Interview – Markus Murphy

I recently featured the track ROLLING by Markus Murphy in a round-up review and playlist based around Canadian artists and I really enjoyed his sound! Check out the interview below to find out more!

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a track titled ROLLING, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about the song, and where can it be purchased?

The first thing I can say about ROLLING is that it is actually an iteration of another song I released, When You Call. I was happy with that first song, but I also felt that there was an important dimension that I didn’t hit and I wanted to explore that with the new band. The song was recorded live in the studio – the rhythm tracks, anyway – and then I brought it to the home studio to finish production. I took a long time on this, both training my voice for the lead and iterating on the song itself, with guitar work and vocal harmony. The chorus was originally the same as When You Call, but I changed it at the last minute when the chorus for ROLLING emerged in my head. I felt that this song didn’t need the complex back and forth of a love affair, it just needed to cruise smoothly on its way, and this fit the new vocal tone I wanted. The track can be purchased here on my Bandcamphttps://ma…m/releases

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

It definitely hindered my plans for live performance. As for production? It may have helped me. During the early days I went and built a vocal booth in my home studio and I spent probably half of the pandemic in that booth training my voice and iterating tirelessly on the tracks at hand, ROLLING being the first one I finished. There are probably 200 vocal takes and iterations behind that final lead, and I feel like I truly had the time to get it right.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

I let songs emerge from the subconscious. They often begin as a few chords with some feeling on my acoustic. I get something into Logic, and begin adding bass, keys, vocals etc. And I iterate *a lot*, even just to create the demo. Once I’ve iterated enough, I begin to solidify the arrangement. Melody is important, but lyrics and melody are something I actually focus on more in post production. Once the arrangement is done, I’ll say the song is ready for a rhythm recording. This is where I get the band together and we will record the song live in the studio together to get that unique foundation and feeling, this will just be bass, drums, keys and rhythm guitar. After these recordings, I take them to my home studio and begin tireless iteration on vocals, lead instruments, atmospheres and all until I feel the song is finished. This second half can take anywhere from three months to a year.

Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?

Absolutely, in fact the next one is dropping on March 25th. When I recorded ROLLING, we recorded a total of seven songs. Each stands on its own and will be released as a single with its own artwork and story. Finally, they will be compiled onto an album, perhaps for vinyl print. So most of them are done now, I’m in the final stages of mixing/mastering and artwork. You should be seeing one about every two months for the next year!

Have you started writing for an EP or an album?

ROLLING really is part of an album, it’s just that my release strategy means they will all get their own shot as singles first. But yes, I’ve actually written and recorded the rhythm tracks for an entire other album since then. Right now I’m calling it starlight. We finished the rhythm track recordings two months ago, and now I’m in the production phase for these songs. Listeners can expect a direction more towards funk, disco and dream pop.

What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

If I had to point to a single artist, it would be Brian Wilson. He had such a definitive and imaginary sound, and he knew how to bring it all together even when the odds were stacked against him. I have an affinity for vintage music, there’s just so much swagger and magic in those old recordings, I’d love to be able to bring that back into a modern frame. I really don’t limit myself to genres, so my inspiration playlist draws heavily from different decades and geography, there’s jazz, samba, disco, Motown, funk, new wave. There are a lot of flavours to absorb. For newer artists, I’m quite inspired by Thundercat, Durand Jones & The Indications, Brainstory and Khruangbin to name a few. These are all firmly in my inspiration wheelhouse, really fantastic artists who are pushing limits. Also, keep an eye out for Ginger Root, he’s bringing back the city pop in a big way.

Where are you based? What is the music scene like in your part of the world? Are you influenced by your surroundings?

A) I’m based in Montreal, Canada. The city has a unique blend of culture as it’s the center of francophone music in North America, and yet it also has a lot of talent in the anglophone and multi-ethnic scenes. This city has so much musical history, it used to be and still is a true mecca for jazz, and this is maybe the part of the scene I love the most. If there is anything that’s important about my music, it’s that I exclusively work with jazz trained musicians on my recordings and in my band. The ones you hear playing on ROLLING are McGill jazz alumni, as well as one from a jazz school in Alberta. Because Montreal has such great jazz programs in both its English and French universities, I can say that I am heavily attached to this talent and want to harness and expose it in my music.

Do you have any tour dates lined up?

A) Now that restrictions are lifting, I finally have my first show with the band on June 15th here in Montreal. As for a tour, its a little early for me to say, but there will definitely be a lot of shows played around the region of Quebec, and eventually Toronto and New York are coming up.

What can people expect from one of your shows and why should people come and see you perform live?

I will say this; when we play live, this is entirely for the audience, not for us. Therefore, expect a lot of fun, and expect to see top-shelf musicians being pushed to their very limits. I think of my band as a garage full of Ferraris that need to be put on the autobahn. Imagine Pink Floyd meets Marvin Gaye. I know I’m shooting very high here but that’s where we want to get to.

Any last words for the fans?

This is only just the beginning; you’re all in for a lot more where that came from and coming soon. By supporting me, you are supporting young jazz musicians, musical exploration and helping us pioneer a new sound. So by all means, hit those follow buttons, add these tracks to playlists, get the word out, and hit me up if you think we should come play in your town!