HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO: DAD HAT WITH “TAHOE”

Dad Hat is an indie-pop duo from Los Angeles CA, formed by Steven Gudino and Maddie Barrett. The duo was born in 2018 when Steven and Maddie decided to combine their passion for music and songwriting. What distinguishes them is the energy and dynamism that makes them complicit and close-knit; their tracks mix symphonic sounds, pop, classical, and jazz sounds, giving their songs dreamy atmospheres and introspective Their last single, entitled “Tahoe“, is their first release of 2021, a track that precedes those that will be released in the coming months and that will form their EP. The song deals with the anguish of loss, the desire to cling to the past, but also the need and awareness of having to let go. Past trauma and wounds not yet healed often make us sink, but holding hard each of us will find our salvation…


YMX: Hey DAD HAT, how is it going? some of our readers might not be familiar with your project, how would describe yourself, in a few words?

DAD HAT: Hey, it’s going great! We are super stoked to be meeting the readers of YMX! We are an indie-pop duo from Los Angeles, CA. We’ve been making music together since 2019, and we like to describe our music as wavy, timeless, and fun. Our name, Dad Hat, comes from the style of music that we took a lot of inspiration from indie rock. We noticed a lot of our idols in that genre, like Mac DeMarco, tended to gravitate toward the dad hat as a fashion statement, and we loved that vibe. So, the name is a sort-of homage to our musical inspirations.

YMX: Your current work is the result of a long journey; What first drew you to making music?

DAD HAT: We first met in 2016 at Chapman University where we were both studying music composition. We became great friends and started collaborating on a ton of musical endeavors, including arranging, film scoring, jazz gigging, you name it. Dad Hat is the natural evolution of our relationship. We both love playing and writing music together, and Dad Hat is the perfect vehicle for us to share our music with everyone.

YMX: What would be your dream collaboration?

DAD HAT: This one is a tough one forsure. Our dream collaboration right now would probably be with Phoebe Bridgers. We were absolutely floored by her latest album, Punisher, and think it would just be amazing to be able to write and record with her. We really appreciate the thought she puts into her lyricism, and think she is completely hilarious on Twitter. She also knows how to beat the crap out of a guitar, so points there too. Beyond that, we also really love Post Animal, and would love to jam with those guys any day. Their tracks slap so hard, and everything that they put out seems to set the bar higher and higher.

YMX: You recently released “Tahoe“. Can you tell us how that project came about?

DAD HAT: Yeah! We just put out our first single of 2021, “Tahoe” which came out on 2/12. It’s a really mellow, melancholic vibe, and we set out to create a deep, lush synth sound to pervade the sonic landscape on this one. Very chill. *Very* wavy. We wrote the song just about a year ago, right before the pandemic hit, and sat on it for a while before finally sitting down and working it into its final form. Originally, it was going to be a guitar driven track, with a slow waltz-feel. But after it sat in our minds for several months, and once we returned to it, we knew it needed something new to better capture the mood of the lyrics. The song is about lost love and the scar tissue that remains in your mind after heartbreak. It’s about the reconciliation of the need to let go and the futility of trying to forget your past.

YMX: What inspires your songwriting work?

DAD HAT: We both studied classical composition at Chapman University, so that rich background has had a huge influence on our musical language when it comes to songwriting (We stan Debussy and Ravel). We also both grew up on jazz, classic rock, and 80s pop. Artists like The Beatles, Pat Metheny, Bill Evans, Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears, and Elton John have had and will always have a huge role in our songwriting. We also really look up to some amazing duos of the modern era, like Damien Rice/Lisa Hannigan, Beach House, and The Marías. If we can continue to strive to work towards approaching their artistry and songwriting craft, we would consider that a huge success.

YMX: We are all missing live music at the moment. Once on the other side, which music venue would you choose for your first gig? 

DAD HAT: This is another really tough one! If we could take a pick at any live venue, we might choose to play the Teragram Ballroom in downtown LA. We were lucky enough to catch Mac DeMarco there in 2018, and the experience we had at that show really pushed us further towards making indie-pop music. Like everyone else, there is nothing we want more than for safe live concerts to return as soon as possible. Nothing compares to the feeling of seeing a live show – standing shoulder to shoulder in a room full of people, everyone vibing to the same song. The energy in a crowd at a good show is just addicting, and we think the only thing that could beat that would be how fantastic it feels to play live music for other people.

YMX: What’s your band strategy in terms of music promotion? Direct-2-fans or via the “big dogs”?

DAD HAT: We definitely love to connect with fans directly. It is an awesome feeling when someone reaches out to us to let us know that they rock with our stuff. We are just starting to work to build our fanbase, and truly every single like, follow, and play means the world to us. There is a lot of obvious downsides to social media, but a big plus for us is the ability to share our music intimately and have intimate connections with our fans. We’ve had people from Poland for instance, reach out to us and tell us how our music has impacted them. That was a super special moment for us, and we want to continue to build personal connections with people through our music. Publications like YMX are great for this, and for that reason we are grateful for the opportunity to join you today!

YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?

DAD HAT: Right now, we have three or four singles that are in different stages of production, but we hope to release them every two months until we hit the end of summer. Keep an eye out for those!! Hopefully, by the end of the year, we will be ready to release our debut album, which will be the culmination of our songwriting efforts so far, and it is something we are super excited about producing. We want to get back to live shows as soon as safely possible and can’t wait to see everyone at the shows!