olsen. I’m only a recent convert. I love the new b-sides album she put out. It’s really raw and I’ve fallen in love with her voice. It’s almost literally all I’ve been listening to.”


After several tangents involving musical theatre, Mark Zuckerberg running for president and a solemn vow never to disclose anything about what was done to the studio piano in the process of recording the EP, we pressed him for some advice that he’d be able to use as a lifeline for others, and indeed for himself in the hard times to come.


“Honesty is everything. It’s so cliché, but it can be so hard and it’s ridiculous that it is hard to be yourself. As a statement, that is just absurd to me. I like to think that music is for moving people or making people move. I’m a pretty melancholy guy, it’s hard for people to dance to my music. So I’d better write songs that get to people.”