Róisín Murphy has been doing her thing for awhile, so it’s hard to sum up her career. But it’s never enough and the time is now. For a queer take on her career, watch this wonderful documentary film about Róisín by underground performers and clubbers in San Francisco. It seems she was born to be Queen!
Róisín Murphy is an odd one, never predictable, her twenty year career from the outside could seem a little unfocused. “I happened upon this “job” quite by chance and I have always thought it was because of my wayward creativity it happened at all, so I’ll always put the madness first, the open-ness, because that’s how it all started.”
Moloko & Ruby Blue
“Do you like my tight sweater?”
When Róisín Murphy walked up to Mark Brydon and uttered the line “Do you like my tight sweater? See how it fits my body,” a band was born. “I met Mark at a dirty basement party in Sheffield and I freaked him out a bit and turned him on a bit, and I guess that`s the effect I’ve tried to have on people throughout the rest of my career.”
‘Familiar Feeling’ was recorded by Moloko in 2002 and released in 2003 on their album Statues, and peaked at number 10 on the UK Singles Chart. From 1995 until 2000 Moloko steadily became more and more established. The huge success of ‘Sing It Back’ brought them to much larger stages around the world, but it also put new pressures on the duo. They broke up romantically but managed to make one last record together, the beautiful and heart-broken ‘Statues’. After a successful solo career, Roisin has said out of all her videos, she enjoyed shooting this one the most.
When Róisín was writing Ruby Blue it was initially hard to separate herself from Moloko and embrace her power as a solo artist. However, when she got into the groove, it just flowed. “On the first day we wrote ‘If We’re In Love’ and on and on we went sampling my belongings, using the sounds of my life and making a album like that, inside-out and all the time, Matt holding me up and making me feel protected by all the inherent authenticity of his “method”.” Then it was onward again to EMI and a promised Pop record.
After the success of her first solo record, Murphy’s confidence grew along with her career. The first single, “Overpowered”, was released on 2 July 2007. The second single “Let Me Know” (a collaboration with Andy Cato), was released in September and the album, named Overpowered, was released soon after. In September 2007, Murphy received a pre-nomination for the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Inter Act, but did not make it to the final list.
“With ‘Overpowered’ I controlled everything. I brought the many people I needed together and held tight to guiding principles that I, myself, had designed. In short I was the boss, which I enjoyed greatly. But I didn’t become a Pop star and nobody knows exactly why.”
The album, ‘Overpowered’, brought with it intensive touring. “We took the live show to a whole other level on ‘Overpowered’ and that show has to be one of the most creatively rewarding things I’ve ever been involved in.”
With more complex staging and choreography than ever before and some pretty astonishing costumes being changed at lightning speed for every song, Murphy pushed her performance to its limits. “I was knackered by the end of it and really needed to decompress.” She became pregnant in 2008 and took time out, only releasing a handful of tracks between her first child and her second who came along in 2012.
“I have been incredibly productive as late. I’ve got a finished product, which is called Mi Senti, it’s an Italian language project where I’m singing Italian. That’ll come out in May. And I’m working on an album, Róisín Murphy album, which is going really well. I’ve got a single coming out on Eskimo Records soon, called ‘Leviathan,’ which is a collaboration with Freeform Five. I’m doing another House music EP. So, yes. I’ve been lazy for a long time. I have two children. But it’s all starting to converge at one time.”
She also revealed, when asked if Moloko will ever get back together, she responds optimistically, “never say never.”
Watch a short documentary on Róisín Murphy shot during her visit to Istanbul, at her DJ gigs and photoshoot for XOXO. Róisín discusses her views on the evolution of music, fashion, society, apocalypse, culture, mass production and much more. Róisín recently released on her third solo album, Exploitation.
“Quite apart from the language, in some of the songs I was on the edge of what my voice can do. For the Mina ones in particular [‘Ancora Ancora Ancora’ and ‘Non Credere’] there were tears and I almost walked away and gave up. “I usually write the material I sing, but now, having recorded these songs, I realize I have rarely written a song that really pushes my voice. Often when a vocal is hard to do, the process of recording it strips you back and takes you to a deeper place. Is there a direct correlation between the level of physical and mental challenge involved and the purity of the performance? Sometimes. This was a struggle to sing. Of course I hope the struggle is not audible. A decent singer should be able to make it all sound easy. You’re a storyteller and like talking, singing should be felt as a simple means of communication not a athletic feat, even if, for the singer it was.”
” The concept is like a perpetual advertising. Just on and on and on it goes. A sense of being exploited that way, because of obviously the lyrics is exploitation. A perpetual play, in which a relationship is being played out in a slightly manipulative fashion.”
“I’ve done the styling myself. It’s mainly vintage items. I’m trying to get something that is non-identifiable as fashion. The whole feeling of my album is a department store in the 70s. It’s almost like Róisín Murphy has done a line of slightly ugly nylon. It’s pretty and sheik in stock store prices. “
The title, ‘Hairless Toys’, came from Eddie, transcribed, misheard, like a Chinese whisper, or careless talk, from a late night guide vocal. Born without denotation, referent, or idea, it is left open to imagination, and still grows as an adjective. The last decision for Murphy to make was the choosing of a title.
“I saw the words ‘Hairless Toys and realized that the decision was already made. It’s funny but for a title that has no meaning whatsoever it sure soaks up meaning as time goes by. It means almost everything. It has even obtained its own visual aesthetic that has informed the mood and style of the sleeve completely, although it has zero to do with hairlessness or toys.” So it has become a descriptor, a code, for anything from a blouse to a building, in the singer and producer’s world. If it had no meaning, it has plenty now.
“I feel like I’m at another beginning, kinda scary and exhilarating. I’ve 7 years of experience to explore and utilize in these performances and it’ll be intense but because I’ll be surrounded by amazing musicians and of course you I’m sure it’ll be just fine.
I’ll be doing old songs and new, after 7 albums, an Italian language ep and several collaborations over the years I’ve got plenty to choose from. We are gonna give it our all and play it straight from the heart. “
Watch the making of the ‘Exploitation‘ video below.