The Morrigan and my "American Gods" delusion.... 

 

I have recently composed a piece inspired by tales of "The Morrigan". She is a fantastic and ancient character with a lot of theories as to where exactly she came from and what she is.

One thing is for sure, she is one of the most enduring characters from Irish folklore. Powerful, terrifying and mysterious.

Recently, I've been playing catch up on the "American Gods" series which was inspired by the novel written by Neil Gaiman. I've not read it - I'm a heathen. I believe that in one form or another - The Morrigan makes an appearance, but I have no idea in what fashion.

So in my own delusion - I crafted a theme for her, that I believe would not be out of place if she appeared in a big budget series like "American Gods" or some slick big budget production befitting a Goddess of War & Death. One that incorporates the ancient sounds of the Uilleann Pipes and some bonkers cello and gives way to more modern, relentless big budget Heavy metal... But I have a proper presentation planned, one which involves a music video. So bar the odd snippet or three, I won't be releasing it until the vision is fully realised. Which I hope to be soon. I am excited about this one.

Thanks for reading.

Hello stranger... 

A lot of wins and losses have happened since I last updated this blog. From successful projects to failed ideas and projects that didn't make the cut on account of the massive COVID 19 upheaval and various related issues. But I am still here feverishly working behind my piano. Inspired as ever, really. I will fill you in properly very soon. In the meantime, stay safe and thanks for reading.

Gavin Dempsey - Far from a stereotype... 

I'm writing today about my nephew, Gavin. He has for a long time had an interest in music and singing and it's only recently I've become aware that he was actually writing song lyrics. Apparently he had been waiting to ask me to assist him in producing a number of tracks but he has never been one to abuse familial privileges. No idea why, it's what family is for!

In all seriousness, I was hugely surprised by the lyrics he produced for me. They were honest, sensitive and vulnerable. Not your typical bravado bullshit that you'd expect from a teen. He had a melody too, so I was tasked with helping him realise the vision he had. Every single thing in the recording was his idea, even my little guitar solo dilly dally towards the end was suggested by him. We goofed around a little for the first day and created a skeleton track which we completely tossed on the second day to create a piece from the ground up.

Gavin is clearly influenced by a little bit of everything. From the classic rock and pop sounds of yester year to the latter day sounds of the rap giants and all that falls in between. Initially we were both scratching our heads as my songwriting production experience is pretty much sandwiched in the rock genre and I was expecting to be inundated with requests for an urban, reverb drenched, compressed shit show that is comprised of current sounds. I was prepared to do this if asked, my only rule from the start has always been no autotune. And I could tell that he was nervous about the vocals as Mother Nature herself has decreed his voice make the shaky transition from boy to man.

I was pleasantly surprised by his production choices, which lent me a certain amount of freedom to have a proper go at the song. Not a single decision was made without his agreement and I think we've created a song he can truly be very proud of. We're already looking towards an e.p. such was the fun we had creating "Stereotypical World". The reception has been great, and the song has even been remixed! Not really to my taste, but I'm sure the kids will lap it up.

Expect to hear more music from the man soon. I'm genuinely honoured he thinks I have the chops to do his work justice. But for now, here's his latest work. Enjoy!


Creating "Majik" (The Corona Sessions) 

First blog of 2020 and of course, we're all elbow deep in social distancing / isolation. A double edged sword for me as an "essential" worker as shops need to stay open (to prevent riots?) so I have been stuck in a bizarre limbo of work / home / work / home and "Backyard Gothic" is dead in the water on account.

To counteract the boredom, I embarked upon the "Corona Sessions". Creating music is never boring but I do have a very short attention span, so I've had to force myself to concentrate on creating a viable collection of music. It eventually found it's title in "Majik".

Why this title? Because most of these songs were created in a stream of consciousness, particularly the first and third songs which bear the word in their titles. They in many ways wrote themselves, before I realised I was writing them. To anyone who writes books, poetry or music - I'm sure you understand what I mean, but I can't really explain it in words. As the late, great Tom Petty said:

“Music is probably the one real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.”


Amen.

The pictures were taken by my very talented better half and I twisted and distorted them into a cover I thought suited the theme of the EP. The subject matter in the songs is almost nihilist in nature, but I assure you, a pinch of salt is never far from the lyrics I write....


It's currently in the processing stage, en route to spotify / google play / itunes etc courtesy of Distrokid. And the track listing is:

1. Majik, Pt.I: The Man In The Ivory Castle 
2. Throne Ruminations (co - produced by Denika McClean)
3. Majik, Pt.II: The End
4. Who Rules Hollywood?
5. (BANG!) Bombs Are Falling

Stylistically, it's a return to the sound on "Heresy". But with the extra six years experience in the production side (I hope!) It's bigger, more mature and sounds more professional. More importantly, I hope people get a kick out of listening to it, as much as I got creating it. 

Thanks for reading..... and listening. 

Backyard Gothic Soundtrack (A Guide) 

So, I have released the soundtrack to Backyard Gothic HERE on BANDCAMP.COM.

"Even before the film is completed?" I hear you exclaim. Yes, it generally works for Christopher Nolan / Hans Zimmer and whilst I'm in no way comparing their world conquering exploits to mine - it seems to have renewed the enthusiasm I originally had for the project and sonically has influenced certain camera angles and techniques so it's a win / win. It's a necessity too.

A- It gives a little buzz and has reignited conversation about the film and ...

B - Every penny the soundtrack makes is going straight back into financing the movie.

I have been feverishly composing since August and this is the fruit of my labours. I have no doubt, there will be new pieces as the filming progresses but rest assured, anyone who has already or is planning to buy the soundtrack will receive these free as a bonus for their trouble and a huge dose of my heartfelt gratitude.

As is we have.

1: "Main Titles" - Does exactly what it says on the tin, whilst introducing us to our heroes: Charlie and his best friend, Jellybean. His trusty Cavalier King Charles.

2: "Monsters Are Real" - An ominous cautionary narrative from a grown up Charlie as we journey through a storm hit neighbourhood.

3: "Bad News" - It's rare to hear good news on the telly anymore.

4: "Beast In The Backyard" - What lurks outside in the dead of night?

5: "Silver Bullet or Holy Water" - How do you kill a monster? Ok Google....

6: "Cain Gives Chase" - A race for survival as a shocking discovery is made.

7: "A Mother's Love Vs The Big Bad Wolf" - There's someone at the door...

8: "Charlie To The Rescue" - Charlie and his Uncle Eddie attempt a daring rescue.

9: "A Hero Falls" - Not everyone will survive....

10: "Farewell To A Friend / Prepare for War" - Vengeance in the air.

11: "The Final Confrontation" - The proverbial shit hits the fan.

12: "The End" - Or is it?



Still curious, check out HERE with MASSIVE thanks to Pijus Jasaitis!

Film Scoring Update: "Charlie To The Rescue" 






Filming "Backyard Gothic" is a slow and tedious task, between getting people together and working on the right dialogue, but as a labour of love, I'll get there by hook or crook.

I would consider myself a competent composer, who enjoys leitmotifs. Leitmotifs, I suppose are a character theme. As ambient soundtracks take hold - themes hold less weight. It's now more about atmosphere and sound fx. Which I've no qualms with. There are some truly wonderful examples of it out there. But for my little short film, I wanted it to be a throwback to the John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein sound. You know the 80's / 90's BIG sound with leitmotifs galore?

Now, I am not comparing myself to these guys, I am not anywhere near that level but as a reference, there are none better. I also want to use as little hybrid sound as possible. Keeping the electronic sound from the orchestral. I am employing at points but for a retro sound, they are kept to the bare minimum.

I uploaded a version of "Charlie To The Rescue" a little while back and surprise, surprise.....it was missing something. The entire scene is basically child vs The Big, Bad Wolf and it needed more "Oomph!". I added some trumpet triplets and the ominous bad guy motif at the start, with some marching snares deep, but noticeable, in the mix. It's a piece I'm very proud of. And I can't wait to start editing it into the scene.







BACKYARD GOTHIC 

Growing up, most people would have been aware of their local "haunted house" in the neighbourhood.

As a young child in what was then, a very different Jobstown in Tallaght back in the late 80's - early 90's. There was Wolfy's house. It was the house of a man that went mad, turned into a wolf and killed his family. It was said on nights of the full moon, you could hear him scarpering around the rooftops in search of his next victim.

Of course, as a child - the original story was much more convoluted and scary. Mainly due to my older sister's gift for embellishing upon it.

However it was a story that always stayed with me and recently, it resurfaced. My music has been coming to the fore in various places so why not take it to the next level? Why not create a short movie inspired by the above story, that will engage the viewer and I can add my own sonic touch to it? It's not hard to make a film, with a slight bit of know how and understanding of the various techniques, all learned through trial and error over the years - I'm confident. Not overly so. It's a low to no budget movie which will be heavily dependent on quite a bit of charity and goodwill but if I get my passion across (and guilt several family members) it is entirely possible. Full credit to family and friends, they are always game for my mad creative tangents. The star will be my young nephew, Paul. Who's cheeky, a lunatic and most important for the role -  has a big, huge heart. The premise is a well used one, hopefully with a fresh take: "What if your neighbour was a werewolf and, nobody believed you?" I'm feeling a fun Goonies meets Fright Night (the original) vibe

 I have fleshed out the story over the bones of the last year and created a poster along with soundtrack leifmotifs for the various characters. I'm looking forward to filming over the next month or so. Laois is an actual goldmine of beautiful and interesting locations that will be well suited to the story so am genuinely excited about getting this up and running.


HERE'S THE POSTER I CREATED, MAINLY FOR MY AMUSEMENT FEATURING OUR HERO IN A NO NONSENSE POSE,  CREEPILY WATCHED BY THE ANTAGONIST........




TOP TEN Result: The International Horror Hotel Film Festival Scoring Competition. 



Celebrating a little victory is important!

1. It makes you feel happy.
2. It gives you motivation to keep going.
3. It builds your confidence.

And boy, is this true! To be specific, I came 9th (yet to be officially revealed) but judging by the number of last years highly commended numbering 20 outside of the top ten, I am gonna celebrate this like I made it to the podium!

I generally suffer from extreme self doubt when it comes to my work (I'm not complaining, I believe it helps me improve  every day) and this was a welcome and timely email to my inbox at a time when I'd been feeling a little jaded as regards to where I am and where I'm progressing - i.e work.


I actually submitted the work last year and immediately doubted the mix after sending it (I was right, I'm never happy) and kept half an eye on proceedings and then slowly..... forgot about it.


I received the email yesterday morning and scared my wife by almost somersaulting out of bed - she forgave me, don't worry. I'll post a link to the video here:Phil McClean - Horror Hotel Scoring 2019


Granted the awards presentation and subsequent screening is in Ohio, so unless I can grow money, I'll be celebrating in the Old World with a certificate and a tasty drop of whiskey come Friday when my next day off arrives. Until then I'll be grinding my teeth in retail hell and and cleaning up the loose ends for "The Last Illusion".


Thanks for reading. And more importantly, thanks for listening.


P.S. The above picture was taken by my favourite human, once upon a time in Vegas. In it I'm drinking the most expensive Jameson I ever paid for. It was the last time I felt this rich, albeit more for achievement than cash - but I'll take that anytime!


Cheers.






The Last Illusion (Final Renders & Update) 



Am busy mastering the final renders of  "The Last Illusion" and am decidedly pleased with the forthcoming results. My original vision of pseudo ethnic with classical sounds has remained true. And there is metal, crushingly heavy at times but those times are rarer than I originally envisioned but as a result those times are immediate and incredibly effective.

When I started to write this piece (All 13 and a half minutes!) I had a sound in my head almost immediately - Jerry Goldsmith meets Danny Elfman sharing a pint with old school Korn. Not that I'm fit to shine the shoes of those mentioned but the core sound is in that ballpark. I even surprised myself with a cool Jazz trio sound at one point. I call it J(Ass) as I am only a pretender in the Jazz genre.

Next up is a bit of a photo shoot, nothing pro - just a bit of fun to accompany the music's eventual upload into cyberspace. For now, maybe I can pique your interest with the leif motif titles and description. Early reviews have been promising and flattering. I trust it's not just lip service!


1. A THEME FOR HARRY D'AMOUR / MAGIC TRICK (0.00)
2. SECRET MEETING / DEATH FROM ABOVE / INTO THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (2.08)
3. MEETING DOROTHEA / DEAD MAN'S LETTER (3.47)
4. HARRY'S NIGHTMARE (5.31)
5. VALENTIN / SWANN'S BACKSTORY (7.03)
6. ALLEYWAY CHASE / INTO THE MOUTH OF MADNESS II (7.51)
7. BYRON THE POET (9.31)
8. THE BETRAYAL (10.33)
9. D'AMOUR VS HELL (11.06)
10. THE LAST ILLUSION (12.10)

1. Experimental, Gothic, Ethnic.
2. Classical / Electronic Hybrid
3. Gothic / Classical
4. Gothic / Epic / Choral
5. Piano / Ethnic
6. Gothic / Epic / Metal
7. Cool Jazz
8. Classical
9. Gothic / Epic / Metal
10. Classical / Electronic Hybrid



TECH NOIR update  


                                                                                                                                       

So am currently hard at work on Tech Noir's final track and to say I'm sorry I started it would be a lie but to say I'm sorry I announced it before finishing it, would be the truth! This e.p. is a world away from "Heresy", which was pretty much an all organic musical affair (guitar, bass, mandolin) bar drum machine and a (now defunct / well retired) Yamaha keyboard.

The focus on this was more on technology driven music without losing the human heart of it. Recent listening forays into synthwave and electropop have been a major influence. Also the subject matter ranges from loss of human connection by technology and fun instrumental asides to pure, insane obsession. With a tasty amount of swearing. I'm such a rebel. Looking to having it finished by the end of March. Anybody with a passing interest can send an email to philmcclean@hotmail.com or find me on Facebook and send me a pm. Thanks for reading and more importantly, thanks for listening,

Phil.

Track Listing (subject to change)

I.   WE ARE AT WAR
II.  GOT NO TIME
III. I'VE MET MORE MONSTERS THAN I HAVE MET HEROES
IV. TECH NOIR: A THEME FOR KEN COLTON
V.   LOVE LETTERS FROM A CRAZED EX
VI. PULL ME APART (GENERATION CYBERBULLY)