Musical Rooms

April 27, 2009

Two competitions – win tickets to AU and Camera Obscura

Filed under: competitions,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 4:58 pm
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US duo AU make their Irish debut this Wednesday April 29th Upstairs at Whelan’s. You can win one of two double passes to see them by answering the question below. Also, I have a double pass to see Scottish indie favourites Camera Obscura play Andrew’s Lane in Dublin the following night. Just answer the question below and leave your answer in the comments, stating which gig you’re entering for.

What’s the name of Camera Obscura’s new album?

Both bands are playing this week so the deadline is Wednesday morning.

Update: Arsenio is the winner of the Camera Obscura pass. Sarah and Daniel were the only two entrants for AU, so the passes are yours.

Congrats to you all, drop back and leave a comment letting us know how the gigs went.

Musical Rooms Part 72: Camera Obscura

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 2:30 pm
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“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, WAV Box-Office, City Discs, Sound Cellar and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. For more details, visit

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April 14, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 71: AU

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 11:11 am
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“My good friend Alec Dartley – who also runs Aagoo Records (the label we’ve been lucky enough to work with for the last few years) – has some property up in rural Vermont. They have a converted garage that I’ve set up shop in a few times. It’s a gorgeous piece of land with plenty of swimming holes around. It’s basically the upper floor of a large garage with wainscoted triangular ceilings. There are plenty of windows that look out in the surrounding forest. Alec is also an amazing artist and the walls are lined with past paintings. Plus. it’s totally isolated so you are capable of playing extremely loud until late with no worries of bugging the neighbors.

Dana Valatka and I (the current live group), were just up there last Fall to record an EP and we brought the equipment we had on the road, which consists of a drum-kit, glockenspiel, handbells, keyboard, lapsteel guitar, melodica, sampler and our own nice little PA. We also had a Mac up there to track everything on, plus a simple computer interface. The room itself serves as Alec’s family music room so there is lots of other instruments around, including another drum-kit, amps, steel drum, etc…

As I’ve recorded in numerous different places I’d say the only essential thing for me in a space I’m working in is windows. When we’re up in Vermont, it’s for the specific reason of recording, so we tend to try to be rather motivated. On a good day Dana and I will spend four to eight hours tracking and then I’ll put in an additional two to four hours mixing. When it comes down to all of the post-production work that happens away from Vermont (so most likely in whatever room I’m inhabiting at the moment) the process takes on a whole other vibe with me spending from eight to 12 hours trying to figure out how things are going to sit in the mix, plus tracking vocals if necessary.

I work alone for a lot of it and it tends to speed the process along, or at least in my mind it seems this way. Whenever there is another person involved the decision making part of the process takes a whole new light and requires extended verbal sessions. When alone I’m free to feel things out and make mistakes as I go, without having to confer first with another.

In terms of the songwriting process most of it comes out of extended improvisations or a kernel of a musical idea. From there I’ll start to track things loosely, initially throwing down far too much material on the computer. From there it’s a subtractive process with me in essence wheedling down the song into a digestible form or feeling it out over time in the live setting. Up until this most recent EP, I was using an old Mac laptop with a Mackie mixer and Cubase to track and mix everything. My laptop, being six years old now, has been having some difficulties, so I upgraded to one of the new iMac’s with a 24 inch screen – which I have been loving for its size and speed (not to be a salesman). I have also started using Logic, which has been nice.

I love the proximity to nature and space at the studio in Vermont. Nothing better than taking a break from staring at a screen all day long to go swimming and hiking through the forests of Vermont.”

Musical Rooms was talking to Luke Wyland of AU

AU (pronounced “Ay-you”) is the work of multi-instrumentalist Luke Wyland, begun while finishing up his degree from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He then moved across the US to Portland, Oregon. AU is currently a full-time duo with Dana Valatka on drums (Jackie-O-Motherfucker, Mustaphamond). Last year, they released their second album, Verbs. The album is flanked at one end by the blissful bombast of a 20-plus person vocal chorus, and concludes some forty minutes later in the hushed strains of a wistful lullaby. They make their Irish debut Upstairs at Whelan’s on Wednesday, April 29th. Doors 8pm and tickets cost €10 plus booking from, WAV Box-Office, City Discs, Sound Cellar and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. For more details, visit

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April 8, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 70: Dark Room Notes


“After spending the past few years moving our musical room from bedroom to van to rehearsal studio and back again on a thrice-weekly basis, we have finally settled into a (so far) permanent home, inside some sort of pod in a disused steel factory with possible asbestos issues. However we are willing to ignore these for the convenience of not having to take apart all our gear after a mere three hours rehearsing. We’ve already befriended the Beetle restorer next door, and he’s offered the use of his cars for our next video, which is now provisionally titled ‘Herbie Goes Electro’.

It’s a small room, and we’ve just got our hands on a large PA system. We’ve had our hands on a very loud and very enthusiastic drummer for a number of years now, so tinnitus will surely soon be joining asbestos poisoning on our list of health concerns. But aside from those, we’ve settled in nicely to our new surroundings. It means we can now afford to write as a group rather than come up with ideas in our respective bedrooms, and can come and go as we please. We’ve tried to personalise it a bit with lamps and wall hangings and the like, but an accident involving a (borrowed) acoustic guitar and a brand new lamp that Arran bought has left us a little worried about fire safety. We’ve also outlawed smoking in the room, though this has led to a nasty accumulation of butts just outside the door.

Enough about health issues.

We’ve managed to gather around us quite a lot of equipment through various channels. Some pieces have been consciously lent to us. Others have been saved from the attics of disinterested former musicians. Still others we’re hoping the owners will have forgotten about by now. My personal favourite is the glockenspiel that the band gave Arran for her birthday, and which we bust out for acoustic performances. There has yet to be a song written which can’t be improved by the addition of a glockenspiel. Though we were assured of the soundproofedness of the studio when we moved in, we’ve discovered that a layer of rockwool is no protection against the curious sounds emanating from the other pod across the corridor. We never realised that the tin whistle had a role to play in the world of death metal, but it’s a strangely successful marriage. We’ll resist the temptation to add one to our own sound. For now.

The studio has already appeared in the video for ‘Let’s Light Fires’, the first single from our album, and was almost burnt the ground as a result. Considering we’ve named it the Dark Ark in homage to Lee Scratch Perry’s ill-fated Black Ark, that might have been a fitting, though a little premature, end.”

Dublin-based electronic pop act Dark Room Notes first appeared in 2007 with a single, ‘Love Like Nicotine’, and the EP Dead Start Program. Their debut album, We Love You Dark Matter, was recorded in London last summer, and is released this Friday April 10th on Gonzo Records. The band play The Academy 2, Dublin on Thursday April 9th, Auntie Annie’s in Belfast on May 22nd, Galway’s Roisin Dubh on May 23rd and Cyprus Avenue, Cork on May 24th. For more information – and to hear the lead single ‘Let’s Light Fires’ – go to

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April 3, 2009

50 Best Irish music acts right now (who contributed to Musical Rooms)

davidholmesMyself and three Ticket colleagues (Jim Carroll, Tony Clayton Lea and Lauren Murphy) were each recently asked to compile a list of the ’50 Best Irish music acts right now’. As expected there’s lots of debate about it over on Jim Carroll’s blog. There were lots of bands I voted for that aren’t on the list, and some I didn’t vote for that made the final 50. Either way, it’s great to see a light shined on so many bands and the list proves that Irish music is in a fairly robust health. Well done to David Holmes for bagging the No. 1 slot.

Here’s a list of those included in the Top 50 who have contributed to Musical Rooms so far. Watch out for upcoming contributions from Spook of the Thirteenth Lock, Ann Scott and Dark Room Notes.

(49) David Turpin
(46) Mick Flannery
(38) The Jimmy Cake
(29) Julie Feeney
(23) Messiah J &The Expert
(20) Oppenheimer
(19) Chequerboard
(13) RSAG
(8) Adrian Crowley
(6) Villagers
(5) Lisa Hannigan
(4) Fight Like Apes
(2) Jape

April 1, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 69: Eskimo Joe

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 12:27 pm
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“My favourite space to make music in would have to be our home studio space, which we have created in our home town of Perth, Western Australia. The studio is in Kav, our singer’s back yard and is essentially a garage that we have converted into a sound proof room of musical good times.

It’s a there-car garage, so it isn’t got a huge amount of space but it’s by no means too small. The room has developed into quite an earthy space with nice warm colours dominating, which give it a cosy feel. I guess it smells like the three of us in the band so during summer, that can be a heady brew! There are plenty of lighting options in the room depending on which mood we want to create which is dependent on the song that we’re recording and vice versa. The main thing for us is that all of our equipment is on hand and ready to go when we are.

We’ve been a band for 11 years now so we have a huge range of equipment to choose from these days. It’s nice to find something that we bought 10 years ago and have forgotten about and use it on a current track. The Yamaha piano gets a good workout. We also have a great drum kit that is always ready to be recorded, heaps of guitars and a pro-tools HD rig which is just brilliant. Our goal is to make our next record at home so we are well on our way to making that possible.

Wat’s really important for us, I guess, is that it’s all about the vibe of the room, so a good feel is paramount for us to make good music. That and the HD pro-tools rig are pretty indispensable. We tend to grab time when inspiration hits but when we are in writing mode for a record, we get in there fiive days a week and work really hard for about eight months or so. At the end of this process we have a album’s worth of demos ready to record for the album proper. Otherwise, we get in there with musician friends and have boozy jam/recording sessions and we also record other artists albums/eps in our space.

Living in the most isolated city in the world is brilliant for making music without the pressure of a label looking over your shoulder. As far as individually, sometimes space on your own is necessary to develop an idea or part before presenting it to the other guys in the band. Kav will usually come to myself with a song or an idea which is sometimes quite developed and other times pretty raw. We’ll then fill in the gaps together and then present that to Stu for his input. Then we will demo the song over the period of a week or so, layering and deconstructing the song until we’re happy.

The more time we spend and the more songs created in the space the better, I believe. It really adds to the feel of the room which definately effects the musicm, so I guess what I like best is that it keeps getting better!”

Musical Rooms was talking to Joel Quartermain of Eskimo Joe


Eskimo Joe are an Australian rock trio from Fremantle in Western Australia. The line-up includes Kavyen ‘Kav’ Temperley (bass/vocals), Joel Quartermain (guitar) and Stuart MacLeod (guitar) and the band have won various ARIA Awards. Their fourth studio album, Inshalla, is set for release in May. They play Whelans on Thursday April 9th. For more details, visit or

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