Rejecting limitations with a momentum similar to X-Men’s Unstoppable Juggernaut, Róisín Murphy earned her ticket to show business notoriety by blending over-the-top regalia with her own boundless musical recipe—one that ignores genre restraints. The Irish singer-songwriter has become notorious for injecting her electronic style into the mainstream soundscape ever since releasing solo debut with Ruby Blue in 2005. After a long eight-year hiatus, Murphy’s back with her forthcoming album Hairless Toys, out May 12. We caught up with the eclectic songstress to discuss her latest studio effort and what we can expect to see and hear from her in the near future.
This is your first album in eight years. Was returning to the studio difficult for you?
“No, I wouldn’t say it was difficult—it felt natural. It just took eight years to feel like it was the natural thing for me to do. Records come knocking at my door more than the other way around. There were a few reasons why it took eight years to record a new album, but working with [Eddie Stephens] on this record was not uncomfortable for me.”
How did the creative process for Hairless Toys different differ from your previous efforts?
“It wasn’t so much about change, [but] rather more about adapting—like adapting to current situations. I think the general movement throughout my career has been about gaining more pragmatism in the work and knowing how things work, but you don’t want to know so much that you take the magic out. It’s about saying ‘Well, I’ll work with what I have and not think about what I don’t have, and I will know when I’m finished because if I go too far then I begin to destroy what was special about it.’ It’s about accepting that there is no such thing as perfection, and knowing when to stop.”
Your known for creating very visual projects. Where does this come from?
“I don’t plan the visuals to go with the music, sometimes they go against each other. It’s hard to explain why I choose certain imagery; it’s really a gut thing. This album is its own era, visually. It’s in a different place—darker place—and that place is being visually represented more. I don’t know how things go together usually until I start performing—it just comes together.”
If you had to make a mood board right now, who would be on it?
“That’s a good question, let me see. I would say: Jennie Livingston, Louise Bourgeois and my mother in 1989.”
What’s your ideal creative environment?
“I love to meditate, and I did try meditating day after day for a while, but I’m so busy now I don’t really have time to. I really do think it’s amazing and I really do believe in all that. I just believe that you need pressure and you have to kind of just do it. I use a lot of different writing methods—anything that will bring it on. I don’t like to spend more than a day writing one song. The killer is thinking you have to wait for the inspiration to come.”
What ideal location would Hairless Toys provide the soundtrack for?
“I don’t have an idea for a location—it needs to just go out in the world. I don’t know where it will end up. It’s amazing when my music is appropriated in strange places like on So You Think You Can Dance or a documentary on gay animals—it makes me smile, laugh and feel joy. I don’t envisage what types of places the music will end up.”
What is the most important thing this album conveys about you as an artist?
“It establishes me as an artist of a certain caliber. I know I’ve made a lot of records that should have established me as an artist of a certain caliber, but I think this is the one that will solidify that. They were people in the business who said I shouldn’t make this type of record, and in my mind I thought, ‘No, I have to believe that you, the middle man, can’t tell the vision person what the vision should be.’ I just feel like I knew I was making something really special. I have to know it deep down in my soul. They were trying to make me feel insecure about the choices I made and I had to double down on my effort and believe I was making something special. Everybody understands it now. I feel vindicated.”
You decided to take on a directorial role for “Exploitation.” Tell me what that has been like for you.
“I choose very good references, which are ideal. I feel very comfortable making the video, and in the end I’m so happy I did. I don’t have the budget I used to have; no one has those budgets anymore. I can still make something brilliant with what I’ve got. It’s empowering for me.”
How would you say this album has evolved since your last studio effort?
“The key is maturity and being able to deal with what you have on the table, right now. It’s about letting it happen as it comes along. That’s why I have a career; I have to protect that element, even above everything else. It’s about where being me takes me.”