Good times.

I’ve often heard that making an album is hard work. Most of my first releases were either started or completely recorded in my bedroom back in Derry. With my latest EP (Training Up My Soul), I had my first taste of tracking live with a band. I could hear the difference. I could feel the energy in the songs.

Making a more official move to New York at the start of 2011, I was very lucky to get together with the same group of musicians that helped me find my feet when I first made a short trip to NY. After two years of playing with the same three men, I was dying to record with them.

Just last week I joked with my producer and good friend Michael Keeney about the recording process of my second EP. I will never forget recording my friend Zarah playing cello in my student accommodation in Stranmillis, Belfast, and then having Michael help me mix the track. It learned me a lot. Thinking back to those recording times, I could never have imagined that my debut album would be made in New York in a world-class studio.

I recently realized just how much travelling around with my guitar is reflected in my music. There are songs that were written in Derry. Some were started in Los Angeles. The majority of the songs were penned in Brooklyn. This album will always make me think of NYC.

My hard-drive is full of live recordings from various shows we have played in the past two years. It’s really amazing to listen back to songs and see their transformation from one show to the next. It takes time for musicians to gel. But it didn’t take too much time for Jacob, Kenny and Rob to understand Irish sarcasm!

Four days in a studio is not a long time, but we moved fast and kept the energy and enthusiasm up. On the final day all of our live tracking was done, and then we put down some backing vocals. The final few hours I spent with Michael on electric guitars. There is still some work to do but I feel that the hardest part is over.

My first time recording in Brooklyn has passed, but the memories will live on for a long time. Huge thanks to Michael, Jacob, Kenny, Rob, Rebecca, and everyone at Seaside Lounge Studios for making the experience so much fun. As for a release date… check back for updates.

Next Show – May 28th @ 8pm – Rockwood Music Hall (room 1)

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

good 13

Image

John xo

Inspired.

IMG_20130206_102402

I don’t have a CD player in my apartment, and I have never owned an mp3 player. Sometimes a full week will go past and I wont have listened to music at home. I’ve always been the type of person that finds a band or artist and then obsesses with them for a while. This happened to me with Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, The Frames, Sigur Rós, The Strokes and Damien Rice just to name a few.

Since relocating to the U.S I seemed to have moved away from that pattern. Every now and then I will hear a single from a new band that draws me in, but I never really take the time to sit down and listen to their music. Like most people I will never have as much free time as I did when I was at University in Belfast.

Then something changed. I was gifted a record player for Christmas… and I couldn’t have been inspired more by a single act of kindness. Like a student again I have been taking the time to sit down and listen to albums, from start to finish. Classic albums like ‘Into the Music’ from Van Morrison and ‘Everybody Knows this is Nowhere’ by Neil Young. I have borrowed a few records from friends, and picked up a few myself in a little store in Park Slope called ’5th Avenue Records & Tapes.’ Just last week I picked up my first James Taylor record. It was 50 cents and it was little dusty, but when I cleaned it up it plays like a dream.

I am not afraid to admit that I have never taken the time to get into The Beatles. Like most people I know all the singles, but not all the album tracks. My good friend Alan just gifted me ‘Let it Be’, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and ‘The Beatles.’ Can’t really go wrong with those three to be fair. The best thing about owning a record player for me is that I am going to open my ears to a lot of music, particularly older recordings, that would have passed me by otherwise.

With plans set in stone to record my debut album a few months from now I have been writing a lot. I know that music consumption has changed so much in recent years, but I still believe in the power of a good album. I want the songs to sit well together so that people like me can enjoy listening from start to finish, and who knows maybe i’ll get a few printed on vinyl…

John xo

p.s for more up to date news follow me on twitter or facebook.

Some live footage

I’ve been sitting on this footage for quite a while. Recorded in May of last year at the Training Up My Soul EP launch in Rockwood Music Hall, this is It Slows Down.

Thanks to everyone who made this show unforgettable, and to everyone who has picked up a copy of the EP to date. You guys rock.

This Wednesday, I am doing a solo set at Ceol in Brooklyn. Situated at 191 Smith Street in Cobblehill, Ceol has a really great open-mic night every Wednesday. This week I am honored to be the featured performer. 8pm stage time. Should be fun!

John xo