10. Recording in Ireland pt 1
I followed up my writing stint in Wales by finishing all of my demos back in London before putting in some serious hours of rehearsal on various instruments, particularly vocally. I still felt a sense of apprehension when it came to singing and knew this was the area I had to overcome the most, and quickly.
The final studio recording sessions were to be split into two, with the first taking place over a period of ten days in mid April 2019.
The reason we didn’t record the whole album in one go was so that we could give ourselves a little distance (and with that, some objectivity) as well as offer me some extra time to carry on gigging back in the U.K. to build up further funds for the project.
I wanted to work with a producer called Martin Quinn after hearing a bunch of his productions through a friend. I’d been in touch with him over the previous 4 months keeping him updated with the progress of my new songs and I knew we’d be a good fit judging by some of the various conversations I’d had with him.
It was a dream come true to head over to his studio in Kells, Ireland. I bought myself two seats on a Ryan Air flight (the second, for my guitar) and flew to Dublin before taking a coach out towards the countryside in County Meath.
I’d initially planned to stay in a hostel above a pub whilst I was in the area but several months before I was due to arrive, the business shut-down leaving me short of accommodation options.
What I found in its place was a complete upturn in fortune and I was welcomed into a couples’ home via Airbnb. Leon was a typically chilled football loving Dutchman, while Martina laid on her Irish charm and was never short of conversation.
I set up home in the top room of their house where I was to stay for the next week and a half.
On my first evening in Kells, I headed out into the small town, to sample a couple of pints of the finest Guinness. It was good to be back.
On most mornings in Kells, I’d usually wake up to the sound of cows fucking each other senseless (at least that’s what I thought it sounded like) in a nearby field before jumping out of bed and slipping on my running gear.
I was still committed to keeping up with my running regime and would head out in the morning, headphones firmly on, to run around the local area, mentally preparing myself for the ensuing day spent in the studio. I’d also spend 30 minutes in the morning warming up my voice with various exercises just to make sure it was in shape in case we’d need to spontaneously track anything.
Jam Studios is an awesome little facility and is the brain child and headquarters of Martin Quinn. Though it’s not the biggest and fanciest place I’ve ever recorded in, it’s been streamlined to be incredibly efficient with top outboard equipment and various instruments.
It’s an ongoing project which is probably why the results that come out of there continue to defy the size it actually is. There’s not a lot that can’t be done there.
Topping it all off is the man himself at the helm of the ship - Martin. He was quick to make me feel welcome and quick to get the whole project off to a good start.
We spent the first morning loading up the demo project files into his system so that our workflow had some structure and so that Martin was able to see what I was trying to achieve. We’d then replace the essential parts accordingly, all the while keeping open to adding other colours and layers to the mixes.
His brother, Andrew, a gem of a character and force of nature on drums, came in and after studying the demos, offered a solid and professional foundation for me to add the rest of the instrumentation to.
I learnt a lot working with Martin and have total admiration for his speed of thought, sharp ear, workflow and knowledge, not only of music production but of music itself.
After spending so much of the last year working on the songs in complete solitude, it was an absolute dream to work closely with someone with such a deep skillset.
I took an athletic approach to my time in Ireland, knowing I simply could not afford to not complete the recording process in the allocated and very stretched time frame I’d allowed myself.
Generally the sessions would run from 10.30am and finish anywhere between 7.30pm and 8.30pm, Monday to Friday. At the weekend/s, I’d spend my time going over vocal exercises and rehearse any remaining parts that needed to be recorded in the coming days. I was also sensible with my Guinness intake.
By the time I left Ireland, we had recorded the majority of seven tracks with ‘South of the River and ‘One in a Million’ being fully complete and prioritised seeing as they were to be the first singles.