IMRO Creative Rooms is an online content series that invites artists to share an intimate insight into their creative process, by showing the spaces they create in.
Paul McGonagle is a drummer, producer, graphic designer and studio owner.
Born in Derry, he began playing drums at the age of 8, later starting original projects that led to playing in venues including The Olympia Theatre and Vicar Street and supporting artists such as Bastille, Mumford & Sons and Mark Owen. Working in many of the top studios across Ireland with producers including Rob Kirwan and Stefano Sofia, Paul absorbed everything that makes these studios world class and has used these elements as the foundations of The Bunker.
After 5 years in the same space, Paul took the opportunity during lockdown to develop it into a professional rehearsal/recording studio and something that he was proud to open up publicly. Last month saw filming start on a new series ‘…at The Bunker’ which is set to launch in early 2023.
In addition to The Bunker Studio, Paul has a visual arts degree from IADT and creates design and branding work for the music industry with his business OffBeat Graphics, as well as looking after artist management & PR through 101 Management.
More recently Paul has been added to the Arts Council Peer Panel, has drummed for Gary O’Neill and is currently working with Daniel Seán Kenny and CARRON, who both have new releases and live dates coming in 2023.
How important is it for you to have a dedicated creative space?
A dedicated space like this is integral to creating quality work, and although it’s primarily a music based studio, I also use it for my branding/design work and artist management roles. Having been without a space at times and having almost lost this one, I value it now more than ever, especially when city centre space is at premium. As well as a creative space, this is a second home. It’s comfortable, warm, accessible, and most importantly welcoming while containing all that I need to create. Like many artists, it’s never really a case of switching off once you leave the ‘office’, so having a space away from life outside the industry helps to create some sense of balance.
What makes this space work for you?
First off, location, location, location! Both in terms of it being underground and its situation on the street. The streets here are full of character and are a hub for everything. I love having a host of amenities and all that town has to offer right out the door. All of this adds to the vibe and energy.
Secondly, having two large rooms that can function in two very different ways and also cohesively is a great benefit. Like many studios I don’t have a clock visible and as there’s no natural light you can stay focused very easily for hours on end. There’s nothing better than getting lost in writing, recording, filming or editing something you’re excited to finish and get out to the world. Hours can pass without needing a break when the energy’s right and the flow is there, both working solo or with other artists. This space allows for that.
In what way(s) does this space influence your output?
Having my own studio setup makes it easy to facilitate my original projects and new session work, both in person and recording for artists who may not live in Dublin. It allows for myself and other artists who rehearse/record here to develop new ideas and test out sounds and sets on high quality equipment in a relaxed atmosphere – without breaking the bank or worrying about extra noise coming in or out of the rooms. This creates a level of professional output in recording and live work that is essential these days.
What’s your favourite instrument/piece of kit? And why?
As a drummer first and foremost, my favourite instrument has to be my Yamaha drum kit and Musashi snare drum. I’ve had this kit 21 years now and it’s still gong strong! Every drummer that uses it loves it, and if the drums sound great in the room everything else will usually follow.
…but, credit where credit’s due, the engine of the studio and my joint favourite bit of gear would have to be the Mackie Pro desk – nothing runs here without out!
What would make this space better for you?
As the name suggests I’m in a basement space and as beneficial as that is for being able to make noise with no worry of complaints, I will be installing a vocal booth next for vocals and voice over work – so a little more soundproofing would be good. A new room is on the cards too.
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