“Our favourite space to create music is when we’re in the recording studio. I guess we spend most of our time in rehearsal rooms, getting ready to record, but they can be pretty sterile, and it’s heads down trying to get organised. But when we’re recording, we know what we’re aiming for and we’re all fired up to get what we’re aiming for. The last studio we used was Atlantis in Stockholm, which is a lovely old studio. It used to be owned by ABBA, and they recorded there for most of the 70’s. It has a real vintage feel to it, the main room is huge and has loads of wee pockets to it and has a balcony area. There was a massive old 50’s jukebox in the corner with loads of old 7″ singles. It has a fantastic feel to it, and it was a real pleasure to record there.
Swedish studios have this great mix of the most amazing vintage gear and bang up-to-date computer software, so you have the best of both worlds when you’re recording. ABBA’s old grand piano is in the room, and lovely old vintage amps and bits of gear like echo units and that sort of thing. Everything you need is there, and the recording desk looks like the bridge of the Enterprise, so its all good. Being prepared helps, but having the gear to make the sound you need to make the record you want helps. We’ve been really lucky with that over the past couple of records.
We work quite quickly when we’re recording, so we usually spend a couple of weeks in the studio working LOOONG days. But it’s worth it in the end. We get pretty focused when recording, so it’s all about getting in and battering through the songs one by one, until we’re happy with the takes. We used to record ourselves with our engineer, but we realised that we really needed a bit of a shake up, so we approached a producer, Jari, and that made a massive difference to us, cause he really gave us the shake up we needed. We’ve become far more confident through working with him. Not just when recording but playing live too. It really helped us become better players, so yeah, we’ve learned a lot through working with other people.
We spend months and months preparing before going into record. We work through all the songs, try them in different ways until we get the emotional response from it we were looking for. Sometimes change the key, add bits, take bits out, rehearse them up until we’re a bit blue in the face,. And even then, as soon as the recording session starts, loads can get changed at the last minute, but by that point we know what we’re doing so tightly, that we an bounce off any changes there are and it all works out ok.
We use whatever is lying around as well as taking our own gear with us. Jari usually turns up on day one with a car full of a ridiculous amount of gear crammed into the back that he spends about two hours unloading into the studio, so we have a think about what’s right for every song, and we try out a few different things until we know we’ve got it right. It’s a nice position to be in to have access to the most ridiculous amount of vintage gear that just sounds incredible, as well as having new technologically bang up to date stuff at our disposal.
Making music is incredibly important to us, regardless of where we do it. Playing live gives an immediate response from the audience, which is great for us, but I guess when we’re in the studio making a record, it’s not something we do all the time. It’s a special occasion, and we know that what we are doing is important to us and to the people who want to listen to our music, so we need to nail it, and make it sound the best we can. I guess, when we’re in the studio, we know we’re making our next record, and that’s pretty much the best feeling you can have. The ultimate way we express ourselves creatively.”
Musical Rooms was talking to Gavin Dunbar of Camera Obscura
Camera Obscura formed in Glasgow in 1996 and have released a slew of singles and four albums to date. Their heartbroken country riffs are full of ’60s rhythms, jangly guitars and Tracyanne Campbell’s gorgeous vocals. The band have just released their fourth album, My Maudlin Career and opener ‘French Navy’ is one of the best singles of the year. They play Andrew’s Lane this Thursday, April 30th. Doors are 8pm and tickets cost €18 plus booking from http://www.tickets.ie, WAV Box-Office, City Discs, Sound Cellar and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. For more details, visit www.myspace.com/cameraobscuraband.
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