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"My most recent album is an Irish album that I did for ABC Music, and that's a Celtic Kids album. And I did all that from home during lockdown." - Mick McHugh

In this episode

  • Mick's Irish heritage, and how the Irish music culture influenced him as a young person

  • How Mick left a safe career at Hewlett Packard to become a career as a professional musician

  • Mistakes Mick did as a young musician and how he learned from these mistakes

  • How Mick dealt with setbacks and discouragement

  • Mick's tips and tricks on getting through to event managers and booking gigs

  • Mick's songwriting workflows

  • How Mick worked with different producers to record his albums

  • The making of the songs 'Good Good Day' and 'Not in Kansas Anymore'

  • Mick's home-recording workflows, tips and tricks

  • How Mick produced music from his home studio for the ABC network


About the 


Mick McHugh is a solo-artist as well as the face of the high-energy Irish folk act The Gathering. His captivating vocals, paired with emotive songwriting, paint vivid musical landscapes that connect his Irish heritage to the Australian continent.

The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music


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Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.



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Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be. Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends. This is the Production Talk Podcast episode 71. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome back to another episode of the Production Talk podcast. At the beginning of this episode, as always, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the country that we are meeting on today, the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung Nation, and I would like to pay my respects to elders past, present, and emerging. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: With me today, sitting in our living room, right in front of me is Mr. Mick McHugh of the band The Gathering. We worked together on a live show the other day, and here we are again. Both locals to the area. Welcome to the show. How are you, Mick? Mick McHugh: Thanks Jan. Yeah, I'm very good. Delighted to be here. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's really good to see you. Look, we've known about one another for a long time, but we sort of always missed each other until we finally got to work together on a show. It was good fun. I really, I enjoyed your energy. Mick McHugh: Thanks very much. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It was, you had so much fun on stage. You could really, it was just jumping, oozing out of you the, you know, the big smile and the energy on stage. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: What, what gets you going as a musician? Mick McHugh: Well, thanks Jan. And that's like, that's a big part of what I'm aim for, to see people having a good time. Really, it's a pleasure of a job, being able to be relaxed and enjoy myself on stage. That's come with hours on the job. Yeah, I'm a firm believer of hours on the job. I had the passion from the start to do what I want to do, but the, I've really noticed that the more I've played the gigs, I can actually enjoy the gigs even more and more. Mick McHugh: And seeing everyone ass a, you know, a park party in our area to see everyone, all the kids celebrating. And after the couple of years that we haven't had it, because A C O V D, all of those things, it's an amazing job to see people having a good time. That gets me going. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. Do you still get nervous before shows Mick McHugh: Yeah, I definitely, there's an element of it. It varies depending on the show, so, yes, and I think it's healthy because I'm thinking about the set list. I'm living in the moment. I'm watching what's happening out there. Even before I go on, I'm seeing where they're at. I'm looking, even say that gig for example, I was like, right, sun will be going down near the end. Mick McHugh: So yeah, I'm thinking a lot in the, and that's why I think it's, that's how I am as a person, and music has been really brilliant for me. I, I channel all of that into my performance. I'm watching what's going on. I try to be very aware, so, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: wow. Okay. There's a lot of wisdom and experience in that already here right now. Good. Well Mick McHugh: yeah. I'm not saying I always executed brilliantly, but yeah, there's a lot of Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm-hmm. Good. Fantastic. Look, let's talk about the early days for a moment. How old were you when you learned that you were a musician and you figured that out for yourself? Mick McHugh: Very, very late. I would, I would say I was 22. Okay. 22 was never on my radar. Never. I. Understand or know really that I could be a musician. Maybe I, you know, like I didn't, I grew up in a family where music is so in Ireland as well, so my Irish music is a part of the culture and I can see that Jan 'Yarn' Muths: now. Mm-hmm. Mick McHugh: So I learned from osmosis in that every family gathering with the cousins, they were singing. Mick McHugh: Everyone would sing, but I wouldn't sing. I was too shy and I would sit there almost embarrassed even though I wasn't singing. It's just that was the way I am and still am a little bit like that. And it's amazing that I've found music. So there's all those, those kinds of experiences. There's my dad blasting Neil Diamond in the Beatles, and I mean, he didn't just play it, he blasted it. Mick McHugh: It was loud, right? So when my mom, or my mom, as we'd say in Ireland, she is playing and. Always has the radio on in every single room and singing along with songs. So music is there and then I'm 14. As an example of your osmosis and how you're learning, you're just soaking it all up. I'm 14, I'm in Ireland in a little country town on summer holidays and we used to go off and play the arcade games and we had to come back and meet the parents at the end of the night at 11 o'clock if they were at the pub drinking. Mick McHugh: It was like a summer holiday buzz. And we'd come in for the last half an hour, get a seven up or a Coke, a cola, sit there. And at that point it was a tiny little pub. If you imagine the size of your lounge room or your kitchen, and each person in that pub would stand up and take a turn of singing with their, holding their glass eyes closed sometimes crying, sometimes really like getting everyone going. Mick McHugh: So I'm 14. I've watched all of this and I understand now since I left, I immigrated from Ireland at 28 when I left Ireland. I really understood and how much music had been exposed to me in my life. And I've gone back there for trips and it's always under tv. It's music. It's really massive part of Ireland. Mick McHugh: Amazing. Yeah, I'm very lucky now. I guess so. So 22, I am am. I, my story is that I've, I got, so I'm an engineer. I went to straight outta school into become a polymer engineer, which is plastics engineering, because I was into woodwork and technical kind of subjects. So followed that path, did a five year degree, got a first class honors, but I knew for my second year there was something else calling me, almost like a vocation. Mick McHugh: I was searching for something else, but I didn't know what else I wanted to do. So I stayed with the degree because I knew I could do that. And, you know, suppose the little thing in your ear of, you know, you should do the right thing and you for safety of your life and, you know, from your parents, make sure you have something good behind you. Mick McHugh: But every year I would go traveling in Ireland. I would, I was in Germany, lived in Munich for a summer. Amazing, 1997. So I was in France in 98 for the World Cup. So I went traveling around and every time I was away, I was alive. I had this feeling, right. So I'm, I'm getting this feeling of how I can be and then coming back, going. Mick McHugh: Okay, I'm doing this, but I'm not alive. I'm not Jan 'Yarn' Muths: excited Mick McHugh: by life, but I chipped away at the degree I finished it. And then within the year, I'm, you know, in a job in making Hewlett Packards in cartridges at eight o'clock mon Monday morning meetings. Hewlett Packard we're not happy with some little bit of the in cartridge and I was having outer body experience looking down at myself going, I can't do this. Mick McHugh: It can't, how can I be here? And the guy who was my boss was 20 years out of the same course of me that I'd done. And I just, I ended up getting really, really bad depression. It, I, I can see now that I was building up to, but I didn't understand it at the time. It was really huge where it rocked my world and I left that job and I wasn't myself probably for at least three months. Mick McHugh: A lot of crying and six. You know, before I really was able to come out of that shell, I was embarrassed it was empt 20 years ago at least. It wasn't. So it's talked about a lot more now with mental health. Right. And yeah, I was living with an amazing friend. I did tell my family after about three months and they said do you wanna look at medication? Mick McHugh: And I said, I think I should just, I think there's something else calling me, so I'm gonna leave. Pick a side step in my life. I was very lucky. I'm, I, I know I'm privileged in that I was able to do that. It was the Celtic boom. There was jobs everywhere. So I said, I'm gonna take a side step, see what else is out there in my life, and I can always come back to it. Mick McHugh: So I took a side step and I was like, what makes me happy? Why, why am I happy when I'm traveling? And I realized I would be at a party watching somebody playing guitar. Say at the end of the night, you know, in Ireland every, you go out a few drinks, then you look at Puby few drinks, then you go out to the nightclub for a few drinks. Mick McHugh: You're back home to someone's house. It's two o'clock in the morning. I'll come the guitar and I sit there singing with a few drinks. They'll. Three or four in the morning and I realized I was, that was one of the things I was staring at my friend. I wish I had learned guitar. I wish I could do that. I spoke up, I said that, and my friend, you know, said, it's easy. Mick McHugh: I'll show you a few chords, and showed me two chords. And I had that hard journey of like riding a bike, I say, or learning to drive where it's really uncomfortable. Their fingers hurt. It doesn't sound like the people that you are listening to it. It's really, really uncomfortable For six months, for me it was, I didn't get lessons. Mick McHugh: I was too nervous or shy. But yeah, about six months in I was able to sing along and play a song together at home. And then a year later, after starting the guitar, I bumped into an Aussie lady, which is why I'm now living in Australia. 20 something, 20 years later. She was the first friend. It's a really romantic story of course. Mick McHugh: Yeah. You know, sounds made up. But I met her. On a weekend of thing called Five Rhythms. So that's why I live in Byron Bay. This was a hippie event, which my friend was going to. I said, yes, I'll go to that. And I went along and there was these people dancing the emotions of the heart. I was freaked out when I walked in. Mick McHugh: Those people doing this kind of, you can dance by wiggling your finger, move your toe, you do what you want. By the end of that weekend, my Aussie lady was there, we've got chatting and you know, we went home together and I hanging out and I sang to her for, never sang to anyone in my life. Of course, you know, we're in love. Mick McHugh: I wanna impress her. I sang a David Gray song to her and she said, you've got a really, and she's a singer songwriter, and she said, you've got a really nice voice, you know, she keep doing it and we are in love. Like, so I told her there, and then that night, you know, I'm gonna marry you thinking I was cool, you know, I was like, I know she goes to. Mick McHugh: I know. So we moved in together two weeks later and been together ever since. But that next day, after meeting her, so I've, on a year into guitar, I'm at a cafe buzzing off my head because I've met the woman of my dreams, and I was at a cafe in Dublin and I asked waiter for a pen and paper his, you know, because they had a, these have a pen and paper. Mick McHugh: Then in the pocket I said, can I have a pen and paper? And started a songwriting. She had, my wife is a songwriter and had a CD and given it to me. And I was listening. I was inspired. So I was hooked. Now, learning the songs, my, I aim was to be able to suppose, maybe it was the ego to learn a song, to play at a party. Mick McHugh: But the once I started a songwriting, I was a gunner, I was gone. I just, it opened up a whole of the world. I wasn't great at English or languages. I was much more into the technical subjects as I said. So suddenly I was like, yeah, I suppose I had permission. I was there with a guitar and songwriting, and I was hooked. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow, Mick McHugh: Yeah, it's a bit of a long-winded answer there, but that is it. That's story. It is a bit of a, yeah. Wild, wild story. It even shocked me and I shocked myself because I'm you know, engineer. I think things true, but not when it came to the heart, I was just gone. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Right. And how long did it take you until you started recording yourself and Mick McHugh: Well my wife now wife, so she had a four track. We still have it at home. It's not a, if it was a four track game, I'm trying to think what was the model, but it was a four track digital recorder. So this is around the year 2001, 2000. Two, it's a four track digital recorder. So she arrived with that when we moved in together. Mick McHugh: And so within the year I was recording my own demos at home. Wasn't sharing them with everyone or putting 'em up online or doing well, I dunno if we even did that, then you probably would've made a cd. But there was a few trusted people who I knew who played guitar, as in I trusted them and felt comfortable. Mick McHugh: So I would share them songs with, with those people. But mostly it was, I suppose for my own learning, I'm a family. My mom. Yeah, family. I would love listening to 'em. So I was recording within the year, but very basic setup. I'm talking like a 58, you know, vocal mic that you'd use for a live gig and plugging in the, the guitar. Mick McHugh: But my guitar, you know, I didn't know what I was doing, but it was great. I was into it early, so yeah. Mm-hmm. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well you gotta learn somewhere. You gotta start somewhere and, and, you know, make mistakes in Mick McHugh: That's right. Yeah. So it was good for me because I had that, I was, you know, a lot of comfortable space to explore my voice and explore yeah. Play, you know, recording and stuff. So it was a really good space without spending money. And I think, again, maybe just the way I am maybe I, I present sometimes a bit nervous or I can be a bit nervous or overthink. Mick McHugh: So having that space was good for me. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Well, that's, it really sounds like you steered your life around and you, you'd changed everything basically. You and you changed direction big time there. Mick McHugh: Yeah. Yeah. Big time. And yeah, I've been on that track ever since. And that's what are, we Must be 20, it's 20, it's 20 years actually. Pretty much, yeah. 20 years. Now, You know, for the first five years I was just doing open mic nights in Dublin, but I was I knew it was what I wanted to do, but, and, but you have to believe in yourself. Mick McHugh: You have to keep getting, you know, back up on a horse and keep getting out there. And I had some horrendous situations, so I ended up teaching English as a foreign language to students in Dublin as my income. Cuz we had a, our first kid pretty soon after meeting within, you know, a year. And so I needed to keep the. Mick McHugh: coming in. So I was teaching English and I enjoyed that job because I was able to do it. Cause I had a degree. I did a course and I enjoyed it because as I said, I loved traveling. So it gave me a connection with people who were, you know, had that feeling. So I was addicted to that kind of people who were buzzing and stuff. Mick McHugh: So I did that. I was doing my open mic nights on my bike into the city. You know, once our kid was kind of set up and yeah, go in there and I'd do my open mic nights and I had some horrendous situations. I walked off, like, remember the engineer at the front saying, how, how's your EQ on your, something along the lines of, is your EQ flat? Mick McHugh: I had no idea what any of that meant. So he was talking about my guitar. I was like, what is eq? It's a flat, I have no idea. So I was freaked out. And then, you know, I was already nervous cuz he said that to me. And then I after my, this was my sound check before for my open mic night, and then I walked off the stage with my guitar. Mick McHugh: Still plugged in? Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh no, Mick McHugh: So I had, you know, I did lots of that and you have to do those things. I'm, I'm kind of glad, I must say I so happy that I, you know, got to explore all the, make all those mistakes in the times when phones weren't around. My God, it's not easy to be like, start out now, today I would imagine everyone has a phone records, every situation, like I had horrendous, I've done horrendous things on stage and I had to just do, that happens and you get up and you learn and you have to go back and face them again. Mick McHugh: Face those gigs, face those people. But I was getting to explore my songs, I guess, as most important thing. I was getting feedback that, and I was like, You know, I knew people were enjoying them. So I that's, it's like you're getting a pat in the back, you're on a marathon or your own little run and people are enjoying it. Mick McHugh: You're playing your three to five, maybe six songs, you know, up to half an hour and people enjoyed it. So, coming out to Australia, I was 28, it was 2005, and there was a, I suppose there was a clean break in my movement of immigrating over here to Australia with my wife and our kid. And I decided that was it. Mick McHugh: I'm never gonna do another job as music will be my full-time job. And I think that Clean break helped. Maybe it would've been a bit hard to just drop everything in Dublin. I, I had a permanent job. You know that teaching and your, you do have support, support your family. But coming out here, there was. Yeah, just this little window is like, I have to go for it. Mick McHugh: And when I came to Australia, this is a really important thing if you're, I believe if you're a young, up and coming songwriter musician or whatever art that you want to travel into, I was working, you know, I arrived over, we just staying with my wife's parents just for the first few months. And I just had a job at 20 hours a week at the local football leagues club. Mick McHugh: Just so we had a bit of income coming in and I'm in the in there working and the one of the bar staff said to me, oh, what do you do? And I said, , I'm a singer songwriter. That was the first time I said it out loud to someone. And that's a really important thing you have to do. At some point, you have to take the courage to say that's who you are, that's what you are. Mick McHugh: And there I was working in the league school, but I knew this was it. Like that was just to keep the money coming in. I was like, no, I am, I'm a singer songwriter. And you know, I haven't released the cd, I haven't done anything. But soon enough I ended up being they knew I played guitar because I spoke up and then the manager said, Hey, what'd you do? Mick McHugh: We're gonna start. They had two rooms at the main room where there was kind of the aura cell kind of backing track guys, which I'd never seen before was freaked out by a backing track, eh? I was like all that sound. But in the bar side, he said, we just want an acoustic Friday. Would you do it? I was like, yep, I could not play one cover song at that point in my life because I was an original singer songwriter. Mick McHugh: In my mind, that's it, you know, you're, you've, you maybe that youth and you was like, oh, I don't play cover songs. I had learned a couple when I was starting out, but I went out and bought a pa, drove up the Kearns, bought a pa on the Monday. He said it mean we can, we drove up, bought a pa and I set it up in the lounge room, and every single day I learned four songs, four cover songs. Mick McHugh: Plus I had about, you know, 12 or 20, you know, my own originals, but maybe 12. I played. So, and I went into the pub that Friday and really that was my first gig. And it was scary because the, I'm, you got a picture as I'm playing to guys in far North Queensland who have been working hard on sugar cane and banana crops and these are mechanics. Mick McHugh: Like this is the bar side. This is like, I was, I. Yeah. Got now. Right now I'm doing, I was brave . Yeah. But they were good as well. They knew me and they just called me Irish. Of course, you know, they knew me from the bar, but like, it wasn't their kind of music. I wasn't playing. Even the covers I learned probably weren't what they were into, but I did it and I did that every Friday until the cyclone came in 2006 up there. Mick McHugh: So, so we lived there for about six months in total. I now had a pa I was now gigging and we flew to Perth to do a journey from Perth to Byron Bay with an Irish guy who we'd met in Dublin. He was walking the country to encourage people to follow their dreams and we became his support crew. We were, I was obviously following my dream to be musicians, so, and we were gonna support his walk. Mick McHugh: And my wife is a writer and as well as songwriter. She wanted and has written a book since. And so myself, my wife, our daughter, three year old, we flew to Perth. Met the man again and we traveled from Perth to Byron Bay over about a year, year and a half. Inspiring people to live their dreams. Mick McHugh: Wow. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Wow. What a story. Yeah, Mick McHugh: it's a lot, isn't there? I know, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You took a lot of risks. You Mick McHugh: I did I, and I still do, I take a lot of risks and That's a good point, ya, because I'm sure it's the same for you in your life as I think anyone as who's an artist or, and in business, like when you're going for something, risk is a huge part of it and you have some wins and some losses. Mick McHugh: Yeah, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah, definitely. Did you experience any, any setbacks and, you know, resistance in your social life, people discouraging you from, from taking those steps? Were there people who said, don't become a musician, play it's safe. Go back to, to being an engineer Mick McHugh: Overall my mind says no. And I think part of that is because I was over here and I had my own, you know, I was away from 10,000 miles from my family. Perhaps if, because my dad for sure, like you have, you've got kids, I've got kids that my dad, my dad would often say to me, you know, come on Michael, don't be, don't be silly with different things. Mick McHugh: I would've done, like, I went traveling. It was when I was in France that time, we traveled down to Maroc. Me and my best friend, we were gonna keep going, you know, let's keep going. My dad and I rang my dad. He's like, you gotta stop. You know, so you need your, you do need that, of course. So I suppose there was those little bits where my, my dad, my, my mom, they, they support me, but of course they have that worry. Mick McHugh: But I wouldn't really say it was setbacks from them, but I knew it was there. Maybe drives me on as well to prove that I will do this because this is what I want to do. And because I was in Australia, I really didn't have a circle around me that was saying I shouldn't do it. So, and then I was on a dream inspiring people for a year and a half. Mick McHugh: I was on a journey, sorry with that, but the journey was believing your dreams. And so I was meeting people who were being inspired by me you know, driving its inspiration. Then I landed in Byron Bay and I gigged my heart out. So, no, I think I kind of had a lot of positive. A lot of positive things in terms of the circle. Mick McHugh: I was moving in and I was away from my, see I suppose if I was back home within my circle of friends, they might say, what are you up to tonight? You know? But I was away in my own unit with people who were doing a journey of dreams, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: had a clean break. Mick McHugh: but setbacks. Yeah, but setbacks. So in that, in terms of that maybe, I'm sure there were a few, but none come racing to mind. Mick McHugh: The setbacks I've had have been where I've been told, cuz I'm, I was a, I still am quite, I suppose, a gentle singer songwriter. My music is, I've been in pubs and I've been told you're, you know, you're not suit. Don't come back. You've, I've been roared at from across the beer garden on a Sunday with a, you know, people, you know, a crew who certainly weren't in my audience, only down in Bena and people. Mick McHugh: Yeah. I've been told loads of times. You know, so I've had lots of step backs in terms of you're not suitable. You're not suitable. And that hurts. It hurts, you know, but you just have to keep getting up and going again, like I, I've, I'm always on for analogies, but my one that's kept me going is I'm like a door-to-door sales, like person with the vacuum cleaner or the encyclopedias. Mick McHugh: You don't stop your life depends on it. I remember someone said to me way back at the start when I was here in Byron area and I found myself a, got myself in residency at Mullen Bibi Bowls Club. And what I used to do back then was I went around to every single venue that had music. I looked up the local paper, I saw where all the gigs were, and I went to every single place with a, my bioprinted out of my music, like a cv. Mick McHugh: And I had my three songs and a cd, and I went to every single one venue and you know, asked for the manager, gave it to him, and then I would follow up religiously, had my calendar well, we're booked out for three months. They would always say that maybe they don't, you know, trying to get rid of you. Mick McHugh: Then I'd call up in three months. Oh he's not here now. Call up. When is he back? Or he's back on Monday call again. So I kept knocking on the door and finally some guy then down the oral cell said, oh, we're thinking about doing music at the Mul Bowls Club you on a Saturday. Saturday residency. Boom, I got it. Mick McHugh: So I had a Saturday residency and then you know, I ended up getting a lot of gigs in the area. So someone said to me back then, and you know, wow, you've a lot of gigs, you've amazing how many gigs you have. And I said, it's my job. I have a family, I have a kid. I don't understand. What do you mean? I have a lot of gigs? Mick McHugh: It's like, they were like, how are you getting so many gigs? Like, this is what I do for. So I think putting myself out, out on a risk and out on a limb yeah, pushed me on to keep getting gigs. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: wow. Okay. It all comes from basically connections and persistency, I guess. Yeah. Yeah. Mick McHugh: Yeah, it does. Yeah. You gotta keep Jan 'Yarn' Muths: so interesting that you mentioned this because, you know, I'm really into the business side. I'm, I'm consider myself a student of the business side. And I just came across interesting resource where, where somebody basically, you know, pointed out just how important it's to not just make connections, but consistently follow up. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And even if, if people say, no, no, no thanks three times in a row on the fourth day, you might Mick McHugh: Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Have an open door there. So that Mick McHugh: a hundred percent. And if you're, so this is for going to musician, younger musicians who might be looking for gigs. You've gotta also consider, some of the big venues are not like this, but a lot of venues the manager to someone who looks after the music booking, they usually have a lot of roles. Mick McHugh: They're not just looking after the geeks. They're doing so, so much, you know, they're usually underpaid and overworked, right? Mm-hmm. , and you might get 'em on, they're trying to, so they just book it in for six months because they don't, they don't have the time to deal with it, you know, your passion and your energy for it. Mick McHugh: But yeah, you can just get 'em in the right moment. Like, just those suppose, don't take it personally. Like they have a lot going on, usually these people. So you just hang in there, keep, keep coming back if they say. And I think that shows yeah, show a good business head. It really, I, I took that on as well because I had been, you know worked in that school. Mick McHugh: I ended up doing a little bit of management work when they had summer schools and stuff. So I think. I think going, becoming a really, I became a full-time musician at the age of 28. I'd left uni at university at 22. So I had those five years working in different jobs and knowing what I really wanted to get into. Mick McHugh: So when I became a musician and I have a family to support, I really made sure that the business I realized was fif, you know, almost 50% was business, 50% was your music. If you, you have to put your time into the music, into the business side of it. Oh, I should also give a shout out to a local, the Lismore Conservatorium. Mick McHugh: Listen to this for amazing synchronicity. I arrived, so I said, I went from Perth to Byron Bay. I arrived in the area where I was like, this is it. I'm a musician and I'm opening the, our local newspaper here called the Echo, the Fire and Echo, and there's an ad for a free music business course at the Lismore Conservatorium. Mick McHugh: And I had just arrived. So I did a three month, three to four month music business course, and that was unbelievable. So that just helped me understand invoicing that we had like. Lots, lots of brilliant stuff. So I, I should really mention that. That was brilliant. So if you, maybe you should do, you know, consider maybe a two to three month business course. Mick McHugh: If it's a night school, it doesn't need to be massive, but on these days you could probably find a lot of stuff on lions and tutorials. So I did have that help to get me going, but what is this? The synchronicity to arrive in an area and that was there that I helped Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, obviously, you know, your success proves that this is a valuable skill to have. You know, your, your story is evident there. Wow. Amazing. Look let's change the subject for a moment. I'd like to talk to you about the story of one of your songs from the initial idea to how it comes out eventually on the, on the album. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Let's talk about songwriting first. Yeah. Have you got a certain method how your songs come together? Do you start with lyrics? Do you start with a melody, or do you start with guitar chords, or do you just go to a computer program, a beat and jam, or what's, what's your way in Mick McHugh: Okay. So definitely not the, not yet. I don't do the computer and the beat and stuff, but I've only really discovered the home recording thing over the last couple of years, so that may happen. Sort of, I suppose the other thing I would say is it has changed, it has developed and there are, I suppose, a dip in and out of different things, but predominantly, yeah, so I'm a acoustic guitar singer songwriter. Mick McHugh: That's what I am. So it always often comes from that. So I think early days it, I was, I was writing, I wrote a lot. I almost wrote the songs start to finish. Well, yeah, so I, I, we used to just write the song and then I used to make the chords and the melody fit around it. Then I suppose later then it would be just, I'd be jamming away in my guitar and then I would end up hearing a melody within the chord I'm playing, and I might have a phrase. Mick McHugh: is there, and that would, I'd hook onto that. Mm-hmm. . And yeah. Then I've also taught myself piano. When I say taught myself piano, I still can play it for myself or on recordings. But that has been good for me because I play guitar for gigs every weekend. You can lose a li I, I can do four gigs on a weekend, Thursday, or maybe even a double on a Sunday, and they can be three to four hour gigs. Mick McHugh: Do you think? I wanna pick up a guitar on a Monday but have myself a piano, and next thing I'm just. Tinkering on a piano and it doesn't matter, you know, mostly in the keys, see, but I can change the key then later. So that has helped me. Then I discover new things and then I might work that out on the guitar also. Mick McHugh: Learning new tunings and having different instruments around. So I've got my mandolin there. I've got a rack of guitars and different tunings. So just because then I can, so I suppose mostly I'm just jamming nowadays, jamming on my instrument, and I have my lyrics and they kind of sudden clicks. I, I grab a lot nowadays as well with my phone. Mick McHugh: I used to do it in a little voice recorder notes all the time. Nowadays it's in my notes in my iPhone. Any little phrase I hear, I grab it. So if I can, I'd like to give you an example of a song maybe from start to finish. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: please. Mick McHugh: So there's a song called Have Got a Good, good Day. And that comes out from, I mean, the journey just to show the journey of a song. Mick McHugh: So someone described me as a, a right from the emotional landscape. And I when I was recording producer I worked on, on my last album, I thought yeah. I think that does describe me well, so I'm in a gig in Dublin watching a guy called Christie Moore, who is probably our biggest, one of our biggest folk musicians to come out of Ireland. Mick McHugh: And I'm watching him and his gigs these days. He's maybe 78. You do not take your phone out in this guy's gigs. You, you, it's sit and listen, you know, no drinking, no phones. You know, he's, he's 78, he's been musician all his life. You sit and you listen Anyway, in between. Two of his songs in between the songs, he says he got this deep, you know, mature voice. Mick McHugh: Any day you make it home in one piece, it's a good day. And I thought, that's a good line. This is something, it just hit me. I don't why it resonated me, right? So I pull out my, my iPhone of maybe an iPhone four I had back then. So I didn't even have the thumb, you know, at a face recognition. I have to type in underneath my phone, underneath my seat, I've got my phone and you know, cuz I do not want that light to go off. Mick McHugh: And I'm typing in my password and I'm writing it, writing that down. Because what I've experienced is you think you'll remember it. I don't. And I think a lot of people, it gets away from you. There's something in that moment. Write it down, just write your words down so I have that there. Any day you make it is a good day. Mick McHugh: Maybe Didi even say it was a good, good. I can't. Anyway, so that's the basis of it. Then it's, maybe that was December, it's two or three months later. I was, I'm back in Australia in January, two or three months later. I think it's March. I'm in New Zealand touring with the Irish musician and we're, we're in Christ Church. Mick McHugh: Christ Church had had the, it's 2013, they had had the earthquake in 2011. 185 people died in the earthquake. And it was a shock when we arrived there two years later, I wasn't prepared. There's still lots of empty blocks and rubble everywhere and using those empty blocks as car parks. And so you suddenly, you know, fucking pardon the expression, it looks like a bomb has gone off in the place. Mick McHugh: You're just, you can't, it, it, it's, it's, it hits you. I went for a walk in the city and I saw this piece of art where there was an empty block where there used to be a building and they put out 185 white chairs representing the people who died, and that was a. Office chair, a, you know, a, a baby chair, a stool. Mick McHugh: So all these there, and it, it hits me. And there's a book, there's a book there that you had to, you know, you could write something in. And I, that line comes flooding back and I wrote it down in there. I said, any day you make it home on one piece is a good day, a good, good day. And I went home, strummed the guitar. Mick McHugh: Bang. I just like, I've got the strumming, I've got the opening, and I'm singing that line over it. So that's, and then I was hooked. I get really hooked on it. I can't stop thinking about it. And yeah, I just, it, yeah, it's, it, there's a, it's a, there's an easy, it's not hard from there, it's just, it's screaming to get out of me. Mick McHugh: And yeah. You know, and there's a, that's it for, that's an example of. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow, okay. That's a really deep Mick McHugh: like I said, I know. I, I'm so dramatic. It sounds so, yeah. Like I know, but that's why I'm a songwriter. And you know, as I said, I was it was Shane Howard who said that to me, and I thought these, you know, brilliant. Mick McHugh: Yeah. Elder of the You arts who said, you're, you're, you know, it's the emotional landscape is where you're really living in a lot of those. And I was like, yeah, it's good. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that's a good place to be. Mm-hmm. And how did the song change over the years? To follow, you know, from, from that moment on when you sort of gave birth Yeah. To the song to, to the point where it was actually recorded? Yeah. Did you change the arrangement or do you speed it up or change keys or Now how did it evolve? Mick McHugh: good point. And that's a great thing because they do become your baby. And if you've had kids, perhaps this will help our, the analogy is that you, yeah, you can do all these things and they're under your wing, but even a kid, you know, opens about the age of five. Mick McHugh: But once they go to school, they get exposed and they, you know, you have to let go. You have to let 'em grow. You have to let 'em do their thing. Similarly, with the song, it's your baby and you, but you have to send it out to the world. So on that album, where that song is on I worked with them two producers. Mick McHugh: But one was really the, it was a co songwriter and pro so senior co-producer, and then it was the main producer. So I had to let go a lot. So the key, I had it in a hierarchy. , but they were, and I, but I was willing to trust, I trusted these guys and you have to have that with your producer. Either you do it yourself or you trust these guys, these people that you work with. Mick McHugh: You have to like, either you're the ground, yeah. You're in or out. I mean, you can, you can disagree but you, yeah. So they had, I had it in a higher key. They brought me down. I'm mean a capital capo, I'd say in Dublin or Capo, cuz I'm in Australia. I, yeah, I'm a capo man. So yeah, they just go, oh no, lower the key in that one. Mick McHugh: And then Yeah, they in within the production and they were like saying, sing. So how do I give this? Maybe just before it's like a pre-chorus line. And before going into the chorus, you said, repeat that line, for example. But my, maybe my engineer was going, no, but has to be two lines before the, the pre-chorus, you're good to know, sing, there's gonna be three lines. Mick McHugh: Sing it again, like an extra bar, stuff like that. So I was like, okay. Then I went to the chorus and it was, he cut that into half the length. Then at the end they were saying yeah, so there's all these things that happened. And I remember he turned around to me and says, I know it's hard. This is hard for you, but you just gonna trust us. Mick McHugh: And so yeah, I did trust and yeah, I'm really happy with it. But I suppose another part of this is a song record. is a snapshot in a certain moment, like a photograph, you take a photograph of yourself on any given day, right? I could record that. And I have dreams, you know, you know, I'll be, maybe I'll do my best of, or the acoustics thing. Mick McHugh: So I still have ideas of, oh, maybe it should like, should be like this. And also I, you keep playing the songs for a song develops and stuff. So also I think you have to let go and say, that's that song at that given moment with those people who worked on a bang, that's what happened. It doesn't mean it can't have other slight little directions, but so, but you do, if you're working with people, I think you need to be, yeah, go for it. Mick McHugh: So, yeah. Does that answer the question? Yeah, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Mick McHugh: Mm. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. So when you, when you listen to the song Yeah. Today, you know, as it comes from the record as it was produced. Yeah. Are you used to it or do you still hear your initial arrangement in, in the back of your mind? Mick McHugh: No, I'm, I'm pretty used to it. My main thing that I struggle with is probably my vocals. I always think that they can be better, and that's, I think it's okay because I think Jan 'Yarn' Muths: we're, that's you and everybody Mick McHugh: Yeah. So that's why I think that's okay, because you're, you, you hear your own voice sounds different than how it comes out in a record. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's so true. Mick McHugh: But but that is how you sound. You have to accept that. But also of course it's, as you said, that photo was on that day. Like, if I took it, did it, the next day, it's gonna be a little bit different. Do it five years later. I've been singing every weekend. My voice is matured, my voice is different. Mick McHugh: So I, I suppose I hear those things. I'm thinking like, oh, it could be this. But overall, no, it's still, I'm still like, I like it. Yeah. I'm still happy with it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And how long was the process of capturing this album? Mm. Mick McHugh: Well this album, so the album that, that song was called A Million Stars. I had done, I think that was my sixth. CD that I released. And I don't like any of the previous ones. You know, , I just a bit of a joke, but that's the, you know, you get through all these, every recording you keep thinking you're gonna do better, you're gonna do better. Mick McHugh: And so that keeps you on. That's what I was gonna say is that you should have that because that keeps you driving on. So the, the process, well that was a crowdfunded album and I had that song was really the lead song and I had a few other songs around that. Then let's see, to think of timeframe that, so did I say I wrote that song? Mick McHugh: That would be 2013. Then we did the crowdfunding campaign. I think it was 2014 into 15, and then we started the recording. But so I took that song down to Shane Howard, who I worked with. He is from a band called Goana here in Australia, who's solid rock people would know that song, I would say from 40 years ago. Mick McHugh: Has done a lot for indigenous rights here in Australia and a great voice for a lot of environmental issues. So I was really proud to work with Shane. And I've, you know, full of like trust in who he is and what he is as a songwriter. He's got huge connections to Ireland as well. He is written songs over there. Mick McHugh: So I was very so was what's the word? I was over the moon to be working with him. I couldn't believe it. So I got to work with him and went down with him and I thought, you know, we're just gonna get stuck into my songs. But first of all, we're having lunch. And I said to him during our lunch, I was telling him a story about, you talk about setbacks. Mick McHugh: I was telling him a story of when I was at a club where I wasn't suitable. I walked in and I wasn't suitable and I knew it, but I had, it was a Friday night and I was telling a story of that, of I'd just gone a bit further out too far outside my bubble, maybe my Byron Bay bubble of doing my little hippie love song. Mick McHugh: And I was, I thought I was, you know, and I said to him, oh, sometimes you know, you're not in Kansas anymore. And he stops. He looks at me, clicks his fingers, we're gonna write that song. So after lunch, we went into his little shed. Two lads, two guitars, two acoustic guitars, and I'm surrounded by memorabilia from his career and I'm like, oh my, this is so cool. Mick McHugh: And he guided me and led me with that song. And we wrote, now that one was written in an afternoon, so. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So, Mick McHugh: We just some bang, we were like, it, it flows out. Now I had written some lyrics at the train station on the way down and in Melbourne, I can't think of the name of the train station in Melbourne, but I had done, you know, I had gigs Friday night, Saturday night, two on two or three gigs on Sunday, gone to bed about two or three in the morning, got up on the Monday morning, flew from the Gold Coast down to Melbourne, took a a train out, three and a half hours, arrived at his house about six o'clock. Mick McHugh: Like that's, so don't talk about work ethic, like that's the kind of thing you gotta be willing to do as well to get where you want to go. But, so I had a big journey on the Monday. I was writing lyrics all day. I was in the train station. My dad was sick and I knew he, you know, coming to the end, I was writing some lyrics around that. Mick McHugh: This world takes all that you've got. And I was sit feeling, sitting in the city, feeling scared, feeling vulnerable, nervous about where I was going, tired, you know? And so I had these, some lyrics around that. Then the next day we're in Shane's Shed, and he said, that's the song we're gonna write. I presented, he wrote a few things straight away. Mick McHugh: I presented that, bang, the song came together. We went off though I didn't really understand how, it's probably been one of my most popular songs in terms of contests. It's done really well and I didn't even see it at the time. And that's Shane's brilliance and guidance and maybe the magic of just being in the moment and a strong phrase working with someone who really get on with. Mick McHugh: But we, we wrote that song and did we write another song that afternoon, like later that day. But we went away. Like I left his house, stayed at, my friend came, I couldn't stop thinking about the song, and I came back in the next morning, 10 o'clock we used to meet. I was down there for four days. I came back in the next morning and the first thing I said, or he's one of us, said to the other, I was thinking about that song and you know, the other turned around and said, me too. Mick McHugh: So both of us were, and I was like, verse one should be verse three. Verse three should be, he's like, yeah, and that needs to be cut in half. So we spent nearly another day just fine tuning it, and we left with a really, really good demo. And that song's been, that's called Not In Kansas anymore. That finish. Mick McHugh: It was a top 10 finisher in like American songwriting contest and Wow. Yeah, it was really good like a sun really, and being so well received, people just, it, it does something to people. So yeah, there was a, there's another journey of a song. So there, I suppose there's no but I suppose the thing you suppose that matches up in those two stories is I get hooked. Mick McHugh: There's a bit, there's a bit of a line there. and you're just hooked. Something grabs you. Something grabs you. Is there an antenna? Is there, but there's a passion for songwriting. There's a passion for the, the song, passion for the song. It's not about you. It's not about, it's the song. The song is what keeps you going. Mick McHugh: The song is what, is what is strong. Not you, not the songwriter. You just seem to grab something. You send it out that the song is really important. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Right. Wow, that, that's really inspiring. Say how much of your recordings can you do yourself and at what stage do you take a to a studio? Mick McHugh: Oh, okay. So I'm really a novice, I'm a novice at it. So, and I said I started out in the early years with my four track digital recorder, but when I went to record my music, I always worked with people. So it was only me and my wife were meaning to set up a home studio for many years because I had been. Mick McHugh: Home studios since about 2013. My first couple of CDs were in studios, and so I just brought my songs and what, what first CD was produced at the Lismore Conservatorium with one of the guys I'd met from the music business course, worked with him and that, that was my first CD then in the studio. So we recorded everything there and then I ended up going to his house to edit. Mick McHugh: The second one was done in a lovely old farmhouse in the northern Rivers. I think we'd, you know, eight microphones in the lounge room and just captured the sound. And it was live. Takes me start to finish. No. Whereas the first one was four musicians. We all played together in a different rooms. So we're isolated, but the second one, so I suppose every time we did a project, I was like, oh no, this is what I want. Mick McHugh: So I did that one. Then I did the second. that kind of, I want a song start to finish and I do do, you know, three to four takes and go. That's the take. And then we added some cello and piano and bits and pieces around it. I didn't do to a click track. I wanted to know click. I wanted a raw feeling. So that was the second one. Mick McHugh: And that was all done with engineers. Then the second and third one was a, oh, something that would happen to me is people would say, oh, hearing you on a record and hear seeing you live is different. So I was like, okay, I gotta do a live one. So there used to be a thing called Mullen Bibi Folk Club down at the old drill hall. Mick McHugh: So I recorded a live CD down there. Then I met a student from sae and he well actually another part of that I should say is I was putting myself out there. I realize it's something to consider as well for people who wanna record. I gig every weekend, so I've got lots of hours gigging how many times I go into a studio. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: know, cause I. Mick McHugh: didn't have my own home student in, it's a once a year maybe, or you know, for example, so you don't have hours in there. You need to get your hours up there. So I knew that. So I went to s AE and recorded with loads of students back in, I suppose 2010 to 13. I did a lot of recording with different students and just for the practice of it. Mick McHugh: So I really recommend throwing yourself in there just because it's a different feeling. I, I remember , there was one example where we recorded a song and you know, back in the se day and then he said, can you just give a sea chord? You know, so we're over dubbing. I played a sea chord and he goes, there's a buzz there. Mick McHugh: It turns out my big, you know, big massive hands were catching a string on the high east, the high estring. I didn't know that and I wouldn't know that from a gig. Yeah, but in a live rec, live studio situation. Sorry. Studio situation. It was so when you go to recording you, it shows you up. It shows up, you're playing, it shows up all the Jan 'Yarn' Muths: under the microscope now. Mick McHugh: under the mic, red lights Jan 'Yarn' Muths: no more hiding. Yeah, Mick McHugh: Yeah. And in those situations, in se obviously it was just practice. So the, the little bit of red light recording is eased because you're not paying for it. It was for demo purposes. For their learning. For your learning. So to throw yourself into recording situations if you're starting out, so you get hours on the job. Mick McHugh: That's my belief. So we had that se and one of those students, we ended up working at his home studio then, and I did two eps. We were doing an album, broke it into two eps. So that was always my first real. Studio experience. We did drums, bass, guitar, vocal, live to capture a live feeling cuz I was playing with that band then. Mick McHugh: And then we over dubbed everything from them. We redid our vocals and guitars and stuff, but we had the rhythm section. Then I did, let's see, oh, I did another, I did a live album, which happened by ep, happened by accident in New Zealand. On that tour in 2013, I was in Dunedin, an old wooden hall, and the engineer captured it. Mick McHugh: He didn't even tell me and he emailed me, said, Hey, I've recorded your set, sent it to me and it was beautiful. It was just me, guitar and a wooden hall with lovely reverb and a crowd. You could hear a pin drop and nice applause. Perfect. Got Michael Worthington, local guy. He always often used, pretty much used Michael for most of my CDs and he mastered it. Mick McHugh: So that was another one I did. I loved, yeah, that was a real surprise and because I didn't know it was being recorded. Fantastic surprise. Yeah. Yeah, it was brilliant. And you know, he was very giving with you. He was like, nah, you just take it. It was lovely set on you. And that one was really well received actually on the like, live because it really captured me and I probably wasn't as nervous because I didn't know it was being recorded. Mick McHugh: So that was a beauty So that was good. There's another one, and then I think I'm into my studio, what I call my debut studio album, A million stars. And that was done. So I said that I did the demo process, then I went to the. Predominant producer at we, he had this big, massive shed I guess, and it was down in Victoria and so we had, he plays a drummer as well, so him on drums, we had a bass player and electric guitarist myself. Mick McHugh: We were all isolated in a massive, really cool setting, nice lighting, and we recorded all our tracks live there. Then we took them away and similar to some of the other ones, we over dubbed, I redid my vocals and bits and pieces there. Again, I wanna talk about something else on that record as my vocals. Mick McHugh: I was finding that producer, he wasn't getting the vocals from me. I was a bit nervous. I was like, you know, he would say, you're outta time or this, and I was just, you know, I wasn't working for me. I was just too nervous. So then we decided that I should go to do other guy, Shane the co-producer to do the vocals there cuz I'd done the demos there. Mick McHugh: And so, again, I've You know, I'd done my, yeah, three, five to do three to five gigs and, you know, that big journey on the Monday and arrived down did four days of doing the vocals. So that was at the very, very end. We just did the vocals and it, it worked for us. That one. And I wanted to tell you about Million Stars, the title track when I arrived down that night on the Monday, and I've told you I've done Friday, Saturday, two or three gigs on a Sunday. Mick McHugh: And there's like two, you know, three or four hour gigs on my big journey. And he's, Shane's said to me, oh, after dinner, you know, I had dinner at his place, six o'clock, let's just try your vocals and just get settings and stuff. And he captured, he got me to sing a million stars with my fragile, burnt out, tired voice. Mick McHugh: He said, just for a, you know, just to, so we know our settings were ready to go in the morning. And then it came to the end of the week and we've done our 10 tracks. And I was like, oh, I didn't gotta do million stars. And he goes, no, that one's okay. I was like, oh. like, but again, you talk about trust and he says, Mick, the song is vulnerable and your voice is vulnerable and it cracks. Mick McHugh: It's okay. Trust me, just leave it. He said, you you, you captured something there. And that's, that's still like, and people like must I have people who absolutely love that song. I still listen to it and I dream go, oh, I'm gonna do, you know, a strong vocal on that. But, so there's these examples of a producer leading you. Mick McHugh: Would I have captured that on my own at home studio? I don't think so. I would've said no way. I would've let that out the door. So you have to be vulnerable in your art, I think. Let it out there and remembered like, it's okay, you can go again. There'll be in other versions, you'll be your anniversary edition, your tenure, your acoustic version, your, yeah. Mick McHugh: So all of that. So that's the beauty of the home studio. So then to my most recent album is the an Irish album that I did for ABC Music, and that's a Celtic Kids album. And I did all that from home during lockdown between myself and the producer, Damien Leh. He's set up in his place and he actually, I did a lot of work with Damien actually in his home studios over the years. Mick McHugh: Whenever I was touring and I was in Sydney, he'd say, Heym, come on over and we'll record some songs. And we record the songs. And I got to see another home studio situation. He inspired me and encouraged me to get myself set up. So he was a big part in me getting my home studio. And those, some of those songs that we did with him they're my most recent singles that I've released from him. Mick McHugh: We, you know, tracked them back in the day. And then since my home studio we've, and doing those again, but with Damien, with the Celtic album, he worked from his studio. I worked from my studio. I got myself set up. I did an online course with somebody called, produced like a. And as Damon said, he said, you don't need a whole lot to get going, just get your gear. Mick McHugh: So I got my road mic. No, no, not expensive gear, but you know, maybe $400 Road NTA I think it is. And got my road NT three. So kind of one for the guitar. So I had a couple of options for different sounds and I did a course in Logic, bought myself a Mac mini, a good screen, some Maci speakers, a Maci control knob. Mick McHugh: What else? Actually the first year I should say, cuz if you. As this 2020 and Covid kind of the first year I was just doing my practice and I, so I didn't have good speakers at the start, but over that year I kept chipping away at different things and just using a Zoom four and H four as my interface. Mick McHugh: And yeah, I think it's been okay as far as I know no one has said anything, but eh, I'm working up to getting my universal you. Twin Apollo, but for now yeah, I'm chipping away at my little studio bits. But yeah, that first year I just I worked on my wife's songs a lot, so we had recorded some songs in Ireland for her as a birthday present 2019. Mick McHugh: We recorded four of her songs and the engineer sent me the tracks and then I imported them. I had done this online course. I am with producer like a boss in Logic, and I had watched a lot. I guess I'd been watching again, we're talking about Osmosis. As I said, how I learned from music. I was watching people for nearly 10 years in the studio. Mick McHugh: I was watching, watching, watching, so I was able, it wasn't foreign when I got into it, but I, I'm, I have a huge way to go. I'm not. Claiming any type. I'm a complete novice, but enough that I've managed to, so that was the first year I've managed to make a cd. The first year I was working on my wife's music, which I think was good for me cuz it wasn't my music as such. Mick McHugh: And I was spending lots of hours. I couldn't gig, I wasn't able to go out. Most of my gigs are crossed the border in Queensland, so even when some lockdowns were lifted, I wasn't sometimes allowed across the border. I had a lot of time, spent, a lot made use of that time to set up our studio, do my time on it. Mick McHugh: Then 2021 this project with the Celtic Kids album with ABC had been building for a few years and came to fruition. And next thing I was recording my vocals, my guitar and my fiddle players and mandolin players, and all my guys who live around here, they all came to my house. And so I would record with the click track lay. Mick McHugh: The demo sometimes and then send it to Damien. The producer, he would put them he plays bass on piano and a lot of instruments using mid drums. All in logic. He would send it back to me and yeah. So I would, yeah, so I was laying down guitars and vocals and, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So you were exchanging logic sessions for em back? Mick McHugh: Sorry, not logic sessions. So like, he would just send me a, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: The Mick McHugh: Yeah, the wave file and I would import that and record to that. Mick McHugh: Sorry. That's how I was doing it. So, and he did all the mixing and everything like that. So, but I, the great thing about recording from home was like I would do eight, nine vocals and then I would do a comp where a comp, you know, you'd take all the best bits, put it together, send it to him. But I would also send him the eight or nine files that I recorded of my vocal and he would sometimes go, nah, that's wrong, that's not good. Mick McHugh: That's, you know, again, allowed of vulnerability or so allowing someone else to have that you know to look at your voice and look at your different things. So he would have control if he control, but he had the option. To change something. So, yeah, that's, it was a great project, really. I'm really, really happy with how it came together. Mick McHugh: And being able to sing in my own space was brilliant. I got to experience and explore with the microphone and singing probably the most comfortable I've ever been singing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: gee. Wow. Producing from your home studio for the phone. ABC Network release. Yeah, that is, that's big. Mick McHugh: was a little nervous. I was a little nervous cuz I didn't know the output. I was like, is this gonna be like, are the ABC gonna, you know, get the thing and say, nah, that's not good enough. It, but that wasn't the case and they were so happy they entered it into the early awards this year and I was like, okay, they're really, really, you know, they're that happy with it. Mick McHugh: And it's up with. You know, it's in playlists with the, the Wiggles who will be like a world Yeah. Massive in Australia and worldwide. Worldwide. Yeah. And my streams have gone from tens of thousands up to you know, hundreds of thousands and will be the way it's, that one is streaming. It'll be a million within a year. Mick McHugh: No worries. Like it's, yeah, it's, it's, it's next level stuff for me. Fantastic. Yeah. Really good. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: it, it's, you've pretty much built your career to that stage over a long time. It's not the overnight success, it is basically the hours that you put in again and again and again and then eventually, Mick McHugh: is, it's relationships. So I, there's so much I could say in it. Yeah. Hanging in there. Yeah. You've gotta hang in there. So there's a couple of stories I can control. Try and there's two stories. One is when I was starting out here in the Byron area and my friend said to me that she had been doing it now longer than me because I'm 28. Mick McHugh: And she may be doing it since she was 18. She was saying that some of her friends who kept going, We're just on this gradual increase where she had stopped and started and every time she stopped she, you know, you lose momentum. And then she kind of felt like she had to start again. Now don't confuse that with stopping for a mental health break or you know, you need to have ebb and flow. Mick McHugh: But overall, like that's it. She would give up. But so I remember taking that ongoing, like of course I have my ups and downs and time, but I've hung in there and it's just this gradual. Thing because I'm improving, I'm getting more comfortable, and I always look back and go, oh my God, I'm such a better like rhythm guitarist. Mick McHugh: My voice is matured better. So I've hung in there and just, I remember just, it's a gradual increase. Forget all these highs and low things, yet you will have some blips in your career, but why are you doing it? Do you want you do it because you love it? And if you're in there for that reason, you'll just keep going. Mick McHugh: And it doesn't, these things happen around you, but you have the passion and the love for your music, sharing it, seeing people have a good time. So does this gradual increase naturally because you're improving with every gig you do? Hopefully. Another story related to that is the relationships. The guy from the ABC who I'm working with him, I met him in 2000 and. Mick McHugh: Through a program that was here in Byron Shire in where we live. They, there was six musicians taken from the area and we were part of a broker ship program where they brought six industry people to the area. We got to perform for them and we had a meeting with them the next day and that guy told me, he says we don't really have anything that's suitable to you and you know, just. Mick McHugh: He was lovely and told me, you know, had career advice but to where what I thought was happening, you know, I'm just trying to get signed. I mean, this is my brain, you know, cuz I need, I, he was like, no, we, you know, we don't really have anything in your singer songwriter thing because mostly Dave country music, I guess, or, but that was 2011. Mick McHugh: And then he ended up working with my manager through an artist from Ireland. And next thing you know, I'm at, I was tour managing for them as well and supporting. And you just keep crossing paths with these people, right? So next thing I meet him in 2013, I met him again 2015 and then it's two, you know, I finished my debut albums 2017. Mick McHugh: I met him in another show and then we started talking about, oh, kids album. Oh, Celtic Music. Mick does that cause I do Celtic gigs on the weekend. So the relationship, you stay in there and all of a sudden it eventuates. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah. Wow. Mick McHugh: Yeah. Hang Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wise words hang in there. That's such, such good advice. Thank you so much. Look, maybe, maybe the last question for the day. What are your plans for the next year? And of course, also, where can people find you? Mick McHugh: All right, for the next year. So I'm back to doing my, so the k the kids album is like Irish instrumentals and popular Irish songs. The next thing is back to original. My original songs. I have two songs ready to go. One of those is a co-write with Damian Leh who produced the album. We've we've forgot a great relationship now, me and Damian again, that relationship goes back to 2006. Mick McHugh: He was on Australian Idol. He won it and I was traveling the Null Bo doing my Believe in Your Dreams. And I saw him on TV and I messaged him and said, I just wanted to say what you're doing. Like, cuz he had had an up and A down. I just sent him a message on MySpace back in the day. I said, Go for it. You know, you're doing well. Mick McHugh: Like, I'm not, I've just, good on you. You know? Yeah. You came back strong and then we met then at a fatherhood festival here in the area about two years later. I'm like, oh yeah, I remember you, you, the guy messaged me and then I met him on a tour. So again, relationships, me and Damien. Now I, so for me, as I said a few times, you know, I can. Mick McHugh: While I'm a performer, my natural side is, I might be a bit nervous in those situations, maybe cuz I'm not a studied or learned musician. But people who I have relationships with becomes very comfortable and have that with Damien. So I can write, song, write and produce and work with Damien so well. So we, the next song is one that I've done with Damien and then I have another song ready to, so I have two singles ready to go. Mick McHugh: Then I'm going to work on a really, maybe an album is probably the next step. But I'm so happy that I'll be able to do all that. A lot of it from my own studio because, You can't, I've two kids and family and you can over the years, you know, hammered myself with in, with some financial situations. So having the home studio has eased a lot of that. Mick McHugh: So yeah, we've got two singles, then hopefully the album, or at least ep and I've got an idea of producer. He's a local guy who I wanna work with. So had a few emails, but I need to kind of develop that a bit more. Yeah, just keep making music. I sing every weekend. I love what I do, so I just want to like, getting out every weekend and playing music is an absolute joy. Mick McHugh: And after two years of that covid mess you know, I think people are enjoying gigs and it's been a joy, like you said at the start of the podcast, how we met and the joy at that park party, kids jumping around. So I'll keep gigging, keep recording, keep making music. And I think remember, you'll always find a way to do what you wanna do. Mick McHugh: If you're that passionate, you'll keep doing it. In terms of where to find me, it's mick McCue So it's mick. M I c K and then M c h E G, hva, you'll have all the links there, Mick and then on, on Facebook and Instagram. It's usually Mick McCue music. So that's all my original music and the Celtic Kids album. Mick McHugh: Then I also have The Gathering, which is the Gathering Irish band. So that'll be on Instagram, Facebook, and that is what we call kickers Irish music, where we go out, it's a party Irish band if you're traveling through Surface Paradise of Brisbane. That's our resident home gigs. But we do tour around Australia and we have done one World tour with another one, hopefully to come. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. Fantastic. That sounds amazing. Thanks John. Well thank you so much for the chat. I really, thanks John. Enjoyed that. And it's just, you know, the, the, the knowledge and, and wisdom is just flowing out of you. It's fantastic. Thank you for sharing. I really Mick McHugh: Jan. Look, I, I really tried to live like that way to be inspiring to, you know, because there's no book out there and that's, you know, this is my path and hopefully they'll find bits that you know, can help people along the way of their own. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Good. Thank you. All the best for the next year Mick McHugh: Thanks for your work, Dan. Cheers. Thank. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: This was Mr. Mick MCU on the Production Talk podcast. Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge and wisdom. Check him out on his social channels and on his website. Go to the show notes and scroll down. Click his sling and check it all out. If this was your first episode with us, thank you so much for listening. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Please hit the subscribe button in your podcast application so you get notifications once the next episode is out. And also don't forget to scroll through the backlog of older episode. There are some fantastic ones among with the holidays coming up. Hopefully you will find some time to catch up on old episodes. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: In the meantime, if at any point during the last year the podcast was useful to. If you've got something good out for yourself, please do me a huge favor and think about all the friends and fellow musicians that you know who may also benefit from this. And please do me a favor and pass the message on. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Reach out to them, tell 'em about this podcast. Ask them to subscribe so that we can grow our listener base. If you want to reach out to me, of course you can do so via my website, mix, where I offer mixed on services for clients worldwide. And of course, studio recording services on the east coast of Australia in a pretty amazing facility. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So maybe you want to check out the studio photos on the website. And if at any time you feel like recording your music, I would really love to hear from you and talk about your plans. Okay, that's all for today. I hope you have a fantastic week. I'll speak to you again next week and bye for now.
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