Tag Archives: life

For Your Ears, Heart and Soul: Leaca Bán – Na Tonnta

Posting and sharing with you, my most recent music production project, the beautiful Leaca Bán by 5-piece, traditional Irish crossover group, Na Tonnta.

Na Tonnta
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.

Approaching Na Tonnta was an easy task. It was actually perfect timing! I already knew Sinéad, their flute and whistle player from the Norway erasmus trip in 2013 and I worked with Ellie, their vocalist and fiddle player on my previous production project, “Crystal Hearts” feat. Fiona McErlane by Audio_Girl | Free Listening on SoundCloud.

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!

Na Tonnta warming up for the Spirit of Folk Festival, 2014
Na Tonnta warming up for the Spirit of Folk Festival, 2014

Leaca Bán began in the rehearsal room. Sinéad introduced the idea to the group with the beautiful, haunting traditional tune, 250 To Vigo, 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.

Ellie and Fiachra in the rehearsal room
Ellie and Fiachra in the rehearsal room

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.

Advertisements

Breaking Free From Radio Silence!

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.

My Yamaha DX-7 and Christmas Teddy ;)
My Yamaha DX-7 and Christmas Teddy 😉
My music room :)
My music room 🙂

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!

More soon!!!!!!

Be good y’all!!!!! 😉

My Week at the Honeycomb Creative Buzz Award Bootcamp 2014

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!

My journey begins with the completion of my music production project “Crystal Hearts” feat. Fiona McErlane by Audio_Girl on SoundCloud – Hear the world’s sounds at the end of last semester. On a whim I sent off my song to The Honeycomb Creative Buzz Award – Honeycomb – Creative Works.

Honeycomb Creative Buzz Award
Honeycomb Creative Buzz Award

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.

Great talk from Richard Williams to Honeycomb Creative Buzz Award winners. Really good advice on how to get started! pic.twitter.com/t8LCnKXgBi
Great talk from Richard Williams to Honeycomb Creative Buzz Award winners. Really good advice on how to get started! pic.twitter.com/t8LCnKXgBi

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. graduate short-listed among 705 to colonise Mars with ) 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!!!

Meeting Josh Richards!
Meeting Josh Richards!
Funny Twitter conversation with Josh later!
Funny Twitter conversation with Josh later!

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!

Teamwork!
Teamwork!

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.).

Honeycomb Creative Buzz Award winners 2014 with Greg Spence, producer of Game of Thrones.
Honeycomb Creative Buzz Award winners 2014 with Greg Spence, producer of Game of Thrones.

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 😉

My cat missed me too :)
My cat missed me too 🙂

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!

The seven graduates from DkIT who won the wonderful week of bootcamp (Rebecca Dykes and Sinead Duffy - graduates of the BA in Communications in Creative Media. James Heffernan - graduate of the BA (Hons) in Communications in Creative Media. Stephanie Caffrey, Ashling Grufferty and Sean McKeown – graduates of BA in Music and Audio Production and Hugh Thornton – Graduate of the BSc in Computing in Games Development.)
The seven graduates from DkIT who won the wonderful week of bootcamp (Rebecca Dykes and Sinead Duffy – graduates of the BA in Communications in Creative Media.
James Heffernan – graduate of the BA (Hons) in Communications in Creative Media.
Stephanie Caffrey, Ashling Grufferty and Sean McKeown – graduates of BA in Music and Audio Production.
Hugh Thornton – Graduate of the BSc in Computing in Games Development.)

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!

Enjoy Derry! Yours truly sitting in the Mayors Throne in the Guildhall!
Enjoying Derry! Yours truly sitting in the Mayors Throne in the Guildhall!
I may have come home 2 stone heavier ;) yum!
I may have come home 2 stone heavier 😉 haha yum- worth it!

Update: The seven DkIT graduates were featured in this weeks DkIT Times, read the full article at DkIT graduates attend CultureTECH festival | Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Hitchhiking the Galaxy For The First Time!

If you’ve been following my tweets or been in my presence at all since January, then you’re more than aware of my new-found hoopy obsession with the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy!

I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered this absolute treasure at this point in my life! My little sister urged me to read the books years ago but I shrugged her off, thinking she was a mad hippy but it was in a moment of sheer assignment-induced-panic before Christmas that a question was put to me in a calm, softly spoken voice; “What is the one thing we never, ever do according to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?”…. “DON’T PANIC!”. Okay, seeing as it was mentioned that I should probably check it out (following my embarrassed, sheepish grin), I went and bought The Trilogy of Four in my local Waterstones the next day as a Christmas present to myself!

Love, love, LOVE
I’ve lost myself in the universe! (what a wonderful feeling!)

Hitchhiker’s is exactly what my life has been missing this whole time! It took an ultra-cool, hoopy frood to make me realise that!

Don’t you just hate it when younger siblings turn out to be right?!

I haven’t finished reading it yet, I’ve been pacing myself! I have a track record of racing through books and repeat-reading old ones over and over! (I also have an insane amount of books I’m dipping in and out of!)

I just love this zany universe Douglas Adams has created. I love the various worlds, the peoples, the histories attached to them, the technologies! I particularly love Zaphod Beeblebrox, he’s such a larger than life character, he’s pretty much been my hero from the first moment I laid eyes on him!

I’m crazy to have a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster and have a conversation about life, the universe and everything with any like-minded frood!

I'll have one please! ;)
I’ll have one please! 😉

And after we’re done drinking (I’m sure we’ll have done 6 impossible things due to the fact our brains have been smashed out!), we can head off to Milliways for a bite to eat at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe and continue the madness!

Let's go!
Let’s go!

I’m also interested to hear the sonic greatness of the loudest band in the Galaxy- Disaster Area, a plutonium rock band from the Gagrakacka Mind Zones… \m/

I’ve also been reading The Salmon of Doubt, the little stories are tying in nicely with HHGTTG 🙂 (Like “Tipples” where Adams tells of his favourite drinks, G+T being his overall favourite nicely coincides with the curious fact that something like 85 percent of all known worlds in the Galaxy, be they primitive or highly advanced, have invented a drink called jynnan tonnyx, or gee-N-N-T’N-ix, or jinnond-o-nicks, or any one of a thousand or more variations on the same phonetic theme, according to the Guide.)

The Salmon of Doubt is an excellent read...
The Salmon of Doubt is an excellent read…

I have watched the latest film version of HHGTTG, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen and to be honest, I expected it to be a lot worse! I really liked Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent and Alan Rickman (Marvin) was truly wonderful 🙂 Of course my heart goes to Sam Rockwell (Beeblebrox), how could one not adore him?! It’s that winning smile! 😉

Zaphod Beeblebrox serves up Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters with Ford Prefect int he movie :)
Zaphod Beeblebrox serves up Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters with Ford Prefect in the movie 🙂

My newfound obsession has of course sparked a renewed interest in the Guide in my family, I never knew my mother was so cool and actually read the books before I was even born! My sister has loaned me the original tv series on DVD to watch which I must get round to!

I’ve been chasing up the original radio series after reading stories on the BBC website about how the sound effects were created and the larks that were had during recording. For the life of me, I can’t find that link now! I was going to purchase the BBC box set on Amazon (it’s selling for a froody price at the moment!) but someone is going to loan me the original series on vinyl after Easter! 😉

The Guide has really given me a new outlook on life, the universe and everything, if you haven’t read it and you’re partial to quirkyness, insanity and larger than life characters, I suggest you get yourself a copy, stick out your thumb and start hitchhiking on the nearest spaceship you find!

DON'T PANIC!
DON’T PANIC!