Muse of the month: Róisín Murphy
Pure pleasure seeker
The first words Róisín Murphy said to Mark Brydon when they met at a party in Sheffield in 1994 would become the title of their debut album as electropop duo Moloko. The Irish native was 12 years younger than Brydon but so charmed was he by her rather forward introduction, he brought her back to his studio where he auditioned her voice on tape. Her jazzy contralto won him over and the pair soon began dating and released Do You Like My Tight Sweater a year later. Murphy and Brydon went on to record I Am Not a Doctor (the track 'Sing it Back' from the 1998 album hit the UK Singles Chart two years in a row when a remix by Boris Duglosch was released in 1999) and Things to Make and Do in 2000. After eight years together, Murphy and Brydon parted ways as romantic partners but were contractually obliged by their record company to release a fourth and final album. Statues was released in 2003 and offered an intimate sketch of the dissolution of their relationship (from the track 'Forever More': Somebody tell me/ How could there be nobody/ Nobody to love me).
Murphy had already begun doing solo work while still with Moloko and in July 2005 she released her first solo endeavour, Ruby Blue. Her album was well received and it was in the same year she was introduced to artist and music video director Simon Henwood, who would become her boyfriend as well as the father of her firstborn. Murphy's second solo album, Overpowered (2007) received critical acclaim and was more commercially successful than Ruby Blue. The artwork for the album was conceptualised by Scott King (who also directed the music videos for two songs from the album) and photographed by Jonathan de Villiers. The pictures portray Murphy as a "street diva" wearing left-field couture looks by Gareth Pugh, Viktor & Rolf and Givenchy, all while navigating the monotonous humdrum of everyday life.
Murphy was quickly gaining traction with the fashion world as she effortlessly carried the most extraordinary looks with confidence and ease, both on and off stage. She maintained her high-fashion sensibilities while busking on the streets of London in February 2008. In October the same year she was photographed in Gareth Pugh's 'Vent' dress less than 48 hours after it showed on the runway. She opened Alexandre Vauthier's debut couture show as guest-of-honour in January 2009 and later that year, debuted two new songs at Viktor & Rolf's S/S'10 collection while pregnant with her first child and dressed like a lampshade.
Murphy released a number of songs after Overpowered, saying in a 2010 interview with Entertainment Weekly that it was "more about getting songs out there and letting them have their own life" than having them formalised with a new album. Murphy then went on a seven year hiatus from the scene in which time she had her daughter Clodagh, broke up with Henwood and then met her current beau—music producer Sebastiano Properzi—with whom she had her second child, Tadhg, in 2012. In May 2014 she released Mi Senti, an EP of revamped Italian pop standards and a year later, her third "Róisín Murphy" album, Hairless Toys, was released. Murphy is currently on a European tour to promote her new album, and at 42 and the mother of two young children, still remains the kind of über cool, kooky character that modern day pop stars only wish they knew. She is refreshingly unselfconscious and her fearless, experimental style is a welcome change when compared to the overly-manufactured starlets of today. Róisín Murphy, we very much like your tight sweater.