Category Archives: singer songwriters

Gavin Blackie’s Interview with Offbeat Records ;-)

Boy are we “Gonna Get It On Tonight”- Gav’s at the Edinburgh Playhouse tonight performing his latest single (which gives me every reason to get innuendotastic) kicking off this year’s Edinburgh’s Got Talent and getting EVERYBODY in the mood…mmm, ready for some Friday night fun??

So just to get you all warmed up, here’s a link to Gav’s interview on YouTube…yes, that’s me inteviewing him, the one who’s having a bad hair day…maybe one day I’ll let you see the outtakes, but for right now, I’m not going to go that far, I mean what kinda girl do you take me for?

We had such a giggle taking about power rangers…

For more on Gav and to buy his songs go to

To catch up on Gavin’s gossip go to;

Gav’s Facebook fanpage

Follow Gav on Twitter;!/Gavinblackie

Gavin Blackie’s New Single Out TODAY!

…yes, Yes…Oh YesYESOhGodOHGOD, OH YEAH BABY,OHHHHGOD!! Gavin Blackie’s single “Get It On Tonight” is officially released through Offbeat Records TODAY on iTunes…listen babe, that was the real thing too, no “When Harry Met Sally” Meg Ryan faking it here, nooooo no no…passion for music at the Offbeat Studios is RED HOT…rrrrr 😉

I know, you missed me right?! It’s ok, I’m back from outta space now, there’s gonna be plenty of chat from me from now on…yes, I’m totally committed to giving it to you regularly again…probably…maybe…oh let’s just take it one day at a time ok? Jeez…

And just so you know, this single is a collaboration between Gav and our very own Bossman, Iain McKinna…I gotta say, the boys done good, I lurve this one, know what I mean?!

So Ravishing Gav 🙂 has been invited to perform this single on Friday night at Edinburgh’s Got Talent at the Playhouse in Edinburgh (coz he was last year’s winner) but you wanna hear it first, don’cha? I mean we all try before we buy these days right?? Of course you do, stick with me, I’ll deliver the goods every time 😉

Look at him…he’s such a delicious delight and it just so happens he’s an absolute poppet to work with 😉 Sigh…

And remember people, just because she’s not in the cast of the Disney Tinkerbell movies, doesn’t mean the “O” fairy doesn’t exist…may she sprinkle her magic fairy O dust generously wherever you may be…think happy thoughts and failing that my lovelies, get out the happy tools and have some fun 🙂

Now where were we big boy? Oh yeeesss…you were making us a cuppa and I was folding the socks…

Offbeat Featured Client- The Abbeystills…

I used to sing in a few different bands…yeah I know, hard to believe right? Ok, maybe caterwauled is a better description…let me tell you there are certain elements to being in a band that are pretty normal across the board, here are Jen’s rules for maintaining band sanity;

someone is always late for practise- it’s cool, there’s always one and yes it will always feel like herding cats for the organised ones…I once stood with the legendary Whizz Jones while we were collecting a group of guitar students together- man that was a beautiful thing to watch- Whizz is hilarious and he collects people up through the sheer magnitude of his gift for telling a good story and being so laidback he sets up a chill zone in the room that everyone gravitates to…

get good at dealing with creative tensions- when I was in a band, we resolved arguments by breaking out the dark chocolate and vanilla lattes (I’m a kitchen gadget freak ok?) for happy mood enhancement- differences of opinion melted away when faced with chocolate, coffee and sugar…I told you I’m a girl of simple pleasures 😉

have your charm offensive off pat- being squeezed into tight spaces together over a period of time (backstage areas/in the studio/all night practise sessions in the garage/ traveling in dodgy vans sitting on each other’s laps, cables snaking around your neck with the guitar case clonking you on the head…) is the life of being a band member- get used to it as the novelty soon wears off and start taking your medication regularly…

…well, now I know where I went wrong…

That said, the Abbeystills seem to have it sorted, I interviewed Graham Hannah recently, so relax and listen to this beautiful track “Blue Summer” enter the chill zone and read about the Abbeystills…

Buy Blue Summer or indeed any track off the Square Circles Album on iTunes

What’s the story behind your band’s name The Abbeystills?

I like the band Portishead and was interested to find out that their name comes from the town where they live. Some of us live in the Abbeyhill area of Edinburgh and thought well why not use our location as a name, calling ourselves the Abbeyhills though was going too far so we adapted it slightly.

How do you all know each other?

I met Valentina (the vocalist) while she was studying for her PhD in Edinburgh (she is Italian, and comes from a little town not far from Verona) She did not take to the vocal chores immediately but after some gentle persuasion she succumbed to the Scottish way of thinking. Gordon, the keyboard player/programmer/technical wizard answered an advert we had in a music shop during a different band lifetime and we have collaborated intermittently ever since.

Is there one member of the band who’s “the daddy” or “the mummy”?!

Being Italian and a good cook Valentina is only too happy to provide cuisine before rehearsals and usually manages to boss someone into doing the dishes afterwards! As it should be…

Who in the band is most likely to get the venue of the gig wrong/ lose the directions/ turn up for a band practice session on the wrong day? This is your chance for a slagging!

I have very bad directional skills and often get lost returning to bed after a late night toilet break !

Tell me about the process you go through with Iain McKinna in the Offbeat Studio to create and mix your tracks? How do you find working with Iain?

I have recorded an album’s worth of songs with Iain and plan to record more. I start by sending him an MP3 of the song to give him an idea of what it sounds like. During my first trip to the studio I take along the Midi information and the guitar wav parts, we import them into the Logic software and then select the suitable sounds for the guitar and keyboard parts. Iain then records acoustic drum and bass parts and we create a basic mix with what we have.

The second studio visit is when Valentina (the vocalist) records the vocal parts, we then produce a further mix which we take home and listen to before returning a third time for a final mix and mastering.

Iain is always encouraging and allows for a very laid back environment, his ability to play and record acoustic drums and bass parts is a service few studios provide. I think he is especially good at putting vocalists at ease and getting a good recording from them.

Do you have musicians who you especially admire? What’s on your playlist at the mo?

I admire songwriters like Elvis Costello, Valentina likes bands such as Pink Floyd and Gordon likes electronic artists like Gary Numan. We all like bands like Air and The Blue Nile. At the moment I am quite taken by Elbow

Most hated household chores

Getting out of bed in the morning (or indeed the afternoon) God I sound lazy…

If you could only have one picture on the wall where you live, what would it be if it couldn’t be a picture of your family?

Rather than on the wall I would like a reproduction on the ceiling the same as in the Sistine Chapel in Rome by Michelangelo, I am not particularly religious but it would be a good selling point

What’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen with your own eyes?

Valentina says that the “Le tre cime di Lavaredo” (the three peaks of Lavaredo in the northern Italian Alps) are particularly impressive, especially at sunset when they become bright red…

If you were in a seance, which musician who’s passed over would you most want to talk to and what would you ask them?

I suppose it would be John Martyn and I would ask him how he created such a unique guitar style and combined it with his particular vocal style to provide such compassion in his work.

(set against the present era of such bland music dominated by TV shows like the X Factor! )

Give us 2 special songs from down your memory lane and tell us what made them special to you at the time?

For me “Saturday Night” by The Blue Nile always reminds me of being in Scotland, especially when I was living in Italy. They are not flashy musicians but they are great at creating a mood.

“Shipbuilding” by Elvis Costello is another of my favourites, great lyrics and a much underrated anti war song.

Who would you most want to be for a day if you could be anybody in history and why?

I think I would like to be Neil Armstrong for the one particular day he became the first man on the moon (if indeed he did?) and see what the earth looks like from so far away

If you had a time machine, where and when would you go for a vacation?

I think I would like to have been in Paris in 1789, during the French Revolution, difficult to get holiday insurance but quite exciting

If you could play a gig with any musician throughout history who would it be and why?

I think I would like to have played in the group “Japan” they could play pop, rock or funk. They had elements of Bowie and Roxy Music but they were one of the first bands to combine electronic sounds with pop with rock successfully. Unfortunately my chance will never come as bass player Mick Karn died earlier this year

 Have you got any crazy gig stories to share with us?

It was more embarrassing than crazy, I was playing in a band that were doing a benefit gig, we were just getting ready to play our last and best song and before we could start the DJ started the disco (disco! That sounds ancient)

Oh Graham, the disco is a classic! Read more about The Abbeystills and connect on twitter;

Read the Bossman’s Blog about The Abbeystills

The Abbeystills on Offbeat Records

Graham Hannah on Facebook

The Abbeystills Facebook Fanpage

On Myspace

Ghetto blaster retro cool and other news…

Not to be competitive but what’s your brain like to live inside? Quite often my thoughts resemble nitrous oxide fuelled party poppers- going off like the clappers but sadly mostly pointless…spent 50 minutes speed talking my stream of consciousness whilst circular breathing on a car journey recently…you know the usual when you have a captive audience locked in the car with you? Oh, I see….maybe you’re the captivee rather than the captivator…anyway, generously (I thought) turned to Himself and asked for a download of his thoughts and he actually thought about it for a moment and came out with “I really fancy a beer”…and that was it…oh lovely; simple, uncluttered, minimalist chic that. Yes, ok, I admit I did have a moment of brain envy…

In other news, I am feeling a need to dig my chemistry set out of the cupboard, get my evil laugh on and clone the Bossman and myself because WE JUST DON’T STOP WORKING HERE…I’m so late getting this chalkboard up this week because there’s just not enough Jen to go round, y’know? No, no, it’s ok, it’s better this way, less opportunities for getting into trouble…

Loads of music vid filming which involves me running around with a ghetto blaster in hand (don’t even…), several cameras round my neck, a stepladder over my shoulder and my coffee in a handy thermos mug…oh yeah, I’m a cool dude, me…

Loads of editing said film and working out better shots for these music vids…and I can’t remember why but I insisted on a mug of Grand Marnier during one session- apparently I was quite adamant it would help but I think it just helped me to get lippy…

More Story Of Film soundtrack work with Mark Cousins, lovely lovely man, pleeeeeeeze can I interview him next?

Gavin Blackie in working on a NEW song- but I can’t tell you anymore about it, it’s all hush hush…honestly, secrets are no fun if you can’t share them 😉

An artist who cannot be named was in doing a dirty electronica track…rrrrrr…

Joanne Livingstone’s in again mixing down one of her tracks…

Another Offbeat Rhythm Section cover track into an artist’s dropbox (I think this one may have been in a hotter country, maybe the Bossman can dropbox me over there?) In this case, Iain McKinna playing your very own virtual band for a backing track for live gigs…you see why I need to clone him now?

Maggie Aitken’s been in finishing the Heritage Detectives‘ sound effects…

The Offbeat Rhythm Section is getting revved up for the new album coming out soon…the rumour going around is that there are drums getting recorded and mixed down this week for a track called “Pressure On”…watch this space coz there will be a new webpage going up very soon with sneaky peeks of tracks for this album and more on the ORS with interview footage galore…

We’ve had a few meetings with artists in between sessions and I’m sure they probably wonder why the bags under our eyes are a little alarming but seriously, we’re living on coffee, Grand Marnier fumes and the natural high of being in the music biz…ahaha, or in the style of the new lingo I learnt off the naughty girls in the Prestongrange radio chatroom on Sunday night at Tam Mac’s Sunday service, lmao…oh yeah baby, getting hip to the jive now 😉

Offbeat Featured Client- Jim Connor

I can rarely make my husband laugh…well, on purpose anyway, he laughs all the time at things I come out with that I don’t mean to be funny… I wouldn’t mind but he makes me laugh on purpose all the time…I tell him it’s because I have a more eclectic sense of humour than him but to tell you the truth I’m always secretly worried…so it’s somewhat affirming to meet someone with the same sense of humour; when Jim and I emailed each other recently to touch base about his interview with me, Jim’s parting line was

You did say to keep the answers light. Hope you don’t regret it. I do much prefer discussing the origins of the universe…I will now return to my darkened room.

One day Jim, you and I will go on a journey into space, into the great cosmic latte that is our beige universe and hopefully we’ll make it as far as the restaurant at the end of the universe because the question can only be truly worked out over a very good dinner and several bottles of gigglejuice…

Drift Away by J A Connor;

Buy Drift Away at the iTunes store

Beautiful Day by J A Connor

In the meantime here’s Jim’s interview with me; are you sitting comfortably?

Do you have musicians who you admire?


What’s the story behind your name? Nicknames?

I got my name from my Mum & Dad

Seriously, there is another artist called Jim Connor, hence the JA Connor tag.

Has anyone ever bought you an embarrassing present and how did you react?

No one buys me presents.

If you were on a desert island with electricity and you could take 4 dvd’s what would they be?

As an old fashioned gentleman, I’ll let electricity choose.

What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?

I know you’ll find this hard to believe but my sense of humour has sometimes backfired big style.

If you could only have one picture on the wall where you live, what would it be if it couldn’t be a picture of your family?

Difficult one, I’ve got 4 walls.

What’s the process that you and Iain go through to create each track? Tell me what it’s like working with Iain McKinna, our producer at the Offbeat studio?

Writing my own material I can never decide on the preferred sound. Using Dropbox I’ll send Iain the drum and vocal track. After that the Offbeat Rhythm Section takes over and delivers the goods. We then add the vocals, harmonies and associated effects in the studio. This process works for me, as Iain has the gift of identifying the right feel for the song.

(Just don’t mention the pipes).

Is there a moment in your life that defined you as a musician?

You mean………. I’m a musician?!!

What’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen with your own eyes?

I go along with my doctor at my last physical.  I have an amazing nose. Apart from that it has to be Angel Falls in Venezuela.

If you could play a gig with any musician throughout history who would it be and why?

There is this guy called Iain McKenna or McKinna, something like that. He’s quite cool. Second choice, Jimmy Buffett as long as we do a Carribean tour.

If you had a time machine, where and when would you go for a vacation?

1950’s California.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I’ll tell you when I grow up.

If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?

Don’t wait for tomorrow, do it today.

Where in the world has been your favourite place to visit and why?

There’s been a lot of cool places, Havana, Dallas, Mexico’s Pacific coast. But my favourite place at the moment is Offbeat in Edinburgh, because that’s where I finally got my songs sounding the way I want them.  Oh Shucks!

Aw Jim, flattery will get you everywhere 🙂

Read the Bossman’s Blog On Jim

Find Jim on Offbeat Records

If you want to find Jim’s website it’s at;

Offbeat Featured Client Samantha E- a 10 out of 10 on the inspirationometer…

Hello Lovelies,

Last week I emailed the mother of a gorgeous girl called Sam who comes into the studio to record every now and again. Her reply had me choked- in the past, in a very different capacity, I have worked with children on the autistic spectrum and I can tell you that it is some of the most challenging and rewarding work I’ve ever done. I wanted to share Sam’s Mum’s email reply with you and, of course, the cover of a song Sam recorded in her last session, “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence- Sam, you and your family are a 10 out of 10 on the inspirationometer, we are proud to have you record at Offbeat.

Samantha E (17) is a young lady who loves to sing. She was diagnosed as a non-verbal autistic with a pervasive communication disorder when she was just 2 years old, somehow music reached into her and gave her a voice.

It was her first way of communicating with the world and it continues to help her expand her communication skills and helps her with speech, diction and gives her confidence to use her voice out with the music.

Working with her vocal coach Sergei Desmond and at Offbeat Recording Studios with Iain McKinna, she has been recording her progress over the last few years, to show that with the right help and encouragement children with autism can be helped to improve and become more comfortable with the strange world they perceive our world to be…

Some of the music has been of a good enough standard to be used to help raise funds for certain causes and children’s charities and most importantly to her and her family to help raise autism awareness. Her biggest achievement to date is to have her song “Never Give Up Your Dreams” on Dr.Temple Grandin’s – A View from the Inside DVD.

Since becoming involved with her vocal coach Sergei at the age of 13, he saw within her that she had the capability to not just sing, but to compose, arrange and produce music too.

Sergei is also a music teacher and he knew she could easily pass certain exams on the practical side but her communication disorder would stop her being able to do so easily.

Through her placement at Teens+ she was enrolled into Drake Music Scotland and with the help of a support worker was then able to work towards become qualified in the areas that she was already adept in.

She received her first ever music qualification when she graduated on 9th June 2011 with a certificate for Midi sequencing SCQF level 5.

 She continues to record and grow musically, occasionally she can be found giving a live performance.

None of this would have been possible without the help of some very good friends who continue to support and encourage her to reach her potential whatever that may be.

This has always been a journey and no one has any ideas of the destination.

Find Sam on Facebook

Find Sam on Twitter

Find Sam on Offbeat Website

Find Sam on YouTube

Find Sam on Bebo

Find Sam on Myspace

Find Sam on Reverb Nation

Offbeat Featured Client- Colin Asquith…

Yes, I know, it was a long time AGAIN…what can I say? The Edinburgh Summer, hmmm…I promise you I haven’t been lazing around on a sun soaked beach drinking pina coladas out of a bucket sized frosted glass topped up for me by various handsome lovelies all day long…sigh…no no, I don’t give it a moment’s thought, we don’t do that here, it’s all been hard graft with the heating secretly turned on. Och, it’s ok, who wants to be on the beach anyway? And bikinis are such a horrid subject are they not? And boys, really, budgie smugglers are just too awful to mention right? Although there was one time on a beach many years ago when I came across some nudey drumming…well yeah…

…anyway moving on, I have had SOME fun; I interviewed the very charming Colin Asquith who’s been in to Offbeat recording songs recently. What a sweetheart he is! I’ve been humming this song of Colin’s called Fireworks Fade Away- I’ve put it up here for you to listen to while you read Colin’s interview, coz I’m nice like that 🙂

Let me make it easy for you to find Colin;

Find Colin on Facebook

Find Colin on Twitter

Colin’s Website

Colin’s Webpage on Offbeat

Do you have musicians who you admire? What’s on your playlist at the mo?

I have a really eclectic mixture of musical styles on my playlist, but mainly I tend to admire well written songs, great singers or songs with interesting lyrics. So a usual night’s listening would be a mix of Beatles, The Smiths, Sinatra, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead, Nirvana, Kinks and ABBA (see one of my other Offbeat sessions for my take on an ABBA song that I love).

Irritating and favourite ads

I can’t stand any advert that takes a song I love and replaces it with nonsense marketing lyrics. The Clover adverts that rip off “The Wild Rover” – I’m looking at you.

Most hated household chores

I have a bad habit of keeping too much stuff in my house, which makes it difficult to tidy up as there is nowhere to put everything, so chore wise, it’s that game of clutter Tetris that I play when I try to cram everything I own into cupboards. I keep telling myself, I just need some good books, a bed, my guitar and a laptop… but never get anywhere near that!

What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?

I tend to be very spontaneous and couple that with my tendency to say ‘yes’ a lot more than I should, which either makes for some ridiculously surreal and worrying situations, or fantastically amazing stories, depending on how you look at them. My friends no longer seem to be surprised when I tell them my latest adventures.

Has anyone ever bought you an embarrassing present and how did you react?

Not really sometimes I can’t work out how someone came to the decision to buy me certain things, but nothing too crazy, it’s always nice to get presents! The most embarrassing thing was probably being given a very rudely shaped hot water bottle for a charity show I was doing.

If you were on a desert island with electricity and you could take 4 dvd’s what would they be?

There are some films I can watch millions of times and still feel the same, Amelie – which just gives me an amazing feeling each time I watch it, Fight Club- I just love the way it’s shot, and the story gets me every time. Every scene seems to have a catchphrase in it. Happy Gilmore – with Adam Sandler, it’s about the only film that makes me laugh no matter how many times I see it. Probably I would also take the Empire Strikes Back.

If you could only have one picture on the wall where you live, what would it be if it couldn’t be a picture of your family?

The Kiss by Edvard Munch, there’s something about that picture which to me sums up the spinning emotions and togetherness of an amazing kiss.

Is there a moment in your life that defined you as a musician?

I’d always loved music, and singing to myself from a really early age, so have always loved to make up songs and to just sing to please myself. It took a while to get to the point of singing for other people though. For inspiration, hearing the album Back in Black by AC/DC just blew me away when I was young, and it really made me want to pick up a guitar.

What’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen with your own eyes?

Hiroshima in Japan. I went on a holiday to Japan and it’s such a beautiful country. I visited Hiroshima for a couple of days as part of my trip, and the people were the kindest I think I’ve ever met, everything was so beautiful as there is such fantastic scenery around it. The A-bomb museum was truly humbling, and although it was challenging, there was something amazingly uplifting about seeing what Hiroshima is like now, and how kind and welcoming the people there are. It really was one of those moments that changes how you see the world.

If you were in a séance, which musician who’s passed over would you most want to talk to and what would you ask them?

Probably Kurt Cobain- although I don’t really know what I’d ask him. I’d probably still get a bit star struck even though it was a séance. It would just be good to kind of chat, you get the feeling you know a bit about people through their music, but it would be good to find out more. There’s something about the way Nirvana songs sound quite poppy, yet either have interesting chords or lyrics that makes them great.

In your fantasy flat rent, who would be the other 3 flatmates you would share with?

Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers, George Best (maybe I’m overlapping with the last question about people who’ve passed over), and Audrey Tautou. You’d have nights of music, some beautiful French spoken by a beautiful woman, chats about politics and art, as well as having a great flatmate to go drinking with, but also being able to take along to a game of fives. Perfect.

In a zombie attack, what’s your plan of escape?

I think too many people focus on running away, surely with our advances in science since zombie films began, we could make a human flesh substitute. Kind of like they did for vegetarians with Quorn.

If you had a time machine, where and when would you go for a vacation?

I think I’d find it quite interesting to be around kind of the 1900s, Edinburgh or Glasgow would be fine, nothing too exotic, I think we forget how fantastic the things on our doorstep are. I’d go there just to see how people lived in similar places that I recognise now, but with less technology. It would be amazing to see, and see if I could handle it. Although I would have a hard time not telling people things I know from now, or get drunk and keep saying to people “we’re going to get rid of all your trams, then decades later we’re going spend ages and loads of money bringing them back”! Or telling people who would win at the football.

Secret careers

When I was growing up, I think the only things I remember wanting to be were a bus driver and superman. I thought that bus drivers always seemed really friendly, but also they could drive wherever they wanted. When I got older, I found that bus drivers aren’t as friendly as I remember, but also they don’t get to choose where they drive. Also – it’s not very easy to grow up to become superman if you didn’t come from Krypton.

what’s the strangest concert you’ve played

I put on a charity concert where everyone that came got to vote for things like how I was dressed, what songs I played and stuff like that. It was great fun, and the people who came raised a large amount of money for charity. In the end I was dressed like a disco pirate playing mashed up versions of classic songs mixed with girl and boy band songs. It was an unusual night! I’ve tended to play more traditional shows since then!

do you have any plans to record more?

Recording at Offbeat has been great, and really been a good push to get some of my material recorded, as well as recording some covers of songs that I love. To me, if you can sing a song in a bit of a different way, then it’s fantastic, if you can’t, then you should probably leave it alone. Ideally I would like to get an album’s worth of songs together as well as get out and play more gigs. I have a habit of either playing lots of gigs at once, or not doing many, so am trying to get back into the swing of playing more often, especially now I have some more songs I’ve written I’d like to give an airing before recording again!

Well I enjoyed that, I’m off to find out what rudely shaped hot water bottles I can buy for those of us who are not on the beach and are staring out at the summer rain…grrrrr. If you want to visit the Bossman’s blog for more on Colin, go to

although I’m warning you now, there are no Pina Coladas over there either…just so you know…

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