Musical Rooms

January 19, 2011

Musical Rooms Part 104: Somadrone

Filed under: Interviews,Irish Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 4:07 pm
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My favorite space to create music in is in my room in San Francisco, on 14th St. The building I live in was uprooted and moved from a place called Dolores Park after the great earthquake of 1906. It’s quite small, but that’s fine – I crawl around among the wires like an ant. I have a lot of light, natural daylight. There are three bay windows, so I watch the sunrise in the east and set in the west, like at home, only eight hours later. It smells of an old gold rush San Francisco. The front door has a leaver at the top of the stairs that opens the door. This is quiet common in SF. It was built for the lazy, or for shooting the sheriff if he were to ever rap upon your door.

Most of my musical arsenal is still in Ireland (although I had to sell a lot of it to fund this self-indulgent trip). Having said that, new instruments bring new sounds, new ideas. I currently work with the following gear:

1. Moog Opus III
2. Moog Sonic Six
3. Vox Continental Organ
4. Matel Synsonics Drum Machine
5. WEM Tape Echo
6. SP-404 Sampler
7. Fostex 80 ¼ 8 Track Reel to Reel recorder
8. Other Bits and Bobs
9. Old Reliable – My Fender Jazzmaster
10. Laptop
11. A broken Oscillator
12. A Electromyometer (its measures sound waves made by skeletal movements)
13. Lots of vintage lamps (on loan)

The most important thing for me to have in that space is my ever fluctuating musical thought. I have to strike a machine up to get it going, but when it does it can go either way; really great, or absolutely terrible. I have to catch it when it’s in a good mood. I swim a lot so that helps wash out the cobwebs and demons that lurk beneath. Walking helps too. If it were a physical thing, I guess it would be my guitar. It often acts a starting point, so it’s good to always close to the source. Sunlight; a foreign concept of an Irish expat. Abstraction.

I spend 90% of my time here. I have always been a bedroom dweller. I think Brian Wilson put it best, in ‘In My Room’ when he said, “There’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to”. It becomes bit of a vortex also; It served as a prison when I was finishing up my PhD last October. I lecture at the Art Institute of California, San Francisco, so I work a lot at home. I usually work during the day, and write and record at night, weekends also. I found a new place for the weekends though. I am a member of the SF Photo Center, and every Saturday I go and print and develop photos. I am going to be part of a catalogue they are releasing next year. Being in a darkroom is the most peaceful place in the world. I find it very therapeutic. I read a lot here too, usually when I am bouncing down files, or just looking for route of reference.

Isolation is probably the most important element in creativity. Since I moved here, knowing relatively little people, it’s forced, rather than by choice. I miss my family and friends, as they were obviously an important part of my formal influence. I am more focused when I work alone, wandering around the shallows of my ego. I do miss a second opinion and set of ears every once in awhile. Quality control comes in and out of question.

When it comes to starting a piece, modes and moods is what it boils down to for me. Left hemisphere brings the logical, sequential and rational. Right side, right time: Intuitive, Random, a bit of both perhaps. I watch a lot of films. Music is transitory, where as film grabs a hold of you. Not to say that sound does not, it just operates differently. Observations, reflections and experiences; lots of new ones over here. I have been using ‘cut-up’s lately (as done by William Burroughs and David Bowie) to help me generate lyrics. Musically, its very organic, no real plan or goal in mind. Sometimes using Brain Eno’s ‘Oblique Strategies’ is fun. They are a pack of cards he and an artist called Peter Schmidt invented. They are essentially a deck of cards, with different sayings like ‘Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importance’. Sounds like a load of jargon, but it can work.

I like various things about this space:
Situation: It’s in a new city that brings new experiences and situations. All that happens day-to-day is documented in this place, through thought, writing and sound.
Light: Three bay windows overlooking 14th St bring an insane amount of light, which brings lighter moods. Sunsets are very inspiring here, especially when I am sitting at my desk watching it happen.
Coffee: Downstairs coffee shop, great cakes too. They make a mean carrot cake. Something like this is not only inspiring, but filling too.

Somadrone is Irish composer, musician and film-maker Neil O Connor, now based in San Francisco, California. His current album, Depth of Field, is a follow up to 2007’s Of Pattern and Purpose and 2005’s Fuzzing Away to a Whisper, released on Trust Me I’m a Thief Records. Depth of Field was recorded in Dublin, Germany, Sweden, France and San Francisco, California and is “a totally new sound for Somadrone; a minimalist inspired electronic pop songbook, somewhere between Ennio Morricone, Jim O Rourke and Air. Depth of Field is out on Skinny Wolves Records. For more information visit

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December 7, 2010

Musical Rooms Part 103: Solar Bears

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 10:00 am
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“Our musical room is a small part of Rian’s home. It resembles a loft or attic but it could be a mezzanine. Rian has been learning about music production for over a decade, working most days on various projects. His house is located on a steep hill in Delgany, Wicklow. It is not far from woodland and the quality of oxygen is better than you could hope for. There is an energy in the locality that is lacking in the area I am from personally. Both Rian’s parents are musicians, as is his brother Oisin so there are countless books on music and instruments laying around.

There happens to be another studio next door called Strawberry Studios, ours was called Studio Antarctica unofficially. Equipment-wise the list is longer and more varied than either of us had recalled. We worked off a Mac running an ancient version of Protools. We used keyboards like the Proteus 1 + 2 as well as more standard fare like Novation K-Station. The guitars ranged from a Epiphone Viola Bass (a Hofner copy) to an Adam Black Orion using pedals like the EH Holy Grail Plus and the Keeley Blues Driver.

The real joy for us was tape machines which included a My First Sony Cassette Recorder and a Tiger Electronics Talkboy Cassette Recorder, which featured in Home Alone 2, if I am not mistaken. We used some software for textures as well but it was mostly hardware that we got our ideas down on for editing. Songs were created without much labour or polishing. Rian spent quite a while mixing and doing final touches. There were times when we left the windows open to allow the ambience outside to creep in. That is something Can used to do. An element of nature is important.

We sampled scales of guitar and saxophone to create new synth sounds. Another trick we did was recording the resonance off a Welmar Acoustic piano strings after shouting at them. Sometimes Rian started a track, sometimes it was me. Everything was shared and equal. Roles became non-existent early on. Thankfully we produced a piece of music each time we met up.

The room itself has enough books, angles and objects to ensure interesting acoustics. There was plenty of beer and wine drinking during sessions. Afterward we would watch an old-skool science fiction film or a psychedelic opus like The Holy Mountain to inspire us for the next day. The laidback approach suited us both as people and music makers.”

Solar Bears are Dublin/Wicklow duo John Kowalski and Rian Trench who met at sound engineering college. Sharing a love of world cinema, their music combines a number of different influences ranging from electronica to film composers like Ennio Morricone and George Delerue. Their sound is a mix of programming, acoustic instruments, synths and vintage tape machines. They are signed to Planet Mu and their 2010 album, She Was Coloured In, was named in Rough Trade’s 100 Albums of the Year and in Uncut Magazine’s Top 50 albums of 2010. For more information visit

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September 16, 2010

Musical Rooms Part 102: Hunter Gatherer

Filed under: Interviews,Irish Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 11:33 am

“At the moment, my musical room is the spare room in my apartment. It’s a small bedroom without a bed. There’s a river outside. The room overlooks half of Dublin from quite a height and I sometimes watch factory fires in the distance. Aeroplanes tiptoe across the sky. There’s no history to the building; it’s only a couple of years old. There used to be a factory on the site but that’s passed into oral history. Kids drink by the gate to the apartment block, slurring into their phones in the shadows that the CCTV cameras can’t reach. There’s nothing for them to do and everywhere to do it in. There are shells of men in the nooks and crannies of the industrial estate down the path, with enormous, hideous, slavering dogs. The men don’t seem to speak; I’m starting to think it’s the dogs that are dealing the drugs. But that’s down below at street level. The curtains are drawn when I work on music. They’re heavy and thick. The light is low. For monitoring, I often open the curtains and stare at the horizon. Never in daylight.

There’s a PC, a laptop, some keyboards, a Kaoss pad, some circuit bent stuff, microphones, miles of cables, a D.I. box, a guitar, some homemade filter things, pedals and some things I smashed. I need time to make music, and that’s hard to come by for me these days. Other than that, it needs to be dark and quiet. My back needs support, too – it’s on its last legs, if you’ll pardon the term. I might start working to a schedule soon. If it’s good enough for Nick Cave, it’s good enough for me. I don’t have the luxury of working on music any time I feel like it, as my job gets in the way (not that I don’t consider myself very fortunate to have a job). Much of my music is composed or recorded in manic bursts lasting a few hours. When I’m away, it’s important for me to have a recording device handy, be it a Dictaphone, a Zoom or even a phone. My brain’s deteriorated to the point where I have to record every idea that pings through my head, good or bad. I work alone but everyone’s different. A lot of the second album will be recorded in extreme isolation. It’s the only way it’ll work. It’s going to be darker, more bleak, more emotionally resonant and much more intense, so it’ll take focus and energy. I have a strong sense of place, too – not that I believe location is enough to engineer inspiration – but I’m interested to see what a change of surroundings can actually do.

More often than not, I start with one sound and start building from there. Sometimes I’ll try to recreate a melody or passage or phrase or whatever that’s already formed in my head. A lot of my stuff is made in one sitting, then embellished, simplified or restructured at a later date. At least two of the free tracks I’ve released this year were made after I woke from nightmares. This year, I’m looking into different approaches to writing and recording. Alongside the second album, I’m going to try to write and record another album in a week.

What I like most about the space is the diffusion of weak lamplight, the height of the table, the quiet and the curtains.”

In 2009 Hunter Gatherer released the acclaimed solo album, I Dreamed I Was A Footstep In The Trail Of A Murderer. He has just released a 7″ on Osaka Recordings containing Père Lachaise (A side) and Undergrowth (B side). It’s a vinyl-only release and each copy comes with an mp3 download code on the Okasa site. He plays the Co-Op, Newmarket, on Saturday September 25th as part of the Young Hearts Run Free night and the single is launched at Whelan’s on Thursday October 7th with support from Meljoann & Ilex. For more information visit

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June 23, 2010

Musical Rooms Part 101: The Dead Flags

Filed under: Interviews,Irish Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 12:04 pm
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“The bathroom in the place we make our music, is a small room with all the usual accoutrements you’d expect. The main thing is that it’s a bright, sunny room and the tiled walls make everything sound that bit better so you can really get into playing a song. The window affords equal views of some amazing mountains and an electricity transformer station which might lead a better songwriter to assess the encroachment of man into nature. Not me though, I write about girls. The “good room” faces south into the garden with large windows and can get really warm in the afternoon which is great for getting into the right headspace. It’s a very comfortable room with old armchairs and couches and even a gazelle skin on the floor.

Most of the musical instruments in the house end up in the good room so there’s always something lying around. My dad plays so many different things and this is where he practices too so within reach are a piano, tuba, flugelhorn, saxophone, a Cajon that I really must return to its owner, some drums, a glockenspiel, a stylophone, bongos and an old kids’ keyboard. When I’m working on a song, depending on what I’m doing, I drag all the band’s gear into the room too so that adds guitars, amps, basses and general percussion stuff. I used to have a massive Hammond Organ which I bought for €37 on e-Bay but it was taking up too much room so I gave it to our drummer Kev, who keeps it in a studio up in Donegal.

I used to have a studio set-up using Logic, a desk and several decent mics, but I found it very cumbersome in terms of writing fast. I had no real desire to be a recording engineer and it really is a money pit so I just stopped using it. Now, I record onto Garageband on a Macbook using the in-built microphone and a pair of walkman headphones. It might seem ridiculous and remedial, but if you’re not planning to release the recording, it’s the fastest way to multi-track. It’s got enough functionality in it for me to craft the sound a bit towards how I want everything to be and I’m never delayed by worrying about mic placement or trailing leads all over the place. I use my live set-up for the guitar- a Fender DeVille tube amp, a Fender Telecaster and a pedal set-up with a bunch of overdrives, distortions, delays and effects like that. My acoustic is a beat-up Yamaha which is no great shakes, but is all I can afford and has done the job for years.

The guitar, my voice and the laptop are probably the only things I really need in here. When I’m writing I like to write with just my guitar because I want the songs to stand up without needing embellishments. When I’m demo-ing, I try to restrict the recordings to just what we can do live which basically means guitar, bass, drums and three-part vocals. Sometimes you can hear a keys line or you think something needs tambourine or something else, but restricting yourself can help breathe a bit more creativity in terms of arrangement.

I sometimes try to keep to a schedule of getting up early, having a good breakfast and sitting down in front of the laptop for some solid work but when the other parts of being in a band like promotion and bookings need to be done, they end up taking priority. We recently returned to playing live after recording the album and I forced myself to sit down and write some new tunes so that there’d be something new for us to play in the set – I didn’t like the idea of not having new songs when we came back to playing.

I work alone pretty much exclusively. I like to figure things out on my own and get the whole song together before I let anyone hear it. For me, there’s nothing better than the feeling of finishing a demo. It’s like finishing a drawing or a story or something – you knew that there was something you wanted to get out of your head and into reality, and here it is. The next most exciting thing is playing that song to an audience and seeing how they react. The only other person I write with is Sam Jackson, a pianist friend of mine. When I play with Sam, the two of us just get into a mind-meld and hours fly by with me on guitar and him on an old Fender Rhodes or upright piano. I’ve never met anyone else with whom I can write freely and where you completely lose the line of who-came-up-with-what. It’s always a true collaboration and it’s often more rewarding and much more natural then writing by myself.

I don’t know exactly when a song starts for me. I know that I suddenly become aware that the melody I’m humming is actually original. It might have been in my head for days or just have come out that moment but when I realize that its mine I try to get it recorded as soon as possible so that I won’t lose it. Sometimes it starts with a chord or a sequence or a rhythm – the lyrics come very quickly or very slowly – nothing in-between for me. I’m always walking around the streets in Dublin singing songs into my phone hoping nobody’s listening or taking notice. I do the same when I’m driving. However you get the start, you’ve got to get going on it pretty quickly while it still excites you. The best thing about writing a song for me is that when I finish a song, I’ll probably come up with another one almost immediately after. They usually come in twos for me. And the best ones come fast.

The bathroom is where I’ve written songs since I was 14 so it just feels like home in terms of my song-writing. I’ve always been able to write songs in different places but that’s where I’ll always want to be when I’m doing it. The good room doesn’t have any magical powers but it’s brilliant to work in a large space and not be interrupted. That’s the opposite of anywhere I’ve lived in Dublin where you’re always bumping off walls and trying not to disturb someone. It’s like an office where everything is conducive to the process but there’s nothing so amazing about the space that leaves a mark on the work. I (used to) design buildings for a living so I’m always fascinated by the prospect of designing a perfect creative space for myself. The light, the privacy and the comfort would all seem to be important elements but once you find a space that feels like it has those attributes, all the others can be created.”

Musical Rooms was in conversation with Billy Fitzgerald, the lead singer and songwriter with The Dead Flags.

Sligo band The Dead Flags release their new double A-side single, O My Love! O My God!! Girls this Friday, June 25th. Their debut album Gentlemen’s Club was released earlier this year. They play The Sea Sesssions (main stage, 6pm) in Bundoran, Donegal on June 25th and The Chasin’ Bull, Bundoran the same day at 22.30. They also play the Lovin’ Life Festival in Sligo on July 3rd, Club F.E.A.R. at Pravda, Dublin on July 9th, Clockwork Apple at Whelan’s, Dublin on July 16th, The Quad, Cork on July 21st and Baker Place, Limerick on August 13th. For more information, visit and

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March 23, 2010

Musical Rooms is 100!

Filed under: Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 4:10 pm

Musical Rooms clocks up its 100th contribution today. This site would not exist or be possible without all the wonderful musicians who have taken the time to tell me about their creative spaces.

Thank you also to anyone – music fans, equipment geeks, musicians, producers – who take the time to read this.

Thank you all.

Musical Rooms Part 100: The Redneck Manifesto

Filed under: Interviews,Irish Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 4:00 pm
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“My musical space is the rehearsal room in the back garden of my parents’ house in Crumlin. My parents have always been very supportive of me, my brother and friends when it came to creating and playing music. There has always been some kind of space for me and my friends to play together at home. At first it was just a small wooden room my father built behind two apple trees. We used to keep pigeons in there until the cats killed them. You couldn’t fit a drum kit in there, it was just big enough for me and my brother and our tiny guitar amps. Then as we started to play with more people, my parents decided to build a real rehearsal space. Sound proofed, to some extent, with double doors and the whole nine yards. We dug up the soil and poured the cement for the foundation together. My uncles came around to help.

It took a long time to finish but when it did we took full advantage of it. All our friends’ bands rehearsed there and my parents’ house became this kind of meeting place for a lot of really good bands. My parents opened their home to anyone we knew who wanted to play there. They never once complained about the noise, fed the bands and treated them as friends. It was a great time. Bands like Bambi, The Dudley Corporation, Dinah Brand, The Connect Four Orchestra, Jape, Goodtime John (He’s actually out there now as I type this), Decal, Puget Sound, Large Mound and The Dublin Guitar Quartet all recorded and rehearsed there. Plus many more I can’t think of right now.

My band, The Redneck Manifesto, all live quite close to Crumlin so the room was perfectly placed and convenient for everyone to get to. It really helped us to become the band we are today because we had no limitation in time when it came to rehearsing. We could rehearse as long as we liked and this helped us grow together as a band. We played off each other for years in that room. Each of us filling the spaces left by one another. All our individual styles of playing would not exist today if it wasn’t for all those years of jamming together. We sound best as musicians when we play in the Rednecks. Everything locks in to one unit. So I can say that as a band, this is our favorite space to create music and the most important. It’s not a square room, so it’s quite hard to measure. All the walls are at different angles, not to help the sound of the room, but because we wanted to make it as big as possible so it forms around the shape of the garden walls. The front door has a big wooden B on it, the room’s name is Studio B (B for Bolger). Once you open the first door you enter a small hallway then through another door into the main room. It has wooden floors and white walls. There’s a big sky light in the roof that leaks a little when it rains but gives the room amazing light in the day time. Outside the room is a beautiful garden my parents have built over the last 2O years. It’s very cosy, beautiful and a nice place to hang out in the summer when we need a break from the insanely loud volume we rehearse at. When the room is set up properly there are two drum kits, a 12 channel PA we put all our synths and samplers through and our bass and guitar amps. The corners of the room are filled with old Marshall heads and cabinets and there is musical equipment everywhere. From Little Bontempi organs to giant console organs with Leslie speakers. A lot of synths, A Moog Voyager, two Juno 60s, a Wurlitzer Piano, lots of drum kits and drum kit parts, samplers and lots of effects pedals. The gear changes a lot, as we’re all mad into buying new stuff, although we do keep a lot of it in our home studios.

The most important things for us to have there is heat, light, electricity, coffee and tea, beer on special occasions, plectrums, people in a good humor, showered bodies, spare strings and creative brains. We used to rehearse two to three times a week. Now I live in Sweden and Neil lives in San Francisco so now we rehearse when we’re getting ready to record a new record or coming up to a gig or tour. We all have studios at home and all make music by ourselves. We all miss getting into our rehearsal space but when we get a chance now there’s no time wasted. We’re happy to see each other and play together again. We all meet up and jam for a few hours. After a while ideas start to come together. We spend a very long time developing these ideas into a song as a group. It’s a completely democratic process, where everyone is needed for it to sound good and like us. Some songs are in the making for years and others just come together quite quickly over a few weeks. We take a lot of time forming a song and tweaking it before we play it live. If it passes the live test it’s tweaked a little more and is then ready to record.

The core of the group, at the beginning was drums, bass and guitar. So that was the only equipment we had in the room. Now synths, samplers and percussion have become a very important part of the band, so now they rest along side the amps, guitars and drums. These are at the centre and surrounding them are all the dead and broken instruments we’re too attached to to get rid of.

Our space has a lot of history. I built it with my brother, father and family. I have very fond memories of what has taken place in that room and what we created there. The fights and laughs we had with one another, and the fact that the room allows me to meet and hang out with some of the most important people in my personal and creative life. I like the fact that it’s in my parents’ house so when I come home now I feel as if I’m returning to both my family and creative home.

Musical Rooms was talking to Matthew Bolger of The Redneck Manifesto.
The Redneck Manifesto’s new album Friendship is released on the March 26th. The album launch will take place in Tripod on Saturday March 27th, with tickets available from Road Records, City Discs, and For more information visit or

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February 19, 2010

Musical Rooms Part 99: Valerie Francis

“I’m a little upside down at the moment, as I’m living with a friend while I look for my own place. I’ve never had a rehearsal space but I would love that. Somewhere to put all my instruments and record. For now I make do at home. I’ve always written songs very simply on guitar and recently on the harmonium. It means I can do it anywhere. Which is great.

Right now, all my instruments are scattered around the house. My beautiful autoharp is hidden away under my bed. Which is a shame. Everything that I use to play live, the bells, keyboard and thumb piano are crammed into a suitcase. I’ve dragged that suitcase around so much it finally lost a wheel.

I really just need quiet to play. The wee hours are good of course. That unsocial time. It has a mood that lends itself to writing music I think. You drift away. I’m flat out busy with work, rehearsing and trying to keep up with music related things. Like this! I am writing new songs so whenever I get home it’s the first thing I do. Pick up the guitar or play the harmonium. Even when I’m going to bed. Knowing I’ll have little sleep. I can’t stop myself. I think ‘I’ll just play that once through’ but then I’m done and I immediately want to play it again.

I’ve always written songs alone. Because of that I get really embarrassed playing a song to someone for the first time. It is baring your soul a little. Putting yourself out there. I have that fear of people laughing. But ya gotta do it. My friend has a great saying. Her Dad would say this to her when she was teased at school. ‘It’s none of your business what other people think of you’. I love that.

I write songs by falling into the music. I never have a plan for a song. I suppose it becomes apparent after a while what it is that I’m writing about. It’s about feeling something. Music makes me feel something and the words are my feelings. It’s pretty simple.

I don’t have a recording setup at the moment. I have Pro Tools but I learned how to use Nuendo in the studio and now I know all those shortcuts. They don’t translate. I talked to Jimmy [Eadie], who I recorded my album with, about starting a new album. He’s going to help me set up something at home so I can do the ground work myself. Then bring it to the studio. That’s the plan anyways.

I like that I don’t have to rely on a space to write music. Though it would be nice to have somewhere. If I can write a song simply, that I’m happy with. Then there’s room for it to grow.”


Valerie Francis’ debut solo album Slow Dynamo picked up rave reviews when it was released last year. It was named Irish Album of the Year in the Irish Independent and her video for ‘Punches’ was championed on KanYe West’s blog and won IMTV’s Video of the Year. She is nominated for Best Irish Female in tonight’s Meteor Awards and Slow Dynamo is nominated for the 29 Choice Music Prize. She plays Whelan’s on Saturday 27th February. Doors are 7.30pm and tickets are €15 (including booking fee) from Ticketmaster, and WaV Box Office [lo-call 1890 200 078]. She also plays Scoop Foundation charity gig at The Academy on March 19th alongside Le Galaxie, Adrian Crowley, Ann Scott, The Ambience Affair, The Gandhis, Scribble Orchestra and Jobot with more acts to be announced. For more information visit

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February 5, 2010

Musical Rooms Part 98: Cluster

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 3:37 pm
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Roedelius: For me, any space in the world in which I feel at home, whether big or small is a good place for making music. The important thing is – who owns it? – Is he or she a friend or just a producer? That’s what really matters. The places I was invited to work in during the last decennium are light, beautiful, have a great history and they smell and feel good.

Moebius: My favourite space to create music in is my home studio in berlin, which is small. Very small.

Roedelius: In terms of instruments, it’s not so much a matters of what you have in the room, even though I’m very fond of a really good Grand piano in it and all what’s necessary to get easily to the point whether asap or however.

Moebius: I use a digital eight-track recorder, synths, sampler and other stuff.

Roedelius: Time spent here? It’s all, everywhere and all the time up to inspiration/improvisation. Look at Clusters (and my) curriculum/history. Llisten to what we/I did, what ever was/ is recorded that says indeed in which way I/ we appreciated and still appreciate living, not especially making music. It’s the art of living as force behind my / our art.

I like to work alone in my home studio which is in fact my home. When I’m there I work in a sort of isolation late at night or when nobody from the family is at home, but also in the midst of housework when I want to sit down and play and listen to what I’m doing.

Moebius: I tend to spend all my time in the studio when I’m not travelling and isolation is important for me when I’m working.

Roedelius: I used whatever equipment comes to mind when I’m in the mood to work on something, whether playing piano or keyboard, listening to unfinished pieces to see if I should work on them again. What I like most about my space is that it’s mine.

Considered one of the most important space-rock outfits of the 1970s, Cluster (including members Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius) were contemporaries of Kraftwerk. They pioneered the use of synths, incorporating everything from alarm clocks and kitchen utensils into their live performances. Over the years they have recorded with Brian Eno and Neu!’s Michael Rother and experimented with ambient music in the 1990s. As well as collaborations with Eno, both have released solo albums and have collaborated with Nosdam and Clouddead. Cluster play The Village, with guest Boys of Summer on Saturday, February 6th. Tickets are available from WAV [lo-call 1890 200 078],, City Discs, Road Records and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. For more information visit

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January 13, 2010

Who will win the 2009 Choice Music Prize?

A pretty good, all-round list this year. Glad to see Adrian Crowley, Valerie Francis, Julie Feeney and ASIWYFA on there. Disappointed for Patrick Kelleher, Hunter Gatherer, Delorentos, David Kitt and David Turpin. So who’s your Paddy Power cash on?

January 9, 2010

Musical Rooms Part 97: Why?

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 11:40 am
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“Creating music, for us, is a long many stepped process which might take place in any number of different environments. I write initial lyrical/melodic ideas at random times: on walks, in cars, in restaurant bathrooms, etc. I tend to craft songs (put parts together and flesh things out) in my apartment on the piano mostly or while making a demo on my 8-track or computer. Lately, we record and mix in other people’s studios around the country.

We live a fluid on the go lifestyle, and work that way as well. I move around to different apartments and tend to write and make demos there in my living space. As far as studio work goes, I prefer a place that seems like it has been worked in often and is not too sterile but is also not dirty, messy or disorganized. I really like the old Third Ear (Tom Herbers’ now defunct Minneapolis warehouse studio where we recorded most of our last record). It was packed full of really great vintage gear and just had an awesome creative vibe.

When writing and demoing, I like to use anything I have around. I think that is the beauty of the early parts of the music making process: that anything goes and there should be no pressure or preconceived notions or expectations. You have to be quiet and open to your own impulse in the moment which is greatly influenced by what or who is around.

The writing process is all about utilizing inspiration when it hits: dropping everything else and focussing on the idea when it begins to emerge. I haven’t yet learned how to force my own hand on these genesis stages. The later craft parts like rehearsing, recording and mixing is important to have discipline and grind out.

The early parts of the writing process seem to go easier when I’m alone. Although I am proud of a lot of the collaborative writing I have been a part of and think no less of that work than stuff I’ve written alone, it is much simpler to not have to talk about why chords should change in a certain way or why its better without the word “and” or with a “the”. A song is so fragile while its still in the womb. With equipment, I tend to use anything that’s around.

I don’t really think my home space is really ideal actually. I think I might be a little more prolific with a more conducive home/work space. But you do what you do with what you have. That is important to learn. For the most part, its not what you have its how you utilize it.”

Californian act Why? are often labelled as indie/hip-hop cross-over, thanks to their back catalogue of genre-bending albums. Part of the Anticon collective, they have released four albums to date. 2005’s Elephant Eyelash brought them to a wider audience and their most recent release, Eskimo Snow appeared last year. The band have also collaborated with Nosdam and Clouddead. For more information visit

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