Musical Rooms

December 11, 2008

Competition: Win tickets to see Stereolab this Saturday

Filed under: competitions,Music — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 5:50 pm


Update: First names out of the mug are Cool Beans and Paul G (via email) – congrats and enjoy the gig! Thanks for all the entries.

Legendary four piece Stereolab play Tripod this Saturday, December 13th with support from Leeds trio Skylarkin who have just signed to Wichita (Musical Rooms piece here) and Dubliner Si Schroeder. To win one of two double passes to see this great line-up, just answer answer the following question:

Who is the female lead singer in Stereolab?

It’s handier if you leave your answer in the comments, but you can also email it to musicalroomsATgmailDOTcom. Winners will be chosen by lunchtime on Friday December 12th.

Links: Musical Rooms Part 51: Skylarkin

Musical Rooms Part 51: Sky Larkin

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 5:47 pm


“I love to write music in the attic room of the house I’ve been living in for the last six months, I’ve usually written in darkened bedrooms so I’ve enjoyed being in somewhere so light. As we’ve been on tour so much recently I haven’t spent a huge amount of time there, but I’m looking forward to getting myself settled in over the Christmas break. I couldn’t really pick a favourite place as I often write songs in fragments that come together gradually; I think that’s indicative of the touring lifestyle really. My lyrics are usually collected in bits and pieces in my phone and in notebooks whilst I’m on the move, and, geeky as it sounds, I often go to a library to try and collate them into something that I’m happy with. Sometimes I just need a bit of peace and quiet! Fossil,I was written in a library in Bloomsbury whilst I was reading about the land artist Robert Smithson. What usually happens is when I’ve got something I think could work the boys and I bash it out in practise or soundcheck, I bring the skeleton and they flesh it out.

The attic room is in a typical Leeds back-to-back terraced red brick house, the house is on a hill so I have a view of the city over the chimney pots. It has big windows so is really bright but very cold in winter! The places we practise in as a band are all old industrial buildings down by the canal in Leeds, one of the advantages of living in an old industrial revolution town is that there’s plenty of vacant old mills that people can turn into studios.

My set up at home is very basic, I’m not a fan of demo-ing as I don’t like to feel like I’m over cooking things and have very little patience for technology and as a result find the frustration it causes derails me from the song writing process. I have instruments and a laptop and when ever I write something I want to note down I just play and sing at the inbuilt microphone in my computer, then email it to the boys.

The most important things to have here are notebooks, pens, tea, a fan heater and an old shitty guitar I’ve had since I was teenager that I’ve always written on. I’ve been borrowing keyboards recently so they’ll be keeping me entertained over Christmas too. We had a week off touring last week which was the longest I’ve been at home since the start of September, and I don’t always feel like writing when we have downtime. It tends to be intense bursts of time where I spend hours on end in there for a few days and then don’t come back for a couple of weeks.

I think in the initial stages of a song yes isolation is important because I get lost in what I’m doing and am as a result very bad company! I think that inspiration lies in experience though, so I think it’s important to venture out into the world and then go home and reflect. Also, one of my favourite things to do when I’m driving alone is to work out vocal melodies, that’s just where my mind goes whenever I drive alone. But the songs take their final shape when we work on them together and that interaction between the three of us is what keeps things vital.

Every time we start writing, it’s different. Sometimes songs emerge fragment by fragment and sometimes they come out immediately whole. I’d never want to feel like I had a formulaic process and I think I can tell when songs have been constructed like architecture, so I put a lot of faith in intuition and try and let my subconscious tap me on the shoulder and whisper something in my ear. Equally when we’re writing and arranging as a band we try and avoid retreating to music theory to guide our sound, but sometimes it can diagnose a problem.

What I like most about this place is the view.”

Sky Larkin consist of two old friends (Katie and Nestor) and one newer one (Doug). Since the addition of Doug to their band, Sky Larkin’s ascent has been rapid and invigorating. Since signing to Wichita Recordings (Bloc Party, The Cribs), they have released one single, ‘Fossil, I’ and are set to release their debut album, The Golden Spike in February 2009. The band have spent the second half of 2008 touring Europe and the UK with the likes of Bright Eye’s Conor Oberst and label mates Los Campesinos! Sky Larkin support Stereolab on their forthcoming Irish tour. They visit Tripod in Dublin on Saturday 13th December, Doors are at 7:30pm and admission is €25. For more information visit or

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December 3, 2008

Competition: Win tickets to see Baby Dee in Whelan’s – update

Filed under: competitions,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 4:09 pm
Tags: , ,


****Baby Dee has cancelled her Dublin gig****
Acclaimed performance artist and musician Baby Dee plays Whelan’s this week and I’ve got two double passes to give away to the gig this Friday December 5th. To be in with a chance to win one, just answer the following question:

Which US State does Baby Dee hail from? Hint here:

It’s handier if you leave your answer in the comments, but you can also email it to musicalroomsATgmailDOTcom. Winners will be chosen by lunchtime on Friday December 5th.

Links: Musical Rooms Part 50: Baby Dee

Musical Rooms Part 50: Baby Dee

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 3:57 pm
Tags: ,


“My favourite place to make music is a room off my kitchen that used to be a dining room. It’s actually on the cover of the last album Safe Inside the Day and looking through the kitchen door you see the piano and the harp. When we took the picture the axe just happened to be there (left behind by some crazy hippie who was chopping wood inside the house – naked I think). Anyway I put it on the piano and we took the picture. I don’t normally keep an axe on the piano but otherwise what you see in the picture is pretty descriptive of my favourite place to play/write music/ rehearse and yes, even record – though personally I don’t know anything about recording. I’m not very good at things that need to be plugged in. I don’t even have a CD player but I recently bought an old record player and I like to play vinyl sometimes.

The piano I have now is different to the one on the album cover, which was an old upright. Now I have a gleaming Rolls Royce of a thing call a Steinway D. I’d say it’s my prize possession… but it’s not mine. It belongs to Andrew WK who had it in storage because it won’t fit in his new apartment. I’m just babysitting. But believe me this is no baby. This is as big and grown up as a piano can get and it’s worth more than my whole damn house and everything in it. I love that piano!

Spilling out of this room and into the next are two of my harps. Both Lyon and Healey’s – the big one is a 17 (you can just make it out on the album cover) and the
smaller one is a 14. My favourite harp though, is in the UK. It’s a 12 (also a Lyon and Healey) and it’s quite rare, the smallest pedal harp ever made and cute as a button. I keep here to avoid the absurd expense of renting a harp in Europe. It’ll fit in any car or on a train or in a bus even.

My instruments are the most important things for me to have here – and I left one out… It’s a Mason & Hamlin reed organ that I looked all over for and finally found -oddly enough – in the south of England. Mason & Hamlin is an American company that made superb pianos. What people don’t know is that before the piano became a thing that everybody had one of (like in the late 1800s?) everybody had a reed organ and 99% of all those reed organs were complete and utter shit – all except the ones made by Mason & Hamlin. Thus my obsession… It’s also very tiny. I was able to take it home on an airplane and wasn’t even charged extra.

There’s also an accordion there as well – a pretty little red 24-button Italian piano accordion. I love small things. They’re so hard to find. I got lucky and found three for sale (black, white and red) and bought them all. Accordions come apart in two halves
so I could mix and match to go with my bilateral hermaphrodite outfit (half red dress/half black suit). That sort of thing…

Unfortunately inspiration is an unholy mean bitch of a thing that only seems to arrive when I’m going out the door to catch a plane. I’ve only been home a little over two months since January 4th. When I’m home I can spend a lot of time there. But I try to work in a lot of small disconnected bits of time. If I were to sit down and say “Now I’m going to get something done!” I would definitely fail and if I did manage to get something done it would definitely be awful. If I get a bit done in a day – something
that’s a real bit of a real possible song then I consider that a pretty good day’s work.

Whether isolation is important in creative terms… I don’t know. I would have said yes but I recently wrote something just walking down a street in Riga with Alex Nielson. And the last album was more collaborative than anything I’ve ever done. So
everything is up for grabs…The process begins by absolutely having to do it. For no other reason than this inner necessity. I wish I could be more specific… I guess I can’t. But it usually starts with words and then later, sometimes much later, the music. Rarely I’ll have a piece of music and a bunch of words and they just fit sort of fortuitously.

I don’t record as I go and I rarely write things down apart from words. And even those I do write down, I rarely look at them again. I just figure if I can’t remember it it’s probably mot worth remembering. Maybe that’s stupid but there you go.”

Baby Dee is an American performance artist and singer/songwriter. She is a musician and transgendered street legend from Cleveland, Ohio who has worked with Antony and the Johnsons and toured extensively with Current 93, playing piano and harp. Following her wonderful performance opening for Bonnie Prince Billy at Vicar Street earlier this year, Baby Dee returns this with her all-star band to Ireland. Her fans includes Marc Almond, David Tibet, Will Oldham, & Antony and she is one of the most unique artists you’ll ever encounter. Baby Dee featuring Alex Nielson (Bonnie Prince Billy/Jandek) plays the Roisin Dubh, Galway on Thursday December 4th and Whelan’s, Dublin on Friday December 5th with support from Paul Curreri and Black Carrot. Tickets €16 from WAV, City Discs, Road, Ticketmaster, For more information visit or

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