Ailie Blunnie

Songwriter :: Singer :: Musician

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Background to ‘Beat of Your Heart’, the next single

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Background to ‘Beat of Your Heart’, the next single

Hello, How are things? Gorgeous bit of sun these last few days. I hope you’re getting to enjoy some of it. I’m in the process of getting the second single, ‘Beat of Your Heart’, ready for release. We’re working on the video at the moment, and aiming to release it in early April. It’s upbeat, and has a bit of an electronic and grungy edge to it – a slightly new departure. I started writing it on the way home from work one day last year, just as I was beginning to feel the early phase of a migraine coming on. (I’m prone to migraines. Info below if it helps you*) While not positive experiences, some of the things that happen during that early phase – the aura or ‘warning’ phase – can be kind of funny! That day, I had just finished teaching an English class, and somewhere along the way home, one of the pronunciation exercises we had been doing popped back into my head. Not a problem under most circumstances.. The problem was that it replayed itself at the same volume and enthusiasm-level as the real-life version. My auditory world spontaneously filled up with a chorus of just-landed-in-the-country Brazilian and Pakistani voices, diligently chanting elementary English phrases, while I walked like an otherwise normal-looking person past the local Bingo Hall in Cabra (“WHERE are you FROM, WHAT’S your NAME, how OLD are you..?”). It was like chunks of time had been copied and pasted on top of each other and put on a loop. Absolutely bonkers. So, in this new song, I’ve tried to channel a bit of the sense of disorientation you feel at those times, but in a tightly-structured way so that it might also be soothing for people for if their own life feels a bit out of control. I’m hoping it won’t actually give people a headache.. :-) Aside from that, I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about what to do after the album. I’m conscious of feeling a bit directionless.. like the way you hear of people planning a wedding or something, and then coming down like a tonne of bricks afterwards. So I’m trying to get a few things lined up. College, for one, but in terms of music, maybe getting onto the support circuit and doing some opening slots for more established acts.. or writing music for different types of projects and/or collaborating with different types of artists. We’ll see. Anyway, enough about me, I hope March has been treating you well? Have you ever done this: draw a stickman? I rediscovered it yesterday in an idle moment and it’s absolutely brilliant, I love it. Give it a go if you’ve a minute or two to kill. I’ll keep you posted on the single (won’t be long, I promise), but in the meantime, don’t forget your sunscreen.. ..and look after yourself :-) Ailie xx _____________________________________________________________________________ *Managing migraines I don’t normally talk about this much, but hopefully it’ll be of some use to you or maybe someone you know. What helped me most has been identifying the chief culprits (my triggers) 1. hormone fluctuations (especially week 2 into 3 & week 4 into 1) 2. over-exertion (things that cause your internal phone-battery to fall below 25%) 3. changes that put the body out of balance, especially...

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‘West to the Evening Sun’ single // process (pt 2, video)

Posted by on 7:59 pm in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Hiya, In the last post, I talked a bit about the song and the musical elements. I just wanted to add a quick note about the video. The video had a few incarnations: I originally recorded it very simply, with just clouds going across the sky in my garden in real time. I really like simple videos. But actually, that one ended up looking a bit too simple, even by my standards :-) So I decided to try out a different idea, and made a stop-motion one about a little cartoon girl who lost her balloon: I spent the whole Christmas making that one! ..but then I saw this cool thing on Wonders of the Universe (Brian Cox, BBC) – a wall of towers in Peru which was built as a giant sundial – and that made me think about the cloud idea again, but with some sort of sundial idea incorporated into it. I started looking up homemade sundial videos on YouTube and had all sorts of elaborate plans to construct one out the back. But I figured it would have to be vertical to work in the video (..my skills are limited in these areas), so I decided it’d have to be the window and some whiteboard markers.* The main concern for me with the video was that it would just kind of float by as you watched it, and not take up too much of your attention, so that you could hear the layers and atmospherics in the song properly. I hope you like it, Ailie xx * Incidentally, whiteboard markers work great on windows! (but don’t tell any children) ** I should probably also add: as a sundial, it’s not exactly scientifically...

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‘West to the Evening Sun’ single // process (music)

Posted by on 11:15 am in News | 2 comments

Hello! How are ya? It’s been a big week here with the release of ‘West to the Evening Sun’, the first single from my forthcoming album. Here it is: It’s about.. do you know when you’re a bit fed up and you just want to get in the car and drive away.. forever? I was feeling like that at the time. I wrote some of it in Dublin, and some of it in Sligo. It’s a bit different than previous releases for me, because it’s the first time I’ve had producers on board (Daragh Dukes, Eoin Coughlan). I’m very touched at the response it’s getting: some nice media attention and airplay, and my mammy really likes it.. :-) I never really understood the role of producers; I just thought they were people Michael Jackson had to tell him he was doing grand and keep singing away there.. but I can confidently say, they do more than that! At least in my experience. We started by listening to the bare song (just piano and vocals) and then I told them a bit about the emotional stuff behind it, and discussed a few reference tracks and ideas to give them a clearer picture of the sort of feel I wanted (e.g. folk, Irish, natural, chant-like, ancient, modern, a bit magical, ambient, expansive). After that, myself and Eoin recorded a basic track with piano, vocals, and bodhrán, and then we honed in on the individual instruments and sounds, and started experimenting and metaphorically throwing muck at the wall. We recorded everything a load of different ways – vocals were sung, spoken, whispered.. guitars were strummed, scuffed, e-bowed.. we were hitting ourselves all over for percussion (we must have looked insane) – all to try and get a good, tangible feel for how exactly the palette of sounds I had in my head for the song, was going to be created. The best way I can describe the atmosphere in that studio is like a great big steam engine, fueled by imagination, energy, a lot of suggestions, a load of opinions, mutual respect, a touch of magic, and a fair bit of feeling uncomfortable. It’s actually not that pleasant sometimes – even though it probably sounds kind of rock ‘n roll and all that’s missing is the cocaine.. After that then, the song was gradually crafted into the version you hear. Daragh, the producer/engineer, is brilliant. I’ll link his website below so you can hear his own work. He sent edits, I made suggestions, he made suggestions, and so on.. until we got it up to the stage where it felt to me like a fresh watercolour of sounds and textures, permeated by a sense of hope and adventure. My favourite part (if I’m allowed say that about my own song), is the build at the end where the ambient blur of voice synth (Aideen Rickard’s voice) washes over the closing chant with increasing intensity, and then slowly dissolves into the bare wind chimes. I really hope you enjoy listening to it. That’s the basic outline of how it was developed. A few people had asked me about that, and I’m delighted to share it. (I’ve also written a small piece about the video) Anyway, enough about all that, how have you been since? Anyone tried any of those apps I was...

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New year, and some new ways to stay sane (*maybe)

Posted by on 3:19 am in News | 2 comments

New year, and some new ways to stay sane (*maybe)

Happy New Year! Well? Tell me everything. Did you have a nice Christmas? I’m just back in Dublin after a break at home in Carrick. It’s freeeezin’ here! The heat is on full throttle and I’m firing cups of tea into myself. January is D-month for me, so I’m back in the office (sittingroom) getting ‘West to the Evening Sun’ (the title track and first single from the album) ready for release. Some of the work is practical, like finishing the video, and some of it is more.. mental-health-related. Do you know the episode of Father Ted where Sr Assumpta wakes them up in the middle of the night for their Lenten torture? Well, I’ve been waking up over the past few weeks feeling not unlike that – the t-shirt I’m wearing, too short to pull down over the trousers that I forgot to put on before leaving the house for the event in the middle of the big place with the big crowd that I CAN’T GET AWAY FROM. You know the one! I’m a bit nervous! I used to get really nervous. I remember praying fervently the night before my first Leaving Cert exam, to die peacefully in my sleep. I had a stomach full of dread, and I knew that, short of being run over by a benevolent bus in the morning, this was my last hope. I prayed like mad.. Hail Marys.. Our Fathers.. The Creed.. It didn’t work, but what it did help me see, was that I could afford to trust myself to have my own back a bit more: the morning was fine.. the exams were fine.. it was all fine. It was frightening to me though, the ease and speed with which you could find yourself in deep distress. Which made me prick my ears up at this: I came across a list of Apps that seem to be showing promise in helping people identify and treat factors linked to anxiety, depression, and generalised feelings of not-quite-rightness. The idea is that they will help you alert yourself to things such as social isolation, problems with sleeping, too little activity, obsessive thinking, etc… with a view to lowering the risk of you heading down that slippery-slopery slope. It struck me that these might be particularly good for people in their teens/early 20s. See below for the link* The way I try to deal with nerves now is to weigh up what’s worth worrying about and what’s not. Here’s a list of some of my foremost concerns right now at this minute (Thursday Jan 5th). See what you think. In no particular order: – Parents, relations, friends and everyone dying [ongoing] – My last tweet – Developing post-natal depression if I have children – Promoting the album – Finding a long-term job (outside of music, ideally in psychology) that pays enough to live comfortably – My gums receding What do you think? Is it time for me to download a few new apps? I wonder is there one specific to receding-gum stress? If you’ve tried any of the apps in the link below, let me know. I’d love to know if they’re any good. In the meantime, look after yourself well, and stand by for the new single! Ailie xx ________________________________ * List of...

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December // album update

Posted by on 7:00 pm in News | 0 comments

December // album update

Hello! So, Christmas again! How are ya getting on? Have you the shopping done? I’ve nothing done yet. The people-pleaser in me loves saying that, knowing that other people might feel better about themselves by comparison. And then the rebel in me is like “flip that for a game of soldiers, I don’t care what anyone thinks”.. which isn’t true, of course, but, given the global loony-mayhem at the moment, you’d nearly be forgiven, wouldn’t you? I was reading recently that our last shared ancestors (human/ape) might have come from around the Rift Valley in East Africa (I may be a bit late to the anthropological party on this one – it was news to me!). Anyway, I saw a beautiful picture of the area as taken from the space station, and I have to say.. it kind of helped put the Trump stuff in perspective for me a bit. It made me start thinking about how we must have been back then.. hanging out in the trees.. swinging away.. swinging away.. and then the transition to walking upright.. swing.. swing.. double-tucked-back-somersault and *land* There’s just something lovely about it. And another thing I’ve taken solace in, and you might too.. is the fact that the universe is just so incredibly big. 13.8 billion years and 1 or 2 hundred billion galaxies of big. It’s a lot. Makes my problems seem very small. Anyway, moving a bit closer to home – the album is nearly there! I’ll fill you in on where I am: Recording started around this time last year, and by February, I had.. I suppose.. about half of it done. At that point, I took a step back for perspective – I headed to the Rift Valley of my mind – and I realised I’d need to pull my socks up a bit if I was going to be happy with the final album. I felt like I wasn’t giving a true account of myself.. or something. Too much people-pleasing, too little rebel, maybe.. Probably, actually! So, I changed tack around May, got some of the newer songs together, met up with a fantastic producer, and the rest, as they say, is not history yet, but I’m delighted to be releasing the first single from it – ‘West to the Evening Sun’ – next month! (all going well) The album will follow shortly after that, and the rest, as they say, is still not history, but isn’t time only an illusion anyway? ..and I’m still not sure why people in the southern hemisphere aren’t walking upside down. Not that there’s any up or down anyway. In any case, I feel like I’ve sown the seeds for a very calm and reassuring Christmas for you! If you’d like to get the proper science, I would highly recommend checking out Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe.** It’s absolutely brilliant. It breaks complex concepts into really clear and concise language, and he’s just, well, he’s, well, let’s just say.. I have a soft spot.. I hope you’re keeping well yourself? Any craic for me?? Hopefully see you out on the road early next year! In the meantime, enjoy the Christmas holidays :-) Ailie xx ___________________________________________ *the blogpost image is the ‘Earthrise’ photo taken in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission....

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On the Bus

Posted by on 4:21 pm in News | 2 comments

On the Bus

Well! I’m on the bus to Cork at the minute. Off to see my relations and get a gig fix. I love Cork. Cork was like an exotic utopia to us growing up in Leitrim.. full of distant drumbeats and the fragrant musk of sweet possibility (..roughly translating as: our Cork cousins were musicians, older than us, we got into places underage with them and I fancied all their friends). I always thought I’d live there when I grew up, but now actually.. now that I’ve learned that the Dublin-Cork express has plug sockets on it, I can imagine myself happily just living on the bus-to-Cork. I left my job two weeks ago – you might’ve seen me say that on Twitter. It’s been a funny old time. I did it to finish my album, because otherwise I swear I’ll be 102 by the time I finish it. Leaving your job though.. I don’t know if this is a universal thing, but it threw up a weird mix of emotions. Thoughts about purpose.. identity.. values.. priorities.. dying.. I had to sit myself down in front of the mirror and say very gentle things. Speaking of which, I heard that if you have an itch on, say, your left arm, and you look in the mirror and scratch the same spot, but on your right arm, it helps soothe the itch? There was actually a proper study done on this.* Try it there next time you have an itch and tell me. Anyway, I’m getting used to the new day-job, though it’s different from being in the 9am morning-coffee whirl. I love the sense of belonging that comes with being part of the ‘commuter’ world, or whatever you want to call it. I miss the photocopier craic with workmates too, and the students. You make great friends.. But it’s great, being a free agent. And a privilege. I’m spending most of these days revising the lyrics and structures of whichever song is being recorded next, and then practising until I’m happy with the various aspects of it. Passes the day nicely. And then I spend the rest of the time indulging in absolute nonsense. My favourite thing in a while has been finding the Ig Nobel Prizes – prizes awarded for research that makes people laugh first and think second.** My sister told me about these – the mirror-itch study was one of the winners. They’re absolutely class! Have a read in an idle moment. Anyway, enough of all that. How are you? Any craic, goss, shkandal? (I’m feeling a bit people-starved!) Ailie Xx * https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24935-scratch-a-mirror-image-of-your-itch-to-bring-relief/ ** Ig Nobel Prize website: http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/ Incidentally, class about Bob Dylan and the actual Nobels!...

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Olympics, women, the impact of hormone fluctuations and menstruation ..and other musings.

Posted by on 4:21 pm in News | 2 comments

Olympics, women, the impact of hormone fluctuations and menstruation ..and other musings.

Howaya! I’ve been glued to the Olympic gymnastics this week. The power, strength, speed, flexibility, balance, stamina, coordination, control, determination, grace, resilience, fearlessness.. Such full and complete athleticism. It would take your breath away. Brought back how mad I was about gymnastics when I did it too. God.. when I think of it.. I was tiny. But powerful. We all were. I remember.. when you’d say you were a gymnast back then, you’d sometimes get an ‘aw that’s lovely’ sort of response, and I remember.. my mam used to laugh and tell them not to be fooled – we were strong as horses. And we were. It’s a fantastic sport.. with benefits from the earliest stages. (I was only competing at a very local level) And then I remembered something else – the dread of the big THING coming. Your period. Aunt Flow. Your monthly visitor. The week of doom.. Christ, what were we going to do when all that happened? ..and us in leotards. Would I be able to wear pads?.. Tampons were scary things and caused Toxic Shock Syndrome according to the label – was I willing to die for my sport? ..what if the string thing popped out..? Aaagh, I’m eleven – I don’t like this! The very idea struck terror into me. This was pre-Google, so we couldn’t really look stuff up, and as for asking anyone – not a chance!   #Morto So I think most of us kept quiet and just hoped we’d be among those lucky late-starters. I remember once hearing that one of the Ballina girls had started, and the response was like the girl had just been given hours to live. Horror! The poor thing. Career over! She was, maybe, 13. Sure we hadn’t a clue. Anyway, I took some time this morning to look up how people were dealing with this now, and how female athletes at all levels were managing their monthly cycles. The main thing I wanted to find out was if and how hormone fluctuations were affecting their mental health and physical performance, and also, the practical question of how to deal with periods with a million cameras on you. This isn’t an area I’ve any great insight into (biology/biopsychology), so it’s amateur dabbling at its best, but from what I could gather, the subject hasn’t been that widely discussed or studied yet – something I’m sure will start changing very soon.* A few amateur dabbly bits I did gather were that: some elite female athletes don’t menstruate, or do so irregularly, due to a combination of factors (e.g. lean-muscle to fat ratio, high energy expenditure, intensive training, restricted diet). Some control their cycles using medication, birth control pills, IUDs etc. Some, like Heather Watson, and Paula Radcliffe, have spoken about the detrimental effects the stage they’re at in their cycle has had on their performance levels (the latter of whom quite amazingly still managed to break a world record in 2002 while suffering cramps during the last third of the race). It makes you think about things though, doesn’t it? Like, how well the sports world is currently set up to accommodate these sorts of considerations? Or indeed, the world in general? Anyway, on a different note, while watching the Olympics I noticed a few areas that could be streamlined....

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June, July, and happily ever after

Posted by on 3:21 pm in News | 2 comments

June, July, and happily ever after

Hello, It’s July, oh my. I’m kind of jealous of Mundy for writing that song. Every year, there it is on the radio. But what do they say, Freud and them fellas.. that it’s better to channel your negative feelings into something more useful? Anyway, on a matter entirely unrelated, I was thinking I might name the 11 songs on my album after all the other months of the year. Track 1 (‘January’) will be bleak, with a chance of snow. Track 2, similar, a bit shorter. Track 3, a nice march in 4/4. Track 4, clean sounds, a bit showery. Track 5 – may or may not make the cut. Track 6, Summer-Lovin’ kind of vibe. —–Track 7 will be a minute’s silence out of respect for Mundy—– Track 8.. ..you get the idea. So obviously I’m going to clean up. $$$. I might even be on the Forbes list by next summer.. Having said that, I recently heard that there were over 7000 albums released in Ireland last year. Isn’t that hard to believe? The majority, I think, were Country & Irish, but it certainly makes one feel small. Very small indeed. Like a little field mouse. In a big field of field mouses. It’s going grand anyway, to get to the point. I’m still recording the songs. The ones I’m putting on this album are mostly new ones, so I’m very curious to see what you think of them, and fairly terrified in equal measure. They’re a bit more folky and raw, I think. A bit angry here and there maybe. I’m trying to make them as honest as I can. Though, in the greater scheme of things – Brexit, Orlando, Istanbul – the album doesn’t seem so big a deal. The world’s gone a bit mad, hasn’t it? What’s going to happen next? Will we just wipe ourselves out altogether, do you reckon? Or will the good win out? Where’s Ted when you need him – I have questions!* In gig news, the next one is on Friday 8th July in Athlone (The Malt House) supporting Red Empire – one of BBC America’s top picks for 2016. I’m on at 8.30/9 and you’re very welcome to come. It’s upstairs. ______ In terms of fun stuff, I’ve been loving Twitter lately. The National Geographic and Science Daily are a great follow if you’re looking to expand your newsfeed horizons in those directions: like, finding out about distant moons with erupting frost particles ..or catching a glimpse of Jupiter’s northern lights (photo in the blog-image above). LIFE-wise, I feel like I’ve been thinking a lot about singleness and marriedom, and what the future of it all is for the world. (I’m kinda rambling now I know – I’ll rein it in now shortly). But I was thinking how.. it’s like.. from 0 to 20/25 years of age, you’re just a person, and then after that, you sort of magically become a ‘single person’ or someone who’s ‘coupled’ or ‘married’ or ‘engaged’. It’s a bit silly, no? I’m also a healthy person. A loyal person. A tea person. A fortunate person. An appendixless person.. Anyway, I’m not making any particularly well-thought-out point here, only to say that if you’d like to marry me for financial reasons (royalties), or indeed passport purposes, I’ll...

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May

Posted by on 8:42 pm in News | 0 comments

May

Hello! My God, the weather! Hasn’t it just been gorgeous? I finally got to swap my thermal leggings for the normal variety. I hope you’re well? I was on my holidays in Sligo for the last 2 weeks. I sometimes rent a cottage and head off with the piano for some concentrated sea-air-fuelled work. It went well.. enough.. I got a good 20% of what I planned to do done. Not bad! The amount of daydreaming I do though.. disaster! And driving. I just drove and drove. So many incredibly lovely places to take a spin to. Christ though, you have to be a bit careful driving aimlessly around that neck of the woods. Those roads whose signs start with the letter ‘L’.. (i.e. L17221) I suppose the ‘L’ means ‘Local road’, but I came to think upon them more as the ‘Leave the road you’re on on the peril of your life’ roads. One of them just plain turned into the sea on me (the road to Coney Island, when the tide was in). I went up to Donegal too. Across those spectacular mountains to Ardara and Portnoo (that’s where the photo above was taken*). And then home to da shtix. Tis all the shtix, I suppose, but by home, I mean Leitrim. I had a lovely quiet time in Leitrim. I didn’t realise it, but Mars was really near and bright while I was there – it still is, I think. Have a look: it’s a kind of twinkly yellow-orange-red colour. Beautiful. You can see its position here in this video, to help you locate it (accompanied by some nice Vivaldi music, which sounds hilarious). Speaking of videos, thanks a million too for all your support for my new one for “I Will Count My Blessings”. The comments and feedback have been really touching, and very much appreciated. The album’s coming along grand too: I’ve settled on ” West to the Evening Sun” as the title. It’s actually an abridged title though. The full one is “West to the Evening Sun where the Local Roads May or May Not Scare the Living Daylights Out of You”. But it won’t fit on the cover, they said. Late September is the due date! And I’ll be doing some preview gigs before that too. I’ll keep you posted. Last thing: if you’re into brain science stuff, I came across, and really enjoyed, this All in the Mind series while I was away. There’s a great one about a scientist who suffered brain injury after concussion, and got deadly-sounding, cutting-edge, neuro-optics help to recover (cool new glasses) – The Ghost in my Brain. It’s a really good series. And if you’re into dogs chasing balloons, well, let it not be said that I’m not catering to your needs too: Dog Chasing Balloon. I hope you enjoy the rest of the sun. And don’t forget to put Mars in the diary, if you can, With ya every starry step, Ailie xxx * photo by Claire O’Donnell. **directed by Irish filmmaker, Alan...

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