INTERVIEW: Chris Murphy

1. How would you classify your sound from your new album The Tinker’s Dream?

THE TINKER’s DREAM is my own personal version of Celtic music.

Inspired by Irish, Scottish and English folk music, this album represents a lifelong love affair I’ve had with the folk music of the British Isles, bands like The fabulous Bothy Band from Ireland, the soulful Silly Wizard Band from Scotland with the late Johnny Cunningham on fiddle, the amazing Waterboys fronted by mike Scott from Scotland, the incredible singer/songwriter Paul Brady from Belfast, the historical pioneers Fairport Convention out of the 60’s English folk revival, punk rock Irish revisionists The Pogues from England,  the groundbreaking Moving Hearts featuring out-of-this world piper Davey Spillane, the legendary Chieftains, Boys Of The Lough, Lunasa , Eileen Ivers from NYC, Solas from Philadelphia.

2. How is this album different from your last 2 albums, Surface to Air and Red mt blues ?

Each of these albums represents my own personal interpretation of three different genres of music, all three of which I’ve been inspired by and studying and exploring for the last 25 years. SURFACE TO AIR is more of folk rock/songwriter/country inspired album, RED MT BLUES was inspired by Bluegrass, New Grass  and old-time and western swing traditions … THE TINKERS DREAM is a Celtic influenced set.

3. What do you want fans to take from The Tinker’s Dream?

There is a real depth and beauty to the folk music from the British Isles.  I’ve been influenced and inspired by it for many years, since High school really, it’s haunting and melancholy melodies combined with the driving rhythms and modal harmonies allow a person to really get lost in the music and allow a songwriter to say a lot with very little. I’m hoping I can find some new fans who are drawn to these types of colors and moods to share this with and bring some new songs and grooves to my existing fans.

4. Can you tell us a bit about this new album? When will it be released and how long did it take to create?

I worked on the album over the course of a year or so here in Santa Monica at my producer/engineer Josh Cutsinger’s studio HAYLOFT. I would spend a few days a week over there composing, recording, overdubbing, mixing. I’d have different musicians come over and try things and josh & I would work up different versions and edits of the songs until I felt they captured what I wanted to say and felt true to me. I was working on the other albums at the same time so I could bounce around and put my energy towards what was calling to me at the time or on what musicians were available. It was an unusual way to work but I enjoyed having the time and space to explore and not have to grind on the same 12 songs for a year.  I think it offered us a lot more perspective than usual.

5. What do you love most about this album?

It’s a real treat and pleasure to compose and record with instruments like the bagpipes, whistles, flutes and bodran (Irish frame drum ) it’s also an amazing experience to “transport” yourself to another genre like a time traveler, or an actor might for a movie role and try your best to inhabit the character that this style of music calls for. I by no means think of myself as a master Celtic musician but it certainly is challenging and fun and rewarding to try and speak in that language.

6. What do you like most about playing live?

Playing live is what I’ve done most of my life and probably where I feel the most comfortable and I do a crazy amount of gigs a year. I think I did something close to 250 shows in 2016. It certainly demands of you that you live in the moment and try and find something in the music that speaks to you in the environment. It’s also very exciting to “re-interpret ” the music every night and let it grow and expand and change and shape-shift into something else… most of the musicians I play with come from a jazz background like I do so we are all very comfortable improvising and re-imagining the music every night depending on how we feel in response to the gig and the audience.

7. Is there a song on the new album that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

The fiddle tune CONEMARA PONIES has turned out to be a very stout and versatile piece of music… we’ve had a lot of great jams on it in the last year… a lot of magical moments have popped up because of that song.

8. How have you evolved as an artist over the past year? 3 albums in one year… why?

I’ve certainly grown as a writer and vocalist by challenging myself to inhabit these different genres to compose this much music. I’ve certainly been enriched and inspired by being able to have my own band of bad-ass musicians play the songs on a regular basis and push the music in ways I didn’t think was possible. Having an ensemble of this magnitude comes with a responsibility : I have to bring my best to every show and deliver the goods!

9. What are some of your music goals for 2017?

I would love to bring my Bluegrass/Jazz/Irish/Gypsy Soul music sound over to Europe and see what happens!

10. So tell us what’s next?

Hopefully we can expand our universe a bit and get to do some traveling here and abroad… I just recorded a live solo album up in Boise, ID, just violin & vocals & a stomp board with 10 new songs… we’ll put that out in the spring… no rest for the wicked!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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