Paul Gurney – Performer, Producer and Teacher

By Thomas Lyons

Paul Gurney

Creating music and facilitating the creation of music for over 30 years, Paul Gurney is an icon of the Midlands’ music scene. This multi-talented performer, producer and teacher has had chart success, played with some of the top names in the Irish music scene and his work as a producer is much sought after.

Starting out in the early 1980s there was less opportunities to make a career out of music, but Paul was pretty single minded about what he wanted to do: “I came from a background in electronics and, being a musician as well, this path seemed like a natural way to go. I had my heart set on having a studio from a very young age. I remember being up in Dublin once or twice and going past Windmill Lane and sneaking a look in to see what is going on. It was rare to get a look, so you can imagine the dream of owing my own studio was also rare.”

Starting out back in the analogue era things were very different. The technological advancements of the last 20 years have meant that the cost of creating music has come down: “I remember a few of us putting our money together to get our first studio. With a lot of money back then all you got was a mixing desk and a multi-track. For the same amount of money now you would buy an awful lot of equipment.”

Those changes in technology have changed the landscape of music. Coping with those changes is part and parcel of staying viable: “The changes makes things less difficult. Most of my job now involves mixing stuff that people recorded in their own bedroom. I have dedicated rooms, for example a live drum room. This provides tools that home recording can’t. The technology makes the job a lot easier. When we were doing edits years ago you literally had to take a razor out and splice a tape and if you got it wrong there was no undo button.”

A lifetime in music, be it as a session musician or with Rig The Jig, has given Paul many memories: “I suppose doing the Eurovision in 1997 was the highlight that immediately comes to mind. I have also worked with some fabulous people. Being so blessed as to work with the cream of the cream of Irish music. Donal Lunny, Sharon Shannon, Charlie McGettigan and Matt Molloy, I really have worked with some incredible musicians. We’ve had songs up at number two in the charts. We are still writing songs and using the studio as a creative tool.”

With such an impressive past behind him Paul intends to use it in the future: “Right now I am teaching music more than anything else. I will also be handing down the studio knowledge that I have amassed over the last 30 years. For young people with all this technology at their disposal it’s one thing having the tools to record a hundred tracks it is another to know what to do with them.”