10 Questions With Róisín Murphy, In Celebration Of Her Latest Dancefloor Anthem ‘Murphy’s Law’
Róisín Murphy is a gay icon. And a proper one at that. It’s a term thrown around quite loosely these days, but Murphy has been soundtracking queer dancefloors for over 25 years. For many fans, the singer-songwriter still feels like a best-kept secret. She’s had four solo studio albums, as well as an illustrious career as one half of the electropop duo Moloko – yet being a Róisín Murphy stan still feels rather in-the-know. Born in Ireland but spending large chunks of both her adolescence and adulthood in Manchester and Sheffield, Murphy’s sound has been pulled in many different directions over the years. She became a smash-hit wonder in the early 2000s with Moloko singles ‘Sing it Back‘ and ‘Time Is Now‘, yet she has used her solo work to trailblaze through different genres, all held under a dance umbrella. When it comes to what Murphy herself listens to, her pre-show playlists usually consists of “mostly boogie, rare groove, disco and Northern soul. That sort of thing pumps me up – PUMP IT!” she says.
Releasing her last full-length album Take Her Up The Monto back in 2016, Murphy has opted to release new music in singles and EPs over the last few years, offering room for full-fledged experimentation before releasing her next full-length record this summer. She’s taken these tunes all over the world, recently playing steller sets at everywhere from Berghain in Berlin to the Homoelectric’s 10,000 capacity Homobloc queer festival at Warehouse Project in Manchester. Her latest single ‘Murphy’s Law’, produced by long-time collaborator DJ Parrot, is a slow-burning disco anthem practically made for that pink sky moment during a sun-kissed Saturday spent at a festival. Although the likelihood of any of us heading to dance all our troubles away in a field somewhere this summer is pretty slim, this is the tune to keep you daydreaming of those precious moments. What is Murphy going to do after lockdown is lifted? “We’ll be going straight to Ibiza because that’s where we were gonna go anyway. We wish to do some planting and farming and forest running naked.” We couldn’t think of a better plan ourselves.
In celebration of the single’s release, alongside its housey remixes courtesy of the Crooked Man, we asked the queen of the dancefloor 10 very important questions (VIPs if you must):
1. What does a typical day in lockdown look like for you?
“I wake up at 6:30am. I do a little bit of work. The kids wake up around 7:30/8 o’clock. We have breakfast. I go out for a walk, I dance like a mad woman around the park. I have no problem with social distancing because everyone thinks I’m mad anyway so they don’t come near me even on a normal day. Then I come home, do more bits with the music, a bit of playing with the kids. Sebby does most of the home-schooling.”
2. What made ‘Murphy’s Law’ the perfect song to kick off your 2020 with?
“It was ready to go! In my career, most things just come together in a sort of natural one after another, cause and effect type way and this is just another one of those things. I’ve been working on and off with [DJ] Parrot 10 years really on what will amount to this album, so ‘Murphy’s Law’ is the first in a long line of explorations really that we’ve delved into a certain area of music. It’s very easy to work with Parrot because he’s very strict and focused about what he’s trying to achieve.”
3. You released the video for ‘Narcissus ‘ at the tale of last year, which you self-directed, could you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the video’s concept?
“Well I’ve been really into Italian divas for a long time, I did an EP called Mi Senti which I’ve covered some of these women on, Mina, Patty Pravo… and few people sent me videos of a woman called Raffaella Carrà saying I reminded them of her so I delved into her a bit more a couple of years ago, found some amazing footage from a TV show during the disco period in the 1980s. She did this performance with the disco light in the back to a song called ‘Black Cat’ and that was really the main, solid inspiration for it.
It was a really difficult video to film because I had to do this seamless performance over and over and over again in a cold, green screen studio. I think most people involved were thinking, ‘what the f*** have I got myself into?’ It was really an uphill struggle, I could hardly walk the next day and the editing process was complicated, the more devoted you are to a simple concept, the more difficult it can be you know?”
4. What’s one thing you can’t live without on tour?
“A good laugh. When I first started touring I found it really really difficult, I was 19/20 years old, sleeping on a bus and I just could not believe how you were expected to perform night after night and get back on a bus, sleep whilst moving and get to the next place and do the whole thing over again. I couldn’t fathom how alien that way of living was and what really cracked it for me was when we got the right balance of people in the band to show us how to have a good time, that’s only really the thing that makes it work. And then you can tap into some sort of mental stamina, but there’s no physical stamina that can do it.”
5. You’ve rocked many hairstyles over the years, which one was your favourite?
“Oh gosh, I don’t think I’ve been that bad with the different hairstyles, I think I’ve been quite calm up until recently. Now I’ve started to do the mad wigs and things and that’s been great fun. One of my good friends is Eamon Hughes who is an incredible hairdresser works it all out with me and we just have fun with it but there has to be a reason for it. This music felt like, as I’ve said before, a woman with big hair. When I did the sort of bowl cut, page boy thing around ‘Sing It Back’, I’m proud of that because there wasn’t any other person with that at the time, I watched Carwash and all the girls had hair like that and I just went for it.”
6. What’s one song you wish you had written?
“Quite a few Van Morrison songs really. The freedom in his voice I aspire to and when I listen to him I try to study how he let’s go, taking a lyric and making it so much more than the lyric by singing it and it’s just so natural to him. I obviously feel connected to his Celtic soul.”
7. Do you have any pre-show rituals?
“I sometimes listen to a talk or podcast and then I start dancing, this starts several hours before, it’s a long process.”
8. Which three cities are your favourite to play live?
“Belgrade is incredible, Jesus I love that city. Any city that has the Danube river is fantastic, it carries with it some kind of like mad energy. The kids there are alive and making a culture in front of your very eyes. I love Tbilisi, that’s an incredible as well, architecturally phenomenal and I also love Istanbul! The vibrancy, the history is there, for me it’s one of the best cities in the world – I love Turkish people.”
9. What’s the wildest gift you’ve received from a fan?
“I’ve received some incredible masks and the most amazing big yeti suit in Australia which was made of like tinsel, some insane thing. Most recently I received the most beautiful piece of fabric from a print maker, a silk scarf basically and the print says “come and have a dance with your mum” just over and over which is a phrase I’ve been using for a few years now.
10. What can we expect from your next full-length project?
“Oh you’ll have to ask my husband about that, if you know what I mean.”
Róisín Murphy’s latest single ‘Murphy’s Law’ is out now.