Roisin Murphy Q&A: The Irish diva talks about her newborn daughter and why she's delaying pulling an album together
These are busy times for Irish electro-pop chanteuse Roisin Murphy. She gave birth to her first child, Clodagh Henwood, not even a month ago, and on January 18th she will release a new single called “Momma’s Place,” which you can hear on her myspace (Geisha-styled artwork and proof of her pregnancy is to the left). Murphy describes the song as an “old school house track,” and it provides just as much moody joy as its recent predecessor, “Orally Fixated.”
Murphy took some time to talk to us while taking a break in the Irish countryside and told us the ways pregnancy has affected her music, how her new single is a bit of a tell-off to her newborn daughter, and the reasons why we might not actually get a new Roisin album this year, as fans have been expecting.
EW: Congratulations on the addition to your family. How is motherhood treating you?
RM: Thank you. Fine. If I could get any sleep in the nighttime or daytime, it would be perfect. But everything in life that’s worth doing throws a challenge at you. It’s hard to say because I’m kind of in a non-real place at the moment: I’m in Ireland, I’m surrounded by my family and it’s not my real everyday life in London. So to know how it’s completely changed me, I guess I’ll have to be settled back in London for a little while. I’m still doing the nightshift, I’m still being the mom, but I’m not in the world of the media, not working, not doing fashion shows and gigs, I’m in the country, in Ireland, so I’m away from all of that. So I’m not in my real, everyday existence. I’m in a transitional stage.
EW: How did the idea of motherhood and being pregnant influence album?
RM: First of all, I haven’t recorded a new album as such. I’ve recorded a lot of songs, but I haven’t planned beyond just putting the songs out there and letting them have their own life, and see how the music lives on its own, without videos, without a big promotion. It’s more just about getting songs out there and letting them have their own life. I don’t know, I guess I felt very inspired because I was writing an awful lot during my pregnancy. I think half of that is hormonal: being pregnant and being high on being pregnant. I had a great pregnancy actually. I was very well during my pregnancy—I wasn’t sick all the time so I was able to work. And I think also it had to do with the fact that when writing Overpowered I worked with so many different artists, producers and writers that it really broke down a lot of barriers for me and allowed me to be prolific in a way that I never was before. It’s allowed me to not be shy when I go into the studio with somebody I don’t know, and that’s very liberating.
EW: Your last single, “Orally Fixated,” begins with you saying, “Eat me,” which is slightly more sexually explicit than your previous material. What inspired that?
RM: Well, I was orally fixated during my pregnancy. I had to give up smoking and I was just fixated on what I could put into my mouth instead. So the oral fixation was certainly in my mind, though not for sexual reasons. So that’s it really. And of course it’s a pop song so you more or less always find a slightly sexual slant on the ideas that are in your brain, because you’re writing a pop song. They’re kind of sexy. I didn’t have the sexual double entendre in my mind. I didn’t expect it to be perceived quite as sexually as it has been. I’m actually a bit shy about all that. It surprises me that I wrote a song like that, you know?
EW: In an online video you say “Momma’s Place” is written as if you’re speaking to your daughter. Can you elaborate?
RM: That was the first song I wrote when I knew I was pregnant. The song is really just me saying don’t think you can get one over on me, I’ve been there, I’ve done that: I’ve been as naughty as you can be. There’s other ways you can take it. I guess because it’s an old school house track as well you can kind of take it that musically I’ve been there done that as well, it’s not just about my daughter. In fact you could say now I’ve got my daughter it isn’t about her, because she completely surprised me, and now I know that I won’t know it all.
EW: The new music you’re working on, what can we expect stylistically?
RM: The next track I’ve done that will come out is called “Demon Lover” and it’s got kind of British urban sound to it. I have some British emcees on there, Wiley is on there. And I’ve done quite a few tracks with the Crookers, who I love and I really respond to their music. I was deejaying a lot during my pregnancy and I used a lot of their tracks. It’s very hard to deejay anyone’s music next to theirs because it’s so full-on and modern sounding. So I’m going to do a bit more with them. The first two songs you’ve heard involve Seiji but also a guy called FunkinEven, a young guy, we’ve been working together and that’s been really interesting. I’ve done a track with Mason—a production team from Holland—who were great, so I’ve worked with quite a few people.
EW: Do you think an album will come together this year?
RM: I have no idea when an album will come together. I do feel like with an album it deserves amazing artwork and videos and that sort of thing, so once I’ve got all that together. I definitely have enough material to make an album but I haven’t got the setup right now and I haven’t got the time either do to all that. In the meantime it will be more intimate, downloaded stuff. I can just release singles, well, I wouldn’t even call them singles—it’s more like I can just put songs into the world and let them find their own level. I’m gonna do that until the time is right in terms of me having enough time and me having enough backup financially. Time actually is much more important to sort of put all that shit together that goes with an album, to make the album more thrilling to be honest. I need time, I need my daughter to sleep all night, and I could maybe use some kind of sugar daddy or sugar queen to come along and help me out with paying for everything.
EW: I’ll see if I can rustle anyone up.
RM: I’m sure somebody will come out of the shadows very soon, a lot of people have already expressed interest in doing that for me, it’s just doing it in the right way because I no longer wish to argue with anyone about what should be the first, second, third single, all that shit it just doesn’t mean anything anymore. I want it to be… I’ve said in the past I love spending money, I love spending big money on making great imagery. And I do. It doesn’t have to cost a huge amount of money but it’s definitely going to cost some money, but it’s what all goes with that. It’s the arguing about if this is the right single or this is the right way for this or that. And there have been so many times that I’ve listened to people and its been wrong, and I just can’t do that anymore, I have to figure it out my own way. I’ve got a baby—I can’t be spending my time arguing with stupid people about things. That probably looks harsh in print but in real life I’m not being that harsh, I just need to figure it out. And in the meantime I’m not depriving fans of the music, I’m allowing the music to live out there. You know, it’s not even harsh: it’s just the way the industry has been, it’s changing and it’s changing at a massive pace and I’m trying to give myself the space to change within it without becoming the kind of artist where I have to get up in the morning and switch on a webcam. That bores me. It’s gotta be about the music. I can’t get up in Twitter, I just can’t do that. It’s got to be about the music, so I’m trying to figure space where it’s just about the music for a while and then I will take it to next level and do it right.
EW: I understand the release of “Momma’s Place” was ramped up because it was leaked. Did that annoy you?
RM: It didn’t surprise me. If I found the person who did it, they would annoy me, but this in itself hasn’t annoyed me. The thing that annoys me only is that the rip itself is not as good of quality as it will be. Obviously I’m a perfectionist and the only thing I’m giving people is music, so if the music they hear at first is of a degraded quality, it’s slightly annoying. You pay people to master things and you really worry about sound quality and then somebody comes along with a second, third, tenth generation copy of something and it’s slightly irritating. But it’s the nature of the beast these days.
EW: How do you think being a mother will affect you for the next year or two?
RM: It’s very hard to say, I’m completely absorbed in my daughter right now. Obviously when she becomes a bit more predictable, then I might be able to do some things, but right now she’s awfully unpredictable: when she’s gonna sleep, when she’s gonna feed, what she’s gonna do next, so ask me in a year. I’m hands-on as well, I haven’t got some kind of great royal nanny picking up and mothering, it’s all about her at the moment. How it will be in six months to a year I don’t know.
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