James Murphy Talks Arcade Fire, Building a Great Sound System, and More on WNYC's Soundcheck [Audio Interview]

Zach Ayer

by Zach Ayer

Published September 27, 2013


James Murphy hasn't been in the foreground of music releases since the breakup of New York-based LCD Soundsystem in 2011. A quick look into the background of several high profile projects reveals his hand and distinctive sound, as he discusses on WNYC's Soundcheck program.

The producer, DJ, and frontman details his composing work for the revival of Harold Pinter's drama, Betrayal, which is opening on Broadway October 1st. This is his first foray into stage music, but he is careful to note that he is not writing "for Broadway," as he does not like the idea of an LCD Soundsystem-themed musical.

Murphy has done composing work before, notably on Noah Baumbach's 2010 film Greenberg. He details his outlook on composing for other works, which often finds him using instruments and styles far out of his typical comfort zone: "When I get to make music to accompany a play, I have a job, and it's really clear to me and I really enjoy that job which is: What does this person want to have happen to their piece of work? And it's similar to the job that I would hope somebody would do for me for a record cover of mine. I want to put myself into it as much as I can but it's not for me."

As for producing work, he makes this distinction of working with someone and for someone again. "I am a horrible collaborator typically," says Murphy, "and I've had to accept that about myself." For Arcade Fire's upcoming Reflektor, he notes that the record is not made for him. His focus is on making the album that the band wants.

Murphy ends the interview discussing his brand new soundsystem Despacio, which he hopes will bring a deeper, more classic sound to flat dance club audio.

The description of the idea sounds ambitious, in a way that only someone with Murphy's experience in the club scene could imagine. "We used to travel together a lot back in the day, and we DJ a lot, and we complain a lot... There was a sound system that I felt was missing. I wanted a dance club that an opera buff could bring their perfect pressings in, sit in the middle of, and listen and be very happy."

The initial impressions, according to Murphy are positive. "It took people awhile to stop asking us what version of this is. Its not even the twelve inch cut, its the LP." He hopes that an attention to deeper, fuller sound on a club-to-club scale will shift the focus away from less dynamic music meant for small file sizes and singular ears.

Even without his personal musical output through LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy is always busy. His current projects, while diverse in style and subject matter, all have the fun, quirky charm that reflect his earlier work.

Source: Soundcheck WNYC

Arcade Fire James Murphy LCD Soundsystem
Alternative Rock Broadway & Musicals Electronic-Rock Radio Rock Stage & Screen
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