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Nick Murphy Talks New Album, Touring Again & Taking Rick Rubin's Advice

Nick Murphy

Photo: Willy Lukatis

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Nick Murphy Talks New Album, Touring Again & Taking Rick Rubin's Advice

The Aussie crooner formerly known as Chet Faker dropped his first LP in five years today, 'Run Fast Sleep Naked'—we caught up with him for backstory

GRAMMYs/Apr 27, 2019 - 05:00 am

Today, Australian singer/producer Nick Murphy, who the world used to know as Chet Faker, released his long-awaited sophomore album, Run Fast Sleep Naked.

He put out his first EP, Thinking In Textures, in 2012 as Chet Faker, followed by a collab EP with fellow Aussie (and GRAMMY winning electronic artist) Flume in 2013. In 2014 he released his debut studio album, Built On Glass, fully introducing the world to his smooth vocals and equally luscious beats. While it may have been five years since his last LP, he did release a handful of tracks sporadically since then, including "Fear Less" in 2016, the first one released as Murphy.

Often times, an artist's winding journey gets boiled down to a simple sentence or equation even, with the time between albums or tours effectively erased in the social conscious. But every song has a story behind it, an experience that drew out those emotions. We sat down with Murphy last week, ahead of his sophomore album drop and upcoming world tour, to hear the story behind the tracks, and in the spaces between.

So Run Fast Sleep Naked, your five-years-later sophomore album drops soon. How are you feeling about sharing it with the world? Did you feel different pressure with this release?

I'm feeling good about it, I guess. I'm partly nervous about starting touring again because I only have one memory of doing this before and it was pretty intense. So I'm worried of it getting away from me again.

But I feel really good about the record. I wasn't nervous about it. Honestly, the Missing Link EP that I put out [in 2017], purged any nervousness out. It was almost deliberately challenging for everyone, so I could remove any sense of having to fulfill expectations for other people. I think that's what that whole earlier period was about. So it paved this blank canvas for this record, for me to just come in and not think about it, to just do what I want to do. I'm excited, actually. I'm really looking forward to it being out.

Yeah, it's not like you disappeared for five years…

No, I decompressed it. It's like there was a whole lot of tension built up. I got really big really fast and it was kind of just letting some air out of the tires, you know? And then I definitely after that did sort of go quiet for a while, but I felt like that was necessary. You can get sick of yourself, let alone the fans get like, "Oh, okay," you know? So, I took a year off of social media and just chilled out and finished the record.

But, this record has a deeper meaning to me than some of the other stuff I've put out. It's somewhat spiritual and it has some mantras and answers that I was looking for, so it's something that I feel like is worth sharing. It's not just like, "Oh, this is cool," there's a message here.

With this album you were traveling the world with a microphone, right?

Kind of, yeah.

Did you go out being like, "I need to do things differently to make this record," or was it more, "I need to get away and maybe I'll bring a mic just in case"?

It wasn't separate, those two. Honestly, as I've gotten older and done this more it's like the same, it's like neither living nor making the art comes first, they're the same thing

I didn't go and do stuff to finish the record, you know what I mean? I just knew I had to travel because I realized that if I stayed still for too long in a place I would sink into this slump, and I didn't know how to get out of that slump. And every time I've traveled I've noticed I got out and I was moving. I just didn't want to fall back into that slump, so I just kept moving. And the more I did that the more I noticed that it also had a creative echo. So I would move and then songs would fall out.

I would kind of write stories in my head, mini stories, and then I would go and live that story. So I went to Morocco, into the northern Sahara, nine hours out of Marrakesh for three nights and stayed in the desert and that's where I shot the record cover. So I just had that idea and then I'd go and do it and live it, and I just made sure I always had stuff to document what was going on.

So did you always have a notebook and a mic?

Yeah, always. That's what my bag is, just filled with sht. A friend of mine once told me that art is just documenting a life worth living and that stuck with me. Like you don't try and make art, you just have to live properly and honestly, and then just make sure you're paying attention and then documenting. Because when you're having a good time it's really easy to be like, "Ah, f it."

That's the really hard part about being an artist. You have to be diligent, but you also have to kind of be a child at the same time. You have to feel joy and enjoy things and truthfully connect, but then be an adult and be diligent about capturing and documenting it.

Do you want to tell one or two of the back stories for specific songs on the album? What about the lead single, "Sanity?"

"Sanity." That one was interesting. That's the oldest song on the record. That one I had written for years as a voice memo. About three years ago, maybe, two and a half years.

I was in Japan, in Koyasan, which is a mountain village four hours on a bullet train out of Tokyo. It is where Buddhism was started in Japan; obviously, it came from China, but that's where they started it. I went there a couple years ago and turned the internet off my phone for a week. I'd take walks around the forest, mountains, and that song just popped into my head. One of the fully formed ones. So, that was that one, but that's not actually part of the year where I was traveling. I also did one in my grandma's living room while she was away at like 1:00 a.m. in Melbourne. That was pretty funny.

How did you tie all the stories and songs together cohesively as an album?

I mean that's the hard work. That took a long time. I worked with Dave Harrington from Darkside, he co-produced this record. And Phil Weinrobe, who was an engineer, but also kind of like a third producer. Basically, the three of us formed this trio where, I don't know, it was crazy. It was the most rewarding creative work I've ever done with other people, just trying to piece this sh*t together. It was like a massive jigsaw puzzle and it started to show itself.

Actually, all the songs were finished and there were two songs that got cut at the end, so there's two other finished tracks. Well, I cut them, they didn't want to cut them. It took me six months to come up a track list, then I just left it and sat with it for six months and then came back and was like, "What should be first?" I'm not sure how to tell you how I did it, we just did it. [laughs.]

I think, when we actually finished it, for three weeks straight, I didn't leave the studio building and just slept on the couch and worked there. I went a little crazy.

Did you feel like you just couldn't really rest until it was done?

Yeah, just like going in a cave and I'm not coming out until this is done.

That's such a juxtaposition of emotions from when you were traveling.

Well, that's the writing, and then there's the end. So, yeah, sometimes a part is also knowing when to pressure cook yourself and when to let go, compressions and decompressions. I honestly think that's the hardest part about being a creative, is just knowing when, "Okay, this is too much" or "This isn't enough." I think there are a lot of people who try to pressure cook everything and there are a lot of people who try to do the opposite and they won't even touch an instrument unless they're feeling it. There's a balance.

What are you looking most forward to with this tour? And what are you most nervous about being back on the road again?

I'm looking forward to playing new music, the whole new album, because I've always just added EPs and stuff along the way. People don't pay as much attention to an EP. You know, a lot of the time it's been festivals so it's like an hour set, so it was really kind of the same thing. So I'm pretty psyched to play new music.

I'm also both nervous and excited to try and shape touring into something, because I have this life goal to make touring fun and enjoyable, like it should be.

Everyone has this idea that it's fun. But what they don't understand is it's kind of a form of sleep-deprived torture. It's this weird thing where it's like, "Hey, do you want to do the most amazing thing in front of thousands of people at the most amazing place?" But you'll be on two hours sleep. Like five days in a row."

Adrenaline is all you got going. Adrenaline and caffeine.

Yeah, seriously. My body's been trained now for adrenaline after like six years of it. Sometimes at 8:00 p.m. on a regular night I just have to go to the gym. But yeah, I'm looking forward to it. There's a lot of noise that comes with it all. I'm probably more of an introvert than an extrovert. So, that's always a thing. I want to do this for a job and I really like sharing music, but I don't always get a lot of energy off all the noise and the attention.

Putting music out is always a bit weird because when you put music out, you enter the collective consciousness and you kind of step up in people's heads, even friends. Four months ago I'd wake up with no texts, maybe one text. But now I've got literally, like 29 right now, just from friends. Like "Hey, what's up? We miss you." And I'm like, I'm kind of really busy right now. It's nice that you want to catch up but this, now is not the time. The irony is that you don't have time because you're doing this thing. It's a whole thing. But it's nice. It comes from a place of love.

You stopped using the pseudonym Chet Faker in 2016. Where did that decision come from and is there a significance for you releasing this album under your own name?

Yeah, absolutely. I can't easily explain the decision and that's actually why I had to do it. Because if I could explain the problem then I wouldn't have to change the name. It was kind of a psychological hiccup or something. The only thing I would say to a lot of people when they're like, "What's the big deal? Why did you do it?" I would encourage them to try introducing themselves as a different name and see how long they last before they start to realize that it does affect you in a lot of ways. I never thought that it would go for so long. I had the idea probably since I started because Chet Faker was just a thing.

There was another Nick Murphy. I was 22 and he had like three albums out. I didn't know anything about music. A few people came to my shows thinking they were going to his shows. Like tiny, they weren't even shows. Like a gig or whatever.

Hey, you were playing music and people showed up.

Yeah, exactly. Like "that's kind of good but that's not the guy." Now I don't think I have to worry about that. You know, Rick Rubin asked me if I'd ever consider putting music out under my name. When someone like Rick says that I'm like, huh. It gave me a bit more confidence because I had wanted to do it. It's kind of crazy, like setting the house on fire that you bought with all your winnings.

But it was really freeing. It was a good way for me to prove to myself because when you get a lot of success, but you say you don't do it for success but you have all the winnings so you start to question yourself. I think that was kind of the thing for me. I need to set this on fire a little bit and step back just so I know. I did it and I was like, "cool, now I know, I'm in control and this is about the art."

I still really love the Flume collab EP that you guys put out in 2013. Do you think you would ever work with him again, or are there any artists that you would love to collab with that you haven't worked with?

Good question. With Flume, when we first worked together, everything was kind of new. That electronic stuff that I was doing, as well as he was, no one was doing it.

I'm more into jazz. I listen to Pauline Oliveros and free jazz and [John] Coltrane. That's why I worked with Dave Harrington on this record because he's part of the New York forward psych weird jazz scene. I'd love to work with Rick again in the future because we kind of worked for a little bit on this record but we didn't fully get together. And I've been kind of like loosely flirting, or whatever you want to call it, with Nigel Godrich about working with him. He's done Radiohead and Atoms For Peace and stuff. That's on my bucket list as well.

So I think it's more traditional producers than electronic producers. It's kind of fun. For me, creatively, the whole point of doing music is always doing new things. So for me doing collabs, it would have to be the right time and make sense. If it's just to do the thing again, that's not the point.

What music have you been jamming out to lately?

I've been on a weird disco tip actually, which is cool. Like old school disco jams. A little bit of Bee Gees and The Emotions. This morning I listened to Earth, Wind & Fire, which is fun for me. I've been through a phase like this once before. Usually I'm like, oh, disco is kind of cheesy. But when it's right, it's right. Probably because it's spring.

And then I've been listening to a lot of Pauline Oliveros who's like, my queen. She's a pioneering, experimental artist; Avant-garde. I keep listening to these female artists that I didn't even know they were female artists, like Pauline Oliveros and Laurie Spiegel. I seem to have subconsciously tapped into these amazing female experimental, electronic artists. Laurie Spiegel is one I've been listening to a lot recently too.

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

Lady Gaga

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2017 - 11:03 pm

On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.

Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.

"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."

The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.

"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.