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One Dove: Recording Their Debut Album | One Dove

Article from Sound On Sound, December 1993


With names like Andy Weatherall and Stephen Hague involved in the production and remixing of this Glasgow trio's music, we can expect to hear more of One Dove. Nigel Humberstone tracks two of them down in their studio, to talk about minimal gear and getting the show on the road...

Left to right Jim McKinven, Dorothy Elliot Allison, Ian Carmichael.

I can't help feeling that One Dove have the potential to be huge. Signed via the influential Boy's Own label to London Records on the basis of just one white label release, their debut album has been produced by Andy Weatherall with remixes by Stephen Hague — indications indeed of the kind of greatness expected from them. But One Dove are not your average group who would happily compromise their work in order to 'make it big'. They are instead a determined trio who know exactly the kind of music they want to create and are stubborn enough to achieve it. The band consists of Ian Carmichael (keyboards, programming), Dorothy Elliot Allison (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Jim McKinven — whose immediate claim to fame was as bass player with Altered Images. So how did the three get together and start developing their particular sound?

Ian: "I have a studio (Toad Hall, a 16-track demo studio) and was working there at the time when I met Dot and Jim through various other projects, and we just started working together.

"Basically we all individually knew what we wanted and it all seemed to gell together. I'd always wanted to do ambient stuff and have always been influenced by This Mortal Coil and all the 4AD sort of stuff. So I wanted to create music like that, Jim has always been into 'dub' and I think Dot was into Country & Western type of stuff."

"Yeah, that sort of sensibility of tackling things," expands Dot. "But I think we've all got pretty much eclectic tastes in music."

It was intriguing to learn just how little equipment the band had originally owned. Ian: "When we started off we had no equipment whatsoever, apart from what was in the studio. We were basically working with an S900 sampler, drum machine and DX7. To get 'Fallen' recorded, we just borrowed as much as possible. Then after that we started buying our own gear out of the proceeds from the first white label release of the track. We bought a sequencer [Kawai Q80] and a new drum machine [Yamaha RY30]." No computer sequencing then?

"No — never used them. We've never been enamoured with computers. A lot of people had come into the studio with computers and used them, but I never really liked working with them. Somehow that [pointing to the Kawai Q80] seems more realistic to use.

"Equipment for us has never really been that important. We'll use whatever makes a good sound and I don't think that what we do is relevant to how good the equipment is. I mean the whole album was recorded in a budget 16-track studio with no fancy effects or anything like that."

THE WEATHERALL CONNECTION



Dot: "We met him in Rimini in 1989. After the release of the white label of 'Fallen', we got the chance of going to Italy with the Slam guys (local Glasgow Night Club), who were very much part of the label that put the record out."

They then 'bumped' into Weatherall and offloaded a copy of their single. On his return to the UK he liked the track so much that he proposed producing their album — and signing them to his Boy's Own label. So what was the timescale involved with the project?

Ian: "We worked from October/November '91, right through to August '92. But the thing was, when we signed to Boy's Own, it was a six-album deal and we basically had only one song! We'd only written 'Fallen' and got signed on the strength of that. By the time we'd signed we had developed a few more songs, but in essence we had to write a whole album. It wasn't like being in a band for two years and having amassed a catalogue of songs."

Ian and Dorothy in their Glasgow studio - spot the classic JX8P to the left.


Dot: "We were, like, petrified, because you don't know if you've got together enough material to pull it off. We knew in our heads what we wanted to generate, but it was like 'are we going to do it?'

"We wanted to retain our integrity and were pretty strict about the stuff that we did come up with. We also came up with some complete shite — which we binned. It was hard to do at the time, because it would have been very easy to hang onto every single song."

The album was completed and ready almost a year ago; I enquired what had been the reason for the delayed release.

Ian: "There were various reasons, but the basic one was the dispute between London Records and Boy's Own [the licensees and licensors respectively]. They had been in contractual wrangles for over a year, which were finally resolved around April this year. The problem from the outset was that London had no idea how to market us — they didn't know what we were about. They were guilty, like everybody else, of categorising us as a dance band because that's what they thought we were. And it's been a long fight trying to educate them that we're not a dance band. We work with really good grooves and you can dance to the music, but we're not essentially a dance band." Dot: "Part of the trouble was that they had heard a lot of the stuff we were coming up with and they thought we were presenting them with potential hit material — and that's why they wouldn't let go of us. It's been a hard struggle that's still going on, but we're adamant that we're not going to compromise our music or our 'art'. We know exactly what we want to achieve — you know, soundwise — and we've realised that we'd rather chuck it all in than sell out."



"Equipment for us has never really been that important. We'll use whatever makes a good sound and I don't think that what we do is relevant to how good the equipment is."


STEPHEN HAGUE



Part of the delay in releasing One Dove's debut album, entitled Morning Dove White, was London Records' insistence in employing Stephen Hague to make a number of the tracks more 'radio friendly'. I gathered that the group were none too happy about the idea — so how did they overcome their reluctance to let go of the reins? Ian: "London Records had been really sneaky with us and so we dug our heels in and said 'no' to everything they put to us. But eventually we compromised and said 'OK, we'll let Stephen Hague do a remix'." Dot: "Initially we weren't keen and basically we wanted to go into the studio with Stephen Hague, but they tried to convince us otherwise. So we dug our heels in again and said 'either we're there for the mix and get our say and monitor what's being done, or else it doesn't happen.'

Jim's well-used Fender Precision bass hangs out with the trio's Roland Paraphonic 505 string machine - limited but a source of "some great sounds."

"London Records had already heard Andy's [Weatherall] remixes, and Andy is just as indulgent as we are, and some of them are nine or 10 minutes long, which is just not going to get on Mark Goodyer some of the time, let alone Steve Wright or whatever." Ian: "I think by that time we'd realised that music is a business and we have to be part of that if we wanted to sell our music, which obviously we want to do. But 'White Love' was difficult because it was written as a 10-minute song and it's always been that way — so to cut it down to four minutes is very, very difficult. We were worried that Stephen Hague wouldn't capture the magic that we felt with it."

'White Love' is one of those magical grooves, with a cyclical piano motif that constantly evolves and moves. So how did Hague go about constructing the remix, and did he explain what he was doing as he went about it?

"Basically he just put his head down and worked on it," recalls Ian, "but checking with us for our opinion.

"The way that we record, and the way that Andrew records, is to turn the volume up to 11 and get a real good feel from it. But Stephen Hague works so quietly that us just talking like this now would drown out the music. So we were in the studio (with Hague) and we'd all be whispering. It was like working with your headmaster because he'd keep turning round saying 'Shhh!'."

Dot: "He would use a tiny little cassette player to see if it would come across on small speakers." Ian: "Whereas working with Andrew was really inspirational and great fun. Hague's very, very technical — he's a technician, which is good; we learnt a lot from him."

The latest in effects - Yamaha's SPX990 - is joined by One Dove's newly acquired Alesis ADAT digital 8-track.


THE DOVE STUDIO



One Dove's studio/rehearsal room is situated in an airy first floor loft, at the end of a difficult to find back lane in the West End of Glasgow. The band are gradually building up their tools of the trade. Ian: "We've got a Spirit 24:8:2 desk; Jim's father died whilst we were making the album and he got some money, so he bought that and the sequencer. And when we got the advance we bought an Akai S1100 so that we could get longer length samples and the Roland JX8P, just for its analogue sounds. There's also the ADAT, which we've only had for a couple of weeks now."

Do you envisage that it will change the way you work at all? Ian: "No, I don't think so." Dot: "It'll just give us a lot more freedom so that we don't have to pander to anyone — we can just do it ourselves."

Live, One Dove have recruited the services of two extra musicians: Eddie (percussion) and Cohn (guitar) from a Glasgow jazz/funk band.

"Basically we had to start from scratch," explains Ian. "We got a Fostex R8 tape machine and laid down all the drums along with a wee bit of backing vocals and some sequences. And basically we play live on top of that. It was a bit difficult playing songs that you'd never played live before. Having only worked with them in the studio, where we had 'studio brains', we had to strip the songs back to the bare melody and beats, and build them onto the tape that way.

"We also use a Soundtech mixer onstage so that we can adjust the monitor levels ourselves. On stage I play the Emu Vintage Keys module, sampler (Akai S900, because it's easier to use live) and Roland string machine (Paraphonic 505), using the DX7 as a MIDI mother keyboard."

The unusual string machine was acquired from Love Or Money's old studio.

"It's pretty limited in that you can't save any settings, but there are some great sounds in it."

Jim McKinven, whose influences include the likes of King Tubby and Prince Fari was once described as playing his bass like a Jamaican. It's the kind of accolade that he's pleased to accept; he achieves his heavy sound using his trusty Fender Precision bass with Fender amplification and cabinet. In the studio the bass is simply DI'd and compressed. Dot: "The next step for us is to go out with a real drummer, because we really want to be completely live."

EQUIPMENT LIST

STUDIO
Soundcraft Spirit Auto 24:8:2 Mixer
Alesis ADAT digital 8-track
Kawai Q80 sequencer
Yamaha RY30 drum machine
Yamaha SPX990 effects
Alesis 3630 compressor
Alesis Quadraverb effects
lexicon LXP5 effects
Aiwa HHB 1 Pro DAT
Tascam ATS30 tape synchroniser
Akai S1100 sampler
Akai S900 sampler
Emu Vintage Keys sound module
Roland SH101 monosynth
Roland JX8P analogue polysynth
Roland Paraphonic 505 string machine
Casio Casiotone MT-65
Yamaha DX7 synth
Yamaha NS10M monitors
Peavey Hi Sys 2 monitors

LIVE
Soundtech ST122 mixing console
PL500 Power Amp
Fostex R8 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorder
Fender Dual Bass 400 amp and cabinet
Peavey KB300 Keyboard Combo


DISCOGRAPHY

SINGLES
'Fallen' (Soma July 1991)
'Fallen' ['Nancy & Lee', 'Farley & Heller', 'Monday Morning at Bobby NY] (Boy's Own Feb 1992)
Transient Truth' ['Old Toys Mix', 'Old Toys Dub'] (Boy's Own Sept 1992)
'White Love' ['Meet The Professionals Dub', 'Guitar Paradise'] (Boy's Own June 1993)

ALBUM
Morning Dove White (Boy's Own Sept 1993)


ANDREW WEATHERALL

Through his self-induced low media profile and determined anti-formula techniques, Andrew Weatherall has maintained his presence as one of Europe's most revered and influential DJ/Producers. His seminal production debut with Primal Scream's album, Loaded, represented what should have been the apex of the so-called indie/dance explosion. As soon as anything became established, Weatherall moved on — constantly experimenting and evolving. Despite countless remix credits to his name, Morning Dove White is only Weatherall's second full album production following the hugely successful Screamadelica. Weatherall's working method usually involves a collaboration with what could be termed as his 'production team' — namely engineer/producer Hugo Nicholson and engineer/programmers Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns.

So how does Weatherall remember his involvement with One Dove?

"I haven't spoken to them in over a year," he admits. 'We met in Rimini, when they came up to me in a club and said 'we've got a record — here it is'. Then when I got back from my holiday I listened to it, and it was the best thing I'd heard all year. So I just phoned them up and asked them if they wanted to put it out on our label [Boy's Own] — and it sort of went on from there. We did a mix of 'Fallen' in their little studio in Glasgow."

They've commented that you were in the habit of turning everything up to 11.

"No we were turning everything up to 12 and a half! I forget — we did some of it at the Workhouse in a little programming suite called 'Project', which we're now turning into Sabresonic Studio. It's just like one step above a programming suite — really simple, basic and easy to use. It was like working with Screamadelica — the band weren't even around when I mixed it, but it's like you hear a song and you know exactly what they've been listening to to get to that. So I knew what they'd been influenced by and I just added those influences in the studio and it sort of worked out. It was as easy as that."

When you refer to a simple programming suite, what do you mean?

"Well obviously a little bit of outboard gear like a Quadraverb and what-have-you, but most of the effects are just, like, we got an analogue delay box and if you put anything through that it immediately makes it sound 20 years old. It's like anything that we do — we just try and keep it as simple and raw as possible."

"We worked from the 1-inch tape, samples provided by the band and some DAT tapes. We also added a lot of stuff — there's a track called 'There Goes The Cure' with Jah Wobble playing on it. Then there's stuff like 'Why Don't You Take Me?' which was originally a dance track but we just halved the tempo and turned it into a sort of three-minute Phil Spector kind of vibe."

I'd been trying to get some more details on that particular vocal effect. Did Weatherall have any more information to offer?

"It was just some mad fucking phase. I suppose if I was a professional I'd be writing it all down — but we never do. It's all like 'well that sounds good — yeah, let's use that!' I really can't remember what it was — it's all literally down to what we've got in the studio, you know what I mean. Nobody writes anything down — we don't do any recall or anything like that. That means when you get a good sound you don't go in the next day and say 'yeah, let's use that again'. We just use whatever's lying around rather than using the same thing all the time.

What do you think about the Stephen Hague remixes?

"Next question."

I assume that it's quite an honour, then, that One Dove let you have so much freedom when with Hague they insisted on sitting in on the sessions?

"Well Hague's really good at the three-minute single where everything's got to be crisp and instant — but I just can't do that. For that, he's your man, but for creating something devastatingly new, then he's not — as the New Order album goes to show. I think they should have called that album Going Through The Motions."

Under the guise of Sabres Of Paradise, Weatherall recently released the single 'Smokebelch', followed up with a double pack, 6-track mini-LP on Warp. Both are in the indie charts at the time of going to press.



Previous Article in this issue

Piano Forté

Next article in this issue

Musical Masterpiece?


Publisher: Sound On Sound - SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.


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Sound On Sound - Dec 1993

Donated by: Rob Hodder

Artist:

One Dove


Role:

Band/Group

Interview by Nigel Humberstone

Previous article in this issue:

> Piano Forté

Next article in this issue:

> Musical Masterpiece?


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