16 Oct

INTERVIEW: Roisin Murphy Is Still an Unconventional Dance Floor Queen

It’s not every day we get to talk to music royalty. So when the confirmation came in that we got to talk to the OG dance queen Róisín Murphy it’s only logical our heart skipped several beats. From singing it back with Moloko to exquisitely curated solo avant-garde dance pop, Róisín is a bonafide original.

It was 1994 when Róisín Murphy met producer Mark Brydon at a party, using the opener “Do you like my tight sweater?”. They quickly became lovers and formed the duo Moloko. Their first album was named after her opening line to him, but it was Moloko’s second album that would propel them to mainstream mega-success. You know the song of course, chart topper “Sing It Back”, became worldwide glue to many dance floors. Inspiration for the track? Murphy partying the night away at Body & Soul Club where DJ François K would turn down the music, so the crowd could sing it back to him. Róisín immediately thought of a chorus about “singing it back”. An anthem was born. After delivering another huge hit with the “The Time Is Now” and a final break-up album with lover and collaborator Brydon, Róisín stepped out on her own. Her four solo albums Ruby Blue, Overpowered, Hairless Toys and Take Her Up to Monto saw the birth of an avant-garde electronic pop queen, hailed globally for being a zeitgeisty deity.

Now, Murphy has collaborated with noted Baltimore house producer and DJ Maurice Fulton on a series of 12-inch vinyls, with the songs also being available digitally. After posing for the Enfnts Terribles camera in Belgium earlier this summer, Róisín called us from her family holiday in Mallorca to catch up.

Hi Róisín! You’re releasing new music right now, but it’s kind of chopped up in separate releases instead of a full album. What was the vision behind that?

I’m releasing eight songs in four parts, so four double singles on 12-inch vinyls. The first ones are out now called “All My Dreams/Innocence”, “Plaything/Like”, the most recent one called “Jacuzzi Roller Coaster/Can’t Hang On” and there’s another release coming up. It could’ve morphed into a full album, maybe, but then I would’ve mixed things differently and stuff. Then Maurice Fulton was like “No! Don’t you dare change anything!” (laughs). Which is why the project is now releasing with the four vinyls. It’s really made for the clubs, not meant to fit an album’s structure.

Do you play a lot of vinyl yourself?

I actually don’t! (laughs) Well, maybe when I’m having a party, the turntables might come out.

What is your favorite way to consume music? Do you use Spotify, do you have an old school iPod? When do you like listening to your music? I wanna know all of these things!

I like playing music the most when I’m walking, just wondering about, taking a stroll. I listen to a lot of mixes these daysn so I’m on SoundCloud a lot, I listen to podcasts and small independent radio stations. I consume my music through other people, so it’s been curated for me. I’m not consuming full albums right now, it’s very playlist based. It’s always been like that for me, I’ve always been around people who are involved in music or just love music. So it’s all around me, or being brought to me. It used to be the record shop back in the day that used to curate for me (laughs).

Do you think about your legacy as a recording artist? Are you intentionally creating something timeless or do you just do whatever feels right as you’re working on it, put it out and don’t think about what it’ll sound like 10 years from now?

I think I’m creating my best music as I’m working on it. That’s what I’m always trying to do at least. I’m not trying to prove how clever I am. Timeless would be nice though, I like the sound of that. I also like music that’s hard to classify. I like people who are hard to classify too (laughs). When you do something that’s hard to define, I don’t think it matters that much if it’s still going to sound good 10 years later. It’s a different sound anyway, so it won’t matter if a genre has evolved, since it’s a separate thing to begin with.

Any specific artists you’re into these days?

I like a lot of rap right now. I think Kanye is producing some great music right now, also for other artists. I listen in a very scattered way. One minute I’m listening to Moodymann and then I’m going into Pusha T.

Which artist would you like to collaborate with? Who really excites you?

I am collaborating with the people I’m excited about! I can’t tell you much more, but right now, I am working with someone on something that’s really exciting. I kinda don’t look too far. It’s never like “Oh now, I gotta call Marilyn Manson and Timbaland,” and get cooking in the studio. It’s much more organic for me, not so much a planned thing. I meet people and then it just sort of flows. That’s where I get my inspiration from for songs as well. When I’m working with someone, there needs to be some depth there, we need to have a bond. Usually that’s how it works. On “Overpowered” I worked with lots of different people. Get a string arrangement there, a synth there. It was a very big-budget production, so we could do that. With Moloko and the last two albums, it was just me and one other person. It’s quite a devotion to do a record like that.

There was this picture you took in front of a bookcase in a magazine, years ago, that I remember. So I’ve always wanted to ask you, what are your favorite books?

I don’t read that much to be honest. I do own books, I just never get around to actually reading them. I like Philip Roth, he’s like the top of the top of novel-writing. I’m a slow reader by the way, I’m dyslexic. Oh, and I’m in this great group that curates articles on current affairs and things, I do read that all the time. So it’s more journalism than literature right now.

Your “Overpowered” video is one of my personal favorites. You leaving a club show in that amazing Gareth Pugh outfit, walking the streets, getting on a bus, ordering some takeout, going home to do some laundry. It’s so, so good. A brilliant video. What’s your favorite video by another artist?

It’s longer than a classic music video, but I’d have to say Grace Jones’ 1982 long-form video, “A One Man Show”, directed by Jean-Paul Goude. It’s just a close-up of her face for a while and then the camera slowly pulls away and then the Eiffel Tower is visible behind her. It’s incredible. “Pull Up To The Bumper” is, too. Basically everything Grace Jones did and does. I like her a lot.

What’s your favorite country or city to perform in?

It changes. Sometimes I’ll really like a place where the energy was great and then I come back 10 years later and it’s completely different. I don’t want to name any names, but often it’s politically motivated. When it all becomes really right-winged or something. Or places get completely capitalized. I really loved Belgrade in Serbia last time around. It’s got a nice pace and still feels kind of urban. It’s breezy.

Speaking of breezy, how’s the weather over there in Mallorca right now?

It’s really, really hot actually. There’s no breeze at all! I’m enjoying my time here. I’ve flown out to do certain shows, but I come back to stay here with the family all summer.

Well Róisín, don’t let us keep you from enjoying the gorgeous weather. Thank you!



Check Róisín Murphy’s new video for “Jacuzzi Rollercoaster feat. Ali Love”.

Róisín Murphy’s series of double-singles with collaborator is out now on vinyl, Spotify and Apple Music. Her upcoming tour dates can be found here.

Photography by Damon De Backer for Enfnts Terribles



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