Roisin Murphy - Murphy's Law
Tuesday, 25 March 2008
If Murphy’s solo debut was avant-garde electronica, then Overpowered should win over fans of Moloko’s balmy disco smash Sing It Back. It’s sophisticated dance-pop – with a twist.
Murphy’s bold career re-launch nearly faltered last October. She suffered a shocking accident on stage in Moscow, cracking the side of her head. Murphy was flown home to the UK for emergency surgery, fortunate not to have damaged her eye. Incredibly, the stoic Irish woman resumed touring within a week.
With Moloko on indefinite hiatus, Murphy recorded 2005’s experimental Ruby Blue with the unorthodox techno producer Matthew Herbert. She herself touted it as “cult”. Nevertheless, Ruby Blue gave Murphy confidence.
“It put a full stop on what I’d done before and was such a departure that it set me up to do whatever I liked in the future,” she says.
Still, devotees were astonished when Murphy, who, for all that charm, and forcefully defends her creative freedom, signed to a major. Word was that EMI wanted to transform her into a female Robbie Williams. Murphy insisted on “complete control”. As such, Overpowered is a heady excursion into vintage disco, house and electro with a contemporary sheen. The main difference- Murphy had a bigger budget.
“The record was definitely more expensive than any other I’ve made,” she says laconically.
Murphy was inspired to craft a disco album after performing at the New York club promoted by ol’ skool DJ Danny Krivit. She worked with an array of producers, from Groove Armada’s Andy Cato to Timbaland cohort Jimmy Douglass to Richard X, passing them disco compilations as a brief. Early on, Murphy also collaborated with Scot electro upstart Calvin Harris, but his cuts – co-penned by popsmith Cathy Dennis – were abandoned.
“They just didn’t fit with the rest of the record,” Murphy explains. “They weren’t my favourite tracks and didn’t feel like part of me.”
Harris, who famously teamed with Kylie, grumbled in interviews about Murphy being difficult. But the singer, inexperienced writing with strangers, was simply apprehensive. Observing Dennis’ effortless productivity motivated her. Murphy particularly enjoyed her sessions in Spain with Cato, responsible for the single Let Me Know, as the DJ shares her love of disco.
“Andy took it more seriously than anyone else. Andy really delivered it,” she says. “After the sessions with Andy, I was like, ‘OK, tick, I’ve done that – I’ve actually made that kind of disco that I wanted to make’.”
WHO: Roisin Murphy
WHAT: Plays V Festival, Centennial Park / Metro Theatre
WHEN: Saturday 29 March / Wednesday 2 April