Who's the Duchess of Dornse?

An interview with Roisin from yesterday's Manchester Evening News:

"Well, I don't exactly wear those clothes while shopping in Tesco," says Roisin Murphy.

She's discussing the artwork for her new solo album and attendant singles that sees the 34-year-old decked out in a series of outlandish outfits in mundane locations, such as sitting in a greasy spoon while clad in a Leigh Bowery-style furry clownish suit replete with pom-poms, as on the cover of LP, Overpowered. "I am flamboyant, though, naturally," she adds "Always have been since I was very young."

As if that needed stating. Let's not forget this is a woman who - when she was one half of trip-hop purveyors Moloko - posed for the sleeve picture of 1998's I Am Not A Doctor in a suit of armour, milking a cow on a Swiss alp. Overpowered is Murphy's second solo offering after 2005's sonically experimental debut, Ruby Blue: a record that was critically praised yet sold few copies.

"It was a really unusual record," reflects Murphy. "I'm really pleased it did come out, but when I delivered it to my label (the failing Echo Records), they said: 'This is the wrong record'. I was like, 'What's the wrong record?' Excuse me?' In Moloko, I worked in Sheffield in a bubble with one guy and delivered whatever I liked so I'd just taken it for granted that I could continue forward that way."

She was eventually dropped (see bottom NOTE). Still, EMI were quick to snap her up - partly because she reminded them of er, Robbie Williams. "I said, 'What do you mean?'" she remembers. "They replied, 'Just on a basic level because you hold the people in the palm of your hand'. And that's all right because Robbie is a jolly good performer."

There's a tangible, kinetic feeling that Overpowered is Murphy's commercial breakthrough record. Like Alison Goldfrapp's - her closest real comparison - Supernature, it's pure, deliriously decadent disco; a case of keeping up with the (Grace) Joneses. "I wanted to make a disco record, but not Saturday Night Fever," she says of its inception, "when you have that functionality of dance music with emotional complexity mixed in. The two shouldn't go together, but when they do, it's brilliant."

Murphy's childhood is as unconventional as the woman herself. Her family emigrated from Ireland to Manchester when she was 12, but returned, leaving the nearly-16-year-old, at her request, to live alone, surviving off housing benefit.

She remained, "literally for a very shallow reason which was that I didn't want to go back to a place where everybody was into heavy metal. I wanted to keep going to the gigs I was going to and hanging out with the freaks I was hanging out with.

"I used to go to at least three gigs a week. And when I was old enough, I went to every kind of nightclub possible," she says reeling off venues such as PSV and Precinct 13 as among her favoured haunts. "I don't know how I lived through it, I really don't.

"We were all weirdos into The Jesus and Mary Chain, and I remember one pivotal moment was when a DJ played The Stone Roses. The next thing, there were loads of kids hugging us. Normally, they were the kind of football hooligans who'd beat us up.

"They had their hands in the air chanting 'I AM THE RESSURRRECTION!'. It must have been a few years later that I realised why: ecstasy had filtered on to the scene at that point."

Moloko cribbed the title of their first album Do You Like My Tight Sweater? from a chat-up line Murphy employed to seduce Mark Brydon, a producer who became both her musical partner and boyfriend.

After eight years together, they split up, shortly before recording 2003's Statues. "That was weird because it was a very protracted separation," she recalls. "We made the album and then toured it, so it was like two years before we had completely separated our lives. It wasn't easy."

Although Ruby Blue was another nail in the coffers of Echo, it did spew up some anomalies.

"Everybody thought I was a lunatic for making the album, but more middle-of-the-road Americans know the track Ramalama (Bang Bang) than Sing It Back, because it was used on So You Think You Can Dance? which is the biggest TV show they have there.

"At one point on YouTube, there was like 200 dance troupes from the middle-of-nowhere doing routines to it, even to the point where there's kids doing them with flags in massive American football stadiums."

For Overpowered, she rifled through the Yellow Pages of A-List songwriters and producers, hooking up with the likes of Richard X, Groove Armada and Seiji from Bugz In The Attic. Not everyone's material made it on to the album - namely Kylie's mate, Calvin Harris. He lashed out at Murphy in interviews.

"I saw him last week and he apologised profusely," she says. "So, I've made up with him because the thing is, I had a bit of a gob on me when I started in this business. I know how it is to fall into a trap and say something you shouldn't have said that doesn't serve any purpose other than a destructive one.

"Hot off the press, a song I did with him - called Off And On - is going to be a Sophie Ellis Bextor pop record. She's recorded a version of it."

How do you feel about that? Do you feel any affinity with the Duchess of Dornse?

(Readers, it's at this point I ask the wrong question. The interview equivalent of stepping on a landmine).

"Oof, my face is a picture now, darling. This is where we really should have a face-to-face interview. Then you could see precisely how I feel about that. Look, I mean, I am what I am. I write everything I work on; I produce and manage every aspect of what I do. Do you want to take that away from me? Because if not, you can stop right now with these ridiculous comparisons." (By Gary Ryan)

NOTE: It seems Gary Ryan is not only messy with his questions, but also with the facts. Roisin was never dropped by Echo, as the above article claims.

1 comment:

Violatrix said...

Gary Ryan needs a talking to.

I didn't even read the rest of this article.

She was NOT dropped from Echo.