Roisin Murphy has had one heck of a year. Between releasing eight tracks across four 12″ records produced by Maurice Fulton and directing the music videos for each release, directing for Fat White Family and re-releasing 2007’s Overpowered, Roisin has also managed to find the time to write and secretly release a new single. With a string of festival slots ahead of her, including Barcelona’s Primavera, and Dekmantel in Amsterdam, we caught up with the pop star and club queen to find out just how she manages to do it all.
This time last year, Roisin was in the midst of releasing her collection of floor-filling funk and house tracks with Baltimore music polymath Maurice Fulton, having just directed and released the gorgeous video for ‘All My Dreams’. Naturally, we had to start by asking how she felt knowing the project had been completed and was now out in the world. “That was actually a relief. I thought that was going to be easier than it turned out to be,” She laughs, admitting, “I just had to slow the whole thing down a little because it was taking a toll to be honest.”
As she finished off the project, Roisin found a little time to relax with her family before taking on the task of directing the music video for Fat White Family‘s ‘Taste Good With The Money’, an unlikely pairing one may think. “We didn’t know each other until I directed the music video,” she says, “I kind of chased them down because they’re my favourite band.” Of course, Roisin is not an amateur when it comes to directing, having worked on plenty of her own over the years. This however, would be the first time she’d taken on a project for another artist. Taking inspiration from Monty Python and the Flying Circus, she re-imagined the classic skits to create a colourful, comedic and somewhat surreal five-minute video.
As well as working with one of London’s hottest bands, Roisin gifted her fans with a re-issue 2007’s Overpowered for the first time since its initial release. “I feel very proud of it, I feel very proud of all the records I’ve made, they’re like children.” She says, “They all have their own story, and I’ve worked with so many incredible people over the years that all my records are important to me but when I look back on that, it was a really incredible experience.”
“I had lots of money to spend so I worked with all sorts of different people, went all over the world, and was allowed to really be the boss of it, which is really different to how it usually is. When I’m just working with one other guy on the whole album then I have sort of allow them to do their thing to a degree.” She says, “With that [Overpowered], I worked with a huge team of with different people who I had to choose myself and every stage of every song it as my decision of where to go and what to next with it. I really enjoyed that and, not to sound awful, it’s quite nice being a big boss woman. That’s why I do the directing, because I get the same feeling.”
Of course, the industry has changed since that initial release 12 years ago. Reflecting on what happened in the following years after Overpowered’s release, Roisin touches on the financial crash of 2007 and how it had an impact on the industry, as well as herself. “EMI actually fell apart straight away after we put the record out, the whole thing ended,” she says. “Now everything has become compartmentalised. For an artist like me, there’s more options in terms of staying independent, and being able to just sort of do deals for specific projects in mind. I’ve done that for a little while and that’s been quite good in a way. Certainly creatively very good because whatever I want to do, I just go ahead and do it.”
This artistic freedom and sheer drive that Roisin exudes is something that’s helped her stay on top form throughout the years. “I don’t think there’s a secret to longevity, but I think my secret is just the people I work with, the fact that I can just change everything on every project by changing who I collaborate with.” She says, “The music is always the beginning of everything, while I’m a very visual artist and I make the videos and concept the art, deep, deep, deep, the music remains the very centre of it all. It’s the seed of everything.”
“I love making the music, love the visuals and I love performing. I’m delighted to be able to do this job, I’m so blessed it’s stupid.”
With such an eclectic catalogue of solo material under her belt, Roisin will have plenty to choose from when it comes to performing live. Over the summer, she will be making several stops across Europe, taking a hands-on approach to creating a real spectacle for her audience. Her outfits, for example, always have an avant-garde edge, from her checked black and white cape with a plush deer over the shoulders to her pink onesie with large holes cut out around the body. “I do all the styling and wear a lot of clothes, it’s all very dramatic in that way.” She says, “I also work with the guys who are doing the lighting as best I can. Music-wise, I’ve worked with the same musical director for more than 20 years.”
In addition to these live shows, Roisin has an exciting new release, a single called ‘Incapable’ with Richard Barratt aka Parrot. While reflecting on the song, she hints, “It’s kind of already been out in a way. It went out a very limited vinyl release on a label called Bitter End a few months ago, but it didn’t have my name on it. It didn’t have anyone’s name on it.”
“It’s been played by DJs and is actually a big favourite of DJ Harvey who is a big favourite of mine, which is quite exciting.” She says, “It’s a club track, it’s a nice bouncy song and it’s about a diva who can’t fall in love and can’t ever have a broken heart.” Never one to stop, Roisin also discloses two other future projects that must be kept under wraps for the moment.
Driven by her love of music, and constantly evolving through her collaborations, Roisin is a force within the industry, but her adaptability, endurance and humility make her a true icon. As we wrap up, she says, “I love making the music, love the visuals and I love performing. I’m delighted to be able to do this job, I’m so blessed it’s stupid.”