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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-06-21 07:49:19






A shoot, a pint, a full suitcase of construction-themed
memorabilia and an ode to a cult Irish anthem.
Shauna O’Halloran spends a day with
Róisín Murphy.


Sky blue Seddon Dress (€692)
by Eudon Choi @;
stretched jacket (approx. €2,095)
by Issey Miyake @;

felt cloche hat (€340) by Piers
Atkinson @;

rings, Róisín’s own

T urn off that sad music,” she says to the
crew, giving her hair a final zhuzh in
the full-length mirror,“Róisín’s coming.”
Róisín Murphy has her own idea about
how things are going to go down.We’ve
been through the rails, she has selected her favourite
pieces and despite having brought her own selection
of clothing and props – largely of the roadwork
signage variety (more on that later) – has decided
that Irish Tatler, as a product, isn’t quite the right
avenue for that stream of her work. A careful eye
has been cast and she has taken a shine to young
Irish designer Richard Malone’s stand out pieces in
bold navy and white stripes. We might be in North
London, but we’re an Irish team on set today and
Malone’s pieces are a favourite in all camps. The
other side of Róisín’s identity – the Sheffield side – is
also appeased when she tries on a pair of bowling
style shoes by Sportmax.“They’re so Northern soul,
aren’t they?”she chimes with a grin, and we all agree.
What else is there to do with this tour de force?
This isn’t Róisín’s first rodeo.And by that, I mean
she is no novice in front of the camera. In fact, she
is utterly at home at the receiving end of a lens. 
“I do enjoy making images, I throw myself into
it,” she tells me later which, with hindsight, seems
like the understatement of the century. But here’s the
weird thing – there’s not a hint of vanity about Róisín
Murphy. When she says she enjoys making images,
she means just that. It’s not a veiled statement about
enjoying being the centre of attention or needing
validation by way of her looks. She genuinely wants
to make a great image. It’s about the shape of a
sleeve, or the movement of a dress. In the case of her
own visuals, which are nearly as iconic as her music
at this stage, it’s about a story – the narrative is more
important than the person telling it.
“I’ve always been different visually,” Róisín tells
me over a pint of craft beer in an up-and-coming
part of NW1 later on. “I’ve always come in from
another angle. I’ve always been reactionary, so
whatever it is that people are doing, I want to do
the other thing. From the off, I was very visual and
exuberant and glamorous in a world where the
nineties music business wasn’t much like that at all,
so I really did seem like a bit of an oddity at that
time to everyone.” It’s true when you think back to
the Moloko days, when grunge was just doffing its
cap and passing the proverbial baton to Britpop.
Dirty Converse, scruffy hair and less-is-more was
in; stylised videos and electropop was definitely not
the mainstream.
Back in those days the Wicklow-born lass was
living in Sheffield and was in a relationship with
fellow band member Mark Brydon. The pair were
a force to be reckoned with in the industry and
danced to a definite, individual beat – their first
album was called Do You Like My Tight Sweater?
since they were the first words Róisín spoke to
Brydon by way of a chat up line at a house party.

Pink dress (€1,631) by Roksanda Together they released four albums and had hits Sebastiano Properzi in Cricklewood, a north-west
@ Brown Thomas; yellow like Sing It Back and The Time Is Now, bringing suburb of London which itself has long had strong
their unique brand of electropop to the masses. Irish links.They are, as her children’s names suggest,
aluminium, marble and crsytal very connected with Ireland as a family. “They
necklace (€596) by Kirsty Ward Eventually, the romance ended and ultimately, think they’re Irish,”she says of her kids.“Clodagh
@; so did Moloko. Róisín Murphy was out on her was born in Ireland and was there until she was
own and started to encounter a different attitude nine months, she has a massive affinity with it and
wrap and rings, Róisín’s own from the industry now that she no longer had“this she’s really the most happy when she’s there
older, gruff, northern man that nobody really ,surrounded by her cousins.” They have equally
wanted to cross” in her camp. embraced their Italian side, speaking bits of the
language and enjoying holidays with their‘Nonna’.
“When he [Brydon] was gone, when he was out Being connected to a culture that is different to
of the picture and I made Ruby Blue, the label did your home country is a familiar feeling for Róisín,
act differently toward me. Suddenly they felt like who was just 12 when her family made the move
they could come in and tell me I was making the from Arklow to Manchester. She is and always has
wrong record, or they felt they could A&R me at been, however, Irish to the core. “Yes, I couldn’t
this point.”Róisín refers to the Artists & Repertoire be anything else.”
part of a label or record contract that steers the
outcome of recordings and in which the marketing Last year saw Róisín’s return to music with a
and commerciality of the music is key. What the bang.After a dipping her toe in the water with the
label hadn’t accounted for in this petite blonde was Italian EP Mi Senti, in 2015 she released her first
her absolutely unwavering and steadfast assurance. studio album for eight years, Hairless Toys, to
massive critical acclaim. It picked up a Mercury
“In my career, nothing really has significantly Music Prize nomination and she was Irish Tatler’s
compromised me,”she says, not necessarily taking 2015 Woman of the Year for music. The artwork
credit for the fact. Róisín acknowledges that she on the sleeve and direction of the videos were shot
may have had to have been ‘scary’ in a way, in in vintage clothes and represented the woman of
order to stick to her principles and deliver the a time gone by – not of one specific era, but a
product she wanted at the end of the day.“I’ve not feeling of a woman over the 70s, 80s and 90s – a
known I’ve been scary, but apparently I was,” she memory of her mother, she says, in a mix of decades.
says in her curiously lilting accent that cuts between “That’s exactly what it is, this memory of my
Mancunian and Wicklow. “I just knew what I mother, very much so, and it was also just sort of
wanted. Even when I went with EMI, and I went ‘how can I make something now? If I come back
in there and I went ‘I want to make a pop record’, after all these years and make an album, what is
and they were like ‘okay, here’s loads of money to that going to be?’ I just didn’t want to start with
do it. Whatever you like, you want to do, just do anybody putting a label on me. Literally, I didn’t
it’. It’s not like I went in there and became a pop want to be in Valentino or, you know…I wanted
puppet. I made a pop record in a pop way, but I to carve out something again that is just a space
made it.” that’s not been taken up before, it’s a new space.”

She shrugs off any notion that it is a remarkable After the super-slick stylising of Hairless Toys,
stance for a solo female artist to take in the music this summer sees Róisín’s second studio album in
industry.“I just don’t expect people to tell me what two years with a distinctly different look and an
to do,” is her frank and simple response. undeniable Irishness. Take Her Up to Monto is an
ode to London and construction, with videos and
Róisín spent the subsequent five years forging a visuals including high-vis vests and hard hats, with
successful solo career that included a second solo scenes shot on the underground and in gritty, urban
studio album with EMI, Overpowered, before areas (and papier mâché props that are scattered
taking a break from recording to have her two
children – Clodagh, seven and Tadgh, three.
Together they live with her Italian partner


across the studio). Yet it has that ubiquitous, or a perfect person, or a perfect artist or a perfect
Irish song as its title. “First and foremost it’s anything. But I just think that at least what I made
a case of: You either take me up to Monto or is not crap, so when my kids grow up and they
you don’t take me up to Monto, it’s up to you. have to look after my, say, interest in my songs or
It’s very much a statement about ‘this is me’,” whatever, it’s not a bad old legacy. There are a lot
she begins by way of explanation. “My dad of songs there, and some of them are really good.”
used to, and does still, start singing it when
we walk down the street. So it’s part of me, Her legion of Irish fans could only agree and
it’s part of my rhythm.” Róisín goes on to fill despite a certain uncompromising toughness that
me in on the origins of the song, written by has got her to where she is today, it’s clear that her
Irish Times music critic George Desmond fan base, especially her Irish one, is of the utmost
Hodnett in the fifties and defends its space in importance, as are her family – both the one who
Irish culture as much more than a folk song. raised her and inspired so much of her music, and
“Inside the song there’s all these fragments, the one she’s raising now.
historical fragments, satirical pieces.
“If they like that sort of thing,” she adds softly,
“It’s just the way I feel at the moment, I feel referring to her children’s inheritance of her prolific
interested in post-modernism and I’m music catalogue, “they should be quite proud.”
interested in fragments, very pretentiously
interested in these things [she smiles], so it just
feels like it resonates on all sorts of levels. I
wanted a more of a rugged aesthetic for this
album. I wanted to be a bit more in your face
and a bit more ‘up yours’, a bit more punk,
and I thought to just grab something like that
and slap it big on the front of the sleeve:

The music is so very Róisín Murphy yet
manages to be new again – she consistently
proves her ability to push boundaries and
make it work. The nine track album is led by
Ten Miles High which is a song of three parts
in its sound and is accompanied by a
kaleidoscopic music video of artistic brilliance.
The full album is released on 9 July and will
kick off a tour that will see her in Rome,
Budapest, Belgium, London and of course,
back here in Ireland when she plays Longitude
in Dublin’s Marlay Park on 17 July. She loves
playing at home, she tells me, claiming she
gets an amazing response from an Irish crowd
(“I’m a national treasure, aren’t I?”).

It’s clear that Róisín’s found her new groove and
is potentially on the best form of her life. “I’m
back,” she affirms, adding that she’s on a roll with
plenty of projects in the pipeline.“I’m going to be
as creative and as productive as I can be.”

Róisín Murphy is definitely an all or nothing
person, and right now, she is in the thick of a
momentum that doesn’t see her slowing down any
time soon. She is refreshed after her career break
and with this second album in two years already
receiving great reviews, she is proving that her
career is destined for longevity. Has having children
changed her creative process, or her priorities when
it comes to work?

“It’s kind of an annoying question, because
obviously, the classic answer from the feminist is
‘would you ask that to a man’,” she says. “But it
does change you doesn’t it?

“I’m not a perfect mother at all by any means,

Dress (€735) by Richard
Malone @ Brown Thomas;
rings, Róisín’s own

Simon Dickinson
Emmet Wright and May Hein
MAKEUP BY Celebrity Makeup
Artist Christine Lucignano
using Bourjois
HAIR BY Lilith Amrad @

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