Tag Archives: collaboration

Another Music Production Project Tracking Completed!

It’s that busy time of the semester again! The time where time itself is running out and the assignments are piled high! Recording projects are wrapping up and are in the final mix stages, essays are full speed ahead and how I wish there were more hours in each day!

Tonight I finished tracking my Music Production Project for semester 4. I haven’t blogged about the production process like I did last semester, so apologies for that! This semester FLEW, I think the Erasmus trip to Norway accelerated that, where does time go when you’re having fun, eh?!

I have been working on one of my own songs for this semesters’ production project. It is a song I started working on over Christmas, inspired by Electronic/Dance music I had been listening to a lot (and still am- I’m also currently enjoying various Dubstep tracks while walking, the Sound City album while driving and Evanescence while running!). I have been writing New Age/Chilled Electronic for a few years now as I really have been enjoying creating music “in The Box”. Logic Pro 9 is my little getaway place!

While I was in Norway I continued working on the piece of music, structuring and shaping the sounds and taking deep inspiration from the emotions and experiences of the Erasmus Programme and the natural beauty of the cold, snowy, sunny, fjord and mountain landscape. The programme was very intense emotionally as I struggled with homesickness for my friends, college, home and family, I felt slightly lost at times as workshops made me close my eyes, look inside myself and think about sound, light and creativity in new ways.

Inspirational beauty in Norway which inspired me
Inspirational beauty in Norway which inspired me
Random sign on my long walk through a Norwegian wood ;)
Random sign on my long walk through a Norwegian wood 😉

When I came home I had a draft mix of synths, beats and ambient nature recordings, which I was very happy with. There were only 2 lines of lyrics, which I tracked at home “Close your eyes/What can you see?”. I listened to my mix on the lovely Genelecs in the college studio just for fun and it was suggested that I make the the music into a song, go write lyrics and melodies and think about bringing the song to a whole new level, record acoustic drums and other instruments! Make it my production project! I was skeptical at first as I was rather attached to this piece of music (music for thinking to- as I saw it as), which I composed entirely by myself.

Enter Keith Caffrey. If you have been following my blog, you’ll already know that Keith is like the other musical half of me! He is my songwriting partner and close friend, the music I’ve written with Keith through the years has always had deep, personal meaning and a creative enjoyment I never experienced before. I sent Keith the draft mix and emotional ideas I would love to communicate through lyrics (closing of the eyes, looking inside myself and being more aware of myself yet still feeling slightly lost).

Very quickly the music turned into the song. Keith came down to my bedroom studio and we tracked the entire vocal idea. The lyrics were so deep, personal and emotional, Keith understood perfectly what I had been feeling (as spiritually close friends, there are few who understand me so well!). It was also as if Keith KNEW we had only been studying the art of vocal expression in college, he felt the song should have lots of aspirate on-sets and releases, creaks and shakes.

Keith writing lyrics in my bedroom studio during a late night recording session
Keith writing lyrics in my bedroom studio during a late night recording session

With minor structure adjustments and a guide vocal done (and a huge migration into Pro Tools 10!), the song was ready for addition instrumentation. I’m not going into the nitty-gritty details of my sessions but I recorded drums in session 1, harp, piano and electric guitar in session 2 and female vocals in session 3.

Craig Sullivan on drums
Craig Sullivan on drums

During my time in Norway I made lots of new friends and valuable contacts, Fiona McErlane being one of them. We met in the airport and sat next to each other on the plane from Dublin to London and hit it off straight away with giggles over drinks! I heard her singing in the music performance workshops in Norway and was blown away by her pure, crystal clear, angelic voice. I knew back then I wanted to work with her in the future but didn’t know for what project!

Having the craic with Fiona in Norway!
Having the craic with Fiona in Norway!

I asked her to sing on the project and play a little bit of traditional harp. She was excited about the song and the inspiration of the music and lyrics (she was actually present when I made the recording of the fjord shore in Norway).

So tonight was our final recording session, we tracked lots of vocals and had a very productive session. I was so happy with her performance, she gave it 110% emotionally and technically, she jumped right in with suggestions and gave it her all. I was also happy that I got to finally track using the Distressor compressor (gentle 2:1 ratio) and got to try out the Rode K2 valve mic, it sounded sweet!

Our session was the first official night time recording session in DkIT 6pm-9pm. Yes! Finally! A night time recording session!!! I’m a big fan of working in the evenings/nights (last semesters’ Monday 9am-12pm were not to my liking!). Energies are high, vocals are warm, people tend to be more relaxed in the evenings I find! So please, for next semester, more night time sessions please!

I better go to bed, it is 12:30am now and tomorrow is a new day of vocal editing! I will of course share the song “Close Your Eyes” when it’s mixed. Special thanks to Keith Caffrey, Fiona McErlane, Craig Sullivan, Gavin Clarke for their creative input and help and to my friends for their support!

I’ll leave you with this fun snap from tonights session!

Fiona gave it socks! ;)
Fiona gave it socks! 😉
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Adventures Begin in Norway Erasmus IP!

Today was class! I’m exhausted! Sleeping pattern is still messed up (I can never sleep properly during college holidays- I know this isn’t a holiday but I’m not in my regular college routine, if you know what I mean!), I got about 4 hours sleep again last night and I’m still not ready to hit the hay yet! I can’t switch off! (I need to sit in lectures or the studio to actually get tired haha!).

Anyway I’m in my cosy room in Norway, chilling out on my super-soft bed, in my pj’s, nibbling some dark chocolate, thinking about today’s adventures! Homesickness has passed and I’m starting to feel settled in!

Adorable wooden figures our host makes for a hobby!
Adorable wooden figures our host makes for a hobby!

This morning we started the workshops, first up was drama! Whenever I hear the word “drama” or “acting”, I have a tendency to become extra rigid! But this morning was different, the atmosphere was warm, friendly and for once in my life, I didn’t feel silly! I don’t think I should blog about the group activities in case I spoil it for the students who will have this workshop on Thursday! It was great fun and it felt good!

After lunch we had the next workshop which was a freestyle painting and improvisation musical collaboration. Basically we put on sexy boiler suits (lol) and prepared to get messy with buckets of paints, using our hands, feet, bodies, sticks and brushes to express ourselves on a canvas on the wall.

We're sexy and we know it! ;)
We’re sexy and we know it! 😉

I was horrified at the thought of getting filthy with smelly paint and felt a bit claustrophobic in the small room. It was a bit much for me actually! We were joined by our fellow students who performed an improvised piece of music on various instruments (congas, wood blocks, keyboard, acoustic and electric guitars, ceramic jug, shakers and an upright piano with the back taken off to expose the strings).

Workshop
Workshop

It was decided by the group that the colours we would paint would reflect the music, each student would listen to a particular instrument and paint however they felt. The purpose was to build communication between the two disciplines, the art on the wall and floor being a direct emotional response to the music.

Art inspired by improvised music
Art inspired by improvised music
The floor was also a canvas..
The floor was also a canvas..

I recorded the audio from the second set, where I was playing a woodblock. I found this more enjoyable than actually painting because it was chaotic! I got a chance to take pictures too… It was an interesting experience.

Belgian student Hannah clearly enjoyed herself!
Belgian student Hanne clearly enjoyed herself!

Following this we had a massive clean-up operation and a group reflection with discussions about this exercise. We suggested ways it could be improved and what was inspiring about it.

Seán now has unique runners!
Seán now has unique runners!

Pizza time! We had the best pizza ever delivered, thanks to the organisation of lovely Oded! Everyone was mixing really well, all tables in the Kantine were actually a mix of international students, everyone was laughing, joking and sharing pizzas.

Taking a peek around the classrooms in the music department :)
Taking a peek around the classrooms in the music department 🙂

And after this we had a concert. The Norwegian students performed a half an hour set of rehearsed ensembles which included traditional tunes, rock, folk, guitar and duets. The stage was then open to everyone for an jam session, songs were sung, more traditional tunes were played, there was dancing, laughing and chatting. I recorded some of this on my Zoom Handy recorder!

Concert :)
Ensemble performance 🙂
Irish, Norwegian and Belgian musicians jam
Irish, Norwegian and Belgian musicians jam

And so here I am! It’s almost midnight already and I should at least try to get to sleep! 🙂 Looking forward to tomorrow’s field trip and free time to explore Leirvick! (I haven’t gotten any snaps of Norway’s incredible scenery yet!).

Miss my friends, family and lecturers back home but not enough to want to leave just yet! 😀

Listen to This! Trend-E feat. Stephanie Caffrey “Don’t Assign Yourself” (Extended Vocal Mix)

Have to share this! I’m so excited about this song!!!

Completely spontaneous, completely natural, definitely inspired!!! I present my latest creative, collaborative production; “Don’t Assign Yourself” composed, mixed and produced by the brilliantly talented Trend-E!

Trend-E

Trend-E is a young, up-and-coming electronic music producer based in Drogheda. We actually got to know each other through Facebook after our bands played a few gigs in the town (Sarsfield’s Bagfull of Songs open mic night, the Purple Room’s Jam for Japan, multi-band charity night to name a few!). Trend-E is also a very talented rock drummer! He got in touch with me and we got to know each other, sharing music videos of our favourite bands (of which we have alot in common actually!) and sharing our original compositions through SoundCloud.

We actually never formally met until last week!

Trend-E uploaded the original instrumental mix of “Don’t Assign Yourself” last week online and when I listened to it, I was immediately inspired. I don’t consider myself a vocalist (only on rare occasions!) but this music really turned me on! I quickly downloaded (ahem, bold me- much to Trend-E’s amusement!) the mp3, threw it into Logic and recorded some vocal ideas. I bounced a rough mix and emailed it to Trend-E, thinking he probably would be flattered if anything and carry on as normal.

Quite the opposite! He immediately Facebook-ed me back and was so excited about my ideas, we met up that afternoon (for the first time!) where we exchanged the vocal audio files. I told him to do whatever he wanted with them, in-fact he asked for more! He asked for a verse and the next available moment I had to spare, I wrote some lyrics and recorded the verse! An hour after that we met up again and exchanged the files.

3 hours later the mix was complete, much to my shock and amazement! Not only did he place the vocal parts where I recommended, he chopped, edited, filtered, sampled and tweaked several of my vocal parts and added them in all over the song, it sounds CLASS! Trend-E the Ableton genius!

I am highly impressed and addicted to the song! I love the creative things he did to my vocal, it’s nice to be on the opposite side of the glass, so to speak! Normally I’m the one editing and processing vocals, and doing all the fun creative music stuff, mixing, producing, it was nice to record myself and just give the files to someone else to have creative fun with!

Completely unexpected! I didn’t expect to fall in love with a song and actually collaborate with a DJ! Oh yes, by the way, DJ’s rock! 🙂

Have a listen, if you’re in the mood to head out clubbing or dancing or driving your car or whatever, this should lift your mood and I hope you want to sing along! Just in case you do, here’s my lyrics;

Don’t Assign Yourself

(lyrics by Stephanie Caffrey)

Don’t assign yourself,

Don’t assign yourself tonight.

Read the signs,

And choose your path.

Read between the lines,

And tear the map.

Find, find, find the light.

Find, find, find the light.

Don’t assign yourself.

(a sign, a sign, a sign…..)

Don’t assign yourself.