For the creators and for the fans, active listeners or passive listeners, music has the power to move us all incredibly deeply. Sometimes we’re right here- in the moment and sometimes we’re floating in a sea of sounds- we blissfully lose ourselves for a tiny while.
And sometimes we’re both- Here and There.
The latest release My Names A, Your Names Zed from El Grey is exactly that.
If you’re already a fan of El Grey you’ll come to expect haunting, stunning and breathtaking vocal performances as standard. You’ll also expect crunchy beats mixed with a wash of synths and gentle acoustic guitars. You’ll also be aware that her music is deeply personal to her and each song is a little piece of her soul, committed to record.
Take all that you already know about El Grey and put a little twist on it. You won’t find this track anything like her previous release El Grey, but you will find her distinctive, trademark vocals affirming her ardent passion right here. Glistening synthy motifs bounce over and back a sound world of luscious piano playing and looped, reverberant vocals. Instantly you’re taken by the hand of El Grey herself into the infinite cosmos. If you haven’t gotten goosebumps multiple times within the first 60 seconds then you’re not ready for the journey she wishes to bring you on.
Hypnotic yet deeply grounding, her chanting vocal pulls you right into the centre. Looped over and over with additional harmonies, her voice guides the way- “Grab a coat, find a home”. While the chant gives way to a choir of swirly, angelic vocal expressions, we’re lifted further into the heavens, soaring high, looking for Home.
The mood changes somewhat after this point. You’ll hear a male voice enter- another new sound for El Grey. You’ll know that there’s something very special going on here- something very deep and very personal. In absolute contrast to what we’ve been listening to, she sings in her native tongue- and it works brilliantly. Switching languages in one song is a new and brave move for El Grey for she has something personal to say-revealing another dimension of herself and affirming her spirituality though her music.
For me the most poignant lyric comes in around the 7-minute mark- “It’s just one heartbeat away from you” with echoes of “one” bouncing around, underpinning it. The music producer in me loves that line. The sentiment in me loves it too. It’s a line I’d hang on to for dear life.
This recording is 100% live and one take only. There was no pre-production. There was no doctoring this up in post-production either. The barest moments of extraneous sounds pop in and out here and there but these are not faults. Such sounds tickle my imagination and for me, they add to the soundscape. The piece in its entirety has a completely natural feel and I’m certain the musicians lost themselves in this performances-lost themselves to find a little something on the way back.
You could use a multitude of words to describe this track (atmospheric, holy, meditative, serene, gripping, stunning, special…) and you could find a multitude of situations to enjoy it in – at home with a candle, on a long, night-drive home, walking around a busy city- for it’s completely immersive and completely El Grey.
As I write this, five days and 21 hours have passed since the Corrs made their truly glorious return to the Point Depot (called the 3Arena nowadays), Dublin. The brilliant buzz still hasn’t faded and from I see from fans Instagram accounts, it’s not going anywhere fast!
We always said it was going to happen yet last summer out of the blue😉 the Corrs announced they were returning to music after a 10-year break. The gig: BBC Radio 2 Live in London’s Hyde Park. Their new single Bring on the Night followed shortly and after an abundance of teaser video clips and photos taken by all Corr siblings and their producer, John Shanks from the studio (Ananda Entertainment, Hollywood and Metropolis, London), their new album White Light was released in Ireland and the UK along with a string of tour dates. Two Irish dates, the Point, Dublin and the Odyssey, Belfast were included to conclude the mini-tour.
A photo posted by Sharon Corr (@sharoncorrofficial) on
Fast forward to the 28th of January, 2016. We wake with a bolt and get to Dublin armed with raincoats, hats, scarves and nibbles. My dear friend Anne had travelled from Berlin, Germany just for this day- we met on a Corrs fan website some 16 years ago and have kept in touch ever since, meeting every few years in both countries. This was to be the most perfect day we could ever spend together- finally experiencing the Corrs music live with each other!
We arrive at the Point in the wind and rain to find a handful of hard-Corr fans already waiting, huddled in the arches. Hailing from Portugal, Brazil and Scotland, they greet us warmly, smiling broadly with excitement. It was only 2:30pm but they were there since 8am! We all watch our phones eagerly, checking Instagram and Twitter for any posts from the Corrs- only to be teased with a snap of Caroline sitting triumphantly behind her drum kit, arms raised in the air and wearing a winning smile, all under a magnificent white light in the venue. We get giddy and beg for time for pass by quicker!
A photo posted by Caroline Corr (@carolinecorrofficial) on
Thankfully time did indeed pass us by swiftly and we found ourselves smack-bang in the middle of the front row! We can’t believe our luck- everyone who made it early and braved the cold weather was the front row.
The Shires burst onto the stage after a short introduction from their band- who I have to say were rock-solid. Drummer Ollie Harding particularly impressed me with his heavy yet steady playing. The Shires delivered an upbeat, cheerful and entertaining set, warming up the crowd perfectly for the Corrs.
An hour later, after a frantic yet systematic set up for the Corrs, the lights dimmed, a haunting bass drone fades in and the crowd erupted in roaring applause and cheers of excitement. The thunderous drumming that is undoubtedly Caroline Corr solo fills the arena and all we see on the side screens are her silhouette on a white background- the much-anticipated introduction we’ve all been waiting for and heard so much about, absolutely knocked our socks off!
Suddenly the curtain goes up and we see Caroline belting her kit with all her might, completely focussed and seemingly unaware of the spotlight. We’re already jumping in delight at this treat and the next thing, the entire band are revealed standing in the middle of the stage- Andrea is beaming with her beautiful smile, she looks like she’s breathing heavily in excitement, Jim is to her left looking cool and collected with his rockstar shades and brilliant green electric guitar while Sharon stands tall to Andrea’s right, clutching her violin, smiling somewhat nervously. Anto Drennan on guitar and Keith Duffy on bass stand either side of Caroline- not Corrs by name but certainly are family for both have been in the band from the beginning and are recognised and loved by the fans.
Opening with I Do What I Like, the leading track of White Light, Andreadanced her way to her microphone, still smiling, looking adorable in her tiny ballerina flats. She looked everyone in the front row right in the eyes and I felt as if she were an old friend. I had the pleasure of being at Lansdowne Road 1999 and the Point 2004 but I was nowhere near the front! This was the first time in my life I was seeing Andrea up close and personal! She has an incredible stage presence and I’m not talking about the type of awe that surrounds Sting or the sheer force of power that’s James Hetfield of Metallica (all concerts I’ve sung my heart out to), it’s a totally different presence. Here is an incredibly talented singer and tin whistle player who’s very much a icon in pop music yet she has a sweet sensitive nature on stage. Maybe it’s the way she dances like a tiny fairy, maybe it’s her aura or energy or the way her dark brown eyes look straight into your soul while she’s singing- perhaps it’s all of the above combined with the fact she’s got her feet planted on the ground. Andrea Corr impressed me immensely as a musician and as a human being.
Of course it’s not entirely all about Andrea! Jim has been a hero for me throughout the years- I was inspired by his musical diversity and creativity- playing various different instruments on all the studio albums and live. You name it, Jim Corr plays it. He’s also big into music production- the mics, the desks and all the gear. I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Jim personally about the Corrs production style on their second studio album Talk on Corners (1997) just over a year ago and I could have listened to him for hours. Seeing him for absolute real in the Point was a dream come true for my fan-self. Effortlessly cool while providing backing vocals and rockin’ out on guitar, he provided big-brotherly support to his sisters who all looked at him adoringly at some point or another throughout the show. Still the rock and clearly the (unofficial) band leader, Jim swopped between electric and acoustic guitars and jumped onto keyboards throughout the set.
Surprising us with their second song, Give me a Reason was somewhat unexpected- mind you, a very pleasant surprise! Anthemic melodies and driving drums, the crowd sang their hearts out. Andrea looked lost of words after each song as the crowd literally screamed in sheer adoration up at the band. Keith Duffy never once stopped smiling behind Jim.
The band delivered hit after hit- Forgiven Not Forgotten, Bring on the Night, What Can I Do and Radio before settling down into a relaxed set which saw Caroline rise from her kit and take a seat at the front, right between Andrea and Jim. Known for being the shy Corr, she looked rather nervous taking her place on her cajon drum box. It can’t have been easy to step up into the front-line of camera-phones and strange faces when you’re used to the security a huge drum-kit! No need for her to be nervous, she took up band leadership, driving the group with expertise percussive skills on cajon, bodhran and shaker.
Starting with a beautiful medley of Lough Erin Shore/Joy of Life/Trout in the Bath, the Corrs prove they still very much value their traditional Irish roots and are still top-class! The sound was exquisite. Simple, serene and traditional. Next up 1996 hit Runaway proved to be still the fans favourite when the audience actually sang louder than the Corrs themselves! The look of pure astonishment on Andrea’s face was priceless! Played beautifully, still in unplugged-style Runaway was the song of the night. A couple of songs from the new album, Stay and Ellis Island fit perfectly into the set. Andrea strummed her ukulele to Stay– clearly this is a personal favourite of the band’s (there are two versions on White Light, the band opting for the more wholesome, slow-tempo version for the show. Ellis Island was visually enhanced with spectacular yet poignant graphics on the big screens. A song about emigration and full of sorrow, the band absolutely nailed it live. The audience were visibly moved as the voices around me hushed and drank in the emotion.
A moment of comic relief during the next song, Buachaill On Eirne as Andrea momentarily drew a blank on the opening lyrics. She stopped in her tracks, clearly mortified and burst into a fit of giggles, looking at her siblings for support. Everyone onstage giggled and helped her remember the Irish lyrics. Andrea couldn’t apologise enough to the audience (who thought she was being hopelessly adorable!) for her first ever blank moment on stage and voiced she hoped her old Irish teacher wasn’t attending the gig tonight!
Another total surprise for us was the following song Love to Love You, another 1996 gem. I think it was around this point in the show that I thought that this wasn’t like a reunion gig at all, more so the next stage of the Corrs music career. To be truthful the Corrs never broke up in the first place!
With Caroline back behind the kit, Andrea introduced the band one by one and the gig went back into full tilt with up-tempo Talk on Corners favourites Only When I Sleep, Queen of Hollywood and their rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams. Seamlessly fitting in to the set Kiss of Life was vocally stunning. For me, one of the top songs off the new album and without a doubt one of my absolute favourite Corrs songs, Kiss of Life soared and took us all to a special place.
Bringing up the tempo again for I Never Loved You Anyway and So Young, the band brought the roof down and left the crowd begging for more.
After a brief teaser of a disappearance, the Corrs returned once more with electrifying performances of White Light, Breathless and Toss the Feathers. It was all over too soon yet the band played for a full 2 hours!
The house lights came on, the finality of the gig being over dawned on us and we exited the arena in an absolute daze! The Corrs were back, sounding amazing and clearly in top form! We left the Point Depot talking excitedly, a bag full of merchandise under our arms, giggling at the lads walking in front of us back to the city centre singing Runaway at the tops of the voices! It was truly the best homecoming the Corrs could have wished for- a huge crowd but with an intimate feel, the Corrs are still our favourite after all these years.
In case you haven’t heard the good news, the Corrs are playing again this summer- the Cork Marquee, June 9th. Tickets go on sale this Thursday (a full week after the Dublin gig! Good timing or what?!). You can be sure to find myself and Anne at the front again!
Preview, buy and download songs from the album White Light, including I Do What I Like, Bring On the Night, White Light and many more. Buy the album for €10.99. Songs start at €1.29. White Light by The Corrs on iTunes
Posting and sharing with you, my most recent music production project, the beautiful Leaca Bán by 5-piece, traditional Irish crossover group, Na Tonnta.
Introducing Na Tonnta (L-R as above): Daniel ‘Hearthrob’ Whelan, Ellie ‘Ellington’ J McGinley, Sinéad ‘Brings her own teabags’ O’Malley, Ciara ‘I♥ Beoga’ Moley and Fiachra ‘Figgy’ Meek. The group met while studying Music in DkIT together and bonded through their love of traditional Irish music, popular music, tea, biscuits and cakes!
My journey with Na Tonnta began in September 2014. I was searching for a musically-new band to introduce to the recording studio and collaborate with for my final music production project at DkIT, resulting in three songs- one being the core and most-polished production.
I knew I wanted to carry forward my love for traditional Irish music while bringing it into a contemporary production and I also knew Na Tonnta were a hard-working, creative and driven group from my Facebook stalking since they formed in October 2013!
Leaca Bán began in the rehearsal room. Sinéad introduced the idea to the group with the beautiful, haunting traditional tune, 250 ToVigo, accompanied by accordion player, Ciara. I sat, mesmerised by the performance- the beautiful tone of the B flat whistle, the rhythm of the tune, the sombre accordion, gently accompanying the haunting tune. The hairs on my arms stood and I knew instantly that this was a tune I wanted to be a part of. I could already hear our studio recording in my mind’s ear!
What happened next lifted my spirits even further. There was a lyrical idea. In fact, there was more than just an idea- there was a theme, a mood, an atmosphere and a poem! A vintage book was produced- a little blue book with yellow pages, about to be tossed out from a local school library where Sinéad worked. For some reason unknown to me, Sinéad opened the book and there was a beautiful poem at the beginning. The Lights of Leaca Bán by Alice Cashel is an old book intended for secondary school children but the poem simply titled Leaca Bán, found at the begnning of the book, is a literary work of beauty. It was suggested that Ellie fit the tune to the words- amazingly, it worked like a dream. Ellie suddenly started singing the poem and it was just right.
By Christmas a humble demo which consisted of a vocal, fiddle, tin whistle and accordion was recorded and then my audio fun began. What I already had was a beautiful tune which was deeply Irish and could hold up on its own with such a small ensemble- how about adding drums? Synthesisers? Guitars? More vocals? How big could we go?! How big did I dare?!
Well, here’s the final production. Listen for yourself.
First off, apologies for the radio silence!!! I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet, I haven’t stuck my thumb and hitchhiked across the galaxy (as much as I would LOVE to do that!), I’ve been around, just quietly observing what’s been going on around me and stuff like that!
My last year in college has been a whirlwind. Where does the time go?! I’ve been working hard at many projects. A quick summary of what I’m currently up to- a research project on uilleann pipes and how to record them in the studio (interesting things I’ve come across regarding this amazing instrument!), my intervention project is going to be interesting and fun. A recording project where I’m producing Dundalk traditional/crossover group Na Tonnta. Exciting stuff to talk about there! Recording projects within the class- the current one I’m writing vocals for… A composition project for a final project for Creative Media 4th year students… A recording project for Music I engineered- recorded a bunch of trad instruments for a decent amount of tracks, very fun!
Outside of this, Trend-E and I are collaborating on some wicked electronic tracks of his again! I enjoyed collaborating with him last time…
… this time we’re working on something much darker but very, very sexy!!!
I’m delighted to be this busy again! I was feeling very down on things after the rush of Christmas assignments were done, I had nothing creative *to do*. It’s well and good having free time to play with DAWs and guitars etc but when you’re not in the mood……….
I even purchased a Yamaha DX-7 before Christmas NOM!!!! Tubular bells!!!! I’ve been enjoying Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks album for months now, seriously mind-blowing music. I had to get a DX-7. Just had to. The fun starts when I learn how to programme it! I’ve been messing around, getting to grips a little bit. The way I see it, I’ve my whole life to master this. And I will.
So happy new year 2015! This is a year of serious life changes for me. I’ve been doing so much thinking, feeling, writing about my life and my life path the last year or so. I know big changes are coming. I can feel them. My spiritual side is guiding me very strongly and I’m learning to trust my gut feeling, myself and believe in myself.
Cue song lyrics…. yes indeed….
Probably meant to blurb out more stuff here but it’s kinda, sorta late and I’m getting tired!
I came across this affirmation this morning when seeking guidance about my own life purpose. My attention has been drawn to Archangel Sandalphon, who heals through music.
I’ve been aware of the healing power of music since I started playing violin as a teenager. I understood very quickly that I felt lighter, better and happier when playing. Lately I’ve been wondering about music therapy, I’m drawn to singing bowls and other such musical instruments and I want to investigate this area of music further. I feel a connection between my passion for music, healing crystals, divining and angel card reading. I wonder if my life purpose links these together somehow.
I’ve read online (http://www.healingcrystals.com/Crystals_and_Archangels_Epilogue___The_Lesser_Archangels_Articles_1821.html) that Sandalphon was Metatron’s twin brother, the prophet Elijah. His name means “Brother” and he is considered one of the Seraphim. Sandalphon is the archangel of Power and he oversees strength, prosperity and beauty. He gives us the joy of living and is also given the task of looking after unborn children. He may be called upon for issues concerning pregnancy, fertility and birth. Sandalphon also helps release emotional blocks, fear, guilt and aggressive tendencies. This angel is the patron of musicians, journalists, nurses, pediatricians and midwives. The planet Jupiter rules this archangel, as does the element of earth. His day is Thursday and crystals linked to Sandalphon are Turquoise and Calcite. I’ve read that beautiful Lapis Lazuli is also linked to him.
I’m just after learning of the news of Wayne Static’s passing. I simply cannot believe it and I’m heartbroken. According to his official Facebook he passed last night.
I just want to express my deep sorrow. I fell in love with Static-X when I was 15 after hearing the unbelievable album that is Machine. I remember seeing the video for Black and White on Kerrang! tv and falling hopelessly for the electronic/metal mix and that amazingly catchy chorus. That super heavy industrial sound! I wanted to have his hair and spent many hours in school trying to figure out how he got his hair to stand up so high!!!
Wisconsin Death Trip and Machine were favourites of mine in my school days and it was only last year or so when I actually came back and revisited these albums and caught up on what I missed. Wayne Static was still extremely cool and very much rockin’ it.
I was obsessed with Stem (Wisconsin Death Trip). That drum beat, that groove, those synths- that SICK guitar sound!!!!! Genius.
“I’ll always love you” The synths, the chords, the EPIC sound, the industrial power, the riff, the guitars, the cool circling sounds- this song never lets up the glorious wall of sound of Wayne Static’s creative mind.
Even over the weekend I was excited to read he was going on tour with Drowning Pool and I hoped he would take his show to Ireland.
I’m just heartbroken and I cannot believe it. Wayne was such an inspiration to me. I loved his music, how he blended metal and electronic music, his style of vocal performance and his image. He was the coolest front-man.
Sending my loving thoughts to his family and friends. I can’t imagine their loss.
Metal music has lost an unbelievable hero. Nu-metal was the metal of my teenage years and is still very much a part of me. I’m sure every metal fan worldwide agrees with me when I say- rest in peace dear Wayne, your memory lives forever in our hearts.
I can’t believe it’s Monday already! This time last week I was sitting in this exact chair in Starbucks, DkIT School of Informatics and Creative Arts, planning my journey to Derry and feeling rather anxious about it!
What in the world was I worrying about? Absolutely nothing!
I heard about the award through one of my lecturers at DkIT, they insisted I give it a shot. Normally I wouldn’t even dream of entering competitions!
You can imagine my surprise when I received an email a couple of weeks later telling me I was chosen as one of the top twenty digital creators of class of 2014 from colleges and universities across Northern Ireland and the six Republic of Ireland bordering counties! My prize was a week of workshops in Derry, meeting industry professionals, attending interesting talks about creative arts and business, working with the 19 other winners and an opportunity to pitch my skills to a panel of industry experts in a bid to win the grand ultimate prize!
I was immediately delighted but also a tiny bit anxious! Travelling 190 km to spend a full week with strangers! Shy, self-conscious and over-thinker- Steff almost completely backed out- if it wasn’t for the same lecturer who assured me attending the bootcamp was something I absolutely needed to do!
And glad am I for their assurance!
My drive up to Derry was very pleasant. As soon as I arrived at the hotel I met some of the other winners and I was immediately put at ease with their big smiles, interesting chat and genuine warmth. These were people like me!
That night we were treated to a fantastic meal in the Exchange restaurant in Derry city centre. The craic was ninety and the food was delicious!
The next morning (Tuesday) bootcamp officially kicked off with lovely welcomes from the Honeycomb team and straight into a fun personality workshop. After a card game which got the group instantly giggling and working together, I learned about the four general different types of people (not that anyone can be labelled into any one type of course)- the two extroverted types and the two introverted types. I learned how these kinds of people generally think, behave and react to each other. The card game revealed that I am indeed an introvert- the kind who responds to others body language instantly, smiles a lot, tends to procrastinate, is generally quiet and shy and likes to take direction from others (over a cup of tea!)- yes, that’s me all over! I knew this already but it was lovely to learn there ARE others like me and how to approach the extroverts!
This was followed by a fantastic talk from Richard Williams from N.I Screen with great advice and useful information for us.
After lunch we started working on our pitching skills, learning how others deliver successful and smart pitches quickly and with structure.
After this we attended a Culturetech event in the Craft Village (much to my delight as there was a beautiful little shop I wished to visit there!) about starting up businesses in the creative arts. We listened to fascinating stories from three speakers about their ideas, their initial struggles, their developments and their successes. It was fantastic to hear how they went from their normal day-job to the job of their dreams.
Wednesday started with a workshop which was all about thinking on your feet- how to improvise. This was a lot of fun as it was all games that got us interacting as a group. I was initially terrified of staring into a strangers eyes- I tend to find looking into a strangers eyes unsettling- it makes me feel invaded and uncomfortable! And in turn, I tend to think I’m making them uncomfortable! I’m always aware of trust issues regarding eye contact but this is not my intent! (People I know and trust I am ok with!) So some of the games really freaked me out and I very nearly bolted but the ladies running the group were very understanding and said my feelings were totally ok- something I was never told before! It wasn’t long before I felt brave enough to join back in and enjoy the craic!
This workshop actually turned out to be one of the biggest benefits for me on reflection. It tied in perfectly with my life coaching that I’ve been working so hard on during the summer- building my self confidence, accepting myself, learning to feel joy towards myself and others, not feeling lost in the crowd and indeed- looking people in the eyes without fear.
After another amazing lunch, Josh Richards (science comedian and speaker, physicist, ukulele lover and astronaut candidate.@ISUnet graduate short-listed among 705 to colonise Mars with @MarsOneProject) captivated us with his stories, his dreams, his infectious laughter and smile. We fired loads of questions at him and even though his hour ran out, he stayed back and chatted some more with us over coffee, we milled around him, taking photos and asking as many questions as we could! He really touched my heart and he will very well be the source for inspiration for a very future song I wish to write!!!
We continued our pitching skills workshop afterwards, pitching fun ideas to each other and then working on the tough stuff- our real pitches to deliver to the industry panel the next morning! We also received mentoring from industry experts- invaluable experience!
The next day (Thursday) was the day of truth- we were all a light-hearted bunch of people with all of our different personalities but one thing we shared- an anxiety about pitching our skills or business ideas to an industry panel! It was a big deal as we wanted to do our best- it wasn’t about winning, it was about doing a good job and pushing ourselves that little further.
My pitch went good! I couldn’t help but be nervous, my voice revealed that! But I felt good- I did push myself into something I would normally run away from- and hey, it didn’t hurt! I pitched to them my skills as a music producer- what I could offer them if they were a top music studio, what ideas I have for the future of recorded music, my experience etc etc! My three minutes flew by in a heartbeat.
After a very pleasant walk around the city and lunch, there were more talks to listen to.
Greg Spence (producer of Game of Thrones) inspired us with his stories of the work he’s done, his journey and what he loves. He showed us the incredible work that goes into Game of Thrones (I knew it was brilliantly done but their pre-production is out of this world!!!). He didn’t just talk for the film/video/tv people, he spoke about the other creative work that goes into making a tv show (music, art, design, textiles, animation etc, etc.).
The last talk was more business- how to get investment in projects etc- valuable information was learned.
Bootcamp came to an official close that evening with two announcements- the person who came up with such a brilliant business idea that it was going to get further advice from an industry professional and the overall winner of the Honeycomb Creative Buzz Award.
It was after the celebration that our lovely group parted- some of us left for home and some stayed for further partying and Culturetech events! I went home as Derry is about a three hour drive and well, I missed my cat😉
It took me the rest of the weekend to recover from such an intense week! The wonderful thing is we’re all keeping in touch. All the Creative Buzz Award winners are connected online and we are doing a great job staying in touch!
Thank you Honeycomb Creative Works for a brilliant week. I gained so much, I’m so glad I went! You did a brilliant job and events like these really do perk up people like me! I have new friends, new contacts, new skills, new self-confidence and new experiences!