Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Musicians talking about music and other stuff

Interviews from the paper with Roisin Murphy, Peter Gordon and Passion Pit

Roisin Murphy

Tue, May 12, 2015, 10:05


The new Roisin Murphy album is “Hairless Toys” and it’s a blast. Working again with regular collaborator Eddie Stevens, the Wicklow woman’s third album has turned out to be a grand statement which could not be mistaken for the work of anyone else. This is her gift, an ability to slink in and out of styles and make them her own without ever becoming too in thrall to that particular sound. While “Hairless Toys” is the work of an artist perfectly in tune with pop’s current ways and means, Murphy also knows that timelessness is something of far greater import to aim for with her exquisite, distinctive, elegant, evocative and marvellous disco-noir and nuanced electro-pop. I’ve interviewed her before and she’s a canny interviewee who rarely gives much away, but she was good value as she talked about the eight year gap between albums, fashion, outsiders and her first album as a middle-aged woman looking back.

It’s always interesting when an interviewee answers the first query of the day by saying that he’s glad you asked about something other than bipolar. In the case of Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos, he’s had a pretty chequered time of it in the last few years, with his struggles with illness coming to the fore after the band’s last album “Gossamer” in 2012. I spoke to him the other week about new album “Kindred”, the new honesty which has entered his music of late and how working as a producer and songwriter for hire has given him a new lease of creative life, especially as he realises that the spotlight of being a frontman is not for him.

Arthur Russell is one of my favourite acts of all time and it was a pleasure to speak to his former collaborator Peter Gordon about life with and without Russell. Gordon is an interesting cat in his own stead – he was mentored as a callow youth in California by Captain Beefheart – but his reflections on working with Russell and especially the impact of his music were well worth the call to New York City. The reason for the interview is that Gordon is directing new readings of Arthur Russell’s Instrumentals, originally performed 40 years ago. He will perform these pieces in Cork (Triskel, May 22) and Dublin (Button Factory, May 23) as part of an European tour, with a band featuring players from both Russell’s original Instrumentals’ ensemble and new additions like guitarist Gerry O’Beirne and LCD Soundsystem’s Gavin Russom.