“My favourite space to create music has to be in my home studio, also known as Labbey Road. It’s my own personal haven and basically has everything I care most about in this world in it apart from the ones I love. It’s a big enough room which holds all my gear and loads of my records but still feels fairly spacious. It’s at the back of the house and looks out on the garden which is a great advantage. It’s not sound-proofed or anything as if I’m generally recording I’ll do that in my bedroom, dismantle the bed and use the mattress & bed itself to deaden the sound. It’s kind of a mess stylistically. Changing Rooms would probably have a field day as it’s got different coloured wallpaper on each wall but that’s one of the most important things about this room for me. Before my father died he took loads of music magazines, classical scores and important newspaper articles over the years and used them as wallpaper and painted a dodgy green over them all to make it blend. That wall reminds me of him every time I look at it and is a huge reason I love to spend so much time in the room.
Gear wise I own a Mac G5 computer which runs Pro Tools, an M-Audio Projectmix desk, Beringer Truth monitors, Akai MPC 2500 & 2800 samplers, two Technics 1210 decks and a Vestex mixer. Synth wise I own a Korg MS2000B, Alesis micron, Yamaha Vss-200, Yamaha DX100, Roland JX-3P, Casio MT-240 and a really old Farfisa Organ. I have a few other bits and bobs, a couple of microphones and lots and lots of records.
Probably the most important thing for me to have here is the G5 Mac running Pro Tools. It brings all my dreams/ideas to reality. There are other things I care for more in the studio but this is the most important. The dartboard is also of huge importance. I spend hours and hours throwing darts at it while listening back to drums, ideas, mixes or whatever. I find this is a better process for me than pacing around the room like a mad scientist which is what I used to do.
I spend an ungodly amount of time in the studio. I’m basically in there any chance I get. I seem to spend my life waiting there for those special little moments. Those little bursts of creativity/magic that help start/finish a song but when they arrive it’s one of the best feelings in the world. It’s an indescribable feeling like a first kiss, scoring a goal or eating a massive piece of Pavlova. It makes you feel like that Belinda Carlisle song ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’, except with much better drums.
I think I work best in isolation. I love the feeling of having no contact with the outside world and just being left to my own devices to experiment in my own private laboratory. When you work alone there are no rules and you can try weird things and mess up as much as you want, but with other people in the room I don’t find this as easy. I spend a lot of time programming on the sampler/computer so it’s a very solitary thing. When I bring in other musicians to record I normally have a blueprint for what I want so it’s more of a recording session than a creative one but can easily turn into one which is definitely the best thing about collaborating, finding the unknown.
The creative process is a difficult one to describe. It usually starts off with a small idea whether that is a bassline, drums or a chord sequence. I then lay that down into the ‘Tools and start playing ideas over it. It’s basically a building block effect for me. I’ll work off that idea and see where it takes me. It can be a brilliant process but more often than not it’s an extremely frustrating and tedious one. It’s easy to write lots of little ideas but getting that special one is the difficult part. I find I know it’s going well if I’ve lost all track of time and have forgotten to eat at a normal hour.
I suppose what I like most about my studio is that it’s my own space at home. It’s my passion crammed into a room. I know where everything is and this allows me to work without any distractions in my own time. I also love that MJ has to travel to my house rather than the other way around which gives me an extra hour’s kip.”
Messiah J and the Expert are a rapper/producer duo based in Dublin. Their third album, From the Word Go was released in 2008 and is nominated for the 2008 Choice Music Prize. They play Electric Avenue, Waterford on February 27th, Cypress Avenue, Cork on February 28th, the Choice Music Prize ceremony at Vicar St., Dublin on Wednesday March 4th, The Roisin Dubh, Galway on March 6th, Queens Speakeasy, Belfast on March 12th, Dolan’s Warehouse, Limerick on March 14th, Anu Bar, Wexford on March 15th and Spirit Store, Dundalk on March 16th. For more information visit www.messiahjandtheexpert.com or www.myspace.com/messiahjandtheexpert .