Tag Archives: recording

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It being International Women’s Day…

…what better time to chat about last Sunday, recording four incredibly talented women here in the studio. Maria and Michelle Mason, Siubhan Ni Ghriofa, and Marie-Louise Bowe were in with me performing string quartet duties for new music from Simon Quigley. There’s more technical info on the session over on my own site, but I wanted to write a wee bit about the women in music that have been so important to me as teachers, friends, and sources of inspiration.

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Maria Mason (violin), Siubhan Ni Ghriofa (violin), Marie-Louise Bowe (viola), Michelle Mason (cello), Simon Quigley (composer)

I grew up playing traditional Irish music with my dad, me on the whistle and him on accordion. My mum would sing, and as I got older I was brought to the weekly seisiún in the village during the summer months. Here I got to meet a host of musicians not just from Adare but from all over Limerick and Munster. I was also getting into alternative and rock music at the time, playing guitar and bass; it has changed somewhat today, but the absence of girls in that scene at the time was lamentably noticeable. It was a different story in the trad world though, with the likes of Siobhan Condon, Fiona Lyons and her sisters, Annette Gorman and many others leading the way in proficiency, mentorship and flair in the field. And that’s just in Limerick county. More than that though, for me as a kid those girls were approachable, friendly, willing to share their vast knowledge and inspiring in their love of their music. They could “read the dots” much better than me, but they encouraged me to use my ear as well as I could and not be discouraged.

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A break in proceedings, looking down from the Control Room

It wasn’t until I moved to Dublin that I got to meet and work with classical musicians. I was intimidated and first, not knowing much about music theory and still being slow with the sight reading. Working with Maria Mason and the O’Grady sisters (Eimear and Larissa) on those first sessions years ago opened my eyes to the way string players work, so similar in many ways to the fiddle players I knew back in that wee courthouse in Adare.
Fast forward to last Sunday, mother’s day, and there I am listening to four mothers producing beautiful music in the Live Room; it was such a fun day, intense but enjoyable. I can’t think of a better way to mark International Women’s day than to celebrate them and all the talented women that have been such a powerful influence on me in my life. Here’s to you all.

Avril Whelehan EP released

Delighted to announce that Avril’s debut EP is up on soundcloud, you can check it out here:

Recorded in Bay, and mixed by myself in Saggart. It was a real pleasure to work with Avril on her music, we put a lot of effort into developing them and adding colour and movement where we could, without being “producery”. My mate Paul Lally played drums on some songs also, so thanks Avril for showing faith in us and letting is tear into it!

Do go have a listen, it’s a thing of beauty with a lot of ideas packed into the 14 or so minutes…

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2014 baby

So I rounded the year out by almost finishing the recording of the upcoming Fiach album. Three days of intense work, with Fiach himself and Simon Quigley producing. Lots of time spent on “ambient” guitar noises and synth parts, it’s funny how the finishing touches can very often take up quite a lot of time. We reckon we’ve got about another day or two of recording, but the finish line is definitely in sight.

For the guitar stuff I used a Line6 Echo Pro – it is the rack equivalent of the DL-4, I love it because I can control any parameter via MIDI using a MIDI foot controller. by using a digital delay with 100% feedback can build up layers of sound that repeat forever, until I back off the feedback with the pedal talking to the unit. Very nice for unique pad sounds.

We also got Simon doing some sub  bass stuff, using Logic’s ES-1 synth. I love it for its simplicity. I don’t love it though for its ability to blow speakers. Still, that’s rock’n’ roll I suppose… 😀

Up next: 5 Dollar Shakes, Hawklion, and Tell No Foxx. January is looking good!

Darken The Distance – drum/bass tracking

So last week I was tracking drums and bass [final takes, not scratch on the bass] for the first time in the studio. We had the kit in the Live Room, and a selection of bass amps in the Dead Room, allowing the guys to play simultaneously while retaining isolation between the instruments. It was a great test of our isolation, headphone mix capabilities, and the Apollo’s latency free plugins, all of which worked out great 😀

Drums

Unless the band have a direction in mind that demands a super-dry drum sound, I like to base the final drum kit sound on what is happening in the room. Ben and I took a good bit of time during setup to try out different crash cymbal combinations – he’s got quite the collection! We eventually settled on a pair that seemed be about a minor third apart, giving nice drama to the left/right crashes.

I’ve had good results before positioning an omni mic (either a 414 on omni or the DPA 4090) right by the drummer’s head, but this time I felt it was missing out on the low end coming off the kick – the mic was repositioned in front of the kit, as high as the top of the kick drum hoop, the same distance from the snare as the overheads. Here it sounded huge, plenty low end, so we settled on that.

Overheads – I have this thing where I like to keep both the kick and snare at the centre of the stereo image as created by the overheads, so I try to keep the mics equidistant from both kick centre and snare centre – it ends up looking a little odd, but really does make a difference.

As for spots, nothing out of the ordinary was done really – I like AKG C1000’s on hats, and I like to not mix condensers and dynamics on snare top/snare bottom, so 57/E609 is the way I go. Trusty Blue Kickball on kick, and Audix/Audio Technica dynamics on the toms. I tend to end up using little to none of these tom mics as the overheads and front mic should get them.

Finally, I had a 414 in omni way up toward the ceiling, about 3/3.5 meters. popped it through an 1176 for squish, and viola – nice boomy room sound.

Bass

After much experimentation we went with the Hiwatt/Ampeg 4×10 combination, with a 414 on the cab. No compression.

Tape Emulation

Every mic went through the Studer A800 Tape Emulation on our Apollo – it is truly stunning what it can do, I had it running Ampeg 456 tape at 30ips, driving the ins ever so slightly. The end result is that less compression is required in the mix, and that thing that tape does to low-end sounds fantastic on the pushed room mic.

Pineto Cats

Guitar action with Christer

Guitar action with Christer

The Pineto Cats were in doing some live recordings/demo’s for a forth coming album. Great fun altogether. Christer seen here rockin’ the Fender Jazzmaster running through Pete’s Mesa Boogie.

 

Our stuff on Soundcloud

I’ve been tidying up my soundcloud setup – all the M*O*O*N stuff now has its own dedicated soundcloud account, and I will be putting up snippets of stuff recorded in the studio on my personal soundcloud page so curious folks and/or potential clients can see what we’re capable of…

I’ve left all the M*O*O*N stuff up there too as it was engineered and mixed completely by myself and Spud.

Simon Quigley – Ryan Vs White Star Line

Over the past few months I’ve been recording piano, strings, and the amazing vocals of Martin McCann and soprano Clare Kavanagh for a new contemporary piece by Simon Quigley. The piece is based on a court case taken by Thomas Ryan from Askeaton in Co. Limerick against the White Star Line, the company that ran the titanic. This weekend we are going to visit his surviving relations to discuss the opening performance of the piece, hopefully as part of a documentary to be made about the process of writing, recording, and performing the work.

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Hawklion

Great times this weekend recording the Hawklion kids; we are in the process of recording some additional guitar and vocal takes for their upcoming E.P., and we did a rough mix of the tune we are working on to make sure we weren’t losing the plot.

One of the lessons learned was to not use the most expensive gear in the place just because it is there; much of the charm and character of the song was down to the very specific sound Chris had come up with on the guitar, designed to meld with the synth lines in such a way as to make the two parts indistinguishable rom each other.

We also made use of the Imperfect Samples Braunschweig piano, a really amazing instrument made by Matt Stedeford over on http://www.imperfectsamples.com/.

Now on to the mixing :-)

Avril Whelehan acoustic loveliness

Had Avril down this week, a chance for me to capture her sound as accurately as I can – we both like Laura Marling’s folky old-school sound on “Maid by Maid” from “I Speak Because I Can” – it’s super dry, sounded silky smooth like it might have ben recorded with a ribbon mic so I fired up one of my Oktavas to see what it would be like. After some work finding the right pre (SPL sounded nicest) we settled on a combination of it and the DPA for a more modern, “that’s what it sounds like” vibe. I fired up my usual NT5/414 MS combo as a just-in-case, but don’t think we’ll need em.

That was a much nerdier post than I had planned sorry about that.

Anyway – a few (very few) photos.

Fiach Moriarty – bass sessions

Last week Fiach, producer Simon Quigley, bassist Phil Daly and myself holed up in the Bay for a couple of days to lay down bass tracks for Fiach’s upcoming album. It was the first time using the Apollo for bass so we had some fun using the Pultec EQ, some gentle 1176 compression and some of the different Studer800 tape machine emulations going to tape; we got some really gorgeous sounds that Phil was really able to vibe off, and he brought some beautiful guitars along so we were spoilt for choice. He’s a hell of a player too, most importantly, so that helps! We have spent a *lot* of time crafting the basslines and kick drum patterns to get very subtle but interesting grooves and shifts going on in the songs, and it has really paid off.

Anyway, here are some photos from over on our facebook page..