#sRated Recording DIY Style! 

  

It’s FINALLY a bright, sunny morning here in Ireland! I’m on day three of a pretty miserable cold that hit me hard on Monday and knocked me for six. It’s one of the worst things about being self employed! You push yourself as far as you can go because you kinda have to. Ain’t no such thing as a paid sick day! 
Anyways, the point of this mornings bright and sunny post despite the sneezing is to tell you that I finally started to do something I should have done on day 1 of my music career. My good DJ buddy Dave O’Connor has been shouting down my ear for years about setting myself up to do some pretty decent home recording but I just never really took it that seriously and kept putting it on the long finger. I wish I hadn’t but I’m starting now and would like to share some of my experiences as I go through the process of buying items and recording.. Maybe my experiences will be useful to someone along the way! 

First up I was told, is to invest in a really good mic and the Rode NT1a had been suggested to me many times. There are lots out there but at €189 brand new on Thomann Ireland it’s a decent price and won’t break the bank. I did a little scan for one on the private seller sites and found a guy up the road selling his for €130 – “barely used” the ad said so fingers crossed! I offered him €110 so I’m hoping that for the €80 savings it will be a good buy! I’ll keep you posted!! 

Apparently the next not so expensive step is to purchase a pre-amp! I might as well be looking into a ditch as to knowing what exactly they do but it’s my job now to find out and buy myself one! 

I’m happy that I finally got a move on in setting myself up to home record. While nothing beats the real experience, it’s ridiculous that I am not  doing all my demos and basic productions myself here at home. Got the ball rolling now at least and I’ll share my experiences of it along the #sRated way! 

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‘MATTHEWS TAKE YOU THERE’ – My first company song!! #sRated

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So after months and months of waiting to share the news with you, I can finally reveal that I have written my first ever company song for Irish transport and tour operator Matthews.ie!!!

http://MATTHEWS.IE

I was delighted that at the end of 2013 Paddy Matthews CEO of the company, asked me to write a song for them. I was a little scared to be honest, simply because of the nature of the song he wanted. It had to showcase the company services and sentiments and also include the company name. Now, as anyone who writes songs or poems know.. rhyme whether it’s in your face or barely recognisable, some words are nearly impossible to use. The vibe and momentum of the word and how it moves and fits into the song and with the music is also a massive factor. Anyways, without boring you, the point is that ‘Matthews’ is a very difficult word to fit into a lyrical sentence!! 🙂 I wrote a blog post at the time describing my experience of writing to brief, which you can read here: https://sineadmcnally.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/do-these-briefs-fit/

But I decided to give writing the company song a shot and after a few days of pulling my hair out and revisiting lots of different ideas, Matthews Take You There finally came together!! It is being launched on May 7th in Dundalk in conjunction with the company’s 20th anniversary, alongside another project that I have worked on with Matthews.ie called the ‘Matthews Arts Showcase’ and it deserves a whole blog post of it’s own, which will be posted soon!

Matthews Take You There Song and Video

The First #sRated Milestone!

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My own dressing room and a cup of tea…. well if that isn’t a good way to start back on the road gigging, I don’t know what is!! 🙂 Last night was such a buzz. I hadn’t gigged in such a long time and I was mad to get back out there and sing my songs, telling the stories and doing my usual mad leg movements that happen under the piano as I play. The venue was incredible too. It was the Íontas Theatre in Castleblayney, Co.Monaghan and from everything to the dressing rooms, to the main theatre and foyer, it’s just a fab place to play. The sound was also superb! When you arrive somewhere and know that you are dealing with top class facilities, it makes you feel so much more relaxed, confident and excited. Iontas Theatre

As a performer, the audience cannot be seen at all from the stage. You can hear them shuffle and cough and clap but you cannot see a soul. It’s a little weird singing out and simling at a black canvas but it gets you into a zone and its ALL about the performance.

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I did a 25 minute set that included my opening piece that includes a section of a Mendellsohn piece of music that develops into one of my own songs ‘Showtime’. Its a little opener to my set and I really enjoy the blend of genres. Following that I did an old number ‘Fix You Up’ and managed to get the audience singing along with me.. After that was my newest song and with the lyrics only finalised about 4 hours before the gig, I wasn’t convinced I could pull it off but for a first performance, it went better than expected!

After that, I read out my poem ‘Northern Borders’ https://sineadmcnally.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/northern-borders/ which I accompany with my own take on the well known ballad ‘Hills of Donegal’. It’s a difficult one as the emotion is high throughout but people got it and that’s what’s special about sharing it. I finished up my set with ‘Ship Street’,

one of my favourite songs that I wrote last Summer after a visit to Brighton to attend a female songwriting workshop with Fiona Bevan and Kal Lavelle. Fiona wrote One Directions ‘Little Things’. Hence the line in the song that says “I got lost in love and loss and all those little things..”

I finished up a very enjoyable, emotional and buzzing set with one off my debut EP ‘Something Has Changed’, a piece in 6/8 time that is a lot of fun and quite tricky on the fingers!!

Thanks to Barry Jay Hughes, to all at the Iontas Theatre and to all who bought and ordered my CD’s. Over the next few years, I will work towards a changing room of my own in the 3 Arena!! Dream big!! Chat soon x

#sRated Photoshoot – Magic in the Making!

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Last Wednesday, I filled my car with props, clothes, accessories and all sorts of bits and pieces, spent about an hour putting the hairdo together and hit the road to Sligo! It was a long morning of preparation after a few weeks spent putting Pinterest boards together, sourcing a photographer and makeup artist, etc etc. I decided early this year that I wanted to update my visuals and start to define my brand as such in line with new music and a new #sRated approach! When I found Suzy McCanny Photography, I was immediately like YES, this is the vibe I’m going for. Loved all of her work – check it out here, incredible! Suzy McCanny Photography so I got in touch with her and shared my Pinterest board

and we took it from there! She reccommended Michelle Anderson Make Up Artist to me and again I was blown away by her work. So creative… MAMU So after that, I hit the N53 on a glorious afternoon with a few ham sandwiches and arrived in Sligo at Suzy’s studios at 4pm. It was a great few hours, getting the make up applied is always relaxing and fun to see it coming together!

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Afterwards we discussed what shots we would focus on achieving and got to it. Suzy had also made a beautiful backdrop (picture at top of post ) out of old music sheets, which looked so effective even just by itself. I’ve been in a couple of photo shoots before and it’s all about the pose and positioning of your body. Being small, Suzy gave me tips and pose suggestions that helped elongate my body! Some of them feel totally weird and uncomfortable but end up looking great on camera! After approximately 300 photos, we finished up and had a quick flick through them and chatted about how some of them might look when they have been put through the next creative process! That’s where the magic happens and I can’t wait to pick out my favourites and get to work on them with Suzy.

Happy New Year!

It’s the last day of 2014 and I have been completely useless with blogging updates since August! All of my attention went on my NCKids project NCKids which only really finished last week… More to follow on that.

For now, I just wanted to wish you all a very Happy New Year and reflect musically for a couple of moments on the year that was 2014!

I learned to toughen up and start thinking ‘business’ in 2014. It meant being a bit of a ***** at times but I realised that if I was to realistically live and earn from songwriting and performing, I had to step it up a notch and act professionally even if that meant upsetting some people in the process. That may sound a little harsh but it was a transition I had to make or else leave my music in a very hobby-like, comfortable, safe and people pleasing place, which just wasn’t for me.

So with that, I made the decision in January 2014 to open up some opportunities that were both musically challenging and enjoyable as well as being clever little business moves that generated revenue and could individually be built into successful little businesses! I am proud to say that I have achieved those ideals and whilst I have to remain tight lipped about one of them until its launch in April 2015, the NCKIDS brand is off to an exciting start. Yes, it requires work and a lot of funds before it’s a profitable business but I have lots of ideas for 2015 that may help speed it up and attract some investors.

I didn’t write anywhere as much as I normally do in a year. I’ve missed it terribly but my head was somewhere else and I’m looking forward to the time off in January to play with some ideas, write for some pop pitches and just explore where I’m going as an artist.

I guess you could say that 2014 has been about the songwriter ‘business’ person in me. Thinking outside the box as a writer with a view to being a
a music entrepreneur of sorts. Whilst it hasn’t been easy turing up in boardrooms negotiating contracts and being business savvy, I have to admit that I have enjoyed the challenge in it and more importantly the reward in hearing the music you wrote getting the professional respect and reward it deserves. There are of course times that I write and play just for sheer personal and social enjoyment regardless of the reaction or outcome but there are no words to describe just how good it feels to see what you do best becoming a real career, a real business!

Thank you for keeping up to date and taking an interest in the music and events. I hope ‘Showtime’ provides some insight or inspiration for other songwriters out there and I promise to write more frequent updates!! Thanks also to those of you who are supporting what I do. I am very grateful.

Happy New Year!!
Sinead x

“By those arcade lights, I sailed away that night”… #songsisters #fionabevan #kallavelle #amazing

So last Sunday morning my alarm went off at 4.30am and off I went to Dublin airport to catch a plane to London. I was on my way to Brighton to attend a songwriting masterclass hosted by two UK based female songwriters ‘Fiona Bevan’ and ‘Kal Lavelle’ after discovering that they were on their ‘Songsisters’ tour of the UK. Not only were they performing on the tour each night, bringing in local female artists and guests at each venue but they were also giving other female songwriters a chance to meet with them and chat about songwriting, the music industry and all things related at a special masterclass ahead of each gig.

For me, it was a no-brainer to get myself over the pond to attend one of their events. As much as I love my little village of Knockbridge and Ireland in general, it can be a lonely little existence at times as a songwriter! Buying my ticket to go and be a part of this event was very exciting, knowing I was going to be surrounded by other girls and women working for the love of their craft. More often than not, I have to explain my songwriting lifestyle to most people, (understandably) but just sitting in that room that afternoon as Fiona, Kal and their guest Stephanie spoke, I knew they ‘got it’, their difficulties were my difficulties too, their concerns the same as mine and the love for what they do, equally the same. So it was a real breath of fresh air to have that space and time to just let it all out and have extremely gifted and successful independent ladies remind you that mistakes are there to be made and not to worry about them, to learn from putting yourself out of your comfort zone and to create whatever it is you want especially if it is not already out there! Everything they said reminded me of conversations I regularly have with myself but it was good to hear them out loud!

Later that evening, I returned to the venue to hear the girls perform along with Stephanie O’Brien and Emily Baker. (See links below) The whole evening was captivating. I genuinely felt transported somewhere else.. The combination of the stunning performances, the warmth of the evening in such a beautiful sea-side city and giving myself this lovely opportunity to be alone and just listen, absorbing that magic that exists when artists put themselves out there, sharing their thoughts and melodies and just doing what they love. I practically ran out of the venue when the gig was over to grab a pen and paper and write, such was the impact that the gig and the encouragement had on me. (Although I made sure not to leave without a CD from each artist) and everytime I listen to those CD’s, I’ll be reminded of the night I wrote ‘Ship Street’ and the night that a lot of musical colours came back to life for me.. Thanks so much to Fiona Bevan, Kal Lavelle, Stephanie O’Brien and Emily Baker for a lovely evening. Here’s a little a link to a little chorus snippet of ‘Ship Street’! Enjoy x

Ship Street Clip – Soundcloud

“By those arcade lights, I sailed away that night

On melodies that glistened in the haze,

To Ship Street I will go, when love is lost or low

I’ll sip on wine and dance in Summer shoes, that’s what I’ll do”

Fiona Bevan Website

Kal Lavelle Website

Stephanie O’Brien Facebook

Emily Baker Website

New song snippets…

This weekend, I thought it would be nice to sit at the piano and share snippets of some of the new material I have been writing. I have chosen three songs to share little sections of with you today – ‘Digging Holes’, ‘Put it in a Box’ and ‘A Million Hearts’. All of the songs need a little tug here and there, words need changing, bridges need fixing etc but at just over 8 minutes long, this little Soundcloud link should cover the time it takes to sit back with a cuppa and enjoy a little break!

New Song Snippets