Róisín Murphy found fame as the face and voice of Moloko, set up with her then partner Mark Brydon, before setting up on her own and releasing two solo albums. The first, Ruby Blue, was produced with Matthew Herbert while the second, 2007’s Overpowered, saw her shimmy on to the dance floor with singles such as Overpowered, Cry Baby and Movie Star.
Ahead of her third album the Irish-born singer’s career has taken another unexpected turn with the release of an EP made up of cover versions of Italian songs, called Mi Senti, this being backed up with remix bundles of the songs.
We caught up with Murphy to find out about the albums that have influenced her music and life most for her This Music Made Me...
Ok so Luther is one of my favourite singers, ever. When I first moved to Manchester I used to babysit for a lady who was obviously a bit of a one, I think she used to have Ann Summers party’s ‘cos we found a huge trunk full of sex toys and naughty costumes. When she came back from her nights out she would put this record on and we would all dance around her living room. She would say Luther was her perfect man and there was much poignancy in that.
Perhaps it’s these memories of suburban deviance’s but there seems to me to be a transgressive aspect to this kind of pop, that combination of gorgeous ’80s synths and Luther’s voice, technically brilliant and full of emotion for all its lightness of touch, he delivers a silky kind of melancholy. Luther coed the dream of love into the ears of millions of lonely people. Besides that his vocal arrangements are sublime and as for vocal ad-libs, those oohs and ahhs that are even more catchy than the chorus? well he’s second to none.
Age 14 in Manchester, I went with my new friends a motley collection of suburban weirdos, to see sonic youth on their Daydream Nation tour. They were incredable. I sat on the side of the stage and watched astonished as the members of Mudhoney(supporting and amazing!) repeatedly threw Kim Gordon into the audience and as she dutifully crawled back every time to drone out her baselines with a smile on her face. She looked so cool, in her glam-rock platform shoes and KISS t-shirt. Obviously i wanted to be her.
The next day I went to the record exchange in stockport and sold all my U2 records in order to buy Daydream Nation. I never tire of it, its a magical record. Thus began my life time affiliation with people who love music, people who need music to define themselves and it represents that first moment of free-thinking adult, where my taste for the alternative begins and I start to love music my parents don’t understand.
The Mary Chain were THE icons for our little gang of oddballs. I spent many a night down the alternative disco in Stockport moshing to this, that frantic, tangled, strangled, sexually charged dance, that went part way towards satisfying something primal and growing in me. The band we started ‘And Turquoise Car Crash The’ owed it’s greatest dept to the Marychain not least because we could rarely be bothered to rehearse or even play and gave up after only one gig, oh but what a gig! Nothing but noise, feedback, screaming and a stage invasion by the entire pub.
But it takes a bit more than that to be The Jesus And Mary Chain. I got a huge buzz when I sang with the band in Australia, we were playing the same festival and they needed someone to fill in the female parts on Just Like Honey, my teenage fantasies became real. Some things though, never tire, the record is still fresh, its sonic impurities set a template for many, many bands that followed but it has never been bettered. So delicate the noise, so complex a ruckus and yet so effortless. It’s perfectly poised rebellious stance is pure rock and roll elegance.
I bought this because of the cover, at a car boot sale when i was fifteen. I was a frequenter of many a flee market, jumble sale, and of corse boot sales as my mother was a dealer in antiques. At this point I was exclusively dressing in vintage ’60s all bought for next to nothing, so this appealed to me on that level I suppose. The music is brilliant though and I think its with this record I twigged that great songs don’t always have to be “songs” and that pop music can go anywhere, it’s just about imagination.
Ba Da Ba da ba da ba da is nonsense and yet once you hear it, it’s never forgotten. the whole record is great, returning to the theme regularly the music would seem to have a palpable narrative even without understanding a word of the language. The melodies where stranger, more exotic to me the, having never been exposed to much in line of continental music or culture but even now it has a strangeness a foreignness, if you will, that captures the imagination.
One remembers seeing Grace Jones for the first time, for me it was the image on the sleeve of this record and I was young around nine I think. The record belonged to the older brother of a friend, he turned out to be gay incidentally, not that we, or even he knew it at the time. His mother was an arty type and appreciated the sleeve to the extent she had it displayed on the mantle in the middle of their sitting room. This thing was a talking point as you can imagine in a middle class family home in Ireland during the ’80s. I mean wow, nobody had ever seen the like. Was it real? A Statue? A man? An Alien?
I didn’t really get to hear the album then but Pull Up To The Bumper was in the charts soon after and I remember a strange, unexplicable and uncanny feeling I had watching the video. A few years later and I find the record at another car boot sale and my true fascination with Grace starts. My adoration was complete when years later I stumbled across her playing a gig in Florence, she blew me away and that gig completely changed they way I thought about putting my own show together.
When I met Mark Brydon there were a few records we found we had in common. We both loved Seventh Heaven a cut from Padlock, Gwen Guthrie’s mini-album of remixes by legendary DJ Larry Levan. Bit of a gold standard of production here.
Every producer I have known has drooled over this record. Blissfully dubbed out to perfection and so very sexy and soulful with that voice of Gwen’s accompanied by incredible musicianship all funked and warped through the prism Larry’s sonic interventions.
This use of the the mixing desk, of the studio itself as an instrument has been the cornerstone of all the music production I have ever been involved in.
In the early days Moloko had been powered to some extent by a personal backlash against the first wave of commercialised electronic dance music, the’ four on the floor’ that for us, was already old and surely on its way out, had stagnated. It seemed to us like house had exhausted its possibilities for evolution.
Then in ’97 I took a fancy to be in New York for a few months and found myself at Body and Soul the party that Francois Kevorkian and Danny Krivit were running at the time. A Sunday daytime affair with something more than a little devotional about the atmosphere, amazing music played on a great system and an incredibly warm crowd. Vinyl was a fantastic cub with its lovely wooden floor but there were certainly no frills. There was this feeling, the closest I had come to that feeling before had been on the Northern Soul scene, that sense of etiquette, reverence for the music and for the dance floor itself.
The dancing was something else, balletic, poised, exotic. The old Voguers would be there telling their vivid stories in movement, but this was not a dressy place so they came only for the music and would be dressed down in jeans and t-shirts, there was no need for the make-up and costumes, Body & Soul was a place to take your wig off and let you hair down. I went every week and I would go there even alone, if I had too, just to dance. I even was lucky enough to meet Danny and Francois. This experience was hugely formative for me, I went back to the UK with a completely renewed belief in house music (although I never heard it referred to as” house”it was just “disco” in New York) and a much deeper understanding of its origins.
A few years later and I felt I’d come full circle when I sang at Danny’s party The 718. The same crowd I loved from Body & Soul had embraced Francois’s remix of Moloko’s forevermore and it had become something of an anthem for them, I was proud as punch to be asked and promptly flew to NY to do the PA. Kindly, Danny gave me a stack of cd’s and I can tell you that has proved to be one of the most important and influential moments ever to effect my music. Overpowered was informed in large part by this gift and this record is still my most played LP according to my computer . Grass roots is a seamless mix of the music that made a man who was there at the very inception of this thing we call club culture and part of a wave of creators that defined the role of the modern DJ.
The beginning of the set is funk and soul and gospel and It moves with ease through to what we called in Sheffield rare groove, through to jazz and Africanisms. It all pulsates forward, toward the inevitable change that comes in the form Across 110th st. by El Barrio the only real electronic track. the point of this collection is to hear where it all came from and you can hear too the very definitive influence certain DJ’s had on the way it all turned out for dance music. This is club culture as it is being forged in the intense heat of the mother furnace.
The Fall’s unique brand of shabby chic has always been very enticing to me. This business of always being on the verge of disintegration, like there’s nothing more than a kind of gravitational pull holding the elements of the music together and seemingly directionless, when it does miraculously come upon a hook, it’s a detuned and a twisted hook, but its like the best hook you ever heard and because its an accident and its fucked up, its like the best comedy, full of dark catharsis.
The Fall was a machine producing sick hook after sick hook for years. To me Mark E Smith has always been an everyman, he can speak for the man in the pub only because he truly is a surreal genius, because the every mind is the surreal mind, there’s something of the Samuel Beckett in that now I think about it. Smith could be dangerous, in that he was made as a cog for the machine, meant to fit into a specific place in society, destined perhaps for the factory but something happened in production and Smith came out misshapen, a faulty part and any attempt to put him into the workings of the machine would end up in a severe malfunction and the possible breakdown of the whole system. A wild stream of consciousness, a brilliant lyricist, a lazy bastard, a poet, an agitator, razor wit, town crier, piss taker, post-modernest. Though doubtless Smith would laugh off all these characterisations as mere projection, I suppose he prefers a fluid identity.
This record has of course some punk irreverence yet it simultaneously encompasses a very English, working-men’s-club kind of rock and roll, a kind of Germanic rigour and minimalism, and in that dishevelled haphazard waywardness even jazz, still they some how avoid being twatty. Yes, I’m no longer a sniggering teenager but I still take great pleasure in trying to impersonate his twisted, Edwardian, Mancunian drawl and in spitting out his lyrics I feel the same sense of irreverence and joy I felt way back when.
Stopped us all in are tracks this one. Not many artists develop a completely original sound to call their own, still less manage it in such a seductive and listenable fashion. Nothing had ever sounded this way before Herbert dropped this classic. And although its called around the house because its made with objects from around said ‘house” and as such its an experimentation, high art, it is somehow also a hugely authentic “house music” long player.
When the genre often seems preoccupied with the templates and the so called formulas behind the music and when perceived notions about the state of the Art dominate the scene, House music can feel ridged. I have often found that the house I love comes from some other angle, someplace unexpected, House music made by those who are ready to admit they don’t know what they are doing. This record is so classy and urbain, so forward thinking, so tasteful it almost hurts. Timeless, could I bestow a greater compliment? Apart from working exclusively with Matthew on my debut solo record. But that’s another story.
This record is inspiring me now. Incredibly good song choices and subtle arrangements, the use of synthesisers in the most tasteful and delicate way, still the whole thing feels so raw. encompassing many styles and genres such as Punk, rock, reggae, operetta, synth pop, broadway musical, spoken word, those were the days when music from wildly different places could merge and morph in a natural way that today seems virtually impossible.
Then there’s the singing, cracked and used and yet she sounds like she’s in a safe place recording this record, like she has finally found shelter and an creative environment to express her hard won insight. Marianne’s voice should be dead by this period but it survives, not in tact, but it survives and of course she sounds amazing.
Róisín Murphy has released the second of two remix bundles of tracks from her new ‘Mi Senti’ EP through The Vinyl Factory. The bundle is available on two track vinyl 12”, as well as digital download, and features mixes by JD Twitch and a collaborative mix by Daniele Baldelli & Marco Dionigi.
More information can be found here.