Changes: Róisín Murphy
The audio version of this episode is available here.
Annie [00:00:03] Hello. I am Annie Macmanus. Welcome to Changes. So, the incredible, iconic, Glastonbury Festival is approaching fast. It's been three years since the festival happened and I'm going to be down there and I thought to get ready for the festival, to get excited for the festival, it would be nice to do a couple of episodes of Changes around people involved in the festival. Which is why next week we are going to be bringing you a unforgettable conversation with Emily Eavis, the lady behind so much of the festival. And this week we wanted to speak to an artist who it was going to be playing at Glastonbury, so I am thrilled to bring you this episode featuring the powerhouse that is Irish singer, Róisín Murphy. Now, as a young girl growing up in Dublin, Róisín Murphy symbolised this wild, free existence, unfettered from the shame that seemed to be omnipresent in an Irish childhood, and dominated by creativity, art, and most of all, vigorous fun. She was so, so, so aspirational to me. I didn't know if I was ever brave enough to live like she seemed to live, but I knew that I wanted to try. She was really important to me because no one existed like her in Ireland. I didn't know anyone that had left the country and succeeded in this world of kind of underground electronic music and who was so, so good at it. Róisín was born in Arklow in Ireland before moving with her family when she was 12 years old to Manchester, where life got really turned upside down, as you will hear about in this episode. It was in Manchester and later Sheffield that she immersed herself in music, eventually becoming the frontwoman of a band called Moloko after she met the producer Mark Brydon and famously chatted him up saying, 'do you like my tight sweater?'. That line became the title of the debut album from Moloko, an album that to me, as a teenager in Ireland, I clung on to, not just for the music but also because it symbolised something bigger. A place beyond Dublin, a kind of door to a bigger world as such. Since her time in Moloko, Róisín has released five solo albums. She's been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, the Brit Awards, the Ivor Novello Awards. She's an absolute icon in the world of fashion as well. Her onstage outfits being as talked about as the performances themselves. If you've never had the pleasure of seeing her on stage or hearing her, her voice is very sexy and very sultry and very suggestive and very powerful. Her lyrics are challenging and she can't stay still really on stage. She dances furiously, kind of shaking every limb in these huge, extravagant outfits that are kind of beyond clothes. They're kind of theatre in themselves. Her career has had that very rare trajectory of becoming more popular as she grows older, amassing more and more fans for being basically, totally fearless and uniquely herself. She just doesn't give a fuck and in this day and age, that is hard to find. Róisín Murphy, I was nervous to speak to her because I'm such a fan, but I really shouldn't have been. I chatted to her in her house in Ibiza. You can hear the birds singing along in the background. She'd just got back from tour, so I started by asking her how it was.
Annie [00:03:47] I love that video- the kind of best bits video of just the entire tour condensed into like 60 seconds of madness.
Róisín [00:03:54] Oh.
Annie [00:03:56] It just looks so fun! The whole thing, you just look like you're having the absolute time of your life.
Róisín [00:03:59] I think it is very fun, isn't it? It's like being let loose like children, I suppose. It's tough. It's really tough. And especially on me because I'm dancing so much, I can't be stopped. I just, you know, I go out on the stage and I forget that I'm a woman of a certain age *laughs*. And, you know, it was 35 degree heat in Germany when we were there, so yeah. And then we played in Hamburg and a DJ Koze came and he was like hassling my assistant all night going, 'but this is not possible, she must- there's no oxygen on the stage, she's going- has she got- get a fan on the stage for her, she's going to collapse!' *laughs*.
Annie [00:04:46] So kind.
Róisín [00:04:53] So that's sort of, through his eyes anyway erm, it looks like i'm about to die.
Annie [00:04:57] I mean, you do give so much in your performances.
Róisín [00:04:59] I commit!
Annie [00:05:00] It's not just singing, it's so much more than that.
Róisín [00:05:03] I commit, you know, when you go out on the stage. As my dad used to say, you'll be dead long enough.
Annie [00:05:08] Yeah *laughs*.
[00:05:08] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:05:19] This is about changes in your life and one of the things you talked about when we asked you about your changes was your move to Manchester as a family. So, would you mind Róisín, giving us a little, like, just like painting a picture of life pre Manchester. Like when you were a kid in Ireland growing up, what were your memories of that time in Arklow?
Róisín [00:05:38] I had a great childhood. I mean, it was expansive and it was very artistic and creative, and I was very free to come and go as I wanted, you know, in that old fashioned way in Ireland, you know, you could throw the bag in after school and off you go. I mean, me mothers had even more freedom in that they grew up in town, they had a business in the main street, but at the back of the business, they grew up above the business, you know, in the same building. There were steps down to the river and they had a rowing boat when they were children, and they were taught to swim very early and taught all about the water and the boat and everything and off they went. Just imagine that, like our kids now, 'go on now', five and six and seven years old, 'off you pop down the river', you know, it's just like-
Annie [00:06:31] Yeah, no life jackets-
Róisín [00:06:31] No but very well drilled like, but still amazing. Off all day, they'd bring a picnic and they'd have a gramophone, they had a little wind up, or big wind up gramophone thing that they had on there. So they flowed up and down the river playing music in. It was beautiful.
Annie [00:06:49] Wow. So your mom was brought up in Arklow too?
Róisín [00:06:52] Me mother's old Arklow, as they say.
Annie [00:06:55] Right, right. Wow.
Róisín [00:06:57] And anyway, so in Ireland, I had a lot of freedom. And I was surrounded by music, and it just went in by osmosis. I wasn't in any way sort of made to go to after school clubs or I didn't do any sort of preparing for anything as a child, really. And I really value that.
Annie [00:07:24] Yeah. What were you like in school?
Róisín [00:07:26] I wasn't great in school. I'm dyslexic and- so that wasn't really spotted, I think. I think there was a genuine sympathy for me and that there was a few teachers who knew that I was intelligent, but I was a bit of a troublemaker. And I had trouble between my peers as well, between myself and my peers in Ireland towards the end of it. Sort of from the age of about 10, 11, 12. You know, there was a bit of trouble brewing, I think, in Arklow for me and it was like a miracle to be taken to Manchester.
Annie [00:08:09] So give me the context of that decision. Why did yous go?
Róisín [00:08:12] Well, I mean, Ireland at that time, everybody was in trouble financially. Absolutely everybody. This massive recession hit, kind of out of nowhere, and everybody thought they were doing so well in the seventies. In me early childhood Arklow was very prosperous, it was one of the most highest employment figures in the country. We had lots of factories and different businesses, there was a China town as well, we had the -- and all sorts of stuff going on. And it was still a sort of vibrant holiday destination and caravan park, huge, and so on. And then something hit and I'm not really clear what happened, but it was terrible and everybody was in trouble and we were not the least of it. And me dad had always been a chancer in a sense of, you know, he took chances and he thought big and he'd had lots success, lots of success in his life and then all sorts of troubles as well, you know, it was really up and down. And so we moved to Manchester on that basis basically. And of course we had family connections there. Me father's sisters were there, his brother was there, his mother was from there and lots of the Murphys cousins and that have connections there, loads of them there. So, that was the natural place to go. And as I said for me, you know, just personally, it was a blessing. There was a bit of trouble brewing.
Annie [00:09:56] And how do you mean when you say that?
Róisín [00:09:57] Well there was fights almost every day in school.
Annie [00:10:00] You were in fights with other people in school?
Róisín [00:10:03] All the time.
Annie [00:10:04] And why? What was going on there? They were giving you gyp?
Róisín [00:10:14] They were jealous *both laugh*.
Annie [00:10:14] Well, of course.
Róisín [00:10:14] I was like, 'hiya, you all right', and they were like, 'no'.
Annie [00:10:16] *Laughs* 'No, I'm not all right'.
Róisín [00:10:20] No, I mean, obviously I had a very big gob and I mean, it takes a lifetime getting control of a big gob, I suppose, isn't it?
Annie [00:10:34] And do you reckon your parents- did they see that or were you keeping that to yourself?
Róisín [00:10:38] Ah d'you know, it's not as big a deal then, like as it would be now. And I wouldn't have had language like my children have. That perhaps even I think sometimes me children are being dramatic, you know, because that's not my, that's not been my experience.
Annie [00:10:53] It's not your experience, of course, yeah.
Róisín [00:10:56] So- but you know, it's me Nana who was an incredible matriarch and was running all these businesses because her husband had died, and was very loving to me in a certain way of like, being very tough on me. And then if I achieve something, you know, it was the biggest deal of all. She made a massive deal out of it. So I used to like, win every year at saying the poems in the festivals in Ireland. In Arklow we had this sort of arts festival and all the kids would go in for these- saying a poem and I'd be, (silly voice) 'silly old baboon by Spike Milligan'. And I'd get up and I do all the like, you know, and I'd win it and she'd be always and then, you've got to be tops, you know. I say 'ah nana i'm being picked on', you know, and she'd go, 'I'd say you deserved it!' *laughs*.
Annie [00:11:52] Such an Irish mammy thing to say that. So you never really felt like you were due sympathy? Sometimes you don't really even know you're allowed to feel sorry for yourself.
Róisín [00:12:03] I did and I think that erm, it sort of formed a fault line in me that I am- I need things to be justified. I need justice.
Annie [00:12:14] Mmm. So you are say 12 years old at this point, when you go to Manchester?
Róisín [00:12:19] Yeah.
Annie [00:12:19] So for you it's a chance to start all over again.
Róisín [00:12:22] All over again. And I did make some of the same mistakes again. And I went in and I was like, with the bad girls and, you know, and of course that all sort of exploded and imploded within about sort of six, seven months. And I'd gotten into trouble and they'd turned on me and it was all *laughs* childhood stuff. And then I met all these weirdos and that was the end of that and I just sort of moved on. Getting really into music and having loads of fun and going to the like, you know, alternative pub that used to actually let us in even though we were like 15, in Stockport with all the punks and the goths and the alternatives and the Smiths fans and the dogs on the string and the ones that lived in the flats and the squatters and all the weirdos, basically. So that was like 14, 15, I started doing that.
Annie [00:13:27] And that must have been such an enlightening experience coming out of Arklow which is a small Irish town, going to Manchester and seeing all this madness.
Annie [00:13:37] It was still small. It still felt very like erm, certainly felt like a community within that world, and not a big one, you know. And you kind of got to know everybody immediately in all these different worlds and with all these different music kind of tribes. Just, there was an opportunity in that moment to infiltrate it as a group, as a thing that was mixing, you know, that maybe wasn't even before, maybe was more segregated before my time. But there was like, yeah, everybody was just together. My first band was called And Turquoise Car Crash. The lads were really into The Mary Chain and they all looked like they were in The Jesus and Mary Chain. And then we promoted the gig really well, actually. Far too many people turned up, ooo it was packed! And I think it was the name, it was catchy. And also, you know, me and Duncan going up and down on the bus like we saw a weirdo and we would be giving them flyers and that you know and they all turned up, and we had a warm up band who were like a really serious band and they were proper and they played keyboards and had all sorts of gear and then we came on after them and we had done absolutely no rehearsal. When we went to rehearsal, we just used to turn the lights out and like make white noise and pink noise.
Annie [00:15:10] And what was your role in the band? Were you singing?
Róisín [00:15:12] Screaming. Also pretending that I'd been in a car crash. And then an ambulance comes and there's more noise and then there was fighting and then there was like people on stage. Obviously, the stage got invaded and then people got threw off the stage and I hid behind the speakers stacks for the most of the gig. I was sure that I might get hurt, but I let loose, you know. So that was it, but it was actually really rather a success. But there was something in us that didn't want to repeat. Couldn't repeat it.
[00:15:48] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:15:55] So these weirdos that you like, you say that you kind of found and got in with, what was it about them that made you feel like they were your people?
Róisín [00:16:05] I just- you know, totally unjudged, you know, also to be tossed and things, I think I've, outside of school, I've tried to find teachers in my life and I've been pretty successful at that.
Annie [00:16:20] Yeah.
Róisín [00:16:20] And what was school like then in Manchester?
Róisín [00:16:24] Uh. Not very good *sighs*.
Annie [00:16:27] Yeah. Did your Irishness feel, like, exaggerated? As it does if you leave Ireland and go somewhere else. Were you more conscious of that?
Róisín [00:16:34] Well, I did at one point get up and do like a speech to the school. We had a speech competition. So I did a prejudice err-
Annie [00:16:42] You did a speech about prejudice?
Róisín [00:16:44] I spoke about prejudice, yeah.
Annie [00:16:45] Right. Against Irish people?
Róisín [00:16:47] Well, feeling it. Because, they used to say, 'oooh, you're in the IRA!' *laughs*. And stuff like that. Stupid stuff anyway, it didn't really bother me that much, the paddy thing. (Deep voice) 'Padeh. Ahh Padeh!'. So erm, it didn't really bother- of course being called Murphy as well, just feeds into the... you know *laughs*.
Annie [00:17:10] Right, of course. Yeah, yeah.
Róisín [00:17:11] You just have to... yeah. It was fine, actually. It wasn't too bad that really. It was more just- I didn't learn much and when I went in, it was very- even though I was dyslexic, I was a genius. But within six months, I was as bad as everybody else.
Róisín [00:17:28] Right. Yeah. That's probably why you try to find teachers outside of it. Try and learn in your own way.
Róisín [00:17:34] Well, I've always been hungry to learn, and I think that goes to my parents. You'd have to give that to me parents in that, I genuinely listened to them, you know. I genuinely liked what they liked and absorbed what they wanted to show me, things like that, so.
Annie [00:17:55] So, what happened next then with your parents?
Róisín [00:17:59] So then me parents broke up when I was 15. And that wasn't very nice. That was another change. Yeah, yeah, it was hard.
Annie [00:18:12] So they decided to go home then right?
Róisín [00:18:15] Well me da went off about his business and he was still in the Manchester area. But me ma went home and I didn't want to go home, so I decided to stay in Manchester when I was 15!
Annie [00:18:31] Now this is really something. So, how did you negotiate that?
Róisín [00:18:36] I didn't really have to, you know. Things were so bad, like everybody was in shock and, you know, there wasn't an awful lot of money around either to do amazing things like, you know, there was just bare minimum of everything, including patience and sanity. So, my sense then, I think looking back, was I made the instinctive mathematical choice that it'd be better if I stayed. For everyone. And I was very lucky I had these amazing friends. And I think my mother always loved my friends you know, from that point, in that time. And really was a strong objector to anybody like, me father's aunt used to come around and say they were on heroin and stuff like this *laughs*, and they weren't. They were just like completely naive, really. Couple of pints maybe. I think she always knew that this was a great thing that I was with these interesting people. And she loved Duncan, who was my very best friend. And his mother took care of me for a little while in the sense that she took me in until I was able to get it together to get a flat. So when I was 16, I got the flat. And I was very lucky to in that, the parents were familiar with the social care system in the U.K. and so things were going ahead and applications were made and I was given- I found a flat myself very close to Duncan's house, very close to where I used to live. It was great our flat. You know, it was like, it was in a Victorian house and I had a shared hallway between the bedroom and the living area, and a shared bathroom between the whole house. And I had an outside toilet at the back, which was disgusting *laughs*, but it was a ace. It was an ace flat. Big, high ceiling in the bedroom because it was an old Victorian house. Mad wallpaper, like black wallpaper with this super real oil painting, roses floating in the black. Beautiful like Victorian tiled hallway, then into the back and there was like a circular orange sofa in the living area already. So I was like, this is it. This is the place. And then I had my own little kitchen there at the back, and the steps went down into this gorgeous garden because the -- who owned the two houses was mad with the garden. And beautiful like Victorian garden. Slight, you know, with maybe palm trees as well as like roses and oh, absolutely stunning, massive thing as well. So I lived out in the garden in the summer, it was great, and of course my friends all wanted to come round to watch Twin Peaks and listen to music and stuff so, it was great. And the mammies of my friends would bring things that I needed and I stayed another friend- girlfriend's house at the weekends a lot of the time. Lovely family, Pip, and they were Jewish and they used to stay in at the weekends of course and do all the lovely dinner and the family would come round, they'd mind me and and I was free. Totally free to start making myself.
Annie [00:22:14] Were you excited to be free? Was there trepidation like-
Róisín [00:22:18] Yeah. Loved it.
Annie [00:22:20] I mean, you're 16, you're like in the middle of every single, like physiological change you could go through. Everything is changing body wise, hormones fucking raging, and then life as you know it, like the foundations of it become tenuous and then you're on your own. It's just like- it must have been a mad time of really extreme upheaval and change. But you seem very like you just had to own it.
Róisín [00:22:44] You know that thing like, when life changes, it's brilliant. It's the most exciting time ever. And all these like, network connections come together. It's like, oh, that was the point of all of it, oh it's for this moment of change actually. That's what sort of made me I guess, is that moment, is that decision.
Annie [00:23:04] And testament to your mam for knowing you well enough to know that.
Róisín [00:23:08] Yeah and knowing herself also. That she was not in the right position to make me happy with a move to Arklow, you know?
Annie [00:23:20] Mmm. Yeah, might have felt like a step backwards for you.
Róisín [00:23:23] Oh, God. They were all into heavy metal. I couldn't *laughs*.
Annie [00:23:29] Oh my goodness.
[00:23:33] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:23:45] Okay, so you stay there and you find yourself and you're learning, you're learning, you're learning culture. You're throwing yourself out there. And then you meet Mark Brydon, and then you start Moloko. But hang on, you met him in Sheffield though, right?
Róisín [00:23:57] Yeah. Yeah.
Annie [00:23:59] So why did you go to Sheffield?
Annie [00:24:00] Well, in between there was another teacher, you know that I met this fella, Pete, and he was an architect student in Sheffield, but he was having his year off in Manchester working in a practice and we fell in love. And the first summer we were together, we went on a tour of Europe, architectural tour of Europe in my Hyundai that me da got me for me 17th birthday, which I never learnt to drive. I still can't drive. But he drove it round Europe and we were living on £10 a day. And going to see these amazing buildings all over. France, Italy, Spain and then we went down as far as Greece and back up again. All six weeks, it was amazing. It was amazing. So he went back to Sheffield to do his last couple of years and I moved with him, and I moved in with him and that didn't work out, erm, because of me hormones, I think I was mad at the time.
Annie [00:25:06] Well, no one teaches you about hormones. It feels incredibly unfair. You're consumed by these feelings of rage and anger and rahh. And you don't know why.
Róisín [00:25:16] Yeah, I think I did take it out, take out a lot on him as well that maybe I had sort of like not dealt with going through the Manchester phase because I was on my own and there was no one to do, you know, to kind of take it out on or be disappointed in or anything like that. So yeah, that didn't work out but moving Sheffield was fortuitous, you know. And as soon as I'd moved to Sheffield, it was such a kind of small scene, I kind of became a fixture in the club, you know, and going to the clubs and that, and parties and things. And one night I met him. Him... then I met him... *laughs* int' parteh.
Annie [00:26:01] Stuff of legend there that.
Róisín [00:26:04] Aye! And, um, and I did actually go in the studio with him that night saying, 'do you like my tight sweater?', on the tune that he already had. Sort of made a few tracks, which weren't anything to do with anything else that he was doing because he was a, you know, busy producer at the time anyway. He was a good bit older than me. This is Mark Brydon, my ex, in case people don't know, who was in Moloko with me. And he was 13 years older than me.
Annie [00:26:39] Oh, right.
Róisín [00:26:40] Yeah. So, it was a bit frowned upon in the beginning.
Annie [00:26:46] Mhm.
Róisín [00:26:48] Then when they start hearing the tunes.
Annie [00:26:51] Yeah. They didn't mind so.
Róisín [00:26:52] They were like 'oh yeah, she's a keeper' *laughs*.
Annie [00:26:57] So moloko, kind of, you got a deal and that first album did really big things. How did being in Moloko, looking back at it now, how did that change you?
Róisín [00:27:07] I don't think it did change me.
Annie [00:27:08] Right.
Róisín [00:27:09] Don't think that's the biggest- that's not a big change moment in a sense of, definitely in the beginning it was just a continuation of a lifestyle. It wasn't a serious, professional ideal that we were going for, you know. It was really like a love affair with a crazy young girl and a brilliant, I mean, brilliant producer and player and writer and with loads of experience. So, we just had really good fun. We didn't- I think he really wanted to be with me. So, we also got offered the deal accidentally, you know, in the sense of his manager took a few of these instrumental tracks, as I told you, that were lying around, and a couple of two or three ones where I was saying things or pretending to be somebody, you know. And he didn't tell us and he took it to London and played it to people. And from that, we got a- you know, a few months down the line we were signed.
Annie [00:28:16] Wow.
Róisín [00:28:17] So, in the beginning it was all that and you can hear it, the first record is two people lying down in their own little self-made studio at that point, in the top of Mark's house, giggling, two people lying on the floor, giggling in this like, blue room with purple carpet, silver walls and you know *laughs*, an orange- you know, it was mad in that room. But then on the other hand, it is this person who had fun and could then take that, mix it in fun and had this interior connection with this huge, beautifully, purposely built studio that he'd been involved building that could take it to a whole other level, you know, than like just lying around being eejits.
Annie [00:29:03] Mm hmm. So you, you had always just been you, right? And then suddenly you're in the music industry and you're being written about and labelled and talked about. You know, you just talked about yourself. You just mentioned yourself as a crazy person, right? I'm interested in like, how other people viewed you-
Róisín [00:29:21] Block capitals! The top of the- she said she was cr- self-confessed crazy woman!
Annie [00:29:28] *Laughs* Listen, we fucking love crazy women. I interested in how other people labelled you.
Róisín [00:29:33] Well definitely I wasn't seen as a type of performer, and the performer that I am was so dissonant to anything that fitted into anything I think, to be fair, that it took a while for that to bed in. For me, for them, for you, for the band, for us, for the organisation, for the lalalala. So that's just that. But erm, press initially was extremely favourable to Moloko, you know, it was like, 'oh, this is too easy' *laughs*. It's as easy as this?! Is that all you have to do?! *both laugh*. But doing press is not easy. And I was never taught to do ballet, or to sing, or dance, or to do press, or to look at contracts, or any of these things, you know, that you just- I'm not a taught one, you know, I'm a-
Annie [00:30:31] Well, that's why. That's why you're fucking Róisín Murphy because- and this is what I'm interested in and it's because like, I went to see you play in Whelan's on, I think it was on one of your first tours. It was one of my first gigs where I was allowed into town with my friend. You had a loudspeaker, there was a dog basket on stage. You curled up in the dog basket during the gig, prowled around the stage.
Róisín [00:30:53] I had a bone as well.
Annie [00:30:56] I remember going to that and like coming home and being like... What the fuck? Like in the best possible way. I didn't know you were allowed to be like that. I hadn't seen anyone be like that or act like that or be so unashamedly themselves. And it just blew my mind. But I don't think you got that type of performance very often. Like, I was fucking naive anyway but you must have been remarkable at the time, is what I'm trying to say. In the landscape of other people.
Róisín [00:31:28] And it was acknowledged that I was remarkable. So there's no complaints there. But it wasn't easy to sustain and initially, the gig that you saw I think, would have been with the lads from Sheffield where we just reached out with what was around us and put together a band real quick, and that disintegrated pretty quickly even though it was really ace. It had nothing to do with the record at all. These lads were just like- it was like dub, punk, funk, sort of mad New York, gothy, funk, you know. Then we had like a label kind of going, 'we told you'. 'You're supposed to, you know, do this right'. You know, 'let's hire some real session players and that', and we did and it was just not good, you know. It was okay, it had its moments, but it was a bit closer to the record, but not quite close enough. And it was a bit tame compared to where we'd been, for me anyway. And then so my exaggerated performance set to that, didn't gel, I think.
Annie [00:32:48] Right. Got you.
Róisín [00:32:49] So there was an awkward time there, you know, for me as a performer. And then- 'cause put together a live thing when you're an electronic duo, who were just seriously playing with the idea of having dolls as being moloko, having these plastic dolls I had that were about that size. And they were like, three different sizes. They had raincoats on different colours, called the Raincoats Sisters. Anyway, my dad gave me them for some reason, even when I was an adult, he brought them to Sheffield *laughs*. So, we were going to do that but step by step by step by step, mistakes and positives and all that. And we were allowed to do that because actually, bad as the were at the label, they were good as well and they stuck by us and they let us do a second record and even a third record and well, I suppose the second record, then into our lives stepped Eddie Stevens, the greatest gentleman in the music business of all time. And he's my M.D. now and then in sort of early days, going into the second album I think. And he came in and just pulled everything together and he just made it fun. There became cohesion in the band and then we were just lucky, we were on the pig's back because there's not many that make electronic music that can- It's not easy to pull it together. You're not already there.
Annie [00:34:23] Yeah. Tell me about going solo, that first album, that Ruby Blue album and finding your feet as a solo artist.
Róisín [00:34:31] Again, you know, I was pretty ballsy, you know, going with Matthew Herbert because it felt natural and going ahead, as I always do and I still do without asking anybody. Because you can't in electronic music, you know, it's like you go somebody's bedroom and start. And I kind of did that with Matthew, but it wasn't a bedroom, it was a fabulous little place down in Brixton, in the dairy, and it was really great place to work. So, I used to go down there every day, office hours, which was a first for me as well because I hadn't been like that in Moloko, it kind of had been any hour of the day with us. And it was a total discovery, a big step musically. Songwriting, singing, sound, all the S's. No, I mean, it was like mind blowing and easy in a sense, and quick. Because it was very focused. He revelled in my voice and that was nice because that wasn't really how it was developing in Moloko. He really went back to basics with my voice and you hear me like, so intimately on that record. In every way.
[00:35:54] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:36:03] So we'll get to your adult change now because you talked about becoming a mother, and when did you become a mum in the chronology of these kind of, three solo albums that came out?
Róisín [00:36:13] After Overpowered. Yeah, after Overpowered.
Annie [00:36:16] And how did that change things?
Róisín [00:36:18] God I mean it was like, day and night. Not pregnancy. This is the funny- this to me is the thing about children. You get pregnant, everybody's talking to you about your pregnancy. It's like for me, pregnancy was lovely. Don't get me wrong, if you have a nightmare during your pregnancy, I'm sure that's like, you can be like traumatised totally by it. But, I had easy pregnancies and the first one was very easy and Jesus, when you bring the baby home though from the hospital *laughs*. Oh my God, this is more complicated than I thought. They also could die because of things that I do. And therefore, how am I supposed to go to sleep at all? *Laughs* And anyway, they're never asleep, so. So, basically that was a mind bender. But I brought the child home to Ireland and me mammy was on hand, so. Now she didn't allow herself to become too much of a crutch but she was there for me, you know, 100%. And it was a special time, you know, actually. Well I have a house, a little house over there and she would live by, close by, and we spent a lot of time without my partner because he was in L.A. a lot working for all sorts of insanely famous people and under a lot of pressure. And so that was grand, was better to have him out of the way to be honest *laughs*. And she taught me how to do it. And she expected me to be- you know, we're just very similar. We just see things really in a similar way. So it was great, very intense. And it's a puzzle, you know, children are a puzzle and you have to work it out for yourself, what it is you want to- how you want to do it.
Annie [00:38:14] Did it enhance you as an artist, do you think, becoming a mum? Did it change you as an artist in the way that you wanted to express yourself?
Róisín [00:38:22] It didn't change the way I wanted to express myself, but it definitely focused me.
Annie [00:38:27] Yeah, yeah.
Róisín [00:38:28] Definitely focused me. It definitely made me more aware of how to say no and yes. How to commit, what commitment meant. Being able to evaluate what energy would go into what projects.
Annie [00:38:46] Right.
Róisín [00:38:47] You know, it sounds bad, but it's the full set. You know, you're like oh yeah I've got the children as well. There's a bit of that as well where it's like. It's horrible, in a way it's not nice that, but it's true, you know, it gives you a bit of strength like thats sorted. Well, you know, I've done that. I've always wanted it.
Annie [00:39:05] Yeah, ticked that box. Yeah?
Róisín [00:39:05] I've always, always wanted to be a mother. I was that little girl with the Barbie dolls and you know, I really love it. I love kids. I love kids now, I'm a weird woman that stares at babies in airports, nearly cries. You know, when I look at babies, are gorgeous. Like I follow baby Instagrams and things like that *laughs*.
Annie [00:39:31] Yeah. How old are your kids now?
Róisín [00:39:35] Ermm, my kids are 9 and 12.
Annie [00:39:38] And what do they make of Róisín Murphy. Not mammy, Róisín Murphy.
Róisín [00:39:43] They really don't tell me much about it at all.
Annie [00:39:46] Right.
Róisín [00:39:47] I don't know if they just avoid talking about it. They tell me I wear too much makeup when I'm working. They see me made up, Tadhg goes, 'what've you got on your face!', and things like that *both laugh*. 'No! No mama, it's weird'. I don't rub it in their faces, you know, that type of way. I don't erm- if they're interested they'll be interested, if they're not then I'll sell the catalogue when it's worth millions and millions and millions and millions of pounds, and I'll go away and I won't give them the money *laughs*.
Annie [00:40:25] And it'll serve them right. Do you ever doubt yourself? You don't strike me as somebody who ever doubts themselves.
Róisín [00:40:34] Doubt is a strong word. Doubt.
Annie [00:40:37] Mmm.
Róisín [00:40:38] I do question myself. Of course I do. And I do take advice.
Annie [00:40:44] Right.
Róisín [00:40:45] And I do absorb Information from other people. So, you know, the idea of a person who has no self doubt maybe would paint a picture of somebody who couldn't do those things, but I think I can. But I'm not doubting of myself, no.
Annie [00:41:03] Yeah, there's like a kind of conviction that you have. Where did it come from? Like, you're so fucking yourself, and that's rare. That's rare.
Róisín [00:41:12] Well, it's me babee that I'm carrying, you know? It's this thing. It's this... I'm minding this thing.
Annie [00:41:21] What thing?
Róisín [00:41:23] I don't know *laughs*, don't know what it is!
Annie [00:41:24] What's the babee?
Róisín [00:41:26] Me metaphorical babee!
Annie [00:41:29] Do you mean, like, a creative thing?
Róisín [00:41:32] Yes.
Annie [00:41:34] That you're protecting?
Róisín [00:41:34] Yes, something- I'm an, is it, aesthete? you know.
Annie [00:41:36] An aesthete? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Róisín [00:41:41] Not beauty, no, because ugliness too, but err-
Annie [00:41:44] Yeah.
Róisín [00:41:46] This thing.
[00:41:47] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:41:53] Do you think that you could have been the artist that you are now if you'd stayed in Ireland?
Róisín [00:41:58] I might of been. Not exactly as I am, but I might've been in a similar position. I could have been a visual artist if I'd have stayed in Ireland. Who knows? I could have been a filmmaker, a fashion designer or an interior designer. I had a book when I was a child that was the Terence Conran House Book my mother had, and it was my favourite thing in the whole world. Sunken pits and you know, space age houses and I just used to go in to those interiors and wish, wish, wish, you know, this thing, what do they call it now? Manifesting. Look at me now! Look at me sound system (bangs it) that's living alright! *Laughs*.
Annie [00:42:42] When you go on stage, do you- you know the way some people say they like take on a persona, are you you all the way through that process of going on stage and coming off? Or does something happen, is there a shift?
Róisín [00:42:58] Yeah, I am an actress in the sense that I carry stories in me and in my body, in my voice, in my costume. In that sense, a great actor is not a lying bastard, it's somebody who knows truth or values truth, because if you don't value truth, you observe it and you can't really project it to tell a story truthfully. So, I think I'm an exhibitionist, as I've always said, in that I have to make an exhibition and I do use myself in that exhibition.
Annie [00:43:44] Mm. Mmm. When did you realise you could sing?
Róisín [00:43:49] I realised when I sang Don't Cry for Me Argentina, for my family after my mother had been away in America for a few weeks with her girlfriends and she came back and I had learned it for her because I knew she loved. She had seen Evita in London with me da and brought the record back.
Annie [00:44:07] How old were you?
Róisín [00:44:08] I was nine I think. I used to sing all the time. Like, I used to sing in the back of the car where I'd go- like I'd do a medley of all the hits on the radio at the time. But that was before that. And they never put any pass on me. None of them. When I stood up in the room and I sang Don't Cry for Me Argentina, well *gasps* 'she can sing! Come here!'. And me nana, ohhh me nana was so proud. And then every single time that they wanted me to sing it they'd say like, 'ohhh, your nana, she's not gonna live much longer and...' *laughs* which wasn't true. You know, then they did pay me a few times to do it as well. Maybe I took a fiver here and a fiver there. But I hated doing it and everybody could sing, you know. So it was-
Annie [00:45:09] Yeah.
Róisín [00:45:10] Only a few people couldn't sing a song. My mother was one who couldn't sing a song at all. But she loved music. She was always bringing in records into the house and she'd stay up at night when she was in the mood and play loads of records and she was great at scratching them as well and breaking them up more unfortunately *laughs*.
Annie [00:45:34] And so was your dad a good singer? Is that who you got it from?
Róisín [00:45:38] Me da was a guinness voice. You know, the velvet beautiful voice. He could do all sorts of- he could take off people, you know, as well, like he'd do fabulous Nat King Cole, he could do Lee Hazlewood.
Annie [00:45:56] Mmm.
Róisín [00:45:57] And he used to sing These Boots Are Made For Walkin, to me. He sang hundreds of songs. He never stopped singing. He'd walk into a place singing. He loved it. He loved it. But there is such a joy to singing that it's like a superpower or whatever. It's like another element. Even when you're not that perfect or anything, and certainly me da wasn't a trained singer, but there's such a joy to just controlling your voice in a musical way. I'm so, hashtag grateful *laughs* that I have it.
Annie [00:46:35] Does it take- is it meditative for you?
Róisín [00:46:37] Yeah, I think definitely live it is, over a two hour set, trying to get into a flow state with it so that it manages itself. So it self regulates. you're not always in it, but when you're in it it's the best thing in the world.
Annie [00:46:51] What's your relationship to Ireland now? Do you go back there a lot? I know you're in Ibiza right now, yeah.
Róisín [00:46:56] Well, there's been a bit of a disconnect since this lockdown and all that. I've started to go back now a bit more.
Annie [00:47:03] Does it mean a lot to you that your kids know about your Irishness?
Róisín [00:47:08] Yes, it really does. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's always meant a lot to us as a family and my dad was always so happy to be Irish. He always told us. And yeah, it's been a nice thing to be Irish, don't you think?
Annie [00:47:26] Yeah, I really do.
Róisín [00:47:29] Hashtag grateful.
Annie [00:47:30] Hashtag grateful. *Róisín laughs*. Róisín, thank you so much.
Róisín [00:47:34] Thank you.
Annie [00:47:38] You can catch Róisín at Glastonbury as well as other festivals throughout the summer. She also updates two playlists on Spotify every week, which we'll put links to in the show notes if you need some inspiration. And just go and check her Instagram because it will enhance your soul, it will brighten your day. Just videos of her dancing about basically, it makes me very, very happy. And next week, as I mentioned, continuing on the Glastonbury theme, I will be bringing you a fascinating and really insightful conversation with Emily Eavis herself, the daughter of Michael Eavis, and the woman who is now with her husband, basically running Glastonbury Festival. Don't miss it. It's a real behind the scenes insight and thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Follow and subscribe to Changes. Leave a rating where you can and let me know what you think as always on my Insta. Changes is produced by Louise Mason through DIN Productions. My Insta is Annie Macmanus. Thank you so much and goodbye.