31/12/2007

Roisin Murphy 2007


It’s New Year's eve, a time to reflect on the past year. Where Roisin Murphy The Artist is concerned there’s quite a bit to reflect on. Let’s do that briefly…

The story of Roisin’s life as an artist in 2007 really begins somewhere in 2006. During a one-off Moloko reunion to promote Catalogue, a compilation of the band’s hits, Roisin announced that she was working on a new album, due for release in 2007. Roisin spent most of 2006 and early 2007 writing and recording the album in London, Miami and Barcelona. About 30 songs were recorded with a wide range of writers and producers. If anyone was expecting anything like Ruby Blue, her acclaimed 2005 debut solo album, they were wrong.

The release of Roisin’s new album was finally announced in the spring. Though the autumn release date was quite far away at the time, the album’s title track and first single Overpowered had already appeared on Roisin’s MySpace when the announcement was made. It was an instant favourite of fans and critics alike. The promotional pictures released by EMI, Roisin’s new label after leaving Echo, showed a sophisticated blonde diva posing in her garden or cuddling her dog Charlie in the park.

Early July, Overpowered was released as a single – as a digital download on the 2th and physically on the 9th. Various dance remixes were made, but the original version of the song and the two b-sides gave away what Roisin had in store with her new album. While Overpowered was a masterpiece of cool synthesizer pop, clearly inspired by the 1980s, the groovy Sweet Nothings had a distinct R&B flavour. Foolish on the other hand was pure disco. One thing was clear: for Ms Murphy it was time to dance!

So musically Roisin had moved in a more poppy direction. Visually though, she still had a lot of quirk to offer. On the cover of the Overpowered single, Roisin is depicted wearing an elaborate ensemble by the Dutch designers Victor & Rolf while doing her grocery shopping on a suburban high street. In the video for the same song she is sitting on a London bus wearing a Gareth Pugh outfit that could make someone look overdressed onstage. The whole concept seemed to be about art meeting everyday life. For Roisin herself it was about “the tension between the off-stage and on-stage persona”.

Leading up to the album’s release on October 15, Let Me Know was released as a single, an anthem about hedonism and casual sex. Musically it clearly took inspiration from early 1990s house music. In the song’s video, Roisin pops into a breakfast café dressed in a quircky Martin Margiela outfit. Before she is served her ‘full English’ she dances her way through the place. None of the café’s clients seem to even notice her. What is more (sur)real, everyday life or Roisin creating her “private disco” in a café? That’s the question she seems to be asking herself and her audience.

When the Overpowered album was finally released it proved to be a success with fans and critics. Though some missed the ‘artiness’ of Ruby Blue, a negative review was hard to come by. The standout tracks on Overpowered were the first two singles, You Know Me Better, Primitive and Tell Everybody.

To promote the album, Roisin extensively toured the UK, her native country Ireland and the European mainland. On stage, she brought the Overpowered disco experience to life in a show of nearly two hours. Roisin described the show as “a party from start to finish”. In October she had an unfortunate stage accident in Moscow. She was forced to cancel some of her gigs but was back on the road in less than a week.

What does Roisin Murphy The Artist have in store for us in 2008? Well, there’s the release of another single, You Know Me Better, scheduled for February. She may also perform at summer festivals and do some shows in the US. Who knows, the album might even be released there and bring Roisin global stardom. Whatever the case may be, I’m convinced Roisin will continue to create and inspire. Isn’t that what true artistry is all about?

Please feel free to leave your comments about Roisin in 2007 and your expectations for 2008.

30/12/2007

Hear, hear!

Maybe it's about time EMI did some marketing and Roisin did some touring in the US. This is The Best Music of 2007, as chosen by Reasonoids:

I don't like to bitch about this or that musician not getting the fame they deserve, but I don't understand how Roisin Murphy hasn't broken through stateside. She writes hooky electro-pop at least as catchy as anything by Gwen Stefani or Rihanna or Robyn, but with smart-assed, Stephin Merrit-style lyrics. From this album's title track:

As science struggles on to try to explain
Oxytocin's flowing ever into my brain


So there's that, there's her Alison Moyet-on-a-diet voice, there's her stunning good looks, and her willingess to obscure said looks by dressing like an insect or an opera clown. For this record she put some of her quirks on the shelf and hired pure pop producers who supply shockingly catchy dance track after shockingly catchy dance track, in a plenitude of styles: I didn't know electro-glam existed, but that's what "Movie Star" is.

29/12/2007

Clash feature - part 2

A few days ago, this blog brought you part 1 one of Roisin's interview with Clash magazine. Now get ready for the second part. There's also some more of those gorgeous pictures...

Keep it Loose – Part 2

A longstanding advocate of quirk, Murphy has often been lauded as a leftfield style icon. Modelling for Vivienne Westwood in 2005’s Fashion Rocks, her sartorial get-ups have been consistently glamorous and cutting-edge. For Overpowered’s album sleeves and video Murphy enlisted previous collaborator Scott King, former art director at i-D and Sleaze Nation. She leans forward excitedly when talk turns to art direction and costumes – a passion that now, with more money in tow, Murphy can fully explore. For Overpowered, the “tension between the off-stage and on-stage persona” was the visual narrative. “I love being a performer and I embrace it completely,” Murphy affirms. “I love the mythology of performance and the magic of it, but I would like to break down some of the myths of what happens when I walk off the stage and who I am, and show the juxtaposition between those two.”

So Roisin is shot on a busy suburban high street dressed in extravagant Viktor and Rolf ensemble, attached to a lighting rig blaring spotlights across her face, as she hold plastic shopping bags, “like I’ve just been to Iceland for me tea. There’s one where I’m in the pub and one where I’m in the cafe in a red knitted avant-garde costume.”

The need to prove she’s in touch with the “normal people” could seem a little condescending, but Roisin is hardly a princess. On the contrary, she’s down to earth, headstrong and roguish, with a fiery Irish streak that has had unsuspecting stylists shaking in their boots. As one poor sucker discovered upon suggesting an asymmetric hairdo for her video.

“I live as far away from all that asymmetric hair as you could possible get!” Murphy exclaims, still flabbergasted at the suggestion. “So I went into our library, pulled out 25 books of film stars and photography, and showed them exactly what I wanted. Has anyone else got any more references? No? Good, well let’s go with my idea then.”

A force to be reckoned with, but why mess with a good thing? Roisin has independently cultivated a aesthetic, recently finding inspiration in 30’s and 40’s styles and Katherine Hepburn – another fiery performer. Using clothes from a gamut of new and established designers, in her self-styled video for Overpowered she sported London designer du jour Gareth Pugh’s cyber extravagance.

“I don’t wear that stuff in a fashion way, I wear it like a performer,” Murphy insists. “I wear it a jaunty angle, thrown on with absolute irreverence and that’s they way it should be for me. It brings a bit of humanity and that’s what people relate to.”

Style queen she may be, maintaining a connection with her audience is Murphy’s main concern. But after twelve years in the business, having carved a reputation as an artist who breaks the mould, does Roisin Murphy still strive to push the boundaries?

“I’ve always tried to stretch myself. There’s an innate boredom within me, a consequence of that boredom is experimentalism. I’m bored most of the time, so I find challenges. The challenge on this one was not to be too experimental, because I am natural curious, but to work with new people and to retain a naivety through all the high production.”

DIY albums of 2007

Albums of 2007: #16 Roisin Murphy - Overpowered
When her first solo album 'Ruby Blue''s experimental odyssey was a little too much for casual fans of her former band Moloko, it looked like Roisin Murphy might be forever sidelined as just 'a bit of an eccentric', a woman who'd turned her back on Moloko's disco-pop sheen in favour of impenetrable jazzy noodling and someone who'd be just as happy banging out a tune on a wheelie bin rather than being an amazing popstar. This year she turned it round, however, with the stunning 'Overpowered' - ditching the 'challenging' (albeit still impressive) elements of her previous solo excursions and going all-out shameless electropop.

And it succeeded. The critics loved it, casual music buyers loved it, even snooty blog-hipsters loved it inbetween feverishly masturbating over embryonic buzz bands like Black Kids. She's now well on her way to becoming Britain's answer to Bjork: iconic, risk-taking, constantly changing and striking the balance between aloof experi-pop cool, all-out accessibility and real longevity.

'Overpowered' is a joy from start to finish - taking in icy cold electronica (the title track), sultry piano-led discofunk ('Let Me Know'), breathy pop stompers ('You Know Me Better', 'Cry Baby') and anything else Murphy and her array of hip producers fancied chucking in. It's an album that knowingly lifts elements from 70s, 80s, and 90s electro but it's testament to Roisin's artistry that it sounds fresh, horrifically exciting and totally bloody essential.

From DYI.

27/12/2007

Clash magazine feature

A few months ago, Roisin was interviewed and photographed for an exclusive feature in UK magazine Clash. In the first part of the interview she talks about Moloko, Ruby Blue and recording Overpowered...

Keep it Loose – Part 1

“I’ve come full circle with how I’ve performed and who I am. I think I will do the best performances of my life on this record because this will be one that people sing an dance along to.”

Roisin Murphy may have recently retreated into suburban life, but she has just aptly described an atmosphere that encapsulates all my memories of her former band Moloko live. It seems accurate that this fiery woman would make every performance her best yet.

My first Moloko gig was in 1993. A backpacking gap year adventure had brought me to Berlin and Murphy and her then partner Mark Brydon’s debut album Do You Like My Tight Sweater had been my soundtrack to the previous year. That their show blew me away is an understatement; I’d never witnessed a leftfield singer perform with such passion and dynamism and connect to strongly with an audience. When Roisin lost her voice towards the end of their set that night, she was hugely apologetic. Walking past her on our way out, she croaked to us: “I’m so sorry!” Still reeling from her performance, I was well and truly won over.

Roisin remembers that gig – the awesome but deathly cold venue that had given her voice a beating, her stage-antics, with “all that mad robotic stuff” and now famed flamboyance. She once cringed at these early displays of showmanship, “I was really embarrassed because it just looked like I was hiding.” Now Roisin sees her performances as “brilliantly naïve” and “poppy in a way that wasn’t back then.” She reflects: “Not that I think it blew the world apart but it was ahead of its time.”

Six years later I saw Moloko heading a summer outdoor festival in Sydney. The due were touring Statues, the first and last album they’d made a friends rather than lovers. With massive hits The Time is Now and Sing it Back on every club compilation and turntable that past year they has the entire audience singing along euphorically as the sun went down. Roisin’s performances has evolved to become more extravagant and even less restrained. With a broken arm in low and costume changes throughout, she swooped across the stage in a McQueen dress and Dior feather headdress, and at the crescendo, designer gear and broken arm forgotten, she stunned the ecstatic audience by stage diving into the crowd.

Now 32, with her sixth album – her second as a solo artist – about to come out, a more mature yet nonetheless playful Murphy sits across from me in a swanky Soho bar, sipping Bellinis and crackling in recollection at her antics. Would she say she is extrovert?

“Probably, I didn’t desperately clamour to be what I am though,” she states defiantly. “I accidentally became a singer and I accidentally discovered that I could put all these things together and it took me a long time to get it all going at the same rate.”

The famed story of Moloko’s formation begins with the feisty Murphy sidling up to Brydon with the pick-up line: “Do you like my tight sweater, see how it fits my body.” They promptly went to his studio and at her insistence recorded it to music, six months on it became the title track of their debut album.

“I was 18. I didn’t know I could sing,” Murphy recounts. “I got signed because I said “Do you like my tight sweater see how it fits my body” on a track. I did fuck all singing. Everybody sings in Ireland and any and every event. When I was 9 I learned Don’t Cry For Me Argentina for my mum. They all went, ‘She’s got a voice! She’s the same as Elaine Page!’”

It’s a sensitive subject to broach, obviously Murphy and Brydon’s relationship ended, what was the breaking point with Moloko?

“There wasn’t really a breaking point, we broke up and then we made a record and toured it for a year and a half. We played to massive venues, had a great time and left it on good terms. People think how was that possible? But, you know, even on a small bus you don’t have to sit next to each other every day!”

At this Roisin chuckles. Cheerfully coarse in a very Irish way, she inserts haphazard ‘Fuckin’s’ for emphasis. Her appearance, however, is demure in a green shift dress paired with Chanel heels. She promises she doesn’t normally doll up for interviews, but she and her boyfriend, artist Simon Henwood, are off to the Royal Academy summer exhibition private view afterwards – a red carpet affair where they intent to purchase some works to add to their collection. The couple met when Henwood painted her for the cover of Ruby Blue, her first solo album. They now share “a very large house in suburbia” where they walk their dog every morning, garden and covet a library of 25,000 books. “It’s brilliant. You get up in the morning, have your cup of coffee, my boyfriend will pull out a book and open it in front of me at something wonderful. He loves to do that and I love him to do that.”

She gushes for a moment and it’s obvious she thoroughly enjoys this world, far removed from the sweaty clubs and stadium tours of yore. Will her new album reflect a more mature phase of her life?

“No, actually I’ve really tried to be as naïve and pure as I could be on this record,” she tells me resolute. “I love that sound of youth in dance music. It doesn’t have to be too clever.”

Clever was where Ruby Blue sat. With experimental maestro Matthew Herbert steering her first venture into solo territory, Murphy and Herbert utilised everything and the kitchen sink to produce sounds for the eccentric electro epic. “I had to bring a different object in every day,” Murphy recalls, smiling. “He was a good teacher.”

Two years on, she’s had a label change (to EMI), travelled the world for 8 months recording her second album, Overpowered, and finally given birth to a pure pop opus. Enlisting the production genius of Andy Cato of Groove Armada and Seji from Bugz in the Attic, both used their respective skills to real her sound back into the neu- disco realm that Moloko once ruled, while Scottish upstart Calvin Harris (Kylie’s current producer) also worked with Murphy on two tracks that didn’t make the cut. Was her choice of producers a conscious effort to move into a more commercial dance sphere?

“Dance music has not been in the mainstream for a long time, so they can’t be that commercially successful,” she claims. “It wasn’t a decision based on commercial success, but utter compatibility. Dance music is not on the radio right now, but there are actually hundreds of thousands of people who go out every weekends to clubs dancing.”

In part 2, Roisin talks about fashion.

22/12/2007

The final Elle outtakes


No, it isn't Kylie

Not Kylie Minogue's, but Roisin Murphy's latest studio album was chosen as the best album of 2007 by UK gay monthly Attitude. Congratulations Roisin!

21/12/2007

Acoustic on YouTube

Remember this post? The videos of Roisin's acoustic performances on Music Control of Let Me Know and Movie Star can now be found on YouTube...


Reissued live CD track listing

This is the track listing of the reissued live recording of Roisin's Ancienne Belgique show:

CD 1
Cry Baby
You Know Me Better
Checkin' on Me
Dear Miami
Primitive
Sow Into You
Footprints
Movie Star
Scarlett Ribbons
The Truth

CD2
Forever More
Let Me Know
Overpowered
Tell Everybody
Ramalama (Bang Bang)

*Note that the iTunes bonus track Pandora, which was performed at the show, is not included.

20/12/2007

Shangay Express interview



Agustín Gómez Cascales kindly sent me his interview with Roisin from the Spanish magazine Shangay Express. He also interviewed Roisin for El Mundo newpaper.

Concert Live recording to be reissued

A while ago I reported that the Concert Live recording of Roisin's 19/11 gig in Brussels did not include the songs Dear Miami, Movie Star, Pandora, Overpowered, and Ramalama (Bang Bang).

After some speculation about the songs being future b-sides, it now appears an error was made and that the songs should have been included on the set.

The following messages was posted on Roisin's official MySpace:

Some of you who have been to the live shows may have noted that the live tour CD was missing a few tracks from the set. As such, Concert Live are going to re-issue it to those who have purchased copies. The new CDs will be sent out to you free of charge and will contain ALL the content from the recent live shows.

If you have got a live CD set already and would like to register to have a new one sent out, please contact Concert Live directly so they can arrange for your replacement to be sent to you.

If you log onto their website at www.concertlive.co.uk and follow the contact link, you can send a message to their customer services who will respond and let you know when to expect your new CDs.

19/12/2007

More from Barcelona



Another great picture of Roisin's show in Barcelona. You can see plenty more on FLaViO's MySpace blog.

Outtake #5



Elle outtake #5 - one more to go.

Deeply, subtly wonderful

For better or worse, we all change our mind sometimes...

How many songs are released in the UK each year? 25 million? Perhaps that a slight exaggeration, but it certainly feels like it sometimes and it's particularly difficult to have an opinion on all of them.

Most songs are plain alright, neither offensive nor life-changing, but as a reviewer you are sometimes forced to yay or nay about a track you'd be happy to pass no judgement on whatsoever. And when this happens, well, sometimes you get things wrong.

I judged Overpowered by ex-Moloko frontwoman Roisin Murphy to have "possibly the best use of synth a pop song has had for a very long time" but, at base, just "yet another attempt at post-trip-hop subtlety that's (sadly) likely to be consigned to background listening only". I was wrong: This song is deeply, subtly wonderful. Given a bit of time and repeated listening, you start to notice how Murphy's explanation of love as a scientific reaction beyond rational control is carefully enhanced by the sultry arch of her voice and her economical lyrics ("my data, your data") which culminate in the statement: "When I think I'm over you, I'm overpowered". Roisin, consider yourself un-dismissed.

From scenta.co.uk/Guardian Unlimited

18/12/2007

QOOB TV interview



This is part one of a QOOB TV interview with Roisin.

You can view the other parts on the QOOB TV website, including a candid clip of Roisin just before the interview.

Metro: One-woman extravaganza

UK newspaper Metro lists Roisin's latest album as one of the best released in the past year:

Another entertainer with dazzling DIY flair is former Moloko singer Róisín Murphy, whose second solo album Overpowered (EMI) was funky in all senses – skittering from glacial electro to hi-NRG disco, boosted by her seductively versatile vocals. Top tunes from a one-woman extravaganza.

We're all the same in this cynical age



Blog reader Filip Galetic sent me his thoughts on Roisin's song Let Me Know. I think they make an interesting read indeed.

---------------
Anyone who has ever been to a gay circuit party with gorgeous shirtless muscled guys filling the floor - the kind where everyone greets each other with a quick kiss on the mouth and where a dull chick rock song from the 90s gets a swooping makeover into a house anthem – should recognize what Roisin Murphy is singing in "Let Me Know".

The artist herself credits the inspiration for the song to spending nights out in hedonistic Barcelona among the swingy crowds where connections are intense and brief. There she saw certain "darkness underneath", a certain "glossing over the truth".

And this very sentiment, this essence of how the club scene operates, has to my knowledge never been put into words and music before "Let Me Know". "Don't speak out every meaning/I don't belong to you/Like you don't belong to me" may as very well be an adage straight from a "Dummies for Gay Circuit Clubbing".

These very lines echo the voice in your head that stops you from declaring love to the guy you are chatting with or asking him to marry you. And the fact that she has tapped into this very real part of many lives, while being coy about it in interviews, makes Roisin a truly one-of-a-kind artist in pop music, an echelon in recent times littered with empty self-touting and lack of meaning.

El Mundo interview

Those of you who master the Spanish language should head over to the El Mundo website to read an interview with Roisin. Click here to read it.

Thanks to Agustín Gómez Cascales, author of the El Mundo article and editor of Shangay Express, for bringing this to my attention.

17/12/2007

Barcelona gig



A picture of Roisin's gig in Barcelona, courtesy of "x-tanis". This is what blog reader ".koz" has to say about the show:

hey there bloggers and Roisin fans...
Friday 14 Dec. saw her live in Barcelona
and it was theeeeeeeeeeee best concert EVER!!
sound quality band music dancing clothes
singinggggggggggggggggggggg!!!!!!!!!

and the crowd was ALIVE and Kicking!!!
thanx .xxx.xxx.xxx

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.

11/12/2007

Roisin on the radio

Roisin was a guest on Jools Holland's BBC radio show last night. She performed an accoustic version of the song Scarlet Ribbons, a tribute to her father. If you've missed the show, you can listen online here.

It's cold outside so...



...don't forget your scarf! - Elle outtake #4

10/12/2007

Dublin review from independent.ie

Poor Roisin Murphy nearly didn't make it. About a month ago, onstage in Moscow, the Arklow chanteuse banged into a chair and sustained severe damage to her eye socket.

Most of her European tour had to be pulled, but thankfully Murphy recovered just in time for this homecoming lap.

Roisin arrives onstage early, to kick-off a two hour extravaganza showcasing her dazzling new album 'Overpowered'. She opens with the pulverising pop house of 'Cry Baby', a track taking the dancefloors of the world by storm courtesy of a Paul Oakenfold remix.

Naturally, Roisin looks fabulous, layering a different look for each song and using a vast array of cloaks, capes, gloves and hats.

The slinky electro disco glides on, peaking with 'Movie Star', 'Primitive' and the beautiful 'Dear Miami'. Roisin doesn't talk to the crowd much, apart from a heartfelt and brief "nice to be home" speech and to dedicate a song to her proud mother and father, who are both watching from the balcony.

She remains focused on delivering an eclectic and electrifying live show while reminding us just how good her husky voice is.

Murphy has already been touted as a leading contender to scoop the 'Choice Music Prize' next February. It's an accolade she richly deserves, as no other Irish band or artist has matched her talents in 2007. 'Overpowered' has also been hailed as a dance pop masterpiece in the UK and US and her music is definitely our coolest export in recent times.

Fans of her former band, Moloko, are rewarded with a new rendition of 'Forever More', a song not as familiar as the 1999 hit 'Sing It Back', but certainly one of their best. Since the demise of Moloko, Roisin Murphy has really come into her own, stunningly becoming Ireland's premier pop star in the process.

From independent.ie.

Another day, another Elle outtake

Manchester review

Róisín Murphy’s performance is a rampant, merciless tour de force of electro eccentricity. You have to be verbose when you talk about Murphy. To describe the hi-octane fuelled performance without language loaded with hyperbole is impossible.

With stunning effect, Murphy is the synthesis of the commanding presence of Alison Goldfrapp, the quirkiness and zeal of Gwen Stefani and professionalism of Madonna. All this amid a room and a stage that felt small and amateurish. The hour and half wait for the performance was littered by observations that the set designer shopped for lamps at Ikea and that Murphy’s beautiful outfits were on a flimsy-looking rail on stage. Any doubts disappeared when Murphy and her band came on stage and executed with impeccable, soulful synchronisation. This coupled with the most understated instrument of the night—Murphy’s voice—creates one of the best live acts of 2007.

Both these aspects are epitomised when the audience finally experiences Murphy performing Overpowered live. To see this year’s sultry, 303-laced anthem in action was utter genius and worth the price of the ticket. With the elegance and flair seen at Murphy’s performance with Gucci at Swarovski Fashion Rocks 2007, the crowd were ecstatic with the seamless transition into Seamus Haji’s stomping remix. Worth the ticket price, Murphy and her band overpowered the audience as high fashion and high energy collided with a crazy, climatic culmination of the eight-minute wonder.

The genius and epic nature of Overpowered was mirrored by the re-imagining of Moloko’s near-masterpiece Forever More. The harmony between the lyrics sang with the Roy Lichtenstein-esque graphics in the background with bubbles of the lyrics created an intertextuality that was transcendent.

Poignant and intelligent, this acid-funk odyssey combined all the elements of the show creating the distillation of a disco-delicious performance.

Words by Rudy Katoch, picture by Wraggy.

PopMatters: the best of '07

PopMatters reviewed the best electronica music of the past year. Here's what they have to say about Roisin's latest offering:

In the face of minimal's continued asceticism, a surprisingly warm and accessible subgenre re-emerged large in 2007—Italodisco. This music has always had an open, all-inclusive tonality that's refreshingly optimistic. So it's no surprise that the cream of the crop made for some of the most downright fun music to be produced this year. Roisin Murphy, veering away from the quirky brilliance Matthew Herbert lent her debut, gave us an impeccably crafted pop disco record in Overpowered — from the tortuous synth arpeggios of the opening title track, Murphy strongly proclaims, "I’m back on the floor".

Roisin at Koko

A reader and fellow blogger sent me the following message:

cool pics cool videos
check check check
http://aljalj.blogspot.com/2007/12/london-underground_03.html

Do check it out!

08/12/2007

07/12/2007

Sheffield gig review

The wonderful Vicky from the blog Green Girls Global kindly volunteered to write a review of Roisin's gig in Sheffield. The picture and the linked YouTube videos are also by Vicky.

Enjoy!
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Roisin Murphy Live at The Plug in Sheffield
3 December 2007


I’ve loved Roisin from back in the (tight sweater) day, yet it’s taken me the best part of 12 years to see her in concert. After having to settle with the 11,000 Clicks DVD and then clips of the Ruby Blue tour online I was determined to get me some live action this time around.

My heart took a little leap when my partner and I walked into The Plug in Sheffield and saw that the spaces right at the front (and only deserving to hardcore fans) were free. We grabbed a couple of drinks and firmly planted ourselves in a spot with a great view.

Opening with the pumping build of Cry Baby we heard Roisin before we saw her so it’s not surprising that the first thing that struck me was the strength and rich quality of her voice. Straight away I knew we were in for a treat. Throughout this first song, and the rest of the night, Roisin makes eye contact with her fans, striking cool poses and smiling. It’s clear that she enjoys what she does and tells us so, saying “It’s the best life!”.

You Know Me Better is extra special as she dedicates the song to Sheffield because, as she explains, it's one of her home towns. Then I defy even the shyest of groovers to resist a tap of foot or nod of head as she breaks into her energetic, high-kicking dance style and encourages us all to join in. She’s so engaged with her crowd you feel like you’re at the best party ever.

Overall the concert is upbeat and funky and as always Roisin is stylish, sexy and funny all at the same time. Donning outfits which would make most of us look ridiculous, Roisin simply looks chic. The most chilled out sections are Scarlet Ribbons and The Truth, interjected with the rap you must have heard about by now. Tell Everybody is heartfelt and sincere.

The highlight for me though was definitely during Let Me Know/Reach. Not only is Let Me Know one of my favourite songs on the new album but Roisin literally reached out to her fans, holding the hands of a lucky few – and I was one of them! It was the ultimate high to an already amazing night.

Ramalama (Bang Bang) was a brilliant choice for the last song when Eddie breaks away from his keyboards and does his own soft shoe shuffle, barefoot (a la Sing it Back on 11,000 Clicks) and Roisin gets slapstick beaten up by her backing singers.

I could go on and on about every single song and performance but it’s just not the same as seeing her first hand. If you want to know what its like to see Roisin live then do it. I know I’ll be back for more as soon as I get a chance.

Roisin at the Roundhouse

Roisin will be performing at London's Roundhouse on Saturday 8 March 2008.

Tickets went on sale this morning on LiveNation.

06/12/2007

You Know Me Better - February release

According to mattscdsingles.com album favourite You Know Me Better will be released as a single in February. It's the third single from the Overpowered album.

As always, I will keep you posted on the video, exact release date, artwork, formats, b-sides and remixes.

05/12/2007

A backstage fag at STRP


Roisin enjoying a fag backstage at the STRP Festival in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

From Flickr.

Overpowered - Ring in the New Year

Gaywired.com has chosen Overpowered as one of seven songs for ringing in the New Year:

Overpowered by Roisin Murphy —This may be my favorite song of the year so far (and, yes, I realize the year's almost over). It sounds a little grimy—like something you'd hear in an underground club, if you ever visited such places—but the Irish-born babe's clear-as-a-bell vocals bring it back to a place anyone can be comfortable. Believe me, you won't be able to get the hook out of your brain, nor will your guests. Think of it as a parting gift.

03/12/2007

Manchester last night





Two amazing pictures of Roisin performing in Manchester last night, taken by Flickr member Wraggy. You can see the complete set of pictures here.

Glasgow concert review

ROISIN MURPHY *****
ABC, GLASGOW

Some might say it was triumph enough that Roisin Murphy actually made it to the stage. A little over a month ago, the Irish singer was hit by a chair while performing in Moscow, suffering considerable damage to her eye socket.

Her show is such a bright explosion of electro-disco perfection that is cause for much excitement. Murphy doesn't just play her show, she actively performs it. She layers on a new look for every song and each is deployed with a mixture of stylish vogueing and pouting irony.

Yet Murphy is so much more than a fashion icon. Despite no longer being part of Moloko, the band which made her name, her solo material is effortlessly groove-able. Although her default style is the mixture of disco grooving and hard-edged electro which drive songs like Primitive and Movie Star, she makes credible diversions into P-Funk, breathy soul, alien jazz-funk and the demented burlesque showtunery of Ramalama (Bang Bang).

In an ideal world, Murphy would be as big a star as Björk, at the very least.

From scotsman.com.

02/12/2007

Very saucy!


Does the pretty blonde on the right look familiar? Well it's Roisin at the Moet Mirage Party in September. Note that she is wearing her Ramalama (Bang Bang) stage outfit.

See more pictures from the party on dirtydirtydancing.com.

01/12/2007

Independent review of Brighton show

In interview, Roisin Murphy appears not to suffer fools gladly. Direct, single-minded and occasionally a little belligerent, she comes across as a strong women who is in total control of both her art and her career.

It's surprising, then, that her live shows reveal an individual who seems riddled with insecurities. It's certainly the case at this opening show in support of her second solo album Overpowered, where her glamorous poses and supermodel poise are undone by awkward dance moves and embarrassed smiles and glances.

Such contrasting personality traits have always been at the heart of Murphy's work. As one half of Moloko she milked these opposing forces of the dance-floor weirdo and the pop starlet to startling effect.

Live, however, these schizophrenic dynamics show a performer with a need to remain in complete control. This, despite the fact that her current music is built around a sense of jouissance – the out-of-body bliss of dance-floor pleasure.

Murphy's displays of such free-spirited states of mind are tempered by her faux-celebrity performance. So pounding acid house-meets-disco beats are explored through a series of on-stage costume changes. These range from the high-couture judge for "The Truth" to the pantomime Gestapo princess for "Tell Everybody" and "Ramalama".

The costume changes give Murphy the image of someone in need of constant reinvention. But then that is what this show is all about. The set is almost entirely drawn from her new album, while the only songs from the previous Ruby Blue set, "Sow Into You" and "Ramalama (Bang Bang)", get a disco makeover.

As the band thunder through a performance that updates the soul revue to excellent effect, Murphy slips between personalities, proving herself to be one of the UK's most interesting pop stars at the moment.

Her stagecraft draws on these various character traits to present an inspired observation on the split personality at the heart of the music industry. The stunning "Overpowered" finds her playing both puppet and puppet mistress, while the lone Moloko song "Forever More" sees Murphy joining her backing singers to become one of the girls, rather than the star of the show.

Endlessly inventive, beautiful, smart and blessed with a gorgeous voice: on the face of it Murphy is the perfect pop star. But as this performance showed, the obtuse side of her refuses to play the pop game according to the industry rules.

From independent.co.uk.

Overpowered - acoustic from the Union Chapel



Only a short clip I'm afraid, but this is Roisin giving a rare acoustic performance of Overpowered in London's Union Chapel on Sunday.

More about the live cd


I reported last week that concertlive.co.uk is selling an official live recording of Roisin's 19/11 concert in the Ancienne Belgique. I bought my copy at Koko the other day and was pleasantly surprised. The quality of the recording is superb.

A minor 'but': the cds do not include the complete set performed at the Ancienne Belgique - Dear Miami, Movie Star, Pandora, Overpowered, and Ramalama (Bang Bang) are missing. However, all in all it's a must-have item for any Roisin devotee!

The tracklisting:

Disc 1
1. Cry Baby
2. You Know Me Better
3. Checkin' On Me
4. Primitive
5. Sow Into You
6. Footprints
7. Scarlet Ribbons
8. The Truth

Disc 2
1. Tell Everybody
2. Forever More
3. Let Me Know

You can still buy your copy here or at Roisin's remaining UK dates.

30/11/2007

Koko - second show


A picture from Roisin's Koko show on Wednesday night, her second date in the London club. As always, you can find more pictures on flickr.com.

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I attended this show myself and can tell you that Roisin was her amazing self throughout. I'm no good at doing reviews so I won't even attempt to write one. Besides, I feel art should be enjoyed rather than discussed!

However, I will tell you my personal highlights of the show (in no particular order):

(1) The Moloko-esque live version of Footprints - a perfect blend of soul and electro.

(2) Roisin's cape 'floating' in the air during Overpowered. It perfectly suits the song's airiness.

(3) Roisin rapping on The Truth. It took me (and many others) by complete surprise. She pulled it off really well. Not only as a singer Roisin's voice is a force to be reckoned with!

(4) Forever More - the Francois K version is beautifully understated. A fine reminder of Roisin's Moloko years.

Guardian review Koko show

Few acts put on a show like Roisin Murphy. Aided by a selection of capes, shades and fabulous hats, she plays a disco diva, an ice queen and a chic sophisticate, remaining immaculately coiffed throughout. Movie Star opens with a seated, silhouetted Murphy crooning an a cappella phrase from Somewhere Over the Rainbow before launching into her own song with uninhibited panache. Neither Murphy's trademark robotic shimmying nor her inability to stay still for more than a few seconds at a time have been slowed by her recent serious eye injury, sustained on stage in Moscow, and her energy doesn't flag once during a two-hour set.

Parallels with Gwen Stefani spring to mind. Both are platinum blond erstwhile frontwomen of acts who made waves late in their career (Stefani with No Doubt, Murphy with Moloko); both are fond of offbeat couture and terrific dance beats; both are commanding performers. Murphy's career has been characterised so far by flirtations with straightforward pop, but with her penchant for experimental electronic tangents, she has mostly ended up playing hard to get. On Overpowered, the revelation is how wholly she has given in to pop's embrace while retaining her natural eccentricity, and this translates superbly to the stage. Thunderous beats betray Murphy's background in the 1990s house scene and threaten to turn the venue into a rave-up; it's impossible not to dance.

Perhaps Murphy's most underrated quality, though, is her voice - a deeply soulful instrument that ebbs and flows serenely above the music. It comes into its own during the gorgeous torch ballad Tell Everybody: as stars of light dot the venue, Murphy pleads and aches with longing, effortlessly finding the heartbeat at the centre of her glamorous disco tumult.

From today's Guardian.

Koko concert review

Here's a great review of "Radiant Roisin's" Koko gig on Tuesday from the London Lite evening paper:

Poised somewhere between Goldfrapp's robotic dominatrix, only leavened with a lighter sense of humour, and the free-flowing eccentricities of Bjork, Roisin Murphy is on a definite mission. "I'm here to entertain you," she declares before launching into the lightly paranoid walking funk of Checking On Me, and there's no doubting the success of the one-time Moloko singer in her ambitions.

Draped by curvy blonde Veronica Lake tresses, at the thunderous climax of the Eurythmicy-layered synths of Overpowered (her new album's title track) Murphy grabs one of her many hats - there are enough during the evening to do Ascot's royal enclosure proud - and flips it over into a mask less arresting than comical.

Yes, it looks dumb, yet the moment proves Murphy's willingness to surrender everything to the show, her rough-shod groove more concerned with energy than Goldfrapp's choreographed perfection.

She harks back to Moloko with that anthemic declaration of the need for love, Forever More, then soars high with the joyous command of Let Me Know. Not everything comes off: on Scarlet Ribbons Murphy can't quite reach down deep enough to wrench the would-be bluesy soul to full 3-D life.

Her true voice comes in Tell Everybody's exquisite, precise pop, and the rocktastic electro stomp of Movie Star, its riff gloriously, shamelessly purloined from Pulp's Common People. "You'll be the director, I'll be the movie star," she insists, and, standing before us in the fluffiest pink afghan coat anyone ever saw, she shimmers as stellar as the song demands, yet as invitingly approachable as your dancefloor neighbour.

28/11/2007

Koko last night


Roisin in Koko, London last night. There are some more amazing pictures from the show here.

Q-Music radio interview



Roisin's studio interview with Wim Oosterlinck of Belgian radio channel Q-Music from last week. They talk about shopping, horniness(!) and chocolates.

27/11/2007

Roisin on happy/sad disco music

Only a month ago Roisin Murphy toppled over on stage in Moscow and severely damaged her eye socket on a chair. But the fall, which saw her cancel a week of shows on her European tour, is nothing for the accident-prone singer.

"I fell in Australia and broke my arm but didn't realise I'd broken it until I went off stage," she says. "And I fell off a promotional beach ball at a festival in Ireland. It was dark. But I saw blood this time so I thought it was best to leave the stage."

Ticket-holding fans need not worry about her Brighton show, though. In the time since her accident she has recorded a couple of songs for Jools Holland which were broadcast two weeks ago, and performed shows in Milan and Frankfurt.

This tour is in support of her new solo album Overpowered, her second since the break-up of her Moloko partnership with former boyfriend Mark Brydon in 2003.
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"It took two years to completely extract ourselves from one another," says Roisin. "We broke up and then we made a record. And then we toured it. There was two years in between the end of Moloko and the end of Moloko, if you like. We had a record to make and a tour to do of that record."

Her first solo album, Ruby Blue, released in 2005, was more experimental, made in collaboration with producer Mathew Herbert.

"His tiny room was crammed with what looked like, to me, NASA space technology," Roisin says. "You could hardly move for old BBC sound equipment - a beautiful Sixties French mixing desk that looked like something from 2001: A Space Odyssey, handbuilt Russian mics and all manner of instruments and objects possessing something sonically particular. I had only ever written songs with Mark Brydon and he had been my boyfriend. I had never before tried to make a record without that kind of support."

"It started with a piece of music made from the sound of scrap books and newspaper articles being ripped up and hit across the microphone. A few months later there was an album. Ruby Blue hasn't sold by the bucketload yet, but I am very proud of it."

This new album sees Roisin return to her dancefloor roots.

"I wanted to make a disco record," she says. "I've always wanted to make a disco record, but it has always gone off in other directions and you go with that, the spirit of experiment. But with this, I wanted to make that disco record. I was in New York a couple of years ago, singing to a crowd I'd danced with years ago at a club where I wrote Sing It Back."

"I went back there and sang Forever More, a Moloko song which had become anthemic to that club three or four years after it was released. It got such a warm reaction, it solidified that thing in me that wanted to get something close to that feeling on record - functional dance music that's emotional as well."

"Disco is about being up one minute and down the next. Disco should uplift as well as giving you a peek into the complexity of life. In a way you shouldn't really be able to feel happy and sad at the same time, or united and alone, but for some reason those tensions are always quite visible or visceral in disco. I suppose they are in every good bit of music. Every good bit of art has got a bit of contradiction in it somewhere along the line but in disco, it's really obvious."

She isn't a regular clubber now but when she does she has her own routine.

"When I do go I dance from the moment I arrive until I leave," she says. "I'm not there to do anything else except to communicate with music. I'm a bit intense though. People don't like going out with me!"

"The album makes me want to dance. I'm proudest of the moments when you really can't help yourself but dance to it, 'cos that's what I set out to do."

From The Argus.

26/11/2007

Hamburg


Roisin performing in Hamburg the other night. You can see more pictures from the show here.

Koko competition closed

The Koko competition is now closed. The correct answer was Portobello Road.

The lucky winner of two tickets for Wednesday's show is Antonio from Brixton, London. A big thank you goes out to Roisin's label EMI for providing the tickets.

If you still want to see Roisin live in Koko and don't have a ticket, head over to ebay.co.uk where there are still some available.

24/11/2007

Roisin at the STRP Festival

Roisin performing at the STRP Festival in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) in the early hours of this morning. See more pictures from the festival here.

Live & Exclusive

You can now order an exclusive limited edition live recording of Roisin's concert in the Ancienne Belgique from the online store Concert Live, which specialises in official live recordings.

From concertlive.co.uk:

Concert Live are completely thrilled to be producing an exclusive limited edition live tour CD from one of the most exciting, engaging and entertaining female artistes of today – Roisin Murphy.

Only 1,500 copies of this limited edition CD are being made and they're exclusively available through Concert Live. Once they've gone, we won't be able to make any more, so make sure you don't miss out and order your copy now!

Alongside the live CD you can also get your hand on an exclusive downloadable version of new single 'You Know Me Better' remixed by Andy Cato (Groove Armada), only available here.

Murphy's Law on Belgian radio (part 2)

As this blog announced on Wednesday, Roisin presented an hour long show with her favourite songs on Belgian radio on Thursday night.

These are the records she brought along to Studio Brussel.

TV Eye - The Stooges // You Can’t Hide Your Love - David Joseph (Larry Le Van Mix) // Munchies For Your Love - Bootsy Collins // Viola For a De Voda - Edu Lobo // Run Through The Jungle - Creedence Clearwater Revival // Keep On - D-Train // For My People - Missy Elliot // Life Is Something Special - New York Citi Peach Boys // Without You - Touch // Chameleon - Herbie Hancock // My Love Is Getting Stronger - Cliff Nobles // Number One - Patrice Rushan // Ruler of My Heart - Irma Thomas // Alfie - Dionne Warwick

If you want, you can listen to the show online (click on 'Ontdek de songs' to launch the player).

23/11/2007

London charity gig

This Sunday, Roisin will be performing at Islington's Union Chapel in London to raise money for Mencap, one of the UK's leading learning disability charities.

You can see the full line up here .

Studio Brussel interview

With no less than two concerts and a radio show to do in the Belgian capital, Roisin even found time for an interview with radio channel Studio Brussel.

Go here to listen to Roisin's chat with presenter Saskia (by clicking on the bold link 'exclusief interview' a media player will launch).

Last night in Amsterdam


Roisin letting her hair down in Paradiso, Amsterdam last night. There are more pictures from the show here.

22/11/2007

Roisin's favourites

Marie Claire magazine recently asked Roisin about her favourite music, films and books. These are the answers she came up with:

Music
I remember going to see Sonic Youth perform when I was 13. They picked up Kim Gordon, threw her into the audience and I thought: 'This is the life for me'. The day after I got mad into music. At the moment, I don't stop listening to disco, especially Danny Krivit's edit of Diana Ross' No One Gets the Prize. I love the fact it's all about struggle; I like the aspiration in all things. Another favourite record at the moment is Back to Black by Amy Winehouse. I think she's wonderful.

Films
The Night of the Hunter with Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters has always been special to me – the river in it reminds me of my hometown of County Wicklow, Ireland. The image of Shelley Winters drowning, with her nightdress flowing in the water, has always stuck with me. That and the bit in Casino, where Sharon Stone sits in the corner of the bank like a mad woman, putting on all these diamonds, are two of my favourite scenes. I also love Reese Witherspoon. There's not exactly classics but I love Legally Blonde and Election and the way she plays those demented characters.

Books
By the age of 15, I'd started my first band. I read The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart and it really got me thinking about life decisions. More recently, I've started reading A Wild Sheep Chase by Hariku Murakami, which has been translated from Japanese to English. The Way We Wore: A Life in Threats by Robert Elms is also brilliant. The writer shares my passion for clothes and music, from Sixties mod culture to punk and New Romantic.

We are animals


An amazing shot of Roisin at the Ancienne Belgique, Brussels. There's more here!

21/11/2007

Koko competition

Both of Roisin's shows in London's Koko club are now sold out. However, thanks to her label EMI this blog is giving away a pair of tickets for the November 28 show to one lucky winner.

To make a chance of winning these tickets all you need to do is answer the following question:

What is Roisin's favourite London shopping street? (Hint: It's NOT Oxford Street.)

Email your answer before Sunday 12.00 (GMT) to hopeless.optimist@yahoo.com.

Good luck!

Peeping Tom: Roisin backstage


One German fan has been a peeping Tom and took these pictures of Roisin backstage in Frankfurt. Roisin is seen in front of her dressing room mirror, warming up her voice and body.

Photo source: the official Roisin Murphy forum.

Murphy's Law on Belgian radio

Roisin hasn't just travelled to the Belgian capital Brussels to give two sell-out shows in the Ancienne Belgique. She will also be spinning her favourite tunes on Belgian radio station Studio Brussel tomorrow night. The one hour Volt - Murphy's Law show starts at 20.00 CET.

Read more about the show here (in Dutch).

On another note: the Overpowered album is still going strong in the Belgian album charts with a number 9 position this week.

17/11/2007

Roisin's London

The Evening Standard asked Londoner Roisin about her special relationship with the UK's capital city. She reveals that, if she could be mayor for a day, she would ban the 2012 Olympics and use the money to commission an art centre along the Thames.

Click on the picture to read more!

A junkie for love

This essay on Roisin Murphy The Artist was written by K-Punk from UK Fact Magazine. It's a must-read for any Roisin devotee.

Roisin Murphy is pop's exiled princess of glam. She represents a confection – of disco and art, of sensuousness and intelligence, of sumptuous superficiality and existential anxiety - that once seemed inevitable, but which has now become all but impossible. Where pop culture was once practically synonymous with glam impulse, now it is almost uniformly hostile to it.

It would be a profound mistake to confuse glamour with sex. If sex is ubiquitous and compulsory, glamour is now subtly forbidden. The word 'glamour' originally connoted a witchy power women exercised over men. Whereas the sex object reassures and flatters the lad's gaze it is constituted for, the glamorous object confuses, entrances and captivates. Sex - in all its apparent directness, in all its supposed lack of concealment - is a way of warding off glamour’s ambivalence by assigning determinate meaning ('ah, it's all about that!') to the 'superficial abysses' of the object.

It is not only indie's performance of earnest ingenuousness that rejects the allure of clothes and cosmetics. The continuing total domination of sportswear – encouraged both by the 'equity culture' of loose fit anti-fashion put in place by acid house in the late Eighties, and by hip-hop's in-equity culture of conspicuous bling – means that 00s pop culture is dominated by a kind of morose maleness, which – depressive and depressing - is profoundly suspicious of the power of image.

That quotidian functionalism is today's equivalent of the agrarian organicism from which Seventies glam revolted into style. Glam repudiated hippie's 'nature' in the name of artifice; disdained its fugged, bleary vision of equality for an aristocratic insistence upon hierarchy; rejected its unscrubbed beardiness in order to cultivate Image. But glam was not a repudiation of egalitarianism per se so much as a rejection of a certain rendition of what equality was supposed to mean. The demand in glam was for a kind of aristocratic proletarianism. The art-pop of Roxy Music, Grace Jones and the New Romantics emerged out of a triangulation of art, pop and fashion. Pop allowed the mass distribution of art; fashion was the invasion of art into everyday life. The production of oneself as an object, a pure surface, was a work of art and artifice. Art pop was also about an unlearning of rock’s instrumentation and structure and a cultivation of a romance with the synthesizer and the dancefloor. The wooing of the dancefloor was reciprocated by disco: Chic's ambition was to be the 'black Roxy Music'.

Ever since she began her career with Moloko, Roisin Murphy, with her love of dressing up and disco, has been one of current pop's few points of connections with this glam discontinuum. Moloko's name – which, famously, was a reference to Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange, whose montage of violence, fashion and electronic music had an impact on Seventies glam pop too great to begin to calculate -indicated the group's affinities. But, in the beginning, Moloko's jazzy trip-hop act did not seem especially propitious, and it was only with Boris Dlugosch' shimmering remix of Sing it Back in 1999 that a seductive sound concept emerged out of an inchoate tangle of good intentions.

Sing it Back was a lustrous paean to the siren power of song itself, a vision of rhapsody as romance, and romance as rhapsody; it was about the allure of supplication, subordination and surrender, the appeal of being 'a zombie' under the total power of the Other. The Time is Now, from 2000's Things to Make and Do, its disco strings simulating the lover's urgency, was similarly about 'giving up oneself' to love, its injunction to 'make the moment last' shadowed by an awareness of the butterfly-wing fragility of romance's first flush. The brutalist Indigo was fascinatingly cryptic, a moment of weird pop made more mysterious by its Hammer Horror country house-set video in which a catatonic Murphy played a meat puppet at the centre of a bizarre occult summoning ritual.

2003's Statues saw Moloko's sound becoming more sleek, slinky and machine-like. The string-driven Familiar Feeling, about love as fatality and uncanny repetition, was a kind of sequel to The Time is Now, another treatment of the theme of love and temporality. Forever More approached this theme, not from the point of view of the bliss-drunk lover, but from the perspective of a romance-parched abject on the look out for 'someone to love'. If Sing it Back, The Time is Now and Familiar Feelings were about dilating new love's evanescence, Forever More, with its massive house bass throb, was about the dejected and rejected lover's sense that desolation would never end.

It always seemed that the best aspects of Moloko were Murphy's doing, so when the group fragmented after Statues, there was every reason to believe that her glam pop adventures would continue. Her debut solo album, Ruby Blue was a luxuriant fusion of Murphy's sensibility with that of avant-jazz producer Matthew Herbert. Herbert's pointillistic jazz provided a cubist cabaret backing for Murphy's modern torch songs. The album seemed to come from an alternative history in which rock played little part and Weimar Berlin decadence was the dominant mode of popular culture.

If Ruby Blue was a gloriously avant-garde take on Murphy's jazz/pop side, but this year's Overpowered is a return to disco. The album draws upon the whole 'Discontinuum': Moroder-esque pulses, Anita Ward-style syndrums, DAF-like electro bass, house's stately sensuality and acid's looping machine-plateaus. The title track, one of the singles of the summer, saw Murphy trying to fathom love's neurological destabilization, its overwhelming of the brain's capacity to think, whilst being debilitated by its intoxicating condition. The quietly gorgeous Footprints, its syndrums shimmering like stars at midnight, once again casts Murphy in the familiar role of 'a junkie for love'.

Overpowered – which Murphy wrote and co-produced with a number of collaborators – shows that Murphy has lost none of her ability to turn out addictive pop songs with a lovely synthetic sheen. And as her promotional appearances for the album have amply demonstrated, age has not withered any of Murphy's enthusiasm for preposterous costume and erotic masquerade. Perhaps only Gwen Stefani continues to follow glam pop's imperatives towards excessive and absurd self-decoration with the same dedication. But Stefani has yet to produce a song as memorable as Overpowered, The Time is Now or Sing it Back.

Frankfurt last night


Two pictures from Roisin's show in Batschkapp, Frankfurt last night. You can see more here.

14/11/2007

News: Rescheduled tour dates

All concert that were cancelled as a result of Roisin's stage accident in Moscow have now been rescheduled for early next year. But there's more: some extra dates have been added to the tour.

These are all the dates:

22 January: Berlin, Germany
23 January: Berlin, Germany
24 January: Prague, Czech Republic
25 January: Krakow, Poland
26 January: Warsaw, Poland
28 January: Riga, Latvia
29 January: Tallin, Estonia
30 January: Helsinki, Finland

12/11/2007

Arjan & Roisin podcast

Last month Roisin was interview by the music blog Arjan Writes. You can now download a complete 34 minute podcast of the interview from Arjan Writes' music blog.

The audio footage was only slightly edited for clarity and the interviewer's voice was not cut out. Arjan did this for a reason: "The things Roisin had to say have more value and meaning in their entire context".

Click here to download this great interview.

Jools Holland - Primitive

Jools Holland - You Know Me Better



These shoulder pads were clearly designed for wide screen televisions!

10/11/2007

Jools Holland backstage interview

Find out more at bbc.co.uk/later


This interview with a radiant looking Roisin took place backstage at Later with Jools Holland. Enjoy!

Roisin on Jools last night

Roisin Murphy performed two songs on the BBC Two show Later with Jools Holland last night. She sang You Know Me Better, most likely the next single to be released from the Overpowered album, and Primitive, another favourite from the album.

09/11/2007

Ciao ciao Milano!


This gorgeous picture was taken at Roisin's show in Milan the other night. There's more here.