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My Trip to Oxford :)

Oxford, baby! What can I say?! My first time in the U.K was a real mind opener! I’m just totally blown away by Oxford, particularly by the world famous SAE Institute!

I was invited to Oxford earlier on this year by my dear audio-adoring friend, Lee Fitzpatrick who I know from my previous life in Ballyfermot Music Production. He is a student at the SAE Institute and wanted to show me what his amazing college has to offer.

Straight off the train after arriving from Birmingham International, we walked through the beautiful main streets of Oxford city, Lee drawing my attention to the pub where Tolkien wrote the Lord of The Rings. I was struck by the gorgeous sandy colored buildings, the architecture was indeed very beautiful.

Oxford beauty: The Bridge of Sighs

Onwards to the SAE Institute! We wasted no time in getting there! I was trembling at the excitement of finally visiting this amazing place I had heard so much about!

And I was not disappointed. Audio Heaven. A fast paced tour of the building with its endless secret stairwells, glassy corridors and many, many doors leading to various media-related treasures left me breathless. Every room was filled with the very best of audio gear I have only imagined in my dreams. The building was quiet and had a very relaxed, creative atmosphere, it was a Bank Holiday so there were no classes that day. Students were indeed hard at work on their day off, I had the pleasure of listening to projects and watching students at home in their creative academic environment. They were so friendly and warm hearted, delighted to hear I was from Ireland studying Music Production also. The overall vibe was one of disciplined hard work with a relaxed atmosphere.

“I’m just happy to be here!” Me at the World HQ of SAE πŸ™‚

After being introduced to the fabulous Neve studio (the one I have been waiting for!) and the 7 other studios, we went to the cosy SSL studio and mixed one of my personal projects. Every Mac computer in the building (and there are MANY!) is fitted with the latest versions of every digital audio workstation known to man, and my Logic Pro 9 project worked like a dream. Logic Pro and Pro Tools are both taught in the institute, something which really impressed me as a Logic fan. I was among kindred spirits who had the same passion for the intuitiveness of my favourite DAW. I felt right at home!

With trembling hands I sat in front of an SSL and prepared to embrace this fabulous piece of technology…

Later in the evening we set forth, back to the Neve studio where Lee had booked a long session to continue one of his projects. There we spent an intense few hours recording vocals and overdubs, again working with Logic Pro 9. I have a tendency to be shy of studios and especially top of the range gear, I was honored to be assisting Lee and watching how he worked.

Hello gorgeous Neve Genesys!!!
The amazing Joel Rundle!
Lee, audio genius working hard!

Taking a break, Lee introduced me to the magnificent Steinway grand piano in the main live room.

The main live room, Steinway grand piano and Lee (proud as punch!)
Lee is not just a studio professional πŸ™‚

After wrapping up the session some hours later, we made our way to the film department and set up for a shoot, another one of Lee’s many projects! The popular Nerd Vs World series on YouTube. I was delighted to watch the visual set-up and delighted to help with the audio end of it. Something I never did before.Β The session ended pretty late in the night (or should I say early in the morning?!) and that was my first day in Oxford.

My second day was fun also, a proper school day, Lee attended his morning classes as I worked on my own project in the Practical Room, a room full of Macs and mixing desks, racks of equipment and controller interfaces. Everything I was permitted to use, thanks to my BCFE qualification, even though I felt like I shouldn’t even breathe near the stuff! I was assured I was most welcome to use anything I wished.

The Practical Room, my home all day Wednesday πŸ™‚
Working away on my project in Oxford πŸ™‚

Later in the evening, after meeting the kind staff of SAE, I was invited to attend the guest lecture which was due to take place that day. The building was abuzz all day, the lecturers walking through the corridors, nabbing students, reminding them that a very special guest would be attending and not to miss out.

The very special guest was the very, very mind-blowing, beatjazz master, Onyx Ashanti. Onyx is the creator of a futuristic, improvisation based technology which involves live looping with software synths created (not triggered mind you, everything is live) by devices attached to his hands and mouth. Hard to explain, which is why I’m leaving a link here: Onyx Ashanti: This is beatjazz | Video on TED.com. I enjoyed his two hour lecture, despite being highly aware I was the only girl in the room (and the only non SAE student hahaha!). Onyx passed around the various parts which make his technology work, explaining in fine detail his technology, pure data and what inspires him to do this music. I was truly honored to be in his presence and I am very grateful to have been permitted to attend this lecture.

Exhausted from so much information, we chilled out with friends and remembered that we are Irish and Oxford has fantastic night clubs, it would have been a shame to pass up a dubstep night out! In Irish style, we partied in Oxford city centre until the small hours, enjoying wonderful music through the safety of ear plugs- never leave home without them!

We’re Irish and we know how to party! Myself and Lee πŸ™‚
Rock and roll πŸ˜‰

And so was my experience of Oxford! A truly wonderful place with wonderful people. Oxford was every bit as exciting and educational as I thought it would be. I am left with a great desire to attend this wonderful college to pursue my own studies but alas, I am already 1/4 of my way through my current degree programme! I will surely come back to Oxford in the very near future and further explore the city, see my friends and exchange more music ideas and thoughts!

Thanks so much for the invite Lee and thanks to the kind people of Oxford πŸ™‚ Until we meet again πŸ™‚

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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! πŸ™‚

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.