Electropop icon talks disco, swingers, tears - plus new album and tour plans
Michael Baggs

15:45 6th June 2014

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Roisin Murphy is drinking pink champagne and smoking an electronic cigarette as we meet to discuss her long overdue return to pop's cutting edge. "This is my third interview today," she says in her broad Irish accent, as she empties her glass. "But that's my first."

When Murphy was last in the mainstream, it was with her 2007 collection of influential, forward thinking electropop - the critically acclaimed Overpowered. When we meet in a West London office on an early summer afternoon, it is to discuss the former Moloko frontwoman's latest music project - a collection of stunning Italo Disco cover versions, 'Mi Senti'. The six track EP, sung entirely in Italian, is a subtle, yet hugely emotive collection of stirring dance tunes, each of which (despite the language barrier) exude emotion and heartache. The pain on display, however, is more honest than most, with Murphy confessing the recording process left her in tears.

"I walked out of the room crying because I couldn't fucking sing it. You go out of the room. you calm down a bit, you come back in and you manage it," Murphy says of the recording process, admitting that for her, tears in the studio was nothing new.

"I've cried in the studio in the past because things haven't been going the way I wanted with a track. That happened in Moloko. When you've had a demo that you've really stuck with, and then a producer takes it some other place completely, and think it's great, but you put all the work into it and you still want it the way it was before."

Listen to 'Ancora Tu' from Mi Senti below

"With Overpowered, I was the boss," she says, as she moves on quickly to discuss her hugely influential 2007 album, which positioned Murphy as one of the UK's most innovative pop stars. "I worked with all sorts of different people, at different levels too - the writing stage, the mixing stage, even production between the two. Each of those decisions were mine."

"I got to the end of the process, and when one producer wasn't prepared to take something somewhere, I could get another one to do it," she adds. "That was quite nice to do it on Overpowered. But it was an awful lot of pain in the arse too. It's very expensive, that kind of behaviour haemorridges money."

The album was a critical success, and delivered ground-breaking singles such as title track 'Overpowered', the subtle, slow-burning influence of which can be heard in today's current crop of electronic artists. The album was expected (by many) to propel Murphy to stratespheric heights, but instead became a slow-burning success, and remains a hugely important and influential album, seven years later.

"It's emphasised an awful lot, that Roisin doesn't behave like a normal popstar, she should really stop acting so silly, and stop making records with weirdos," she says of Overpowered and it's subsequent success. "Stop being so silly and just grow up and get back in touch with Calvin Harris. She should just do it. I don't want to do that! That album has let me live a fantastic life, I've never had to worry about money since I signed my first record deal.

"I don't live like Puff Daddy - there's not a helicopter waiting for me outside, but i've lived quite nicely, managed to live after two children and make exactly the kind of music I want to make, whenever I want to make it."

Watch the video for 2007 single, 'Overpowered' below

And new EP Mi Senti is exactly the sort of unexpected pop curveball fans have come to expect. Packed with class and quality, but also a sense of great loss and tragedy ("Oh the drama!" Murphy laughs), with her emotional delivery breaking the language barrier. But what the hell are the songs all about? Complicated sex lives, that's what.

"Come back again, we fall out, we argue, we get back together - there's an awful lot of that in Italian music," she explains. "It's almost sadomasochistic - 'beat me again with your big fish of love'."

But if that didn't sound problematic enough, other tracks on the new EP hide even darker relationship tales, including a Patty Pravo cover version about three-way relationships, which Murphy insists she has no personal experience of.

"There's one song that was very difficult, called 'Pensiero Stupdendo'," she says. "When you read the lyrics what it's all about and you're not meant to. There's three in a relationship, you don't even know how she feels about it if you read the lyrics.

"Obviously, when Patty Pravo sang it she gave her interpretation of that track and I gave mine and i'm coming the standpoint of someone who isn't a swinger, so it was quite tricky."

Roisin Murphy on the phone, informing the pop world of her imminent return

The EP is out now and Murphy promises fans, who have been waiting for the best part of a decade for a new record, could be in for a treat, with plans to potentially release two new albums of solo material.

"It has been a prolific period for me," she says, already looking beyond the Mi Senti EP and onto future projects. "I've written between 30 and 35 songs. Some are a bit undressed, and so they don't really count. It's perhaps a little less linear than your normal pop music. There's moments of disco and house on it, but it's a bit more real songwriting. It's deep, really deep."

There's more good news for fans as well, with Murphy hinting she will hit the road for live shows at the end of 2014.

"The tour will be in winter," she says, taking another drag on her e-cigarette. "I need to have given up smoking before then so I am fit"

Roisin Murphy's Mi Senti EP is out now.

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Photo: Ami Barwell