We never listened to music around the house when I was growing up; I only heard whatever was on the radio. It wasn’t until I moved out and went to college that I got a broader idea of what music was out there. That’s when I developed my tastes, and it’s only been the last five years where I’ve felt I’ve really enjoyed music.
One of the first acts I discovered was Mac DeMarco. Éanna Grogan, a friend I lived with, had a large record collection, and that was one of the records that he had on all the time. My ears pricked up hearing this new sound of a weird guy playing strange music.
Moonage Daydream by David Bowie opens my playlist, and it has the best opening to any song ever. If you’re feeling down you just press play, and there’s something wrong with you if that doesn’t get the blood pumping. It’s Bowie at his finest.
I have a special place in my heart for Ed Sheeran, because when we were filming the most recent series of The Young Offenders we found out he loves the show
At the beginning of the pandemic I started listening to The Tallest Man on Earth. He’s from Sweden, his name is Kristian Matsson and he’s not the tallest man on Earth. I began playing guitar two years ago, so I’ve been paying attention to all his strange chords and different tunings. His songs are difficult to play – there’s a lot of fingerpicking, but it’s a good way of practising that.
I follow a YouTube channel called Western AF and they play different types of western artists doing their thing. That’s how I discovered Nick Shoulders, from Arkansas. He’s also great for any novice guitar player. His songs involve easy chord progressions, but the talent is in rhythm and singing. It’s a good lesson: it’s not all about being amazing at guitar, it’s what you do with what you know that’s important. I’ve got tickets to his show in Dublin in October, and I’m so excited for it. He sometimes collaborates with Sierra Ferrell, who’s from West Virginia. She put her first album out recently. If you’re in any way a fan of American folky music, check her out.
I was in the car recently and Ed Sheeran's new song Bad Habits came on. I didn't even recognise it as Ed Sheeran – it feels like an old 2000s club classic. I have a special place in my heart for him, because when we were filming the most recent series of The Young Offenders we found out he loves the show. The idea that Ed Sheeran likes The Young Offenders is a weird thing, but I'll take it.
I'm working on an acting project that I can't talk about with Gemma Dunleavy and Loah, so I made of a point of listening to their music and they're both amazing. Loah is experimental and bizarre, and I love it. Gemma is the loveliest woman and a brilliant writer and singer. There's so much talent coming out of Ireland – it's so small, but there's a broad range of styles. Jafaris, who's a Dublin rapper, is also on the list, and I've been listening to his stuff for a long time. I'm always eager to see what he's putting out next.
I have two of Lil Nas X’s songs on the playlist. These days it’s rare to have all hit songs like he does on his new album, while all being unique. And he’s breaking boundaries and norms of being a man, which is great.
There's a weird pompousness that sometimes comes with music – you need to know everything about everything or you know nothing, and that's not the way it should be
Finally, I love the bizarre opening of Lover, You Should’ve Come Over by Jeff Buckley. It’s an amalgamation of sounds for about 30-40 seconds. Then, when it starts, there’s a nice payoff. The way he sings, it’s like he uses his voice as another instrument – it can sound like a violin at times. And “a kingdom for a kiss upon your shoulder”; what a great line.
Overall I don't feel I know loads about music or singers. There's a weird pompousness that sometimes comes with music – you need to know everything about everything or you know nothing, and that's not the way it should be. If you like the sound of what you're listening to, that's good enough, and you don't need to know everything about the band. I don't know everything about half of the acts. I just like the noises they make.
Alex Murphy appears in Brian Friel's play Philadelphia, Here I Come! at Cork Opera House from October 5th to 16th