Musical Rooms

May 23, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 75: Norabelle

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 11:04 am


“There are two rooms that we use for writing music. The first is a small reception area in Shane’s house in Rathmines. In this room there is a piano and two guitars. It makes sense for us to use this room rather than transport the piano the different locations. However, we like it for other reasons too. The piano sits by a tall narrow window which allows natural light to fill the room. There are high ceilings and the acoustics in the room are incredible. The most important things that we really need are privacy and quietness. This room provides both of these so it’s ideal. It is generally quite cold in the winter months but it makes up for this with abundance personality and homliness.

The second room that we use to write our songs is in Ken’s house in Stoneybatter. In this room there is a Zoom MRS 802 8 track, a few standard mics, guitars and a couple of seldom used pedals. Again, this room is nicely lit my skylights and a large window. I suppose that natural light is something that we like in a music room. The ceilings are high and the floors are wooden. The room overlooks a small backyard. It’s very quiet and we can play there for hours undisturbed.

Our music is very quiet so noise is certainly not an issue for us and we don’t have to worry about annoying the neighbours or anything. Normally our practices take place between 7pm and 10pm. However, whilst writing the hours we spend creating new music are much less structured.”

Musical Rooms was talking to Ken Clarke of Norabelle

Norabelle released their debut EP, Come the Bluest Dawn, earlier this year. They play Whelan’s (upstairs) supporting Nerve Museum on Tuesday, June 2nd, at Anseo, Dublin on Sunday, June 14th and Sunday June 21st at The Spirit Story, Dundalk on June 21st, supporting Aoife Moriarty. For more details, visit

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May 15, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 74: Woodpigeon

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 2:05 pm
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“To be honest, I don’t really have a favourite space where music seems to come out consistently, although I’m rather fond of strumming and singing out new ideas in my bedroom in Canada, as well as the back yard under a large weeping willow tree planted by my grandparents almost 100 years ago. I tend to write a lot of music away from home, as we get to visit so many inspirational places – just a couple of days ago we played in Norwich, and took a visit to the Luminarium complex, built of plastic and lit up inside entirely by natural light. I’m sure something will come out of that experience.

If often work in my bedroom, it’s the smallest room in the house. Just enough space for a small bed, some poster art on the wall, a couple of guitars and a small air organ. The window looks out partially out onto the playground across the street. It’s within a house that my grandparents actually built, and that I now personally rent. I can’t imagine not always having that house in my possession – even if I’m only there for a short part of the year.

My first ever guitar, which I bought from a local drag artist wanting to fund their coke habit (indeed) sits in the corner gathering dust, but I do pull it out from time to time. Otherwise, the air organ gets a bit of use. I’ve got a nice old 110-year-old piano in the kitchen as well, but that involves getting up off the bed and moving through the hallway. The most important things for me to have here are light, peace and guitars. There’s loads of notebooks in there too. Some are just full of possible song titles. I thought of a really good one the other day, but without my notebook I’ve since lost it. Note to self: always travel with paper and pen at hand.

I typically need to mess about with ideas for about an hour or so a day or else I feel as though the day’s not complete. There’s no real schedule in place for that, though – I’d say it’s a pretty much constantly used space for inspiration and creation. When the summer sun hits, I spend an equal amount of time outside in the back yard. I’m lucky that my neighbours are actual fans of my music. Sometimes I catch them listening in… and they’ve even called out requests in the past.

When I’m working, peace and quiet for the most part is pretty essential, but then I’ve also written some of my favourite songs in busy spaces. The entire Houndtooth Europa record was written in the individual places the songs themselves are named after, for one instance. I sat with a ukulele on buses in Scotland, airports in France, and busy squares in Germany just writing away. So, re-reading this answer, I suppose the more accurate response would have been both “yes, entirely,” and “no, give me a crowd.”

The creative process is such a daily thing for me that I can’t really plot out how it works. The songs often just seem to write themselves, and I’m just trying to catch up. I bring a small dictaphone with me when I’m out to catch the other stray, hummable ideas that come up. Sometimes I’ll have a melody stay with me for three years without words, and I’ll have to force myself to sit down and figure it out. I’m dealing with that on a couple of things now…

Seeing as I don’t really have a standard space, I can only really describe my ideal creative space – a beautiful view above all else is my primary need. We just spent three nights working at the Bracknell Arts Centre in the UK, and out back there’s an incredible park with a stream and small bridges. A couple of things came out from just being there right away.”

Musical Rooms was talking to Mark Hannigan of Woodpigeon

Woodpigeon are an indie folk rock band from Calgary in Canada, consisting of eight members: Mark Hamilton (vocals, guitar), Kenna Burima (piano, vocals), Michael Gratton (bass), Annalea Sordi (accordion, flute, vocals), Daren Powell (drums), Peter Moersch (electric guitar, vocals), Foon Yap (violin), AJ Benoit (vocals). To date, they have released two studio albums, several EPs and have garnered comparisons to Sufjan Stevens, Grizzly Bear and Camera Obscura. They play the Roisin Dubh, Galway on May 18th, Auntie Annie’s, Belfast, on May 19th, The Academy 2, Dublin on May 20th and Cyprus Avenue, Cork on May 21st. For more details, visit

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May 10, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 73: Le Galaxie

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 11:36 am
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“Our favourite space to create music is our basement room we keep in the centre of Dublin. It’s completely central (just off Georges Street) so is kind of invaluable in that a) sonically, it’s a place of silence in the middle of mayhem b) it’s somewhere where can keep everything we own and create. It’s small, but there’s enough space not to feel claustrophobic and work by yourself if need be. The walls are a combination of plain white, bright orange and blue blankets and artwork/photos of various band members in (sometimes) none too flattering poses.

There’s a lot of drum stuff here, as Alastair seems to have developed an unhealthy eBay habit. Other than that there are many synthesizers ranging from the very tiny to the gargantuan, most of these get a run-out at every rehearsal/recording session. The newest addition, a MicroKorg Vocoder, is still trying to find its niche. Essential to the space is volume, as the music we make really needs to be fully tested before we can think that other humans could stand it. We have to play it at the level of immediacy and intensity that we would live, and that kind of renders every rehearsal session quite the test on your brain and body.

We have a fairly tight schedule. It’s Tuesday evenings and all day Saturday, with a kind of laptop/creation session elsewhere on Thursdays. The best thing of all is that you can play really late into the night, which is great for the drummers in the band! Isolation isn’t really important, just tolerance from those around us who don’t mind hearing some very strange sounds coming from the room as we try out different sonic messiness. We usually come to the space with ideas and work from there, we don’t jam out whole songs much, there’s a gestation process.

We’re all fairly techno savvy, so there is a lot of parts recorded and thrown down outside the rehearsal environment, and then introduced as elements or starting points for songs when Le Galaxie get down to work. Our best work has come from almost mathematically thought out structures, and our worst has come from free flowing improvisation. It just doesn’t work for us.

We use a Toshiba laptop running Reason and Cubase, and a Korg keyboard for midi from these. That opens up every angle possible for sounds/beats/loops. For myself, it’s a Fender 1972 Telecaster Custom re-issue guitar, with a Sound City 50 Plus valve amp (1975) hooked up to a 4×12 Cab. Anthony uses a Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion and Fender Telecaster through a Marshall JCM 2000 amp and 1×12 Cab. For David it’s a Fender Precision Bass with EMG Pickups through an Ashdown amp. Currently Alastair is playing a 1971 Ludwig Silver Sparkle with Yamaha Japanese oak snare. Zildjian & Sabian Cymbals.

What we like most about the space is if it’s late and things haven’t gone the way you planned – and you feel if you get in a taxi you might throw up – then the room’s dusty smelly floor will always welcome you for the night. It never judges you.”

Le Galaxie (formerly 66e) release their debut EP Transworld this Friday May 15th 2009 on Battlepulse Records. It follows the release last year of the singles ‘We Bleed The Blood Of Androids’ and ‘You Feel the Fire!’ The band features Michael Pope on guitar and synth, David McGloughlin on bass, Anthony Hyland on guitar and Alistair Higgins on drums. They play The Button Factory, Dublin on May 16th, The Pavilion, Cork on May 28th, The Roisin Dubh, Galway on May 29th, Whelan’s Upstairs, Dublin (Late Club) on June 6th, The Button Factory, Dublin (@ Musik) on June 18th, Electric Avenue, Waterford (supporting Fight Like Apes) on June 19 and at the Castle Paloooza Festival, Tullamore, Co. Offaly on August 1st. For more information, visit

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