JOHN DOG ARTIST BRIEF: John Dog is a Galway-born outsider musician, a self-taught singer/songwriter and DIY recording artist who also makes his own videos. A lover of popular song down through the centuries, Dog hammers his broad influences into compositions that are often wordy, hopefully tuneful and usually short.
About John Dog
John Dog is an outsider musician, a self-taught singer/songwriter and home recording artist who also makes his own videos. Born and raised in Galway, Ireland, Dog first performed with The Kathleens, the Galway indie four-piece who plugged away on the outskirts of Ireland’s rock scene in the twilight of the 20th century. The first song Dog ever wrote was played on 2FM’s Rock Show, a foundational object in the history of Irish music. Host Dave Fanning and producer Ian Wilson were remarkably generous to The Kathleens, playing every demo the band sent in, even hosting the young upstarts for couple of the Rock Show’s sessions. The Kathleens played loudly, quickly and regularly for a few years, recording one unreleased album before breaking up in a pub by the docks in 1997. That album remains lost to this day, but one of the few writers to hear it declared it one of the best Irish albums of all time.
Dog’s first solo outing was an EP for Secret Records, The Waking Dream EP, an atmospheric set of 3 nakedly emotional songs influenced by Julee Cruise, solo Lennon and 90s Americana. Overseen by Secret’s Pat Neary and produced by Paul Brennan, Waking Dream was exponentially improved by the playing of some of Galway’s finest musicians, including The Stunning’s Cormac Dunne, Cane 141’s Michael Smalle and former-Kathleens-guitarist-turned-session-ace Fergal McDonogh.
After moving from Galway to London in 2001, Dog acquired his first Macbook and learned to record himself, joining the generation of bedroom wonks who posted songs on MySpace and beyond. One of these, the darkly Newman-esque A Ghost Called Charlie, made its way to the BBC, where Tom Robinson featured it in on his MySpace-themed show. Meanwhile, responding to a 2005 demo of Dog’s song Sinead, WFMU’s Irving Chusid said “the man has a songwriting gift.”
In 2010, Dog rolled up his influences – which include Paul Simon, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Kate Bush, Tom Waits, Sam Cooke, Lloyd Cole, Otis Redding, Talking Heads, Patsy Cline, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, Jonathan Richman, Dizzy Gillespie, Iggy and the Stooges, Neil Young, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Dionne Warwick, JS Bach, Dusty Springfield, Leonard Cohen, Julee Cruise, The Shangri-Las, The Sonics, Bing Crosby, Curtis Mayfield and John Barry – into his first full album, the very home-made Battery Powered Mystery Action. 2 years later came The Random Walk, another Stoke Newington-recorded DIY mongrel. Dog’s fingerpuppet slasher movie for that LP’s opening track Video Shop won Best Animated Video at the London International Film Festival.
Dog relocated to Ireland in 2018, where he continues to create original music and visual work. He made his US radio debut on WFMU New Jersey in April 2021, when he wrote a theme song for notorious stunt call-in show Seven Second Delay, then called The Fuzzy Glove Hour. Dog sang the theme song for subsequent incarnation Dinner At Andy's, for a year or so, until this unique, absurdist experiment in broadcasting reverted back to its original name. If you're lucky, you might catch him playing original songs somewhere in Galway, such as the Roisin Dubh open mic.
In 2023, Ireland's Arts Council awarded Dog funding from the Agility Award to support the continued creation of his original songs and videos.