An Interview with Déann Macalla and Eerie Tom

by Robert Bibson

When Ireland's Déann Macalla travelled to Osaka to meet Japanese techno musician Eerie Tom, a most unusual collaboration was the result. We all met in a Brazilian restaurant in the Shin-Hinode Hotel in Osaka with Déann's second cousin Mayuko Oyama (of the group Trio Dinidae, to which Déann's sister Gormlaith-Bain Macalla and French singer Audrey André also belong), who translated.

Bibson: So, how did this meeting come about?
Macalla: I mentioned to Joe [Thornburg, producer for "Cumulus Days"] that I was going to Japan on vacation, and he asked if I'd be interested in meeting a musician he'd been in touch with named Eerie Tom. He warned me Tom's music was nothing like what I did, but I said yes.
Tom: Techno! Opposite end of the scale from Déann's songs! (they laugh)
Macalla: We met for lunch in Osaka, and he gave me a little tour of the city. We passed a gambling parlor. When the sliding doors opened as we walked by, this terrific din came out. Hundreds of electronic gambling machines playing music and making sounds simultaneously.
Tom: Pachinko!
Macalla: It was such a strange sound, and Tom said it was what you hear when every note in a scale is played. I found this intriguing; what would happen if I overdubbed myself singing all twelve notes?
Tom: For fun, I invited her to my little studio to give it a try. She overdubbed herself 24 times, from F above middle C to the E above that, two voices for each note. It sounded like science fiction! I asked if I could keep it as a sample, and she said yes.
Macalla: He played me a piece he was working on. It was actually quite nice.
Tom: I said I was having trouble finding a good sound for a swarm of angry bees. (Déann makes a buzzing sound, Tom laughs) Yes! That's what she did! I asked if she would be a swarm of bees for me.
Macalla: I thought he was joking, but he was serious. I'd never thought about overdubbing my voice for sound effects before. We did some research and it seemed that bees buzz right around B.
Bibson: Very appropriate!
Tom: Yes! In order not to make it sound too perfect, I had Déann make several buzzing tracks in B, and then in A# and C to give it some dissonance.
Macalla: I kept messing up, getting too close to the mike, but he said it was fine, I was a swarm of bees.
Bibson: How many Déanns make a swarm of bees?
Macalla: Twenty-four, the same as the gambling machine din. I had to make the noise quite low in my register.
Tom: Eventually, both sounds ended up in the song, which I then called "Game of Chance."
Bibson: Very appropriate again! So techno fans in Japan may not have realized they were listening to an Irish New Age singer.
Tom: And Mayuko spoke on the song too.
Macalla: It was such a change from what I usually do, it really gave me some ideas.
Bibson: Ah, something for the next album?
Macalla: Mmm, maybe!


"Game of Chance" by Eerie Tom.

Robert Bibson is a correspondent for The Jogoland Group.





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