Tag Archives: black daisy

End of the decade ramblings! Happy New Year 2020!

It’s that time of the year.  The time where everyone is posting their Top Nines on Instagram, reflecting on another orbit around the Sun and the ending of another decade.

This time ten years ago I wasn’t blogging, it was the weird interim between Myspace blogging and WordPress blogging. Are the MySpace blogs still out there? Cue tumbleweed.

In Christmas 2009 I had just completed my first ever semester in college (Music Production in Ballyfermot). Black Daisy was long in the history book as the last gig was in December 2008, in Dolan’s Warehouse, Limerick. I didn’t know that then! While I did involve myself in other music performance projects for a little while (the two-piece acoustic Shock Sorrow 2009-14, the rock band Aztaria 2010-11, the rockabilly covers band the Full Moon Boogie Band 2012-13 and the gospel choir 2013-16), I haven’t played onstage during the latter half of the decade.

Do I miss it? No.

I noticed towards the end of Black Daisy, in fact I can remember the very gig, where I started feeling anxiety onstage. It was during our You’re a Star bootcamp shenanigen, when we played in the wee bar in Knockanstocken (I’m 99% sure it was part of the You’re a Star bootcamp, maybe I’m wrong, but definitely late 2007). I remember being up there thinking to myself “What the hell am I doing up here?” and feeling completely out of place. That feeling continued for every gig since. I didn’t realise it then either, that what I (and everyone else) thought was just “oddballness” was my anxiety manifesting itself in a different way.

So instead of the full blown rock n roll antics of the 00s, the 10s saw me going to college and edu-macating myself in music production. I excelled in Ballyfermot 09-11, academically and personally, as I felt embraced my classmates and lecturers. I definitely belonged there at that time. Then DkIT straight after that 11-15 where I definitely improved my skills and academics but also reclused back into myself. I didn’t experience the warm feeling of Ballyfermot there but I did make friends, some of which I still see from time to time.

Then there was the 2 weird years in between the degree and the masters. I was too burned out to jump straight into a masters as I put my heart into my work and got the grade I longed for but the absence of routine and like-minded people affected me. I stopped playing music but The Corrs came back and that took my mind off most matters as I went to as many concerts as possible and made friends along the way. That was fun.

I came back to DkIT to start my masters as a rattling shaking mess of nerves. I found postgraduate life very difficult and to be honest, there isn’t enough talk going on about postgraduate stress as I didn’t know about it until it hit me. The funny thing is, it doesn’t come from school, it comes from yourself. I wanted to ace postgraduate life like I did during my undergraduate years but then, I put massive pressure on myself to excel. I stopped believing in myself and my dissertation topic. I had months were I stopped altogether. Sitting around, feeling guilty for doing nothing yet throwing up when I thought about sitting at my computer or opening a book. Wouldn’t you think an award-winning graduate student who once volunteered to ease in First Year undergrads would know about who to approach for mental counselling? I didn’t. The professional I did talk to (and ultimately helped me) ended up fighting with me for some of it (I’m frightfully stubborn). I came to understand a good bit during this period and I think I’m getting better. Some kind hearts helped me along the way and made sure to check in on me, most days of every week. I know who they are. Thank you especially R and C!

What was most noticeable about the 10s was the swap from the stage to the sound desk. I found myself setting up mics for high-profile sound engineers, gulping back nerves as I set up for acclaimed Irish traditional and folk musicians.  Then I found myself behind the desk, making sure the shows ran smoothly. The first few were absolutely bonkers as my nerves were rattling like billy-oh “I don’t belong here, this is not my scene” but lo and behold, I settled in. The same familiar faces were pouring in the doors, sitting in their favourite seats, “Hiya Stephanie!” smiling at me, and oh my goodness did that make me feel nice. I still get nerves before every show, still get sick most mornings of gigs but once I get the gear set up and running, the rest is a doddle.

Now I’m fast approaching the end of my masters, with only weeks of heavy thesis writing left before the shower of corrections and re-drafts before submission and hopefully, graduation. 2020 will be the year I dance out of DkIT feeling finally accomplished. 2020 will be the year I get more traction on my music production life, be it as a sound engineer or otherwise. 2020 will be the year people stop thinking about me as a performer and more as sound engineer. 2020 will be the year I will go on a holiday. And will be the year I will not feel guilty about doing nothing.

I realise all that anxiety/mental health stuff sounds very “first world problems hun”. I’m entirely grateful for my good health, my families’ health, my nice house, my fluffy kitties, the opportunity to study, the opportunity to work in music, and for my lovely circle of friends.

Below is a collection of my favourite moments from 2019:

The couple of days I spent with my Australian friends Rachel, Chris and Ruby, I took them on a whirlwind tour of the North East and Rachel and I partied in Dublin seeing Sharon Corr in concert.

View this post on Instagram

My Charlie is so ridiculously cute and snuggly ❤❤❤

A post shared by Steff C (@sc_sound_engineer) on

Adopting Charlie to be the purrfect borfur for Rírá. Char is a muffin.

Oh my, the Tom Hardy look-alike in Aberdeen. ‘Nuff said.

Nailing two tickets for Rammstein for 2020, bring on the Feuerzone!!!! RZK I’m comin’ 4 ya.

The rainy Sunday we spent at Barmeath, the old castle we could see peeping through the trees from the basketball court of primary school and wondered what it was like. Now I know. More magical than expected.

Fostering Jimi kitten, the 6-week old tabby who was rescued from behind the billboards on George’s St. He came into my care on my birthday (808 day also International Cat Day). He didn’t want to go back to the rescue centre for adoption and shacked up with us. He’s brilliant.

Working at this was massive.

Doing sound for Kevin Conneff was also massive. He’s a perfect gentleman.

Racing down to Dublin with my Mum to meet Andrea Corr for her book signing. Andrea was a dream and so very nice. We were too shy to ask for a photo though!

Meeting Sal Abruscato before A Pale Horse Named Death gig in Dublin. The gig was simply amazeballs.

Meeting Jim Corr (for a third time in my life), taking my Mum and hearing him play in an intimate venue with the lushious violin playing of Liam Monagher. I could have listened to them both forever. Stunning.

Getting lamped with my work friend at a great wedding, it was mighty craic! 

And of course, receiving this awesome edit of Charlie on my beloved DX7! Thanks Rach!!!!

 

Happy New Year 2020 to you!

Steffy x

10 Years After Black Daisy: Happy Anniversary to the “Disturbing New Fashion” EP

It’s not often (never before actually) that I blog about my old band, Black Daisy, though I have mentioned in my bio that I was lead guitarist and backing vocalist for the all female rock band. If you’re a first-time reader on this blog, I parted ways from the band in early 2009. The band was formed by myself and LA Halvey from the ashes of a band we found ourselves in which formed in autumn 2002. That band was named Ali, yes we all hated the name, but we couldn’t think of anything better so we ran with it (it was hoped we would get Bono’s attention! pfffff, as if!). We had high hopes and we actually did a few very cool gigs (Mountjoy Prison Christmas party 2003, MTV’s Breaking Point, a couple of appearances on RTE’s You’re a Star). The band eventually burned out but myself and the singer still had faith and we continued writing, recording, auditioning musicians and gigging. We eventually found the other half of the band circa mid-2007 (Nicki Billings from Wicklow on rhythm guitar and Asta Mileriene from Lithuania on drums) and became the last incarnation of Black Daisy. Well, until I was out of the picture but that’s a different story.

Newspaper clipping from the Ali Mountjoy gig. It was a blast. Apart from me being called Avril Lavigne all night long LOL. Kinda deserved that though.

 

Stuffs from the early Black Daisy days.

So the reason I’m blogging is because on this day 10 years ago, Black Daisy independently released our debut EP “Disturbing New Fashion”. It was available through downloadmusic.ie and a small number of Irish HMV and record shops.

Disturbing New Fashion album artwork

We recorded it in Donabate (Fastlane Studio) with producer Stephen Brett (now CEO of InMusik), who said our drummer Asta, was a “machine” (she actually was though! you’ll never find a drummer who was on the beat like her). We had a lot of fun recording it and it happened very quickly. His studio was really cool, at the time I was interested in production but it was all a massive mystery to me. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what DAW he used (probably Pro Tools) or anything like that but I remember how I felt and that’s always the important thing. We had such great giggles, I remember we all got on really well, Stephen was a lot of fun to work with, we felt at ease, he “got” us, he let us do what we wanted to do and he pushed us to try out new ideas. It was a cosy space to work in, not small but not massive. Perfect for us.

Blink and you’ll miss me! This grainy footage of an acoustic song we were working on at the time is still on YouTube. This was shot in Fastlane and aired on Channel Six.

So before we went to studio and before we even started rehearsals, the songs were all demo-ed by myself. I had just discovered Apple’s Garageband and I put together all the tracks using drum loops, my recordings of guitars, basses and LAs vocals. We had lots of fun recording in my bedroom and at the time, we suddenly felt empowered with cheap recording gear. In fact I wrote “Disturbing New Fashion” by putting together a bunch of Apple drum loops, recording them onto my Boss Loop Station and overdubbing guitars and vox over and over. I wrote most of the lyrics too, inspired by a documentary about festivals- I remember they were talking in particular about Lollapalooza, and the phenomenon of people losing their **** in the pit at the gigs. How disturbed the audience seemed to the onlookers. I thought that was seriously cool, so that’s actually what the song’s about! I still have some of those demos knocking around, not the session files (I suffered a massive hard drive crash in 2010 and lost all my digital memories from Black Daisy- photos, music, videos- all gone to digital heaven), but I still have some of the stereo bounces on mini discs.

Taking selfies before it was cool. Camera on timer and GO! Strike a pose! – random hotel room in Limerick, 2007 (we were playing Dolans that night).

So anyways, our preproduction was really important, we spent a lot of time as a band in our rehearsal space (Monster Music in Blanchardstown was the BEST place ever), going over each and every detail of the songs. We were very mindful of our limited recording time and wanted to maximise whatever time we had by sorting out the nitty gritty in rehearsals. It wasn’t always fun but we learned how to play as a band and we actually gelled really well during that time.

I was always happy with the finished product and I’m still proud of it. However my role with the band at this stage was on borrowed time, as I didn’t forsee the Eurovision fiasco at this point and I had every faith that the band was moving forward in a healthy way. We were playing great gigs on the back of RTE’s You’re a Star series 6, writing new songs and getting on like a house on fire. 6 short months later, it all would change.

We took ourselves awfully seriously- backstage in a random stairwell in the Helix before our last You’re a Star live performance.
Larking around in The Late Late Show’s green room, we were having quite a giggle taking these pictures but we didn’t think they’d end up in the paper! I still like that photo.

I suppose it’s only fitting that 10 years on, I’m in the middle of my music masters. It all seems like a lifetime ago, I suppose it was. I’m ever the sentimentalist. Being in Black Daisy was a huge part of my life infact, it was my way of life. Everything revolved around the band- my jobs, work hours, my clothes, what I spent my money on, getting up and down to Dublin, countless hours on Myspace plugging the band. I even put college on hold in 2002, and never thought I would get there until I had my BCFE interview in 2009.

Part of me still thinks: I shouldn’t have bothered, I should have went straight to college in 2002, I should have spent more time focusing on an actual proper job, what’s to show for all the politics and drama anyway?

But then, I’d have never experienced so many cool things: the epic recording studios, the knowledgeable music producers, the experienced session musicians, gigging all over the country, the road trips, the late night sleepover giggles, the tense photo shoots, the fun video shoots, the nerve-wrecking radio interviews, the exciting TV shows, doing each other’s hair and makeup, swopping outfits, the car breakdowns halfways down the country, the parties, the clubbing in Cork city, going to Galway for the craic because the show was postponed 24 hours and we didn’t want to go home, the saucy jokes, the dodgey rehearsal rooms in Temple Bar, the serious songwriting sessions, the hunt for band members, the excited fans kissing my biker boots at gigs, the people dancing to our music, blowing away skeptical men with crossed arms at gigs, making our home demos and of course, the girls. I’ve probably forgotten half of the shenanigans. Feck, I’ve actually played the Ambassador in Dublin! So yeah, it was a good thing. It was a life experience and I wouldn’t understand band politics and musician’s emotions as well as I do now, only for it. Maybe it’ll stand to me when I produce a new band in the future or when I engineer my next gig or when I become a teacher.

There’s still one or two CDs knocking around on Discogs and eBay if you’re at all interested. I still think it sounds effing awesome and believe we were something unique. I also think we were a band at the wrong time of the industry, when everything was up in chaos and no-one dared (or cared) to invest in talent. The EP is no longer available on iTunes but the “Disturbing New Fashion” video (directed by Zoe Kavanagh) is still on YouTube if you want a quick peak.

“Disturbing New Fashion” CD package. That font still offends me though.