Wonderland.

ROISIN MURPHY

The queen of clubland perfecting every creative endeavour she turns her hand to.

Wonderland summer 19 issue Roisin Murphy closeup

All clothing CHRISTOPHER KANE. Sunglasses KOMONO.

Wonderland summer 19 issue Roisin Murphy closeup
All clothing CHRISTOPHER KANE. Sunglasses KOMONO.

Taken from the Summer 2019 issue of Wonderland. Order your copy of the issue now.

Roisin Murphy’s telling me about the best party she’s ever been to: her very own recent set at Berlin’s infamously sticky Berghain. “The best club you’ve ever been to in your life.” I can’t confirm from personal experience, but when the legendary singer-songwriter champions anything nightlife related, you take her word as gospel.

Murphy grew up surrounded by live music – first in Ireland, where “every fucker sings” and her uncle was a famous musician, and later in Manchester, where she lived out her early teens and got into “really horrible music that [her] mother didn’t like”. At the age of 18 she moved to Sheffield, and became immersed in circles that would quickly begin orbiting around her, eventually leading to a record deal. “It was an incredible time to be anywhere near a nightclub,” she enthuses, falling uncharacteristically short for words to capture the early 90s music scene in the city. “Total mind expansion was going on everywhere you looked. I can’t explain it to you. It’s not like that now…”

Her most recent release, May’s “Incapable”, sees her collaborate with an old friend from that time, Richard Baratt – better known as DJ Parrot. Questioning her capacity for love, the dance track echoes the low, fuck-inflected elements of last year’s “World’s Crazy” and “Jacuzzi Rollercoaster”, released as part of a four 12” series with maverick producer Maurice Fulton and The Vinyl Factory. It’s these organic partnerships that have shaped her musical evolution, mapping out an expansive career that’s drawn from a variety of genres, that currently stretches through three decades (Murphy first rose to fame in 1995 as part of trip-hop duo Moloko alongside her ex-partner Mark Brydon, and released her debut solo album Ruby Blue in 2005). “I think the most creative thing I do is choose who I’m going to work with,” she says of the producers, beat-makers and muses who’ve brought out unexplored aspects of her persona over the years. “I’m glad I didn’t stay in a band forever, because I’ve got loads of freedom to create a whole new era. Every time I take on a collaborator, I’m a different me.”

All clothing CHRISTOPHER KANE. Sunglasses KOMONO.

Regardless, she’s never allowed another voice to compromise her own vision. “There’s no way I wasn’t in total creative control from the beginning,” she laughs when I ask if self-sufficiency is something she’s always felt able to claim within the industry. “Not because I was standing stamping my feet and saying: ‘I have to have it!’ But because I just did have it. It was as simple as that. Maybe I’m a bit intimidating… I honestly think I was probably even more intimidating when I was 19. When I came down to talk to record companies I’d been living off my own back for three years, so I was pretty ballsy.”

With two new music projects and a number of live shows currently in the works, Murphy’s showing no signs of taking her foot off the pedal anytime soon – and not because of outside pressures, but those she imposes on herself. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, sustaining a consistent turnover of tracks has become a strategy for keeping her meticulous nature in check. “I just think if you get into that mode of pottering, you might never get out of it. You might never be able to take the pressure of releasing stuff, which is the hardest part – putting your work in front of other people,” she explains. “Or for you, probably putting that final full stop and pressing send? It’s fucking hard, and if you relax the muscle of doing it you might never get the strength again. I know where my limit is on that, and it’s about the level I produce at. Which is,” she concludes, as if the world hasn’t already known ever since 1995, “fairly, fairly prolific…”

Photography
Bartek Szmigulski
Fashion
Kamran Rajput
Words
Rosie Byers
Hair
Brady Lea at The Only Agency
Makeup
Adrian Swiderski at Frank Agency
Manicurist
Edyta Betka using CND
Production
Federica Barletta
Fashion assistants
Harry Crum
ROISIN MURPHY