My name is Caragh Nugent and I am a singer-songwriter from Glasgow, Scotland. I'm not signed to any label but I have recently been in the studio recording my first EP and Bluesbunny asked me to keep a diary of what actually goes on into the process of making an EP. So here is my diary of that weekend, along with some photos. Although it can be a bit tedious and repetitive in the studio, there are always a few stories to tell! Here are some of mine.
Oban - Friday 12th January 2007
Leaving work early and rushing home to get organised for my imminent journey, I packed a few clothes, re-strung my guitar and gathered together all my loose ends; my flute, my notebook, plectrums, tuner, capo and percussion and stuffed them all into my bag and set off for the train. I'm going to Oban this weekend to make a start on recording some of my songs. It is the opportunity I have been waiting for, for a long time. I met up with Steve, my bass player and we battled our way through the Friday evening crowds to make the train on time. Three and a half hours later, after a rather non-eventful train journey, we arrived at our destination.
As the train pulled into Oban station, a feeling of excitement came over me. The wind was harsh, the rain was cold and my tummy was rumbling. However not even the brutal Scottish weather or my hunger pains could put a damper on my mood. I was over the moon as I had a few days to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in this paradise of calm.
As we approached the station, I could see James waiting for us. James Gray is a film music composer who kindly offered to help me out by recording my songs, and also providing a place for Steve and me to kip for the next few days. After the initial introductions were made and comments on how cold it was, we made our way to Musicworks Studio, which is where we were going to set up camp.
A few beers and a Lemon Chicken meal later, we had been fed, watered and warmed up sufficiently enough to start work. By that I mean sitting around and talking about what we were going to do. That was nice. James' theory was that he wanted me to be completely relaxed and not at all self conscious about recording and in order to do that, we were going to sit and listen to some music, have a chat and generally hang out. Well it was nearly half ten at night so it made sense. We popped out to the pub for a bit and walked along the seashore taking in the fresh sea air. It was lovely.
When we got back to the studio it was time for sleep. Rest was very much needed as tomorrow morning was going to be the start of a hard few days' work.
Musicworks Studio, Oban - Saturday 13th January 2007
I woke up completely refreshed albeit a little sore from the awkward sleeping position I'd contorted my body into. Still, I was in high spirits and eager to get started. Having roused my band mate and producer I made a start on the coffee and toast which, to my annoyance, was to be my role for the remainder of the stay!
Once everyone had eaten and woken up properly, we made a start. Steve and I rehearsed the songs we were going to do - "Jane Takes Six", "Fallen Star" and "Motorcycle by the Sea". While we ran through them and ironed out the little fiddly parts, James pottered around setting up microphones and did producer stuff. Some hours later we actually started recording. This is the thing about recording studios. All time seems to disappear. We ended up finishing for the night at 4am in the morning. I can't really tell you what happened as I still don't really know. But we did manage to put down all three songs and the 'sound' was becoming more and more clear. There was an air of excitement and none of us could really sleep. Most of the night was spent trying to freak each other out. And well I have to admit, Steve and James both successfully scared the living daylights out of me!
Time for a little background information first. The previous time I had been up in Oban, I was laying down some guide tracks with Keith, James' engineer. Anyway, I was sitting in the vocal booth waiting for the track to start when I noticed a reflection in the glass and it looked like a member of the KKK was sitting behind me. Obviously this is never a good sign, and I totally freaked out. Keith came into the booth and looked at the spot where I said the KKK guy was sitting. It turned out it was just a sheet and because of the way the light was hitting it, the reflection came across as a manifestation of a KKK member. It was still really scary and quickly put an end to that session!
So, back to the story. I was standing in the vocal booth again waiting to put vocals down to Jane Takes Six. I had just been to the toilet so I was completely unawares of any tomfoolery. There I was eyes closed, concentrating, getting "into the zone" when the music starts. First verse and I'm really getting into it, feeling the music man, when out of what seems to be nowhere I hear the word 'Satan' coming through my headphones. I thought I'd imagined it so kept on going. Then the second verse kicks in and once again this disturbing voice repeats the word "Satan, Satan, Satan!" getting louder and louder, I was becoming more and more freaked out when I open my eyes to find both James and Steve pissing themselves laughing! I burst out of the booth into the mixing room, finger wagging and claiming them to be top class meatheads! Bloody b******s!
Needless to say, that was the end of that session as well! Eventually we all settled down and got some sleep. Sunday was going to be more hard work on the songs, particularly "Motorcycle by the Sea". That was fast becoming my favourite track and it had a really sweet vibe to it.
Musicworks Studio, Oban - Sunday 14th January 2007
We woke up late today and I was still reeling from my ordeal the night before, much to Steve and James' amusement. After some much needed coffee and breakfast, we settled down to work on "Motorcycle by the Sea" and "Fallen Star". Steve was going to put down some bass parts for "Fallen Star"- a song he felt completely comfortable with and was boasting about how he'd breeze through it in a couple of takes, and could then get back to his lounging about. Oh how karma has a funny way of working! Eighteen takes later and we finally have something! It was quite amusing. It was one of those things where if you concentrate too much, you can never get it right. So in order to set his mind at peace, James and I decided it'd be really funny if we distracted him. James' booty shake was hilarious. I untied his shoelaces and generally tried to be as annoying as possible. Still this method seemed to work, and we got the required result.
It was also James' birthday today. So to celebrate we went out for a lovely meal. Happy birthday James!
There wasn't really much time for anything else as Steve and I had to catch the train back to Glasgow. The songs still weren't finished but they were certainly shaping up nicely. I had the best time and was really looking forward to returning so I could work on the songs some more and create something I was really proud of.
This whole creative process is not as easy as it looks. Bet you thought it was something glamorous. It is just hard work and more than a bit of madness. We were lucky enough to hear the rough mixes of the tracks that Caragh recorded and we look forward to the finished versions. We think you are going to like them.
Special thanks to Caragh Nugent