The history of philosophy and of human folk

Roisin spoke to Ciara Dwyer of the Irish Independent about life on the road, being a virgin and the history of philosophy and of human folk:

I live in London most of the time, but sometimes I live in Ireland. If I'm in the countryside, down in Wicklow, I might not get up until 11am. It's absolutely quiet there and it's pitch black because we've got these blackout blinds; it's almost womb-like. But on a normal day I get up at 9.30am. I live with my boyfriend, Simon Henwood. I'll roll on down and go into his library. He's an artist and his library is full of art books. He has 25,000 books. On a good day, he'll make me coffee and on a really good day, I'll get a coffee and I'll get the lectern put in front of me with a book on top of it and I get to look at paintings.

I always thought I would study art. A year before I met Mark Brydon -- he was the one I used to make all the music with in Moloko -- I was living in Sheffield with a guy who was studying architecture. I used to go to his college and crash the lectures there. I had enrolled to do a fine art course, but then I met Mark and we signed a record deal instead.

With Moloko, we tried to be the opposite of what was out there at the time. I like to be different. In the mid Nineties, music was quite dour and serious and everything was dressed down. So we went the other way. Our first record was about not wanting to do four-to-the-floor dance music. If I had gone to art college and everybody was being a conceptual artist, I probably would have wanted to be a portrait or landscape painter.

Right now, my average day is waking up on the tour bus, going straight in, doing some interviews, a sound check and then the gig.

There's nothing glamorous about touring -- the art work is where the glamour is. Touring is about going into this impossibly mundane situation. When we walk into the venue for the gig to do the sound check during the day and all the lights are on, you see that the place is filthy. But then, in those hours between the sound check and the gig, everything begins to transform itself through lights and music and atmosphere, and through the gathering together of people -- then it does become impossibly glamorous.

It's weird, because you can be really tired and you can still do a better gig than you might have done if you were really fresh. You almost have to be tired. It's a mixture of adrenalin and programming which goes on throughout a tour. You have to do it every night for it to really happen. I love performance, but I'm quite happy making videos as well, and I'm inordinately happy writing songs.

Years ago, a day in my life would have been waking up in the band straight away because I was right beside the guy who was in the band, Mark, my then boyfriend. Back then, there wasn't any sense of careerism and there was no emphasis on me being the star. There was only the natural exuberance of what I did. We had an extremely open-minded and experimental approach to making music. It wasn't all about me and now it kind of is. In some ways, I enjoy being on my own more because I have more control and I can tailor it to what my strengths are. Moloko was about a relationship and experimenting musically. We put everything into a melting pot to see what would come out. But now I'm on my own. The most important things have stayed the same -- my mentality, my moral outlook, my sense of individualism and my own expression of creativity. But when I start talking about this, I sound like I'm talking shit.

In Arklow, we used to have sing-songs at home at the drop of a hat. When I was nine I sang Don't Cry for Me Argentina for my family and then I was sorry that I ever did. They used to run after me in the middle of the night, asking me to sing it. I'd hide but they'd say things like, 'Ah, sing it. Your grandmother might die.' They'd put all this guilt on me and I was really embarrassed. Uncle Jim, my Auntie Linda's husband, was a real musician and a massive inspiration. He played in several bands and the whole family would go to see him play in his jazz band in Wicklow every Sunday. Nobody in my family realised I had that much talent in music. I didn't even get picked for the choir in school. I hope my teacher is reading this. She knows who she is.

We all loved Madonna. When I think back on it now, as a gang of girls in Arklow, we used to roll around the streets singing Like a Virgin. The ironic part was that we weren't like virgins, we were virgins.

One day I went up town and used my pocket money to get my hair cut. I had lovely, long blonde hair and I got a flat-top like a marine. My father cried his eyes out when he saw it. I was nine.

Music has always been huge in my life. When I was 14 I found my own niche. I went to a Sonic Youth gig with some friends and I became obsessed by music -- buying records, going to gigs and hanging around with people who had similar interests. It helped me form strong bonds with people who got me through the next few years of my parents splitting up and my mum going back to Ireland and me staying in Manchester. I wouldn't have had those friends without that music.

An hour before I go on stage, I put on my make-up and tong my hair while listening to philosophy lectures by this guy called Daniel Robinson, who is the head of philosophy at Georgetown University, in the US. It's the history of philosophy and of human folk. Some might be about Newton or Aristotle or Plato.

When I'm on stage, it's about being the best person you could possibly be. You're as open as you can be and you're probably as beautiful as you can be, because you're accepting yourself for what you are. I could never say I don't like attention because I'm obviously up there getting attention. It's what I do. It's my vocation. As a performer, you are there to give and receive.

After a gig, I'll have a glass of champagne, relax, clean up and then get on the tour bus. There are 14 of us on the bus. It doesn't have a shower, but it has a toilet that stinks to high heaven. Then I always watch Star Trek before going to my bunk.

The only place you can be alone is your bunk -- it has a curtain around it and is surprisingly comforting. I do dream when I'm on tour. I tend to have more sexy dreams. You're moving so maybe there's something going on with all that friction.


Ivan said...

I love Róisín!!! She is very clever! I admire her a lot!

Your blog is very nice!

Greetings from México!

a. said...

róisín needs to write a novel or something, she is extremely witty. i adore her writing.

i love this woman. she is just so cool.

a. said...

ok so, she didnt write it :/

but she can write - her biography was just as good.