Alec Dartley spoke with Freddie Murphy about carving a sound into his bones, spending days without sleep, getting rid of black tar from his insides and engaging in an endless digging.
It was clear that we wanted to end it because somehow we reached the top of the hill, the end of the words.
Can you talk a little about the final Father Murphy album and tour? I’m sad, I guess I thought the band would never end. Maybe the right festival can lure you out someday!
I guess both Chiara and I always thought all good things must come to an end. We always wanted to be able to understand when to end Father Murphy. These last years have been magic; we managed to carve our sound deep down our bones in order to make ourselves an expression of it. All the tours changed us a lot; we became adults thanks to Father Murphy. So it was clear at one point that we wanted to end it because somehow we reached the top of the hill, the end of the words. And a requiem was the best way to express our gratitude toward Father Murphy as a character, as a guide and toward ourselves.
As for a possible reunion, as someone recently pointed out, we can always play the “resurrection” card!
Can you talk about some of your favorite live shows you’ve seen? Maybe the early ones that changed your life?
When I was 16, I saw Nirvana, and that surely had an huge impact. In order to convince my parents to let me go — the show was four hours from where we used to live — I showed them the MTV Unplugged in New York show, pretending it was going to be the same. It worked. I got home in the early morning of the day after. I think I didn’t sleep for days, just due to how much excitement I had in my body.
We toured in 2007 with Carla Bozulich for the first time, and that was an epiphany for us — her punk attitude, her music. A junkie had just punched her in the face for no reason a few days earlier in Paris, and her face was pink and velvet. Without any fear, she was out there performing, a true force of nature! After a few months, we played with her in Oakland, in a barn, where we met John Dieterich, another personal hero of ours. The first time we saw Deerhoof, we spent their whole performance in awe!
We get rid of so much black tar we spit from the inside. We love losing ourselves into the other. It will be weird not doing that.
What were you like as a kid?
I’d say we were good kids. We both loved singing and reading so, so much.
Your early music sounded a bit like Os Mutantes and Syd Barrett to me. I feel like Father Murphy became more and more unique over the years, shedding your influences until you became like a force of nature. How does that feel? The last few Father Murphy shows I’ve seen were unbelievably good.
Both Barrett and Mutantes were our biggest influences for sure. Then, somehow, we embraced an urge we were feeling from the inside and made it more personal, expressing something real. This started from the recordings and slowly got us on the live shows as well. Then, from the live performances, it got back to the recordings. The last ones, especially, became even more minimalistic and with less and less layers. We love to perform live. We get rid of so much black tar we spit from the inside. We love losing ourselves into the other. It will be weird not doing that. But, at the same time, change is freedom. We both look forward to see where our lives will go next.
I’ve always respected how you and Chiara don’t bend at all musically. In your early days, I’ve seen the venue and crowd terrified of your shows. In that case, I would cave in and chill my vibe out. I know you’ve been lashed out at before. Do you ever feel like you can’t be yourself?
As we grow, we feel less and less like we can’t be ourselves. But it still happens, mostly when we aren’t performing. When we perform, we are very tight, and that feeling of the outside overcoming us is kept under control. There are times when we think: why are we doing this to ourselves, doing our show every night, 150 times per year? It can be a challenge, but then we think that this is what we can do best, and that the two of us are there. The stage, especially on tour, becomes our home.
We learned that whenever someone is trying to make us feel we can’t be ourselves, that person is most likely the one not feeling themselves. So we deeply feel for them. There’s a huge need of sympathy in this world. And at the end of the day, if you don’t feel like staying and watching our show, just get the hell out of the damn place.
Have you read any good books lately?
We are both reading the latest novel by Leni Zumas, Red Clocks, and we are loving it. Leni’s writing is powerful and deep. Every word carves a little space inside your head and finds a way to stick there. The book depicts a future in which abortion is no longer an option in the United States, telling the stories of three different female characters. The writing gets you quickly into the story, but there are also moments that reminds me somehow of Burroughs, in which every single word has such a big importance that you want to read the phrase over and over. I don’t know why, but it makes me also think of Blue of Noon by George Bataille for an overall feeling of menace, but also a constant search, an endless digging.
Curated by: Alec Dartley
Conducted by: Email
Edited by: Morgan Enos
Published: May 29, 2018
Total questions: 6
Word count: 939
Reading time: Four minutes
Alec Dartley, attitude, barn, Carla Bozulich, carving, challenge, character, constant, control, Deerhoof, digging, endless, expression, Father Murphy, feeling, force, Freddie Murphy, George Bataille, gratitude, guide, importance, Italy, John Dieterich, magic, menace, nature, Nirvana, Oakland, option, Os Mutantes, overcoming, Paris, performance, pink, power, requiem, search, space, Syd Barrett, terrify, tour, velvet, William S. Burroughs
About the curator
Alec Dartley is a painter and sculptor working from The Palisades in New Jersey. He received his BA from Parsons School of Design in 1995 and was later awarded a Skowhegan residence. He was born in 1973 in Englewood, New Jersey. Alec is also the founder of Aagoo, a record label for emerging musicians.
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