Blog Archives

The December Diet and other news…

The December Diet Mystery…where did all the chocolate brownies go? I just made a batch supposedly to last the next two weeks and like some kind of freak accident…we ate them…all…in two days…jeez…

Here’s the thing, the December Diet is all about warming up and stretching the stomach ready for the onslaught of 10 rounds with the monster turkey…come on people, you know it makes sense right? I mean, you don’t want your body going into Christmas Day shock in a sort of reverse “there’s no way a baby’s gonna fit through there, I’m sure there’s been some mistake nurse, NURSE” kinda way…no no, December is a month of exponential growth of appetite with the waistline expansion in parallel, feeling knackered, bleary eyed “ugh” sickie mornings and mood swings (from the “Bah Humbug” variety right through to the “life and soul dancing, I love EVERYBODY” with some choking up at the family Christmas movie in between)…oh my god, December is, in fact, like cramming nine months of pregnancy into 4 weeks, no wonder we all look like hell in January…

Soooo you may be wondering what we’ve been up to in the Offbeat Hub…apart from partaking of the Christmas spirit at our Christmas Party…nooooo, I can’t show you any pics, they’re all far too embarrassing 😉

In other news, we’ve been beavering away on compiling a compilation album to come out in the early spring of 2012 🙂 This involves a lot of arguing the toss as I listen to the back catalogue of amazing music the Boss has produced and collaborated on with various artists and then get frustrated by the fact that a CD is in fact not time limitless and therefore there is only a certain number of tracks we can squeeze on one album…hurumph…well here’s my mission statement people- it is my duty to you to keep pushing to release as much fantastic music as possible so this means that as soon as we finish this compilation, I will start pushing for the next one…

…and we’ve been working on finishing another album due out next year by the Offbeat Rhythm Section and let me tell you it’s Offbeat Upbeat sizzling hot! Every now and again in a moment of madness (and these happen more than I’d like to admit) I put it on in the studio and go crazy…I would love to think I look like Shakira but I’m fairly certain I look more like a bucking bronco with an itch but hey, it makes me happy and I haven’t knocked anything over…yet…

So plenty to look forward to from us in 2012 🙂 Merry Christmas and I’ll see you on the other side in January for the New Year Resolutions…but let me leave you with a little December Diet warning right here…

Years ago when the Husband was still just The Boyfriend With Potential, we were wondering around the supermarket in December like a pair of space cadets, hypnotised by Christmas Musak and aisles of festive sparkley stuff when he turned to me with dilated tinsel reflecting eyes and said “I’ve never had one of those big tins of chocolates at Christmas time before!” to which I, of course, replied “Baby, you can have whatever you want” (I told you this was before marriage turned me into a naghag and I was aiming for “Girlfriend with Potential”, back in the days when I cared if my undies matched) Well, that was the Christmas we worked our way through a 2 kilo tin of choccie in 3 nights, boy the turkey barely touched the sides we were so match fit…and I decided he was the one ;-p

Pascoe Hooper launches his piano album “Gifts”…

Pascoe Hooper is playing at St John’s Church, on Lothian road, Edinburgh from 7.30-9pm on Friday 16th December:
It will be a concert of original piano works and an album launch for my album ‘Gifts’. I will also
be playing some recent works and improvising.
You can hear the album on Spotify if you search for Pascoe J Hooper Gifts (not case sensitive)
Our very own Iain McKinna, producer here at Offbeat recorded Pascoe’s album Gifts.
I’ve been very lucky to have this album for a few months now and I have to say that it is truly sublime and like a balm on the soul 🙂

The Case of The Heritage Detectives and Edinburgh’s Grisly Past…

When the Bossman said we had a bunch of teenagers coming in to create sound effects for a play, I had no idea they would be so passionate and well informed about Edinburgh’s history…well I thought I could tell some stories until I met the Heritage Detectives this summer…sheesh…we had pretty much a full house when they trooped up the stairs to the Offbeat Studio with Maggie Aitken from DaisyChainAssociates…my god, could they spin some grisly yarns about Edinburgh’s murky past, wow…


The Heritage Detectives are a group of Edinburgh’s young people who have been exploring their own heritage, supported by Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, Circle Scotland and DaisyChainAssociates- funded by HLF young Roots.

Have a listen to this interview with Maggie where she explains a bit about what they got up to…

Their play “The Amazing Mis-Adventures Of Bondi Brenda and the Heritage Detectives” with all the Offbeat sound effects to back them up was performed at Edinburgh’s Doors open Day, City Art’s Centre and Scottish Parliament. Go and check out People Making Waves and get inspired!

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

Story Of Film, An Odyssey…

Yes indeedy, Story of Film, An Odyssey was screened here in Edinburgh at the Filmhouse this weekend but no, you weren’t invited because it was for friends and colleagues involved in the project- yes, it was just for the special people…and the Bossman, Iain McKinna, was there…no, I wasn’t (sniff sniff)…well to be fair I was away being important elsewhere…

Story of Film is off to Toronto Film Festival and then going out globally in cinema AND the full fifteen hour series is going out on More 4 from Saturday the 3rd of September at 9.15pm, so make sure you catch it because apparently it is STUNNING 🙂

Have I mentioned that The Bossman recorded and produced all of Mark Cousins’ commentary for the series…and he didn’t seem that tall at the time 😉

“Epic…a global vision of cinema” Ian Christie, Sight and Sound

“A brilliant and monumental achievement” Roger Graef OBE, one of Britain’s leading television documentary makers

“Audacious…a treat for movie lovers” Toronto Film Festival

Yes I know you’d like me to interview Mark and frankly I’d LOVE to as well but you know, busy schedules and all that…I mean he’s out there being important and I am too…well ok, not me but look, what would I ask him? You know how my mind works, it hits the Intellectual City Bypass and before I know it I’m off following signs for Random Town and Zany Ville while my mouth is yapping away on rude joke autopilot like a demented terrier in the back of the crazy car…

…and what was I doing that was so important I missed the special screening of Story Of Film? Playing board games…oh yes we did, we really honestly did…while the Bossman was out attending the sceening this weekend, being very cool and sophisticated getting pics taken with the fabulous Mark Cousins… I was embroiled in a tense game of Trivial Pursuits with the three year old sitting on my friends’ dining room table hogging the dice like some kind of overexcited Golem betting at the blackjack table, stroking and kissing the dice and throwing everybody’s turn…I was doing ok too until Match of the Day came on and the fellas did a disappearing act from the table like rats off a sinking ship…

Read more about The Story Of Film on Iain McKinna’s Blog

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;

How to do the breakfast meeting successfully and other news…

Oh yes yes yes, joy of joys the Bossman took me for a breakfast meeting this morning 🙂 I see a fry-up and my eyes get all dreamy and I start to slaver shamelessly…I gotta tell you I have the requirements for this type of meeting down pat…take it from a pro, this is how you do it;

elasticated waistband for extra room for stuffing in sausage and egg etc and remaining comfy…

a big napkin/apron for collecting said sausage/egg fallout…coz you’re yapping about work at the same time…nobody said it was pretty…

a doggy bag kit for taking extras home…

a travel pillow for compulsory post -meeting snooze on a park bench en route to pick up sprog from holiday club…

rennies for post fry up tummy regrets…never give in to the guilt…

Ahhh, it was goooood, in spite of the scolding we got from Offbeat Kirsty for falling off the veggie wagon…her addition to my list was to take a sick bag but the Bossman and I have tummies that are well practiced in the art of coping with the meat laden fry-up…and I promise I started the day with a healthy apple and carrot juice so it all balances out, right?

In other news, this week we have already had Gavin Blackie in session, laying down a new track…and having a giggle at teabreak 🙂 No I can’t tell you what we had the gigglies about coz it was extremely naughty and rude, obviously…

Filming interviews- remember the rehearsals last week? Well this is it, the beginning of the “for reals” now…the artists are all really well behaved, it’s me who’s driving the Bossman mad 🙂

Then of course there’s all the editing of the interviews…yawn…more CSI chalkduster…

Joanne Livingstone’s in for sessions this week with Tom Findlay, the jazz pianist, laying down jazz keyboards and recording and mixing for gig demos…

Mandy Hinchey In Wales is having Dropbox sessions recording and mixing backing tracks with the Offbeat Rhythm Section, recreating the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Connie Lush tracks. Cool or what? Mandy sends her tracks to the studio by Dropbox, the Offbeat Rhythm Section records and mixes the tracks (while Mandy can do other things like enjoy a cuppa, check her emails, other multitasking taskies…) and then we dropbox the mixes and she can decide on any changes she likes. Mixes then fly back and forth through cyberspace till she’s happy with what she’s got…personally I’d be doing this from somewhere hot and beachlike but Wales is great too… oh yeah and she uses these backing tracks in live gigs…the Offbeat Rhythm Section, your own virtual band…

Maggie Aitken is in from Daisy Chain Associates editing sound effects for the Heritage Detectives performances coming soon…

Iain McKinna, producer fabuloso, is taking a masterclass in studio production…I have to sit there all day listening to how great the Bossman is from everybody- yawn, yawn…no gossip only praise :-p

Actually, to round off the week and seeing as how we’ve been working incredibly hard these last few months, me mainly at working the coffee machine to death, I’m allowing the Bossman some time off this weekend before he gets in trouble with “her indoors”…and before I get into trouble with “him indoors”…my other half got a shock the other night when he saw I had 2 ears instead of a phone permanently glued to the side of my head…

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

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