The Abyss

The Abyss – An Original Garage Band Creation

When I started recording my original songs, whether it was solo or with Junior Chills, I recorded using the voice record feature on my tablet and phone. Not realising (pretty stupid of me) that I would still be using the same microphone of my device, I downloaded Garage Band in the hope that I would be able to make my songs sound better by editing and mixing them up a bit. Although the recording quality itself for vocals wasn’t great, the different instruments and the effects you could use was, for a novice, excellent.

I remember faffin’ about with the app for ages and I made a few instrumental tunes (such as Head of a Weasel and others which I will put on the blog at some stage). However I inadvertently decided to put together a song using only the instruments available in the app and putting my own lyrics to it. I think it was born out of playing with the guitar instrument in the app and getting some nice sounds from it. I slowly but surely put a varied mix of instruments into it including a strings section, drums, hip hop drums and an electric piano…pretty random to say the least but I think that they come together nicely. I have only recently revisited playing the song as I was finally able to connect my Shure microphone to the tablet to make the vocals a bit clearer with less interference. A word of advice…it was an absolute nightmare finding the right app to allow me to build a video with this song. A lot of the apps wouldn’t play the file for whatever reason despite multiple attempts at converting the file to different file types. Fortunately in the end I got a free app called Viva Video which worked perfectly!!!

The song is made up of two verses which are repeated. It wasn’t so much of a laziness thing but rather I liked the two verses I had and thought that if I was able to put a bit of a beat into the song it would sound good.

In regards to the lyrics of the song itself I like to think of it as a bit of a haunting song. The abyss of life in a way can itself be haunting. Deep in your life when things aren’t going great you can see a light…the light at the end of the tunnel which so many people talk about. It is haunting as although you can see the light at the end, you also see the other things which are all around you. These maybe are the things which have made times difficult for you.

I am a fan of staring into the cloudless sky at night time and looking at the stars and searching for satellites as they move (I saw a shooting star once before which was pretty amazing!!). Maybe there has been a lot of influence from the likes of Predator, Event Horizon, Alien and Interstellar where I wonder what the stars can hold…a species which can wipe us out? A species which wants to wipe us out? Is there just space? Or maybe is there an accumulation of all three? I don’t know…it is only a song at the end of the day.

Here it is. ‘The Abyss’.

D.M.

Advertisements

‘Hoops’ – the song that never was…

Hoops – the song that never was…

‘Hoops’ is a wee romantic number I wrote a while back and is the song I used to enter a singer-songwriter competition in Belfast. Needless to say I didn’t get into the competition. There is a wealth of musical talent in my local area so I was up against some serious musicians. They were also only taking 60 people through to the competition…but I am fairly confident that if it was 61 people going through I would have been the 61st person no sweat! Hahaha

There are a lot of different things discussed and / or alluded to in some way in this romantic number. The one I like the most is probably ‘I need to tell you while I can you’re my girl and I’m your man, it’s one of those things that doesn’t really need saying’. It’s the whole idea of whenever you start being in a relationship and reflecting back to the day when you started going out, did you have the conversation of now we are boyfriend / girlfriend? It’s one of those things that doesn’t really need saying but we say it anyway.

I also like the whole idea of chivalry. It’s a done thing that if It’s cold outside you give your other half your jacket…it’s a nice thing to do and because of that you do feel warm inside for doing it but in your head you like ‘for fuck sake now I am baltic’: around her shoulder I place my coat, there’s warmth inside even though you’re arms are freezing.

Finally ‘when pain hit hard, you hit pain back, you never tired and never slacked, worked so hard now the benefits you’re reaping’.  This line was written for my wife who, at that time, had a very difficult and stressful job. You are allowed to have shitty days, you’re even allowed to have shitty weeks but it is how you deal with these days and weeks which is key as now she is reaping the benefits of persevering and working things through. This goes for everything and not just work. With relationships there is obviously going to be speed bumps along the way but if you work with it then you come out on the other side stronger.

As I was entering this song into a singer – songwriter competition I recorded this at a Recording Studio. Again the click track wasn’t working for me (maybe the click track is perpetually broken and not me) so it was another raw recording. I think there is a bit of reverb on the vocals and, in parts, there is a double up of the vocals. I think it sounds really good…well obviously since I wrote it! Took a bit of time to develop a video for the song again where the images reflect some of the words spoken… so check it out and see what you think.

D.M.

40 Nights – A song about Lent

40 Nights – A song about Lent

Being a massive Christy Moore fan it is very fitting that I begin this blog with a quote by him from his Live At The Point album: “ I wasn’t going to sing this song…but I’m going to sing it”.

This song was one of the first ones that I ever wrote and it is quite timely for this time of year as the song is about Lent. More specifically it is about someone trying to give up drink for Lent. For those of you that do not know what Lent is, it is a time of year where Catholic’s replicate Jesus’ time in the desert when he fasted for 40 days and nights and was tempted by the devil along the way. Fortunately in Ireland there are fuck all deserts for us to take off to and fast so we try our best to give up some things for the 40 days…chocolate, sweets, crisps, and, for the more hardcore Catholics, drink. We all get a cheat day in the middle with St Patrick’s Day on 17th March…as Tommy Tiernan, the Irish comedian, stated, in the middle of lent, “Jesus came out of the desert and said ah lads the divil is wreckin’ me head, give us a pint will ye”.

This is a song which I haven’t played in quite a while but as it is Lent I thought I may as well put it online…I hope you enjoy it!!

P.S. One drink is too many for me and a thousand not enough…

D.M.

Adele – Hello (Cover)

Adele – Hello (Cover)

‘Tell me Michael, how can a billion Chinese people be wrong?’

This line, from The Lost Boys, comes to mind when I think about some of the different reactions I have read about Adele and her music –not that I need a billion people to tell me what I should or should not like but I think it’s pretty safe to say that with the following that she has it is because she is good…very, very good!! I won’t begin to lie and say that I have heard even a quarter of the songs she has made but of the handful that I have heard I think that she is far more than a crooner for Grannies…

If you have listened to some of the songs we have wrote, this song is definitely not built for me to cover. Try to visualise me belting out the chorus full on Adele style? It wouldn’t happen and never did. Instead I tried to make it my own and it is pretty different from Adele’s version (hopefully in a good way).

D.M.

‘Head of a Weasel’

An iPad created instrumental song which differs from the norm

I bought Garage Band for my iPad last year in the hope that I could semi-professionally record my own songs within the confines of my home. What I wasn’t told when I downloaded the app was that I needed an i-Rig to link my guitar to the iPad to actually begin playing and recording (unless I wanted to use the built in iPad microphone to record my guitar which wouldn’t have sounded great). As such before I was able to get my hands on this i-Rig I had time to faff about with the app and see what was what.  Before long I was using the drums, piano and guitar pre-sets to make my own instrumental song…I think my attempts to keep time in the song are pretty shit, with the whole click track fiasco it is not surprising either, but the song is what it is.

It is called Head of a Weasel. To be honest I am not 100% sure where I got the title from…maybe it is about someone who finds the head of a weasel in his Kentucky…I don’t know…give it a listen and see what you think!!

D.M.

‘As soon as we found Stuttgart, we got the wagons in a ring’ – Setting Up

I just wanted to take a quick break from putting up some of our material and let you know about the equipment that we are using to record. We are essentially raw recording. All we are using is a camera, a shure microphone, guitar and an amp:

 

My experience in the recording studio has showed me that I have the great misfortune / fortune not to be able to use auto tune for my voice as apparently I sing between keys…which is fucked up… but I’ll claim this as a nice uniqueness to my voice.

We have not been using an interface but rather complete old school method of microphone in the middle and amps tilted towards the mic. This is because the mic is connected directly to the camera…as the quality is a million times better than the cameras mic.

The set up is quite funny and reminds me of a Christy Moore lyric ‘As soon as we found Stuttgart, we got the wagons in a ring’. We sit around the mic and try our best with what we have. Sometimes being minimalistic is easier…and hopefully sounds nice…

‘When The Time Comes Round’ – Our Song Which Was Omitted From 28 Days Later Soundtrack

‘When The Time Comes Round’ was our first song which we put onto Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook. A Battle of the Bands was taking place in our local area but in order to register to perform you had to send in a song which your band had recorded. We had a few different recordings made via our smartphones but nothing which sounded ‘professional’. We then had to delve into the world of the recording studio…a place which the Arctic Monkeys in ‘Teddy Picker’ made out to be a fun, happy place where you can chill out and make music and have the craic and what not. It is a fuckin terrifying experience………..at the beginning anyway!

Don’t get me wrong the studio itself was excellent. It was situated in a converted room in a house and was owned by a friend of my brother. We went to the studio to jam before we decided to record a song and were told that we could make as much noise as we wanted which was like a red rag to a bull as, during our usual house practice sessions, noise had to be to a minimum – I suppose I didn’t actually having to keep noise to a minimum as quite a lot of the songs I was writing at the time were just nice wee acoustic songs. The addition of a bass and an electric guitar changed the dimension of the songs…for the better!!

So why was the studio a terrifying experience?

For two reasons to be precise. It was one thing singing in front of your friends in a room in the back of your house, it was another singing into a microphone in a studio which amplified your voice ten fold. I had never sang into a microphone before and this was a baptism of fire for me. My voice isn’t strong but listening back to some of the first recordings I made on my phone it sounded as if a light breeze would blow me over. There was no strength there at all…I suppose this is part and parcel of my fears of singing but I think I am slowly but surely overcoming this fear. I knew that I would need to get used to singing into a mic and hearing my voice boomed back at me. Following the session, and after a bit of research, I purchased a Shure SM58 microphone…to be honest I hadn’t used anything else so cannot compare it to other microphones but I’ll say this. It does the trick.

The second reason is as follows. I have told you that I have played the guitar since I was thirteen (and left it down for quite a considerable amount of years). I used to be able to read sheet music but now I read tabs if I am practicing a cover song. I know a few chords. I have forgotten all my scales. I sometimes have difficulty changing strings. Some of these things may be universal problems which others experience or have experienced. When we went into record our song for the Battle of the Bands I needed to be able to play to a click track…I didn’t even know what a click track was.

Having now been schooled in it, a click track, for those of you that don’t know, is a form of metronome which you keep time to which allows for easier editing in garageband, for example. We wanted to record When the Time Comes Round but if we wanted to add in drums to our song, which was advised and is quite an essential instrument needed when you don’t have a drummer, we needed me to be able to play to a click track. After two hours of start, stop, rewind, record, and over and over again I didn’t get it. I couldn’t get it. For whatever reason I could not play to the click track on time. Don’t get me wrong I am good with time in that I can tell time and I am punctual so how hard could it be to play to a metronome…pretty fuckin hard let me tell you!!.

As such we abandoned the click track and made a ‘raw’ recording of the song which I really liked (probably because I wasn’t under any pressure then). For our first professional recording I don’t think it was wise that we chose a 6 odd minute song but we did and we submitted it and we got into the Battle of the Bands (another tale for another time).

‘When The Time Comes Round’ is one of those songs which has very little in the way of meaning and more in the way of convoluted things thrown together. It doesn’t follow a story or anything but has one or two small messages contained in the lyrics. I think one of them is a reflection of myself in regards to writing music and now, in hindsight, writing this very blog – “write your story about your life, end on a high or start afresh its your own tale its not a test”. There are no right or wrong answers in what I type into this blog about me, my music and my collaborations. There is just me, my music and my collaborations so I shouldn’t be afraid to write away…and I will try…

Recently a friend said to me that he thought that the song sounds like it is off the 28 Days Later soundtrack…I’ll take that…

D.M.

The Diddly

The Diddly was an accident of sorts.

I suppose when you refer to something as an accident you run the risk of making it sound like a negative experience yet the opposite happened with The Diddly. Initially it was a song in its own right but we felt that the chorus was nice enough to stand alone with the addition of a riff alongside it. I think instrumental pieces are amazing as they evoke so many different images without having to use lyrics to do so…for me The Diddly (aptly named by Dev) is an ode to Ireland in a way in that it conjures up different images in my mind of Ireland. As such I put the music alongside a few clips of a recent trip to Kinsale to help set the mood for the song…well, in my mind anyway.

Hope you like it.

D.M.

diddlypic[1].png

Goodbye

Junior Chills is the collaboration of myself, Paul Devlin and Kieran Magee. As I said before, I spent the majority of my time playing the guitar to the four walls in my house but one day plucked up the courage to have a jamming session with my brother, Kieran, who had recently taken to playing the bass guitar. Quite randomly Paul was speaking to me about jamming some time, as he has been playing the electric guitar frequently, so he was invited along one evening to my house to see what we could play as a trio.

I remember that we started with me strumming chords and seeing what Kieran and Dev could jam over with. I quickly manipulated this by playing chord progressions which I had wrote for my own songs. At this stage I had wrote a few songs so we started going through ones which we thought sounded ‘good’ or, at least, pleasing to the ear.

This was the first time I ‘performed’ my own songs in front of real human beings which was pretty terrifying, despite knowing my audience very well. I think that it’s the mind-set that you are putting yourself out there and are completely vulnerable. Imagine playing the same three chords for four bars and saying to your friends ‘what did you think of that?’ Compare this with playing the above and adding in four bars of your own lyrics…the door is left wide open for someone to say ‘that song is shite’ or put it quite bluntly ‘you cant sing’. Although I tried to pass the buck to Kieran and Dev to sing the song I had put together they let me sit there with the musical door wide open but no reproaches followed.

I had the lyrics and the lead guitar chords mapped out for the song but had not considered a bass and electric guitar part. Thankfully both Kieran and Dev have a keen musical ear and were able to construct their own parts. Before long we had finished the song. It’s quite ironic that our first song together was ‘Goodbye’.

Goodbye has a lot of different messages in there for the listener. It is about someone reflecting on their life and how all the good times that they had can only be relived in their dreams. That life now is in pieces for one reason or another. The opening message is one of good advice I suppose….if you don’t look down when you are up high then you cannot see what is below you which helps to prevent you from falling. Similarly it offers advice to those who maybe come into a bit of good luck to beware of those who suddenly come out of the wood work to be your friend. A more sinister message I suppose which steps away from the one contained within ‘Coming Home Again’ is ‘Please don’t hope cos life is fast, like fool’s good it will never last’. As I have gotten older I realise how quickly the days, weeks, months and years pass by. This is a frightening realisation since when younger the summer’s seemed to last forever. Life does move very very quickly and I suppose my rational is that if you spend your life hoping for one thing or another it will be over before you know it….fuckin hell I didn’t mean this to get so deep.

Anyway here is ‘Goodbye’. The first song practiced, played and recorded by Junior Chills.

D.M.