28/03/2008

Sydney Morning Herald interview

Miss Murphy is off to Australia for some gigs, which the Sydney Morning Herald saw as a good reason to interview her:

You might not have heard of Roisin Murphy but you may well have danced to her fiery voice in Sing It Back, one of the biggest hits from British band Moloko.

Since the electronic duo's split in 2004, the Irish-born singer and songwriter has successfully gone it alone; she recently released her second album, Overpowered, to high praise.

Murphy's vocation wasn't an obvious path for her. As a child, she didn't like singing. Later she enrolled at art college in Sheffield and it was there, at a party in 1994, that she met Mark Brydon, the other half of Moloko. She approached him and asked, "Do you like my tight sweater?"

The chat-up line would become the title of Moloko's first album. The band released three more albums and reached world fame with The Time Is Now and Sing It Back, remixes of which have featured on more than 100 compilation albums.

Even at the height of Moloko's success, Murphy didn't feel like it was a career. "It felt like an expression of the relationship that I was in," she says. "I took it really for granted. I woke up in the morning, I was in Moloko; Mark was beside me in the bed."

It was only when Moloko started to wind down that Murphy realised how much singing meant to her.

"I think it cemented some kind of sense of 'Oh, Lord, I really love doing this'."

Murphy started working on her first solo album, Ruby Blue, straight after the band split up. "We did the last show at the Brixton Academy; the next day I was in the studio with Matthew Herbert," she says.

A minor success, Ruby Blue helped carve a name for her as a solo artist and in 2006 EMI signed her.

Murphy's two solo albums were produced in very different ways. "The first one was a more experimental process, whereby you just go into the studio and see what happens," she says. "The second one is a more determined outcome."

For Overpowered, Murphy went back to her musical roots in Sheffield and listened to disco records with DJ friends. The outcome is full of house, pop and electro music with beats from the '80s. She calls it disco but doesn't limit it to the Saturday Night Fever variety.

"Any kind of dance music that's very functional on the one hand and emotional on the other becomes disco to me."

Murphy likes the contradiction of being happy on the dance floor while listening to a sad song. "This idea behind the song may be very sad but we've all felt it so there is a kind of joy in that connection between everybody in the club," she says.

Murphy had so much fun on her last visit to Australia that if it weren't for her family in Ireland she would live here, she says. "Australian people are so warm and full of energy ... It's a great place. But it's a touch far for my mum and dad."

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