Gear Talks: Rin McArdle

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


Gear Talks: Rin McArdle

Rin McArdle feature
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Rin's debut album is out today, and it blends both kinds of music, country and western, as well as some rock and pop.

Rin McArdle understands the evolving nature of music, often writing instinctively in the studio rather than rolling in with a plan. There’s something magical about creating and capturing on the fly, and even if it does create some stress, it’s obviously resulted in something special for her.

Read up on all the latest features and columns here.

Rin, first of all congratulations on the debut album. We understand you write instinctively in the studio rather than demo songs before recording. Why is that?

Thank you! I feel like when I try to demo I give myself too many options for what I want the different instruments to add to the songs, it takes me further away from my instincts. I get a bit of a high going into a session with just the skeleton of a song and having no idea what I’ll come out with, I find it really fun.

Rin McArdle feature

Does writing this way mean you need a producer and engineer at the ready to record your ideas? Or do you do any of that yourself?

I definitely need an engineer when I record, I’m not great with the technical side of things. I have for sure enjoyed working with producers before but for my own project and for this last record I produced it and made the record with just me and an engineer.

How does a Rin McArdle song usually start? Some chords and lyrics or is it a different start entirely?

Usually chords first and then lyrics. If I’m feeling something deeply at the time then the songs come pretty easily and I usually work out verse and chorus chords and then build the song from there. Sometimes they come more easily than others.

Does recording this way mean you have a lot of throwaway ideas? Or do you deep dive into ideas once they happen?

My phone is full of throw away ideas or songs that I haven’t finished, I usually won’t finish a song unless I’m really into it. I usually go into the studio with a complete song structure, just chords and vocals, and then build around it from there.

How does the recording process work? Are you recording whatever you write and then build the other instruments around it?

Yeah I usually have the lyrics written and a voice memo on my phone of the chords and then I play the song over and over once it’s finished, usually on guitar, so that it’s in my head and then once I get into the studio I’ll add harmonies and drums and more guitars etc.

Once the songs are written, are they evolving in your live performances? Or do you draw a line and perform them as they were recorded?

I like to change the way the songs are performed live but not in a way that’s too jarring. Some of the songs have longer intros and outros live than on the record to create a bit of a vibe.

How does your live performance differ from the studio recordings of songs?

Usually when I play live with my band I play acoustic guitar through an electric guitar amp with a compression pedal so it has a bit more grit, then I have an electric guitar player who uses heaps of distortion and a violin player and a bass player. There isn’t a lot of acoustic guitar on my record and there’s no violin so live it sounds quite different to the record, it sounds less garage live and more like a swirling soundscape.

You’d surely have some interesting stories about those fleeting moments of creativity in the studio. Can you share one or two?

I have a song on my record called “Perpetual Propensity” which is the only song I hadn’t completely finished the structure for when I went in to record, but I didn’t want the engineer to know. There are some sections of that song that I wrote literally as it was being recorded which was kind of stressful but really fun.

Keep up with Rin McArdle here.