I’ll split this into 2 bios for convenience: Music bio and Writing bio.
Darran Brennan (aka Tilersun and formerly EDM producer, Demon Groove) is a singer-songwriter and music producer from Dublin, Ireland.
In 2009 I started making Dubstep music under the name Groovedemon (changed to Groove Demon as there was already a DJ called Groove Demon). In September 2011 I signed my EP to Frederik Olufsen’s label (of the Bang and Olufsen family), Royal Fetish Recordings under the moniker Demon Groove. Between 2011 and 2015 I released eleven EDM face mashers through the coolest indie labels around, including Adapted Records and Tasty Records.
Serving up bangers lost its appeal when the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) scene devolved into fan-service for teenage boys playing video games and mollied-up ravers. Determined to remain authentic as an artist, I went travelling for 6 months. I crossed the Swizz Alps by bike and lived for 3 months on a remote Thai Island. During this time I wrote songs on a ukulele each night on my balcony.
After gigging around Dublin and some busking on the city streets, many new songs began to formulate. I was less drawn to predominantly connecting with music fans sonically and it became about the lyrics. Deeply, I felt the music that resonated the most with me had powerful stories within the structure of the songs. Completly subconsciously, I employed a fall-and-catch idea when writing lyrics, something I developed thorough writing stories, which entails taking the listener to one place, making them assume something and then taking it to somewhere else (usually better). This is my natural being as a person, a problem solver and mediator. I want the listener to return to a grounded place of common sense, harmony and peace—that’s what all great music should do in my opinion!
The vibe that arrived through travelling developed more profoundly as I evolved as a musician whilst playing the songs live around Dublin. The pandemic threw a spanner in the works, however, just as I was reaching a level of comfort in front of a live audience, which wasn’t helped by me writing three novels, taking my focus off of music for a few years. However, in 2022, I got back to perfecting the songs I had started recording.
My writing became a serious endeavour in 2015 after I spent six months cycling through Europe and living in Thailand. I used that life-affirming experience to shape the narrative and character arcs of my latest book— ‘Cure Us’— about self-love, learning to be free and brave and leaving the ghosts of the past behind. I have written 11 complete manuscripts and many short stories, self-publishing a travel journal called In Fields of Nettles and my debut novel TREOIR: CURSE ON THE ISLAND in 2021.
2015, during a summer biking from Dublin to Milan, I wrote a blog that I turned into a travel memoir called in Fields of Nettles. While living on Koh Chang, Thailand, for three months, I began writing a story about a band travelling on a small aircraft that crashes and the fallout after the singer dies. I had no idea how to structure sentences properly; I vaguely understood what an independent clause was, and my spelling was horrendous—I still struggle with whether it’s an ‘e’ or an ‘a’. However, I am becoming a bit of a grammar-Nazi and a logophile.
During my time on the island, I began scribbling a first draft of a book then called, ‘The Governor’s Daughter’, about an Irish man trying to reconnect with his estranged, American, ex-con son.
When I returned to Dublin at the start of 2016, I began editing ‘The Governor’s Daughter’. This is when my obsession with the craft of writing really dugs its hooks into me. I taught myself the intimacies of voice and what it means to write well (by writing bad and reading and a lot of experimenting, which might show in my short stories).
An 80,000-word edited draft of ‘The Governor’s Daughter’ was finally put aside early 2017 (which I am still editing sparodically), and I wrote two 60,000-word manuscripts. I did the same thing in 2018 (80,000-word manuscripts): ‘The True King of Ireland‘, about a dolphin that helps a politician win an election. And ‘Pieces of a Man’, about a divorcee writing a book on a plane and falling in love with an air stewardess. As decent as they were, I felt I hadn’t nailed it yet. Sensing the real books were to come, I shelved both. (I want to return to them at a later date).
In 2019, after working without much enthusiasm at a job I had lost my passion for, I was fired by an ego maniac of an employer and fell into a depression. This turned out to be serendipitous. From the ashes of despair, a novel came: ‘Treoir’. Around that time, I was having lucid dreams. I’m not usually one of those people who tries to interpret dreams, but this one, in particular, resonated with me. I was on an island helping kids escape from crazed people. It was simple but visceral and stayed with me all that day. I decided to write it down. That dream became the island setting for ‘Treoir‘ (Irish for Guardian), and the children became the subjects of the novel: Jonah, a genius with albinism, and the protagonist’s precocious niece, Quinn. I wrote the first draft of ‘Treoir’ in about 6 weeks, between May-June 2019, and after several rewrites and months of intensive editing, I self-published it on October 9th, 2020.
While editing ‘Treoir’, I began writing a book I called Death of Venice (not called that now). I wanted to explore having an antagonist as the narrator and further the theme I began with ‘Treoir’ of how need and human nature conspire sometimes to turn good people bad.
In it a stressed-out barrister finds his once-perfect marriage turning abusive and falls for a beautiful, intoxicating sex worker—ignoring the
the fact he’s worked his entire life to become a judge.
I didn’t want to write a legal thriller per se (I’m not a lawyer) but I did want to write about the corruption of a character who wears a cape (and a wig in this instance). Given how small Ireland is, I’m curious if a barrister or judge would dare create such a corrupt view of the Irish legal profession as I have.
GRAFT TO CRAFT
It was utter joy to get lost in those stories, even at the constant risk of developing deep-vein thrombosis; writing for 10 hours per day wasn’t, and isn’t, anything unusual for me. Between 2019-2020 I also wrote several manuscripts (each one over the course of 2 months).While writing those books, I was taking days and weekends to edit ‘Treoir’. As I had decided I wasn’t comfortable with seeking an agent and publisher as I didn’t fully understand the industry, but believing I had a great story in ‘Treoir’, I decided to try self-publishing, designing my own covers in the process.
After another two rounds with beta readers, I went back to full-time editing ‘Treoir’, around December 2019, and after more months of intensive work, I had the first solid version of ‘Treoir: Curse on the Island’ by the end of May 2020. Then, during the summer of 2020, I used the Covid lockdowns to perfect the novel, obsessing over every piece of syntax, reading the day’s work aloud, recording it, listening to it before bed, waking and listening again, correcting every comma, every clunky word, until I felt I was seeing a movie play in my head. (Unfortunately, there are still gramatical errors in the published book. My apologies).
The Final Cover
Post Self-Publication and a New Trilogy.
My newest book, ‘Cure Us’ is about the ephemeral love that forms between a suicidal young woman and a dying man after she offers to donate her heart to him.
This is the book I think I was trying to write when I began writing. Consequently, two of the other books had a thread throughout: metamorphosis. At the heart of those stories is an innocence and a desire to do good, and stopping that happening are outside influences, which the protagonists must figure out before tackling whatever obstacle is in their way.
When writing those books, the themes weren’t always clear, and hence the books are a (now highly refined) exploration into, and meditation on, what was getting in the way of the characters figuring themselves out. Those three books were not written as a trilogy but they had a similar character at the centre, who would go to become Nelly in all three books.
A few months after the second edit of the first of that trilogy it became obvious that one of my books was an origins story about Nelly’s parents. Another felt like the epilogue in a trilogy. The child in one is the moral compass for her parents when they spiral into destruction. I felt that her confusion stemmed from lies her parents told her. I just had to connect the dots.
I’m inspired by writers like John Steinbeck, Emily Brontë, Alexander Dumas, George Orwell, Jane Austin, Robert M. Pirsig and Salman Rushdie among many others.