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January 1, 2016

It happened !  The Circuit3 album ‘siliconchipsuperstar‘ released !


product shot 01

In the 2-3 weeks approaching the Xmas Holiday I made several trips to the post office to ship the packages with addresses across Europe (mostly Germany, UK and Sweden) the USA and as far away as Australia. The rollercoaster is taking a breather over the Xmas holiday and I get a chance to pause and reflect on what has just happened.

I have a family and they come first – enough said.   I have a busy day job with really cool people. We don’t save lives but we help people get the most out of technology so it’s somewhat useful. That takes time and involves frequent travel.

Then I make time for making music. The Circuit3 album I’ve been working on for about a year was finally released in early December a month ahead of schedule. In the first 2 weeks of release it has come within 20 copies of breaking even. For a vinyl and CD package that’s one hell of an achievement.  But: I made the album for me, not for money.

What exactly is involved in making an album and getting it out on vinyl? I learned a bunch this year so maybe this insight will be an interesting read.

Write and Record

First stage is to write some songs. Actually… hold up a second. First step is to relax and decide to have fun again. During the writing of each song I sat with synths and a drum machine while vocalizing.  Creating “work tapes”, that weren’t actually on tape but let’s not nit-pick, I was able to build verses choruses and middle sections.  I took advice from a friend and just vocalized words that work with synth. Words like “reverberate” are great fun to sing so I decided to write a song with that title.

The only song on the album that is really about something is “In Your Shoes” which I wrote in the days after Robin Williams died. I was affected deeply by this and saw his quote:


While writing it I discovered how much fun using step sequencers can be when writing. I really don’t know what the notes or chords are on this song. I just know the notes work well together.

I’ve had conversations with friends and co-workers wondering “how do you get the time ?” and the answer is usually the same: I make the time. If you want to do this badly enough you’ll make time. I don’t ‘do’ television and don’t take as much exercise as I should (though I do like cycling). Having technology that allows you to pause and save while taking away a ‘work-in-progress’ mix really helps. I used the business flights at work to listen to all the demos and rough mixes to take mental notes.  Back home and in the studio I was able to jump back in exactly where I was and took up the track again. Not having to remember and replay “what I did in the demo” is great: if it sounded good when writing the song then copy-and-paste was good !  No need to figure out what the notes were or why I played it like that. I’ve played it once so why bother?

Making an album requires you to be a monster of many heads. You flip from writing music, writing lyrics, forming songs, making a demo, thinking about how it should ‘sound’ (edging into production) and then the hours spent getting each part right. While all the time trying not to over-cook it.

I’d describe it as hard work but I’ve done hard work and it’s nothing like this.  Initially writing the song I think it’s going nowhere but have to remind myself that I’ve done this before and finished songs: just keep going and lose yourself in the moment.  The loneliness of the long-distance songwriter?

Some days feel like ‘writing’ days and other days feel like ‘engineer and produce’ days. Sometimes I walk into the studio , turn on the synths and play along to a track to see what will happen. 10960277_10205779484036994_8510834655857769251_oThe most fun of all was using my Arturia MiniBrute SE (the one Vince Clarke signed … so it of course sounds better) in real time. I set the clock to lock to the multitrack and played the filters in realtime. No two notes the same. The fun at each stage is the source of energy for an album project.  Then you reach a point where there are enough songs and some of them hang together in the way an album should. Time to think about the ‘look’ of the album and all the visual pieces I have no training in.

The Plan

I decided that I was going to do some things with this album:  it was going to be pure synthpop and I was going to love each track, it was going to be on vinyl only (though I relented late on and added a CD of the album in every LP), the sleeve design was for 12″ LP size and not that tiny CD or miniscule download icon, it was going to have 3 videos for 3 singles, there would be some cool synthy photos, the brand is pure synthpop influenced by the great acts of 1978-82 (or thereabouts !).  Circuit3 Logo

I enlisted help from my eldest who is studying visual communications. Alison put together the entire visual package: photography, sleeve design, layout and the Circuit3 ‘brand’. This is why the images all “work” together. We looked at old LP sleeves and noticed that white space was effective. The photo on the sleeve needs to look like the music.



It was a more satisfying design process than a CD. The inner sleeve needed photography and text… words to write. The outersleeve needed to hit the right spot between information and style. Even the labels needed thought and attention. Plus of course the obligatory text etched into the runout groove on the vinyl had to be considered (did you spot it?).

Realising I was digging a bad hole for myself I relented and decided to include a CD of the album in the package. Even this needed some design attention.

Singles & Remixing

Most of the albums I listened to had three singles. There was always one single to preview the album and then another shortly before the album came out and then a third when the album had released. This is as close to marketing as I know. Making the videos was a whole bunch of fun. Our next kid Oscar (studying theatre & drama) was pressganged into service.  The first shoot was a 1 hour slot in a local theatre. You can read all about that day right here.  We got half of ‘New Man’ completed that day and all of ‘Darkroom’.

Early in the summer I contacted a few electronic music artists I knew and asked if they’d consider remixing one or more of the 3 songs I’d selected to be singles.  It’s a time consuming process and I really appreciated the effort & time given by these electro-friends. The results were put into a package with each of the singles that I released as free downloads. As a bonus for the album package I also included a CD of these remixes (plus a bonus ‘New Man’ remix not previously available).

Mastering and Manufacturing

Each track is mixed in the studio and considered “done”. The lesser known but critical art of mastering is that stage when the finished songs are aligned in their running order and varying levels of equalization, compression, limiting and “secret sauce” are applied. 11884050_10207333802533985_931045257534218834_oI chose a well known engineer here in Ireland (Richard Dowling) and travelled down to Limerick for the day. I had no idea Richard was a synth head ! We spent almost as much time chatting about Numan as we did discussing the mastering.  Hearing the master over the speakers in his studio was wonderful: I would never hear the album so well again !  Listening at home I realised that there were problems with 2 of the mixes. I remixed and Richard re-mastered (so that CD in the photo is a bit of a collectable as it has the un-fixed mixes).  He delivered files for both vinyl and CD/Digital. The difference being that when vinyl is cut it is important to leave room for the cutting engineer to control the overall volume. If we limited and brickwalled the sound it would have been a challenge to cut and a disappointing pressing. The CD was mastered much hotter (louder) so it should jump out of your speakers.

Making the physical product is a whole project in itself. The broker who I chose to make the vinyl LP package sent proofs and we made some adjustments to the font sizes.

The test pressings arrived.  This was an interesting experience: what would I think of the sound off vinyl?   test pressingI made the foolish mistake of A-B’ing the vinyl with the CD. A pointless exercise because of the physics involved. I put away the CD and then listened to the vinyl and smiled. There was only 1 single sound in the entire LP that I thought “hmmm… would change that one” so I think that’s not bad going!

Radio and Reviews

Reviews are a necessary evil. In order to get in front of an audience I had to be ready to send out the LP for review and consideration.
Once the album was out there I wondered what the feedback/response would be. I made this album for me so it had already ‘passed the test’. If the response had been silence, apathy or downright scorn it might have put a bit of a damper on it all….
I shouldn’t have worried. The reviews have been great and I include the unsolicited postings on Facebook and Twitter by fans who bought the album.
I knew there was an online community of sorts around electronic music and some online radio shows as well as local radio stations that play my kind of music. A good friend suggested some shows and sites and I focused only on sites & shows which have an interest in synthpop.
It’s always risky making a list because I’ll forget someone. In no particular order:

Rob Harvey over at Phoenix FM in Essex, UK, has been a great supporter from the first single (New Man).  All of his shows are available on mixcloud:

Johnny Normal  has played the singles & album tracks and was kind enough to invite me to play a UK festival in 2016 ( more on that later ).

Derek Williams and the team over at  Doncaster Electronic Foundation:    and play a great selection of music and I was pleased to offer up a cover version for their Halloween Charity CD


Dean Clarke and the gang at Bluetown Electronica have great fun in online chat during the shows. ttps://  (is it time yet??)

I wasn’t sure if synthpop had any place in Irish radio. I’ve tried getting airplay before with other music and found it soul destroying. I chose one presenter who I noticed was playing some of my contemporaries. Figured it wouldn’t hurt to send a promo in when Ghost Machine was released. Dan Hegarty played the track a couple of times and featured the video on the RTE website12195785_10207792809928883_4587286457157318007_n

Then this happened on twitter:


There’ll be more coming via Dan in 2016.

So what’s next?

The album ‘officially’ releases January 11th 2016 and I’m going to spend a few weeks pushing it online. It has gone for more reviews across the internet and beyond.

I’m preparing a live show and will be playing at Electro London Festival in September 2016 alongside these very cool artists.. and a certain former member of Kraftwerk


Discussions are underway to get onto the bill for some Irish and UK festivals in 2016 (if you know anyone looking for a synthpop artist please put them in touch).

Oh… and

today I started writing the next album


This town, is coming like a ghost town

October 29, 2015

New Single !

Pleased to share with you that the second single from the forthcoming album siliconchipsuperstar is titled ‘Ghost Machine’ and is now available.

The song was a co-write with my friend Brian McCloskey who hosts the superb blog Like Punk Never Happened – Brian McCloskey’s Smash Hits Archive  which you can read here or join in on the Facebook group.    Brian and I were chatting on Facebook about song writing and he offered to send some lyrics to me to see what would happen.  Generally writing songs to someone else’s lyrics is not my strong point but in this case I found one particular lyric that worked with a piece of music I was developing.  Next thing we knew: we had co-written a song!    Brian is a native of Derry in Northern Ireland and now resides in California.  We’ve never met in person but somehow managed to connect through the internet and write a song together.     Brian’s blog has garnered great reviews and attention from lovers of pop music all across the world. Go check out his blog and see how much you remember from back in the day.

Have we got a video?  YES WE HAVE A VIDEO

With due respect to Metropolis and Queen… I give you:    Ghost Machine by Circuit3

How to get the FREE DOWNLOAD of the new single Ghost Machine

To get the free download of the single plus 2 brilliant re-mixes by Jonteknik and Power State Failure head on over to my store and just enter zero if you want it for free (or enter any amount you like if you prefer to pay)

The two remixes have been prepared by the very talented Jonteknik who is well known and admired across the electronic scene and Dublin’s own Power State Failure who can be found on his Soundcloud page.

The single is available to you now from


I think I’m goin’ back to the things I learned so well in my youth

October 28, 2015

esb2esb tape

And so Circuit3 lands on a compilation album for the second time in a week.

This one is different though…

It’s on cassette tape

Yes : you read that right.  Cassette tape ! (but you can buy the digital version too)

Electricity Supply Board is the debut synthwave limited edition cassette release from Manufactured Desire a label established by the Barcelona-based Limerick artist Gerard Ryan (the artist behind the Electronic act La Cliché).

Entitled ‘On the Edge of Europe’ this cassette features a compilation of tracks from synthwave and synthpop from Ireland.

There I am sitting alongside some pretty damn fine electronic artists.

iEuropean, KuBO, PolyDroiD, Glass Dancer,  Eden, Barry Warner, Night Trap, Hayfield, Gretta Gunn, Embrace The Crisis

[if you don’t have a tape player you can get the digital version for only €3]

This features a new track “One Night In Tokyo” taken from the upcoming siliconchipsuperstar album plus a previously unreleased remix of the track “New Man”

Click the picture to go and get your copy

bandcamp esb

Oh and the title of the blog comes from this

I met your children… what did you tell them ?

October 3, 2015

Anyone who actively followed pop music in the 1980s and beyond will know that the promo video was everything.  Without a video you were invisible. Since Top of the Pops and the Old Grey Whistle Test aren’t calling me any time soon I knew it was inevitable I was going to have to make a promo video for at least one song from the album siliconchipsuperstar.

A single used to be a self-contained publication by the pop artist. The A-Side was a statement of intent and a knock on the door for entry into the canon of popular music. Landmarks and memory triggers in the life of a music lover. Even now you and I will only need to hear a song and be transported back to a moment in our lives. Singles age us and singles never age.

Promo videos on the other hand might not age so well. We are less-forgiving of how we looked back then. We adore the lo-tech make-do-with-what-you-have production values (Ultravox never did get to Vienna…. and the video director wanted to send them to Venice!).

An early-21st century independent music artist has to look to whatever tools are at their disposal to present their brand. It’s not enough to upload some tracks to a website and wait for something to happen. Arguably pop music and especially my brand of synthpop electropop requires a video expression as much a part of the music release as the vinyl itself.

Some websites and zines need a way to filter the multitude of MP3 and ‘please mention our band’ emails.  Having a video helps position you on a different level. This might not be true for all genres but for synth/electro it appears to be the case.

So, that’s my position on the matter: I was going to make some promo videos.  The album stands alone as a piece of art and the singles help me get people interested in what I’ve produced. Hors d’oeuvres to the … main course? (I’m becoming terrible at analogies).   So enough of this: 3 songs will precede the album release. First up is ‘New Man‘.

In early July 2015 my son Oscar was volunteering as a light and sound tech at a local youth theatre production in the lovely Draoicht Theatre here in Dublin.  On the Friday night we attended the showing of DNA during which I noted the stage set would be perfect for a video shoot. I asked a favour and they said yes. Next day we had 1 hour before the cast arrived to shoot a promo video with one handheld camera.  Guerrilla video !

No one driving?

No one driving?

The set consisted of a crashed car which had been rigged out with stage lights and a smoke machine. We used the viewpoint from the bonnet of the car, the rear seat and the sunroof. I mimed the ‘New Man’ track a couple of times and moved on. The track was processed to playback at faster speed so that when I played the video back at regular speed it would give a slow-motion effect at times. In retrospect I should have sped the video up even more and gone for a very slow-mo effect. Maybe next time.

darkroom 01On the opposite side of the stage the crew had built a wire and scaffold tower which was also well it and gave me an opportunity to generate more shots for the third single from the album ‘Darkroom‘ which will be available in late 2015.darkroom 02

darkroom 04We propped a synth on the boot (trunk) of the car while I mimed the song 3 or 4 times. Maybe it was because it just Oscar there or maybe it was because I’m an extrovert I was getting more comfortable ‘performing’ and mugging for the camera.  The hour flew by but I’m amazed that we got 2 videos out of the time available.

I began editing the first video ‘New Man’ almost immediately and soon realised it needed more. The shots in the car were very good but after a few lines the video became repetitive.  ‘Darkroom’ on the other hand came together in the edit very quickly. There was enough movement and angle to keep the interest going.

In September I booked a rehearsal room and brought a cheap eBay purchased set of lights and black backdrop with me along with the smoke machine and small LED ‘laser’ light machine. I think the total cost of the lights and effects is less than €300 and will be re-used again and again.

NEWMANVIDEO 01The smoke machine was almost overwhelming – fortunately the room was not fully wired up and the smoke alarm wasn’t yet connected. Health & Safety types please look away now !   Every time we opened the door to go get something wisps of smoke chased us out into the lounge area in the rehearsal studios.


The rehearsal room was just big enough to setup a ‘stage rig’ with synths and my reel-to-reel.  NEWMANVIDEO 03Over 3 hours we shot additional pieces for the ‘New Man’ video moving from some solo ‘vocalist’ shots to some ‘synth player’ shots.  My inner Jim Kerr came out and I played to the camera eyeballing it constantly and relying on feedback from Oscar on what was and was not working.  I knew the post-production and editing would be important and we experimented with a few lighting tricks that Oscar knew.  The previous evening we had looked at old John Foxx and Gary Numan videos from 1979-82. Made with basic lighting and limited post-production facility I wanted to capture some of that essence but not make my references too obvious.

Hope you like the videos as much as I’ve had fun making them. ‘New Man’ is below.  I’ll add “Darkroom” when it’s published.

The next single from siliconchipsuperstar ‘Ghost Machine’ will be released at the end of October 2015 and will have a completely different type of video. In fact it will have 2 videos.   You read that right: two videos.

One man on a lonely platform

September 28, 2015

rusty2Months of mixing re-recording and writing ended with the abrupt ‘click’ and upload of the album artwork and audio files.

siliconchipsuperstar is now being cut for vinyl and will be released soon as a vinyl + CD package with a limited edition CD of remixes.

So what’s next? Well the test pressings will be here soon and hopefully everything will sound as it was intended. The printers are printing the sleeve. I’m taking deliveries of packaging/mailing products.   Just need to get some people to hear about the album and <gasp> buy it !

new man coverWhile this is happening I’ve been busy trying to get ‘radio’ play for the single “New Man” which is the lead track off the album.  Readers of this blog will know I’ve been frustrated in that regard in recent years.  Not this time.  Various shows including Doncaster Electric Foundation,  Aggro Driver ’81, Skerat’s Synthopia, Dave Charles,  Electronic Transmissions, Bluetown Electronica, Johnny Normal Radio Show and then Rusty Egan played it on  his show. Now that’s a big deal for me: I’ve listened to Rusty’s show and of course know the work he did back in the early 80s with Visage.

But: getting play on every radio show is beyond any expectation I had. At one point I was done writing & recording and had decided not to pursue radio play.  The support from all of these independent shows produced and presented by music lovers who are fans of this genre is simply brilliant. It is very interesting to see the Twitter followers and Facebook page likes increase whenever the single gets airplay. It’s almost predictable.

A video was produced for the ‘New Man’ single but I’m going to hold that over for a separate blog post as it was an interesting bit of low budget DIY video making.

The track was remixed by my friends Le Cliché and iEuropean.  I’m very pleased with this because they took very different approaches.  It’s fascinating to watch people share these across Soundcloud.  There are remixes of each of the singles from the album and , fingers crossed, some additional ones coming in to add to the bonus CD that will be included with the first copies of the album package.

Oh… and there’s a new single coming at the end of October…  a brand new track that only the remixers have heard. There’s a hell of a story behind how it was written.   We met via a blog… he’s got the best legs in Santa Monica but originally hails from Northern Ireland.  It’s the only co-write on the album and I think it’s a really strong single.     Stay tuned….

The ultimate discovery electric blue for me

July 23, 2015

I haven’t blogged much recently so am going to make up for it with a lengthy entry recapping how I’ve ended up almost about to release an album with not a guitar in sight.

On holiday I’m typing this poolside in proper pop star fashion 😉

Something happened during the autumn and winter of 2013.  I began listening again to the music that charted my teen years. It was predominantly synthesizer based pop and electronic music. I hadn’t stopped listening but suddenly I was focused again.

In 1982 I heard Yazoo’s “Only You” on pirate radio in Dublin and was hooked. That 3 minutes 10 seconds of pop perfection shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me as I had been listening to Depeche Mode, Human League and OMD the previous year thanks to a school friend who bought the records (my paper round limited my shopping to new guitar strings and only the occasional record or tape). Other synth-based acts such as Landscape, Buggles had caught my ear after Gary Numan kicked the doors in and blazed a path for others.  I loved them all but Yazoo captured my heart and mind. Other synth artists followed (Blancmange, Erasure, Heaven 17 et al.) and that was it I was gone in a stream of electrons, bleeps, beeps and thumps.

On November 7th 2013 I finally saw Gary Numan play live in a small Dublin venue. The guitar heavy show didn’t disappoint though it is still a regret that I haven’t witnessed one of Numan’s pure synth excursions. Two nights later I saw Depeche Mode in a larger venue and my synapses lit up with memories of seeing their Black Celebration tour in Dublin on April 2nd 1986.

The following week I bought a collection of “soft synths” for my recording studio. Soft synths are software representations of old synthesizers which allow musicians access to otherwise expensive and rare synthesizers.  I was lost again in a world of drum machine and Rolands, Moogs, Korgs, Casios, Oberheims, Yamahas.   I started writing synth based songs for the first time in almost 30 years.

On November 21st 2013 Blancmange were due to play a gig in Dublin but for reasons too dull to go into here the gig was moved to the prior night in another venue.  I was gutted as I couldn’t go due to being in Morocco for business. Flying in to Dublin Airport late that night I was spitting feathers about missing the gig.   However all was not lost…

In advance of the gig I had been in contact with a TV production company who were seeking “Dublin synth heads” from back-in-the-day to be interviewed for a documentary being produced about the Blancmange gig. They had never played Dublin and rather cleverly the production team decided to film the re-arranged gig and film some interviews too.

The stars also aligned when the girl who ran the Yazoo information service (Deb Danahay Mann) had arranged to travel with her husband Martin to Dublin for the Blancmange gig. I was delighted to finally meet the person behind all the letters and newsletters back in 1982-83. Although they too missed the re-arranged gig we headed over to the Sugar Club in Dublin where I was to  do my interview for the documentary.


Award winning documentary by “You Keep Me Running Round And Round”

The documentary was finally premiered in July 2015 and should hopefully be on TV before year end.

my interview segment

my interview segment

In it I recalled my record hunting exploits and how I found the Mute label and all of the inspirations and influences from the early 1980s. I spoke also about making synth music (but that bit was cut). Interestingly the other interviewees mentioned the same places and similar memories.

peter neil deb

Deb Danahay Mann, Neil Arthur (Blancmange), Peter Fitzpatrick (Circuit3)

It triggered (pardon the pun) a lot of memories for me including those Saturday expeditions into Dublin city record hunting and staring at the shiny synths in the music shop wondering if I’d ever win the pools and buy one. Meeting Neil Arthur after the interview and sharing how their Top Of The Pops appearance with “Living On The Ceiling” was like aliens beaming into my living room made up for missing the rescheduled gig.

The same school friend who introduced me to the Human League, OMD, Fad Gadget asked me to drop over one day in 1981 and muck about with some tape recorders. I played guitar and he had ideas. We wrote songs about our school friends and teachers. The tapes were played to a small clique of people. This was important: belonging to a tribe or a gang remains defining adolescent experience. I fit in for a short while.

Real Estate 1985

Real Estate 1985

In late 1982 he had left school at 16 years of age while I continued on to senior cycle (and eventually university). He bought a used Tascam 4 Track Portastudio and a Moog Rogue monophonic synthesizer. Armed with a previously purchased Casio keyboard and my 6 & 12 string guitars we took on the world with our juvenile attempts at song writing. We called ourselves Real Estate and you can hear a little bit here. I knew how to construct a song but dear oh dear some of the efforts at writing pop classics are , like all juvenilia, difficult listening decades later.

I bought my first synth in early 1985 while working a supermarket night shift to save for university fees. It opened up a world of opportunity to me and we continued our song writing efforts. Like many friendships we drifted apart. I ended up playing synth in various guitar-based groups and gave up on the dream of being Dublin’s answer to Vince Clarke….

Although the 2013 Blancmange gig was, for me, a washout I spotted a Kraftwerk tribute show “The Robots” was playing in Dublin the following night so I dragged Deb and Martin along. That night I saw the support act Polydroid for the first time. Meeting the crowd, chatting with them and hearing this music I realised that the electronic synth scene I wanted was already here right under my nose.

Without a specific purpose in mind I kept writing and sketching songs that used familiar sounds. The recurring themes of surviving in a dystopian future, a city at night, danger in shadows and of course the human condition are a rich seam to mine.


logo design by Alison O’Leary Fitzpatrick

More song sketches were done. Some even made it to completion and ready to share with anyone who would listen. A name was needed. An identity. Something that echo’d the synth world and was in some way unique. If I was to share this music it couldn’t be under my real name. In fact the less “me” the better.  An online chat with my sometime songwriting partner Dan Prendiville led to riffing around with some words and Circuit3 was born.

Creating these songs was more fun than I had had in a studio for a long time. I wasn’t comparing myself to any other writer or musician and found it easy to decide on the sounds I wanted. The freedom to edit at will and experiment with sounds that were “authentic” meant I could turn up the volume and enjoy what I had made.

Sometime in May or June 2014 I shared some work-in-progress on SoundCloud and the feedback was more than I had ever hoped for. Friends began sharing the songs on social media and complete strangers commented on, shared the songs and “followed” me on SoundCloud.

I was aware of an upcoming gig which was the latest in a series of “Night Of The Machines” events featuring live electronic music. I had planned to go but out of the blue someone suggested I should make a pitch to play. It wasn’t part of the plan (because there was no plan) but I threw in my song demos.  Since I was doing everything under the “Circuit3” name the show organizer didn’t know it was ‘me’ which is what I had hoped.  I was asked if I could put together a set and lo-and-behold I was finally playing a live synthpop gig. I , uh I mean Circuit3 played three songs that night and the feedback and encouragement was uplifting. I cannot overstate the value of encouragement by friends, strangers and new-friends. When you’re going over a track for the millionth time and asking yourself if anyone even wants to hear this shit… it helps to hear that yes there is an audience out there.

Night Of The Machines IV.   Promo flyer by 1129 Design

Night Of The Machines IV. Promo flyer by 1129 Design

Circuit3 live at Night of the Machines IV.  July 10th 2014

Circuit3 live at Night of the Machines IV. July 10th 2014

At subsequent electronic club nights I was introduced to some folk as “this is the fella Circuit3” which usually led to very ego-expanding compliments on what I had been posting on SoundCloud.

At the root of it all has to be a song. Traditional verses choruses and middle 8 sections. However with such a huge daresay infinite palette of sounds available I quickly  came to the conclusion that I needed to apply limits or I would drown in a sea of possibility.  One of the reasons Clarke’s songs in Yazoo are described as genius in their simplicity is because they had to be simple: the hardware available at the time meant he had to make every note count.  Circuit3 has limited himself to a subset of synths and drum machines that would have been available to the teenage Circuit3.   I also learned to refer to myself in the third person… the joke never gets old. Ask Circuit3 … he’s still laughing.

So what’s next?

I’ve almost completed an album. It will be titled siliconchipsuperstar and will be a vinyl release. A lead track “New Man” has been shared on Spotify and iTunes. Three videos are now being edited following a one-hour guerrilla video shoot at the Draiocht Theatre in Dublin. Yesterday I listened to the tracks recorded thus far and will be remixing a couple before writing one more song for the album.

siliconchipsuperstar will not be available on streaming websites or digital music stores such as iTunes. There are a couple of reasons for taking this position: firstly I want the album experience to be as it used to be when you open up the package and there is a 12-inch size cover to look at and you have to book time with yourself to take out the disc and play it. Digital releases have no tangible ‘value’ once bought and feel like candyfloss when what you really want is a full meal. I discussed the vinyl vs digital release strategy with Heaven17 and Human League founder Martyn Ware who is taking a similar approach with upcoming and recent Heaven17 releases. CLANG!!! yes that was the sound of a name being dropped. It was a 10 minute chat but I’m going to use it 🙂

There will be a CD or download supplied with the vinyl album. So for people with no record player they will of course be able to listen and can put the album cover in a frame if they so wish.

There is no return for me as a recording artist if I put the entire album up on streaming sites. I believe fans of this type of music will buy the releases. They’re usually more clued in to the realities of  releasing music as a physical product. This is not completely about the money though I would like to see some of the not inconsiderable costs recovered and maybe even a little profit to put into the next release. We live in an age where an artist can retain ownership of their work, release it on physical media and retain control over distribution.  I like that.

You might well ask why then is that song “New Man” up there on Spotify. Well streaming sites have their uses and in order to get featured on blogs and reviews you need to have a presence in the shop window. I’ll put some individual songs up on Spotify but not entire albums.

So what or who does Circuit3 sound like?

I find that question really difficult to answer. I know what my influences are but that doesn’t mean I sound like those artists.  Vocally I have been compared to Midge Ure at times. I’m willing to go along with that 🙂  The songs borrow from the same pop structures we are familiar with from many artists.   I’d like to think the sound of Circuit3 fits in with Depeche Mode (Black Celebration/Some Great Reward era), Ultravox (Vienna album) and a hint of John Foxx.  I guess I had better come up with something a bit more precise before the album is released. There’s nothing more infuriating for publications to get a press release proclaiming the next Yazoo when they sound nothing like Vince & Alf.

I played some tracks to a friend and successful, respected songwriter a few days ago. He said he could hear that I was passionate about the sound and it came across in the vocal. He said the sounds were the real thing and I was capturing the feeling I had hoped to achieve.   So I guess that means, for now, Circuit3 sounds like me.

Watch this space… there are plans afoot….11169727_839843126081683_8483014393221779379_o


November 18, 2014

These people inspired, delighted, excited and pleased me.


My alter-ego (wherever I go ego)

2015 is going to be an interesting year creatively.

Blue Diary promo CD

Warm up your gramophones…… put your CD players in the attic….

I have been searching buying, cleaning, and learning again all about synthesizers.  I have been reminding myself of the sounds that I loved back in 1979-85 and have been writing using only those instruments (or more affordable modern software emulations of same).





Came in from the city walked in through the door…

June 16, 2014

noun: circuitry

electric circuits collectively.
solid state circuitry
a circuit or system of circuits performing a particular function in an electronic device.
plural noun: circuitries
switching circuitry

Moog Rogue

If I wait for just a second more I know I’ll forget what I came here for

March 30, 2014

What have I been up to? Not a huge amount musically. The day job has been a bit demanding and long work weeks became very common while holding on for dear life to that endless to-do list.

When I have made time for writing and demo’ing new songs it has been fun even if disappointing because I don’t finish as mush as I would like. Energy levels are low so I get an hour maybe two before I’m flaked and have to stop. Today I am damp-dusting and vacuum cleaning the studio as the dust has been giving me asthma attacks. Nothing like  wheezy vocal to make for a charming demo eh?

With this batch of songs the approach is different and I’m doing it all electronically with software recreations of classic synthesizers and drum machines. Software versions of old Moog, Roland, Korg, Oberheim and Yamaha synthesizers  have supplied the basslines melodies chords and little melodic pieces of ear candy. In the same way I have recreations of those old drum machines that were the pulse of the late 70s and early 80s : Linn Drum, Drumulator, Roland CR78 TR808 Drumatix and so many more.

Studious Studio

The writing process has been different. Now I leave the guitar down and sing the vocal line while trying to figure out the melody on the synth. A simple drum machine beat and a basic bassline usually follow. The subject matter is less about message and making the listener think and more about creating a simple piece of synthpop. The influences are worn loud and proud on my sleeves: Vince Clarke, Alison Moyet, John Foxx, Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby, Phil Oakey, Jo Callis, Trevor Horn and so on….

So… song titles? I’m pleased with “Diary Song” and “Green Light Go” while the rest of the mini-album will feature soon-to-be classics “The Blind Dignity of Labour” , “Toy Soldiers” and “Don’t Push Your Luck”.

With so much technology available to me I have limited myself to using “equipment” that was available up to 1984. Almost like a virtual keyboard rig with a couple of drum machines on the side. I have thought about and almost bought some vintage synths but realised I have been down this road before. Nostalgia is a powerful aphrodisiac and I almost pulled the trigger on buying synths I wanted so badly back in the day but were completely beyond my means.

That said… when I have completed writing the songs and am ready to properly record them I’m going to treat myself to a Fairlight ! Back when Vince Clarke bought his you’d have got an apartment in London for the same price. Now I can get a software version for just over $100.

Have a look at the Fairlight. Recognise the sounds?


Apple Venus on a half open shell

December 8, 2013

My most recent blog post was a bit of a downer.  I received some amazing messages of support and felt very guilty about burdening my disappointment and frustration on friends and strangers. I know people with real problems. I don’t have problems.

As planned I moved ahead with the release of Saving Souls as a single.  My primary motive is to raise awareness of meningitis and how we can all learn to spot the signs and save a life.  Back in 2000 our eldest daughter had a near death experience as a result of meningococcal septicaemia. We very nearly lost her.  Against all odds she made a 100% recovery.  There is not a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars that it turned out this way. It’s the root of the story behind the song.  My secondary motive was to finish what I started. There is a third single all ready to go but my heart isn’t in it.

“Saving Souls” was released November 24th 2013 and beforehand I sent promo CDs to a few select radio shows in Ireland. My lesson learned from the “This Hometown” single release was that I couldn’t follow-up with every station and for friends/fans who might request the song it’s better to have a shorter list of shows to request. The promo video was ready and despite multiple emails and attempts to contact individuals I was blanked by TV3 and RTE. Nothing new there 🙂

I’m really proud of the video.  Made with zero budget (well.. I bought lunch) and produced by my very good friend Tony Faulkner we put this together in a single shoot. It took a few hours of editing by Tony who also mixed the track.

As I type this I have no idea if the single has been played. I have pushed as hard as I can and short of starting my own radio station I don’t think there’s more I can do. While at work I can’t really keep tuning through all of the stations so fingers crossed it will get a little traction this week. I sent promo CDs with updated press release to a number of shows and have been using Hootsuite to schedule messaging on Facebook and Twitter to remind my friends & fans to request the single.

Here are two links where you can buy Saving Souls. All profit from the sale of the single will go to Act For Meningitis. It is available here at iTunes and here at Amazon.


Last week out of the blue I received a phone call from Francie Conway who I had met at the 2012 Christie Hennessy Song Contest Final. He very kindly complimented the work I had been doing to promote the single and my efforts to promote the charity. He’s a supporter of the charity and wanted to lend his support. As a result I’m on the bill for an upcoming show headlined by Francie and the one-and-only Mikey Harte. It will be a great night out, no cover charge and I’ll have a mini-band on the night which will feature Mark O’Reardon (who played bass on the “Other People’s Hats” album), a to-be-confirmed guitar player and <big drum roll!> Heather Fitzpatrick on percussion.  I’ll be digging out my keyboard for the show so expect to see something a little new.

I’m touched to have been asked to participate and am looking forward to a great night out.

What’s next? I stand by my decision and don’t see myself doing much more with the singer-songwriter thing. I’m not giving up making music and will share whatever I make. If asked I’ll gladly play and will do it with no expectations.   What’s next is some fun synthpop. I’ve been mucking about with synths and drum machines and have been reliving my teen years when I discovered artists like Yazoo, Depeche mode, Thomas Dolby and so on…  who knows where it will lead?

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