Tag Archives: Violin

The Corrs Live at the Marquee, Cork, June 2016

Two days after the Corrs played the Marquee, Cork and I’m still reeling. I have never felt such profound happiness, love, devotion and respect in all my life. Absolutely every little thing that happened at the concert was nothing short of amazing.

Where do I start?!

A Corrs fan from the word go, as a teenager I dreamed about the life the Corrs lived. Their astounding beauty and style coupled with their amazing music had me spellbound. How exquisite were Sharon Corr’s violin melodies? How angelic were Andrea’s vocals? How utterly mind-blowing was Caroline’s drumming? And how much did Jim rock his black and white Fender Strat and every other instrument he put his hands on?! I was ever-so-mildly obsessed!

Lansdowne Road happened. My first concert and my first time seeing the Corrs in real-life. I was truly smitten.

Next time I saw them was 2004 in the Point, Dublin. A very polite concert- in complete contrast to the dancing and celebrating in Lansdowne Road, the audience sat and clapped. I just wanted to scream “I love you Jim!!!” Nevermind- my sister did that for me! Jim looked up into the seating area in our direction in bewildered amusement!

Fast forward to 2016. January saw their spirited return to the Point. I have already blogged about that amazing night: Bring on the Night- The Corrs Dazzling Homecoming Gig, Dublin 28-01-16 | Audio_Girl so no need to delay, let’s talk about Cork!

We arrived at the Marquee at 10.30am and my friends from Instagram were already there, waiting! What a joy to meet up with @theCorrs_uk, @ladycinnamon09 in person after many conversations and comments! What a pleasure to meet @laurabaterista! We all literally did not stop talking for the rest of the day. I kid you not. We talked about our previous Corr experiences, concerts, their music, tattoos, lol-moments and everything under the sun! We even had a pizza party- tagging Jim Corr on Twitter, inviting him out for a slice of veggie pizza- which he acknowledged and liked! We took fun photos and revelled in each others company, feeling like we were friends our entire lives.

 

Later that evening something amazing happened and we found ourselves invited backstage to meet and greet! How incredibly LUCKY were we?!!! We jumped up and down in excitement, fixed our hair, lashed on perfume and wondered out loud what on Earth were we going to say to the Corrs?!!!

 

When we got backstage we were in awe of our surroundings. The Corrs crew were like a family and were so warm and friendly to us. My knees went weak when I caught a glimpse of Jim peeping his head out of the band-room. There was my greatest inspiration!!!

When he came out, he was beaming. His smile broke my heart there and then (in the nicest possible way!). He looked ultra-cool in his black and white kicks, black jeans and grey camo t-shirt. Sporting a sexy, scruffy stubble and his hair spiked up, he was the picture of youthful joy and well-being.

I watched Jim (open-mouthed!) talking to the other lucky fans and suddenly manager John Hughes was by my side, chatting to us. I recognised him immediately. A moment after he drifted off, Andrea literally bounced over to us, hugging @corrs_uk and talking excitedly about our pizza party she seen online while she was on her way down! She talked to us like a giggling school-girl and busily signed our merchandise and posed for selfies. Caroline was with her, much quieter and reserved  but eager to say hello and graciously signed autographs and allowed photos. I was astounded by her natural beauty- herself and Andrea were total goddesses!

 

Breathless I turned around when I heard a very familiar voice “hiya Steffy!” there was Jim Corr himself smiling at me! I think I managed to squeak out a “hi” and threw my arms around him! He gave me the best hug of my life! We had our picture taken immediately and I introduced my boyfriend. Autograph signed during relaxed chitchat, I felt like we were talking to an old friend. I forgot it was the Jim Corr talking to us, it seemed like a garden party or a bbq and Jim was about to offer us a burger! He asked ME about my music and I managed to squeak something out! I gave him a soft teddy with a rose- a gesture of my humble love for him which he thanked me for 3 times!

 

Time to be moving out, the Corrs had to be on stage shortly! Sharon was talking fluent Spanish to a fan, I politely waited- enthralled by the sound of her voice. I loved her green sparkly eyeshadow- I told her so and she seemed genuinely pleased, having done it herself!  She signed my White Light album twice (it was raining- she apologised for it! Good gracious lady, no need to apologise for that!) and let me take a photo! This was my second time meeting her and she was every bit as lovely and beautiful as I remembered!

 

Hurrying out I heard a shout “Hey Steffy!!!” I turned and Anto Drennan himself hurried toward me! Anto Drennan the legend himself recognised me!!!! We got a quick photo and a quick “great to see you again!” before we had to part ways! The Corrs were late for the stage and it was my fault! 😛 I still can’t believe my guitar hero called ME- what a perfect gentleman!!!!

 

Back in the Marquee we re-united with our friends, squealed in excitement and found our spot to enjoy the concert. The Corrs did not disappoint! The concert was every bit as magical as the Point earlier this year. The band were tight, flawless and nothing short of insanely talented. One thing different from the Point was that the Corrs smiled much, much more this time. They never stopped smiling all night!!! The crowd out-sang the band during Runaway moving Andrea to near tears- her voice cracking in emotion. We danced the night away, bopping to our favourite Talk on Corners songs, Anto shredding his guitar solos like the string god that he is famous for, Keith Duffy pounding the bass through our hearts and each Corr shining on their instruments. The vocal harmonies were stellar- especially during Kiss of Life (my favourite track from White Light), those chorus “oohs” gave me goosebumps which still haven’t worn off yet.

 

The icing on an already amazing day was when the lovely security man gave me Jim’s setlist! I’ve always wanted one! I pressed it to my chest in pure joy and the people around me smiled- a stranger walking up to me saying “You deserve that setlist! I’m glad you got it!” Corrs fans are truly the nicest people on the planet!

 

The Corrs generate something much bigger than themselves. Because of their music, humble nature and genuine smiles, like-minded people come together and meet in pure joy. Gentle souls meet for the first time at their concerts and life-long friendships are made.

Take my friend Anne from Berlin who I told you about last time. We met on a Corrs fansite in our early teens and kept in touch ever since, nurturing a deep and committed friendship.

 

Take the girls we met in Cork. Our Instagram friends. @theCorrs_uk posted me out a White Light Tour flyer earlier on this year out of sheer generosity! When I met both girls I rejoiced in their quick witted humour and genuine kindness. I instantly felt at home with them. That includes @ladyconnamon09 and @laurabarerista.

 

We walked in the pouring rain back to Cork city, singing our hearts out and talking about the concert. Bedraggled, soaked and tired, we sailed into Jury’s for a pint of the black stuff! Still stories to exchange, still laughs to have!

 

The night ended after midnight when we went our separate ways but the chatting did not stop. Further social media connections were made and we’re still chatting as I write this! We’re in peels of laughter in our 6-way conversation and absolutely enjoying our friendship, thanking our lucky stars for the amazing days we’ve just had. We are so grateful we got to meet the Corrs- together- and for the amazing night of music we enjoyed.

The Corrs are amazingly kind and generous to have gifted us with these memories.

The Corrs give the world so much with their thoughtful, mature and poignant music.

The Corrs make the world a better place and inspire their fans to do the same and to enjoy life.

This is why the Corrs are so successful.  White light surrounds them and they are earth angels.

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

 

 

 

Bring on the Night- The Corrs Dazzling Homecoming Gig, Dublin 28-01-16

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.

Who's are who's? #sisters #thecorrsofficial #warnermusicuk #whitelight

A post shared 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!

#Dublin #whitelighttour

A post shared 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, Andrea danced 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!

See you there!

Preview, buy and download songs from the album White Light, including I Do What I Like, Bring On the NightWhite Light and many more. Buy the album for €10.99. Songs start at €1.29. White Light by The Corrs on iTunes

 

 

 

 

 

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.

New Song Coming Soon!

Thought I’d post a little update of my own creative musings!

Yes, I have been busy musically. I’ve been working away on my next New Age/Chill Out/Sexy Celtic/Whatever You Wanna Call It track! It’s an idea which sparked off a few weeks ago but I did not have the energy to continue, now it’s full steam ahead!

I’ve been having fun blending my favourite sounds from Logic’s ES2 and EX24 synths as well as making my own sounds in the Sculpture synth and recording lush harmonics from my 12 string acoustic, reversing them and having fun with my Roland Gaia SH01 synth.

Vocal ideas suddenly came and with them, a lyrical theme. These were sent off to my songwriting partner Keith Caffrey and although he has only indulged me with a tiny taste of what he has written, I have been blown away. He has possibly outdone himself this time! I can’t get over what a gift he has with words, he really writes so beautifully and from the soul! Every lyric Keith writes, whether it’s for our acoustic-rock Shock Sorrow duet, his heavy metal band Black Svan, his own solo material or for my solo New Age/Electronic music, is always deep, meaningful, interesting, emotional, personal and universal. I can’t wait to hear his lyrics with melody! (Oh I forgot to mention his amazing melodies, guitar playing and all round gift for music, any instrument Keith puts his hands on, he can play it!)

Keith Caffrey
Keith Caffrey, great photo of a great musician and friend.

I recorded some violin ideas last week on a whim, when I say “violin” I really mean “fiddle”! My love for Irish traditional is clearly evident in this one! I always preferred playing traditional music, be it fast or slow (really love the minor and modal pieces I learned from a great old fiddle player many years ago) to the classical, technical pieces (which are of course wonderful but that style never felt right for me- though I do not knock for one second the theory and technicality I learned through those pieces!) I studied in my school days.

Having the craic in college in semester 3, the lads thought it was funny to put me in the middle of 6 AKG C414s! (and not plug them in!)
Having the craic in college in semester 3, the lads thought it was funny to put me in the middle of 6 AKG C414s! (and not plug them in!)
Sneak peek of what I have so far...
Sneak peek of what I have so far…

I decided tonight that yes, indeed, there will be a fiddle solo in this one. 😉

That’s really all I will say right now, until I hear the rest of the lyrics with the melodies, I can’t finish the structure but I really am looking forward to recording this. I’m thinking of asking a guest female vocalist to sing it. I’m also strongly thinking that this might well be a demo for a possible future college recording project, real drums would be fantastic… now to find a drummer… if you know any, send them my way please!!! (stephaniecaffrey@gmail.com, for reals!!!!)

Still on a high from the Trouble Pilgrims gig over the weekend, still badly wanting my own Burns Hank Marvin signature series electric guitar!!!!

Also I see Logic Pro X has been unveiled today! Looks pretty slick, I gotta say! I do like the new interface. I was afraid it was going to go all GarageBand and childish in style- I LOVE GarageBand-hey, it was how I started, pretty much (if you don’t count mucking around in good old, Cool Edit years and years ago) but desperately hoped Apple would keep Logic professional! It sounds good with new features Drummer, Flex Pitch, Track Stacks and an Arpeggiator! I am excited! But I have absolutely no reason to upgrade, I love Logic Pro 9, it’s stable on my iMac and Macbook Pro, it works a treat. I wouldn’t mind having a go though! The Apple Press Info hasn’t said whether it has changed it’s plug-ins at all, like Pro Tools 11 has (oh dear! Big no, no for me there! Happy to stay with Pro Tools 10 for college work, even if off-line bouncing is a desirable plus!). So for now, I’m sticking with Logic Pro 9, it’s the only Logic version which ever appealed to me (7 and 8 were disasters for me!) and the only version which ever inspired me!

Read more on the new Logic Pro X via Apple – Press Info – Apple Unveils Logic Pro X.

Signing off for now… I will of course publish more soon. Happy out y’all.

It’s Christmas!!!

I wanna scream and shout and let it all out!!!

Thank goodness the assignments are DONE (apart from the write-ups, DOH! but they are to be done over Christmas anyway, phew!) !!! I have to say the last 2 weeks in particular were an absolute killer! I love the busyness of college life but when life duties get in the way that’s when I get super stressed! But no matter, I seem to have made it out alive, once again!

I have learned an absolute wealth of information this semester, especially about Pro Tools and microphones. I was always very fraidy of microphones until really the last few weeks! I was unconfident as to selection and positioning but now I have a much clearer head and feel like I’ve learned something! I’m also not as afraid of the big, bad mixer console! I really got to grips with it in the last couple of weeks and finally it makes sense. Of course I understood it before but now I really do feel better about it! I was told I need to be more confident and get a little bit of attitude but I think it’s coming 🙂  I’m only just starting to feel like I can trust myself. I’m ever doubting myself. I need to throw that away and not be afraid to make a mistake.

DkIT CRM1 :)
DkIT CRM1 🙂

The last week or so you wouldn’t have seen me without my head stuck in Pro Tools on my laptop (unless I was in the studio playing violin on recording projects for fellow students!). I was busy mixing, doing small touch ups for my own music production project “December” by Shock Sorrow (the mix is now complete and will be shared soon). I was also creating a sample library of 4 instruments recorded separately in various acoustic environments with 3-4 microphones (close, near and far). I have put together a library of fiddle (recorded in a long corridor) traditional flute (in a big room), bass trombone (in the Winter Garden) and snare (in a small room). I shall blog in detail about that during the weekend!

I’m delighted to mention that after the Christmas exams in January, I’m heading off to Norway with the Erasmus programme! I can’t wait!

Can’t believe I’m halfway through this degree! I absolutely love student life at Dundalk Institute of Technology, I’ll be a sad bunny when I have to graduate in 2014!

Christmas shopping has to be completed on Friday, lol, I haven’t had the headspace for it this year! Only of course when it came to Christmas divil-ment in college earlier on this week! 😉 teehee…nom!!!

Now all I want to do is dance and have a drink, or two… Here’s some tunes I’ve discovered this week and they make me want to dance so much! (not that I can actually dance, but it would be awesome to hear these loud, in a club and be merry!)

Nice and dirty track with those great trancey vibes I love R3HAB for. I think Skrillex is the master of that robot synth and slick editing sound but this latest offering from R3HAB is well sweet! Approval! Play it loud!

I feckin DIG this! It’s so catchy! I heard it on the radio in work when I was in the stockroom, I literally stopped what I was doing and hid so I could enjoy it and hear who they hell it was. I was shocked when I realised it was Britney bitch! Rockin! Catchy vocals, awesome synths, simple beat, great hooks! Love this kind of pop production (but you knew that anyway!). Sexy stuff!

Happy Christmas all!!!!!!!!

Lola kitteh IS looking forward to Santy.... :)
Lola kitteh IS looking forward to Santy…. 🙂

My Music Production Project Recording is Complete!

Party over here! I have completed my 3 recording sessions for my music production project “December”, written and composed by Keith Caffrey and myself, featuring Shane Taaffe on cajon and Ciarán O’Brien on double bass.

Monday morning was my last 3 hour studio session, I had 3 blocks of 3 hour sessions over a 6 week period to record the song. Time was extremely valuable and every minute counted in these sessions (especially when the song itself is 5:02 long, one take alone eats up 5 minutes…).

In this final studio session we recorded the lead vocal (Keith Caffrey), my backing vocal (thanks to my assistant Shauna Kearney for engineering for me here!) and a rainmaker. The session was the most relaxed (for me at least!) and though we kept a sharp watch on the clock, we were not under as much time pressure as the previous sessions.

Although it wasn’t ideal to record vocals at 9am, it had to be done and Keith was warming up his voice from 6.30am. The set up was simple- a Neumann U87 with pop shield and reflection filter going through the Audient ASP 8024 to Pro Tools. It would have been ideal to record with compression because there is a broad dynamic range in the vocal performance but as we’re still in early days, the compressor wasn’t patched in. We recorded some takes adjusting the gain for the loud and soft parts and also recorded the contrasting sections separately. It did occur to me after the session that I could have set up an AKG C414 right up beside the U87 on a separate track and adjust the gains of each microphone, so one would have a lower gain than the other. Hindsight! Every day is a school day…

Keith in studio
Keith in studio

Nonetheless I got what I needed committed to Pro Tools. Using the same set up with a tad extra gain I laid down my backing vocal, taking care to double up. Backing vocals are not a requirement of this project but one of the defining sounds of Shock Sorrow (myself and Keith) is our vocal blending. My sweet, soft voice is a nice contrast to Keith’s powerful and deep rock voice.

The rainmaker was the next recording- we set up 2 AKG C414s (mono tracks, cardioid pattern, no filter), and recorded the gentle sway of the falling beads during the intro and outro, this is a nice falling rain-like sound as opposed to a rhythm. I have two rainmakers, one bamboo and one plastic, the bamboo one was the rainmaker of choice as it sounded much more organic and watery! The plastic one sounded like a hail storm!

Me and my bamboo rainmaker :)
Me and my bamboo rainmaker 🙂

With 15 minutes to spare before wrap up time (once the clock strikes 12 we had to be out- mic’s put back into their cases, cables tidy, stands collapsed, wrap up time had to occur at 11.45), we recorded 2 lead vocal ad lib tracks for fun. I was impressed with Keith’s improvisation, counter harmonies, whispers and echoes. He gave me so much good stuff I can’t bear to edit them! 😀

Ready for your close-up Rockstar? :)
Ready for your close-up Rockstar? 🙂

Later that afternoon after my last lecture, myself and Shauna headed to our beautiful, ambient Winter Garden in the college building. The Winter Garden is probably my favourite place to hang out between classes for it’s greenery and general peace and quiet!

I had my own recording set up with me- Macbook Pro (with Pro Tools 10), Cakewalk UA25 EX audio interface, Samson S-Amp and Rode NTK microphone. I wanted to record a couple of extra tracks to see if they might work in the project- violin and small djembe drum. I wanted the massive natural reverb so I placed my microphone in the middle of the garden and stood about 8 feet away.

My on-the-go recording set up
My on-the-go recording set up

I actually didn’t play my own violin (the Chinese violin my parents bought for my 13th birthday- too long ago!!!) although it did sound really nice. One of my lecturers actually loaned me his 100 year old German violin for the recording! I’m honoured to have played this violin and even more honoured that I’m the first person ever to have actually recorded it! Not even my lecturer has recorded it! It was beautiful. Beautifully smooth and amazing tone. It was slightly smaller than my own violin (it wasn’t 3/4 size but just slightly smaller than full size) and as light as feather.

Me playing the beautiful 100 year old violin in DkIT's Winter Garden
Me playing the beautiful 100 year old violin in DkIT’s Winter Garden

I played the djembe for the first time in my life (it’s been sitting in my house for years as a decoration!), I just wanted the simple accents, “snap” sounds with that lovely reverb. It actually sounded really lovely and different! My right hand is in absolute bits, 3 lovely bruises on the insides of my fingers! But definitely worth it!

We actually spent 3 hours in the Winter Garden, it was busier than I thought it would be and most takes were spoiled by the noise of people opening doors, walking by, chatting, cleaners hoovering, you name it, I heard it through the sensitive Rode mic! I did expect such noise in the public space and it was really after 5pm that we started recording “clean” tracks.

I was absolutely shattered after all this but after 2 hours of chilling out at home I was back in Pro Tools, editing and starting the first rough mix until the small hours. Of course the point of the project is to not fix anything in the mix but I did need to comp the vocals and go through the violin takes while it was fresh in my mind. All I have left to do is some fades, an micro edit here and there and adjust the mix balance.

Then the write up… 😉

So expect to hear the final mix of “December” on my SoundCloud in… December!

The Role of the Teenager in Society; Rebellion and Popular Music.

This week’s blog considers the role of the teenager in society over the past 100 years and the importance of popular music to the teenager.

Popular music became a commodity in the early 20th century with the invention of radio and the mechanical reproduction of music. In 1927 the B.B.C created their music department, broadcasting new and different styles beyond community-based music into homes across the U.K. Music became a personal possession to be enjoyed at will, not just at church at other family events.

Families in the 1920’s gathered around the radio. Source: http://rtf305-f10-07885-atm645.blogspot.ie/2010/09/rtf-blog-3.html

The concept of the teenager is relatively new. Before the 1940’s, children finished primary school and went straight into the world of work. 12 year olds were fast tracked into adulthood and responsibilities. Fun and free-time were unheard of. Only the privileged finished secondary school during the 1940’s and those who did attend school, had to work  after school hours.

In the years following World War II, British popular music was nonexistent. Society had changed and teenagers had expendable income. The fresh, exciting music of white performers such as Elvis Presley became dominant on radios and television screens instantly. Rock n roll was a commercial product. Artists connected with young people by dressing like them and for the first time ever, young people felt they could relate with music stars. The performances of Elvis were broadcast on television with shots of the excited and emotional faces of the audience, young people were an integral part of the show. These pictures showed other fans how to respond to rock n roll.

The artist/fan connection. Elvis and the teenagers. Source: http://overlookpress.tumblr.com/post/29569651750/in-interviews-elvis-said-that-his-jittery

But rock n roll was not without controversy. It’s musical origins were founded in African/American music and it was associated with devil dancing and black magic rituals. Parents were outraged, it caused damage to the moral fabric of white U.S society and record companies attempted to clean up the image of rock n roll.

The exciting nature of the music combined with the newly discovered artist/fan connection created a desire among teenagers to rebel against their parents, dress differently, go dancing, have fun.

This trend for desire for rebellion and opposition to parents continued every decade with new genres of music. Music became the voice for the youth generation and became very important with one’s identity and expression. 

But does this still exist today? Is music still as important to today’s teenagers as a voice? My personal belief is no, music is not as important for expressing the desire for rebellion and parental opposition.

I have asked my 14 year old sister (on Facebook!) some questions regarding her feelings about music. She listens to all types of popular music, neither preferring one genre to another, her iPod holds dance, pop, rock, dubstep and indie music. She’s told me that teenagers can’t go a day without listening to music and that music itself is important to her and her peers. She doesn’t believe teenagers listen to music to rebel anymore, she adds that “loud” teenagers generally listen to dance and trance music because these genres are played in the discos.

Perhaps at 14 years of age, rebellion isn’t something teenagers have even considered yet.

When I was 13/14 I listened to the pop music of the charts (The Corrs and Robbie Williams pretty much sums it up!), I enjoyed the Corrs because I was learning violin and thought it was cool that a pop band incorporated Irish traditional style melodies with pop and rock and also the fact they were from Dundalk, only 20 minutes up the road from my house! I remember it was my Dad who gave me their first album “Forgiven Not Forgotten”.

The Corrs “Forgiven Not Forgotten” album

But the first genre of popular music I became independently interested in was hard rock. I was 15 and just started Transition Year in school. I was making new friends (I was previously very shy and quiet and spent my lunchtimes in the library!) and these people introduced me to hard rock. I have already talked about this introduction to rock music in a  post last week.

I liked the guitars (I had just started learning guitar) and the fast paced music. I remember loving the look of horror on my parents faces when I told them I thought Metallica were brilliant! They were shocked and thought it was literally the devil’s music! I remember watching a VHS (yes a video tape!) at home of Metallica and my Dad walking in, giving out that I was listening to such music. A week later the VHS machine broke and he blamed the Metallica tape for ruining the machine! He said James Hetfield was inside the machine and personally broke it on purpose! Of course, this was partly in jest (my Dad was not THAT crazy! haha!)

Metallica VHS!

But this music became my identity for my teenage years and early twenties. My fashion was Metallica t-shirts, various dog collar necklaces, studded bracelets, fishnet tights, ripped jeans (flared of course) and of course long, long hair. It was very important to me to express myself as a rocker (or “Rock Head” my Dad used to call me!) and this was very apparent in my own creativity in music.

In my late teens I joined a girl rock band in Dublin and my rocker personality had a huge influence on the group. For my audition in the Temple Bar Music Centre (now called the Button Factory) I played Metallica’s “The Four Horsemen” for them. I remember the look of pure surprise on their faces and that satisfied me, it was unusual 10 years ago for a girl to play heavy metal guitar and that made me feel unique.

It’s safe to say I still enjoy this kind of music. My musical taste has broadened a lot since then. I never purely committed myself to rock/metal as a teenager, I did secretly continue to listen to the Corrs and various other pop/dance artists. I still deeply love the music of Metallica and other hard rock artists but I do find myself seeking out new rock bands these days. My fashion sense has also broadened since! It’s actually pretty rare that I wear a band t-shirt these days, but I when I go out I still wear the smokey eye makeup, teased hair and rocker boots! I still keep photographs of Metallica on my wall.

The memory remains!

New Song – “The Key” by Stephanie Caffrey :)

I have been feeling creative lately! I’m announcing the follow up track to “Ashes Forever” which I posted online a couple of weeks ago… “The Key”. 🙂

Composition for this piece started about two weeks ago in my bedroom studio. I wished to complete it before my trip to Oxford so I could mix it over there, but feeling this song was coming from somewhere very deep inside me, I didn’t want to rush the creative process.

I had composed all the music by the time I got to Oxford and there I mixed what I had and structured half the song.

I returned home to Ireland in a whirlwind of emotions and penned the lyrics and vocal melodies shortly afterwards. This song is a deep one to me and I hope the listener enjoys my creation.

It’s the first time I’m publicly showcasing my violin skills on a recording and also my lovely B flat tin whistle, I was really surprised how nice it recorded, adding just a touch of reverb! It’s probably also the first song I’m actually not playing guitar! Written, composed, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered entirely by myself with the exception of giving my friend Lee Fitzpatrick some deserved credit for advising me on my equalisation curves at the early stage of mixing!

Me and my violin! (This picture is back to front, I’m not left handed!)

So put on your headphones, sit back, relax and breathe and enjoy “The Key” 🙂

Steffy xx