In a frank and honest conversation with Andrew Darley, Róisín Murphy discusses the difficulties and frustrations of working in the music world on her own terms. In the midst of promoting her new series of 12” singles, recorded with dance producer Maurice Fulton, the unrivalled artist admits she has been working tirelessly for “months un-end”, which she believes may be invisible to her audience in getting her work to them. Murphy gives an enlightening perspective on creating music independently today and the blocks she constantly faces in order to be heard.


With two consecutive records, Hairless Toys (2015) and Take Her Up To Monto (2016), you had two full-on years and album eras. What did you take away from that experience?

It was a big buzz to come back after being a while away from making an album. It was also a pleasure to make records with one of my best friends, Eddie Stevens, who has been making live music with me for over twenty years so it was a special time.

Did you have a clear intention this time of making singles this time rather than a full-length album?

Not at the beginning, we were just messing about and seeing what happened. Maurice was pretty was strict in that if I asked him to do things, he would only take a certain amount of being told what to do. He would literally finish a track and play it straight out in a club. If it worked in a club, I had absolutely no recourse. All these things seeped in and I thought “Well, we’ll catch the whole thing like that.” It felt right – it didn’t feel like an album, it felt like a set of four 12” records. It’s not just about the club because not everything is a banger on there but everything is about that world, of that culture and from that background.

The collaboration between you two is about dancing, essentially. Björk once said that nothing in life couldn’t be sorted out by thumping your feet for a few hours. Would you agree?

Yeah, probably. I love clubs and my history with club music has been very important to me. Music, generally, not just dance music, has been my saviour. Even before I made music, it was something that was probably the most important thing in my life. It’s just my everything. It’s everything I am.

You often draw upon humour in your lyrics and visuals to deal with romance and difficulty. Why do you think you’re to this?

My father is a comic genius and he has the best ironic face I’ve seen since Les Dawson. Funny people don’t fuck you over. They are usually very intelligent, it takes a certain amount of intelligence to be witty. Wit is a very sophisticated thing and I’m aiming high. I’m aiming at sophistication in the lyrics. Humour is very good for describing things that fall between emotions. It’s on the outskirts of all those things. It helps me describe things that are complicated. When there’s moments of real sadness in humorous things, that’s when it really gets you. It’s just who I am and the way I look at things.

Have you considered self-producing a record?

Not really, I find it exciting to discover new collaborators. It leads me to a new dimension every time. I think that’s what keeps my records exciting and develops me. I want to get more set-up to be able to record my own stuff at home, so if I’m doing the hoovering and I have a little melody in my head I can go down and just sing it. I’ve never really done that for myself in the house. I think it would go somewhere deeper, maybe if it was on-hand. Who knows with editing vocals and cutting up tracks? I might – it’s not out of the question but it’s not an ambition, if you like.

Are you happy to let go of control sometimes when collaborating?

I do a lot more in music than in other areas. I’ve always considered the music the most important thing and also I still feel like an amateur. I didn’t start being a singer until halfway through the first Moloko album. Moloko was a relationship moreso than a band – at least that’s how it started. I’m a collaborator but if I really have a point then God help you because I don’t stop until I’m listened to.

Working independently, do you have moments when you feel “I can’t do this!”?

Yeah, I do. Lately…. A lot.

How do you overcome those thoughts?

I don’t know if I am going to overcome them. It’s hard, all the work I’ve been doing in the past few months has been insane. It’s tricky, I don’t know how long anyone can keep it up. It’s epic the amount of work I’m doing lately. I’m not signed particularly to a record company. The Vinyl Factory (whom Róisín is releasing her new set of singles under) are fantastic; they make beautiful vinyl but they’re not a record company so I have noticed the difference. All sorts of office work gets done quite far upfront when you’re on a label that I seem to keep chasing all the time. I’m beginning to realise what record companies do now… After all these years! They’re not just sitting on their arses, going around in limousines, they actually do a bit of work every now and again.

When Hairless Toys came out you said that you “don’t owe anyone a pop record”. Do you still stand by that?

Yeah, but it’s kind’ve just one of those silly phrases, isn’t it? All it means is that I make the only records I can, it’s that simple. I just make what’s there in front of me. I make what I have the resources to make and I make the best out of the resources I have. That’s what I do. I can’t make a record like I did on EMI, for example, which I was very much in control of, it wasn’t like there were Svengalis or anything, but there was loads of money. There was immense amounts of money. I could go all around the world, choose whoever I liked, choose whoever I liked to mix it and if I didn’t like that I could get it mixed again. You know what I mean? That’s how you make so-called pop records. It costs a bloody fortune, it’s a totally different way of going about it than I usually make records, which we’ve been talking about, is pure collaboration: me and another person.

It’s more 50/50 now. I was much more the boss of Overpowered than any record I’ve made. I can only push Maurice Fulton so far or any of them so far. I make the best things that I can make. Everything I can control, I control it to its highest level. I have to think laterally constantly, I have to think “Right, what have I got?” “What am I going to do here?”. I control it as much as I can and it is what it is. So, “I don’t owe anyone a pop record” is a little thing I said on the side that gets blown up in massive black and white thing and it’s not that simple actually.

These new singles will be released for the duration of this summer, do you what you are going to work on next?

It’s supposed to be an album but like I said at the beginning: I’m fucking exhausted. I don’t know if I ever want to put an album out again. That’s the truth. It’s not the music part that bothers me, I think it could be fantastic musically but I am over it. I started out with these singles really excited about the next album but all this hard work and trying to make an impact, it’s not easy. I might have to reinvent myself.

What is the hardest part about it?

Everything is hard. It’s not just the music, every single part of it is difficult. Putting the tour together, making the videos, keeping up on social media, there are millions of things I’m trying to catch up on. I’ve been getting up at 7am, I’ve got children, and I’m going to bed at 11pm every day for weeks, months un-end. I don’t see the point, you know? That’s me today, speak to me tomorrow it could be different.

You’re having a rough day.

I am. I still have another video to make for the next single, which I should be loving but everything at the moment is beyond unbelievable. Mind you, it probably doesn’t even look like I’m doing that much from the outside!

Was that not shot during the two-day shoot in London? (where she also filmed the videos for ‘All My Dreams’ and ‘Plaything’)?

No that wasn’t shot, it should’ve been in the two days in London but we didn’t manage to do it.

You’re known for taking risks in your music and visuals, do you see yourself as a brave artist?

I think I probably am but it’s not for me to say. All I can say is that I do the only I can do which is to do what feels right and what I think is good. I haven’t even got the memory to remember times where I could’ve taken easy routes. I just block those things out. It’s just not even part of my world. In Moloko, we were on a label who just didn’t get involved with the creativity at all, at all. I lived up in Sheffield and nobody touched us, nobody told us what to do. It depends, what do you mean by brave?

Resilient may be more what I’m referring to.

I don’t feel very resilient today. You got me in a right foul mood today, haven’t you?

The first two of Róisín’s double-sided singles (‘All My Dreams’/‘Innocence’ and ‘Plaything’/‘Like’ are out now, available at her official website.</em>