Musical Rooms

February 19, 2010

Musical Rooms Part 99: Valerie Francis

“I’m a little upside down at the moment, as I’m living with a friend while I look for my own place. I’ve never had a rehearsal space but I would love that. Somewhere to put all my instruments and record. For now I make do at home. I’ve always written songs very simply on guitar and recently on the harmonium. It means I can do it anywhere. Which is great.

Right now, all my instruments are scattered around the house. My beautiful autoharp is hidden away under my bed. Which is a shame. Everything that I use to play live, the bells, keyboard and thumb piano are crammed into a suitcase. I’ve dragged that suitcase around so much it finally lost a wheel.

I really just need quiet to play. The wee hours are good of course. That unsocial time. It has a mood that lends itself to writing music I think. You drift away. I’m flat out busy with work, rehearsing and trying to keep up with music related things. Like this! I am writing new songs so whenever I get home it’s the first thing I do. Pick up the guitar or play the harmonium. Even when I’m going to bed. Knowing I’ll have little sleep. I can’t stop myself. I think ‘I’ll just play that once through’ but then I’m done and I immediately want to play it again.

I’ve always written songs alone. Because of that I get really embarrassed playing a song to someone for the first time. It is baring your soul a little. Putting yourself out there. I have that fear of people laughing. But ya gotta do it. My friend has a great saying. Her Dad would say this to her when she was teased at school. ‘It’s none of your business what other people think of you’. I love that.

I write songs by falling into the music. I never have a plan for a song. I suppose it becomes apparent after a while what it is that I’m writing about. It’s about feeling something. Music makes me feel something and the words are my feelings. It’s pretty simple.

I don’t have a recording setup at the moment. I have Pro Tools but I learned how to use Nuendo in the studio and now I know all those shortcuts. They don’t translate. I talked to Jimmy [Eadie], who I recorded my album with, about starting a new album. He’s going to help me set up something at home so I can do the ground work myself. Then bring it to the studio. That’s the plan anyways.

I like that I don’t have to rely on a space to write music. Though it would be nice to have somewhere. If I can write a song simply, that I’m happy with. Then there’s room for it to grow.”


Valerie Francis’ debut solo album Slow Dynamo picked up rave reviews when it was released last year. It was named Irish Album of the Year in the Irish Independent and her video for ‘Punches’ was championed on KanYe West’s blog and won IMTV’s Video of the Year. She is nominated for Best Irish Female in tonight’s Meteor Awards and Slow Dynamo is nominated for the 29 Choice Music Prize. She plays Whelan’s on Saturday 27th February. Doors are 7.30pm and tickets are €15 (including booking fee) from Ticketmaster, and WaV Box Office [lo-call 1890 200 078]. She also plays Scoop Foundation charity gig at The Academy on March 19th alongside Le Galaxie, Adrian Crowley, Ann Scott, The Ambience Affair, The Gandhis, Scribble Orchestra and Jobot with more acts to be announced. For more information visit

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February 5, 2010

Musical Rooms Part 98: Cluster

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 3:37 pm
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Roedelius: For me, any space in the world in which I feel at home, whether big or small is a good place for making music. The important thing is – who owns it? – Is he or she a friend or just a producer? That’s what really matters. The places I was invited to work in during the last decennium are light, beautiful, have a great history and they smell and feel good.

Moebius: My favourite space to create music in is my home studio in berlin, which is small. Very small.

Roedelius: In terms of instruments, it’s not so much a matters of what you have in the room, even though I’m very fond of a really good Grand piano in it and all what’s necessary to get easily to the point whether asap or however.

Moebius: I use a digital eight-track recorder, synths, sampler and other stuff.

Roedelius: Time spent here? It’s all, everywhere and all the time up to inspiration/improvisation. Look at Clusters (and my) curriculum/history. Llisten to what we/I did, what ever was/ is recorded that says indeed in which way I/ we appreciated and still appreciate living, not especially making music. It’s the art of living as force behind my / our art.

I like to work alone in my home studio which is in fact my home. When I’m there I work in a sort of isolation late at night or when nobody from the family is at home, but also in the midst of housework when I want to sit down and play and listen to what I’m doing.

Moebius: I tend to spend all my time in the studio when I’m not travelling and isolation is important for me when I’m working.

Roedelius: I used whatever equipment comes to mind when I’m in the mood to work on something, whether playing piano or keyboard, listening to unfinished pieces to see if I should work on them again. What I like most about my space is that it’s mine.

Considered one of the most important space-rock outfits of the 1970s, Cluster (including members Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius) were contemporaries of Kraftwerk. They pioneered the use of synths, incorporating everything from alarm clocks and kitchen utensils into their live performances. Over the years they have recorded with Brian Eno and Neu!’s Michael Rother and experimented with ambient music in the 1990s. As well as collaborations with Eno, both have released solo albums and have collaborated with Nosdam and Clouddead. Cluster play The Village, with guest Boys of Summer on Saturday, February 6th. Tickets are available from WAV [lo-call 1890 200 078],, City Discs, Road Records and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. For more information visit

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