Musical Rooms

April 19, 2008

Musical Rooms Part 22: Matt Lunson/One Day International

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 10:33 am
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“Our favourite space to create music in is Exchequor Studios in the centre of Dublin. It’s owned by Nick Seymour from Crowded House and we’ve been lucky enough to avail of it for much of the last year or so. It’s a single room studio with loads of natural light, synths, surrounding food emporiums, a baby grand piano, youtube, a trapeze and a mezzanine that we converted into a “get up there and be quiet while someone else is recording stuff” area.

The most important things for us to have in that space is each other. Although the original ideas for our songs would come in moments of solitude, we’ve been quick to bring them to the group for us to develop together. Much of our album has been written and arranged as we’ve recorded it in this room. The amount of time we spend at Exchequor varies from week to week. Some weeks it’s every day from 11am to 11pm. Other times we’ll mix it up and use a regular rehearsal room or each other’s houses but this is definitely our most productive space. We have to be quite disciplined with our schedule as a couple of our band members also play with Cathy Davey and Jape and so are really busy. So far it’s worked out pretty well though.

As the main lyric writer in the band, isolation is really important in the very early stages of songwriting. Good ideas rarely like a crowded room. Cormac, our piano player, will give me improvised piano pieces and I’ll spend time with them forming a very loose structure and lyric idea. Maybe a couple of verses and a chorus. This might get emailed around and then we’d get together and start arranging and developing it.

The thing we like most about Exchequor is that it’s destination for all of us. Whenever we go there we really feel like we’re there to work. It’s made us more productive than perhaps we otherwise would have been. Credit for this also has to go to Brian Crosby from BellX1 who has worked really closely with us in Exchequor and has helped us make the studio feel like home.”

Born in Tasmania, Matt Lunson has been living and working in Ireland for several years. He realised a very fine debut album, Miss Vaughan, in 2005 and recently he has been collaborating with a new band, One Day International. They support Elbow at Dublin’s Vicar Street on Monday April 21st and Liam Finn at The Whiskey in Cork on Wednesday April 23rd, The Roisin Dubh (Upstairs), Galway on Thursday April 24th and The Sugar Club, Dublin on Friday April 25th. For more information, gig dates and tracks, visit or

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April 8, 2008

Musical Rooms Part 21: Dawn Landes

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 9:00 am


“I make my music at The Saltlands. It’s a studio that I spent all summer building with a few friends in DUMBO Brooklyn. It’s in the basement of an enormous old factory building and I’ve had a rehearsal space there for the last five years. We got our haz-mats on and put up walls, dropped ceilings and sound proofed ourselves into this. We’re kind of a guerilla recording operation, I’m so excited about it.

In the live room there’s a smattering of acquired banjos and organs, amps and lamps. We’ve got some great gear in the control room, a solid mic list, a one-of-a-kind custom eight-channel mic pre, an isobooth, amp room and a little hallway where we keep the baby piano. So much great music is being made under this building. There are two working studios and about 15 rehearsal rooms, the whole thing is totally grass-roots and manned by a good friend and amazing song-writer, Steve Salett.

For me, the most important thing in there, is that it’s quiet. Steve and I started the studio because we were working on a film score together, and got tired of waiting for the drummer in the next room to finish his metal-mashing fills. In NYC it’s really hard for bands, space is so hard to come by. And I love being surrounded by all my wacky instruments. I’ve got so many toys, and you forget about them a lot of the time if you can’t see them – especially if you’re arranging a song or making instrumental music for a piece of film. It’s a painters pallet kind of thing, you gotta have colors!

I spend as much time as I can here when I’m not touring (which has been a lot lately, being on the road that’s one of the first things I really start to miss). I’ve got a little iPod mic for ideas and things on the road, but it’s hard to flesh them out and if inspiration hits, there’s always the answering machine on your voicemail. But for me it’s really important to have a space to fully explore material. Imagine Paul McCartney working on Ram… What a crazy scientist!

Recently, I’ve started working more and more with other people. I still need privacy, though, especially with lyrics. I can’t write lyrics with other people, at least not yet, I’m not that mature. What I like most about Saltlands is the community of people that surround it and make music in it. Nothing inspires me more than knowing someone else in the next room is working on something awesome. It pushes me, hopefully in a good direction.”

New York-based singer Dawn Landes has drawn comparisons with Woody Guthrie and Joanna Newsom for her gorgeous folk stories. Landes’ day job is as a recording engineer at her own Saltlands Studio. Fireproof, her debut album, was released earlier this year (video link for single ‘Bodyguard’ in this post) on Fargo Records. For more information, gig dates and tracks, visit

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April 1, 2008

Musical Rooms Part 20: David Turpin

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 10:53 am


“My music begins with me alone in my bedroom. It’s a square room in a high-ceilinged Victorian house. I work on a computer at a pine desk, programming and arranging until my fingers freeze (there’s no heating). When I’m not at the desk I lie on the floor, or I perch in an old cradle full of stuffed animals. I’ve spent a long time trying to find a way to neatly compact all the books and records I keep for inspiration and, occasionally, distraction. I’ve had to make peace with the fact that I will never attain perfect alphabetical order.

For a while I pinned a lot of my own drawings and paintings to the walls, but it started to feel like the inside of a maniac’s washing machine, so I stored them away. I keep one painting at a time out, propped between the window frame and a bookshelf – I rotate them depending on what type of song I’m working on.

One of the posters on the wall is for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which has been special to me since my early teens – though I’ve never been to a midnight screening. The Rocky… is a musical masterpiece, and a very misunderstood film. It’s just about a single gentleman trying to live his life. He’s a transvestite from outer space, but that’s okay.

Nowadays I compose songs directly onto the computer rather than on the piano, so I don’t really depend on an instrument. The most important things in the room are my stacks of crammed old notebooks, and all the images and objects I’ve collected over my life. I can’t pick anything out as particularly influential, but I leach inspiration from a lot of sources. Generally, I fixate on a couple of things at a time and then move on. In a purely pragmatic sense, I suppose the computer is the most important thing in the room, since everything gets drawn together in there. I’d rather say the headphones, though, because they let me keep everything secret.

The backbone of all my work – music, writing, drawing – gets made in the room, so I spend as much time there as I can. Sometimes I like to go out to the woods or to the coastline to gather ideas to bring back. So the room is my headquarters, and I make field trips.

I try to work myself as hard as possible. I can’t really schedule when the good ideas will come – but even if I’m having a dry afternoon, there are always little technical things to sew up. Often spending a day focusing on the technicalities of a song clears the way for more abstract ideas to start coming.

Making the overriding structure of a song alone is what comes most naturally to me. I work on the skeleton for ages and then I collaborate with other people to put some flesh on it. I prefer to record vocals and live instruments in a studio setting, but I try to have a very clear, concise sense of where a song needs to go first, so that I don’t disgrace myself by spouting gibberish when I take in to show others.

A lot of the songs I write are about (not necessarily negative) kinds of isolation, like introversion, reclusion, or imagination, so I thrive on a sense of secrecy. When people visit while I’m working on a song at home I often don’t hear them because I always use headphones. When I realize I’ve been caught I feel like I do when I’ve been talking to myself on the bus and looked up to see two schoolboys pointing at me and mouthing the word “nutcase”.

The way I feel about the room depends on how whatever I’m working on is going. Sometimes it’s a wonderful enchanted hermitage – other times I wish it would all fall in on top of me like the House of Usher. I’m always glad of the twelve-pane window, though. I can just about see the seaside from it. And I’m grateful that there’s enough floor-space to lie down on now. There hasn’t always been.”

David Turpin’s album The Sweet Used-To-Be is released in Ireland on April 4th, 2008, through Kabinet. Writing in The Irish Independent, Nick Kelly recently said it “already sounds like one of the albums of the year”. David launches the album with a gig on Thursday April 10th in the Sugar Club (where he will also play a full show on April 16th). He plays the Sunday Roast in Thomas Read’s this Sunday, April 6th. For more information, gig dates and tracks, visit Visit or

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