Interview: Alexi Murdoch

By on Thursday, 28th April 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

There are few who escape Los Angeles alive. This is considerably truer when the lucky few we speak of are folk-rock troubadours. In Alexi Murdoch’s case, it seems fitting that the concrete jungle was a place of enchantment for his extravagant musical beginnings, yet simultaneously placed him on a comfortable path towards worldwide stardom.

It’s 7.15 PM. As the doors open to Leicester Square’s Borderline, the rows of fans swoop down the steep flight of stairs to the lighted stage. However, at the very back of the small London venue resides the Green Room, a quiet, dusty compartment. In this space, you’ll find a solitary Alexi Murdoch; sipping on a half-empty can of Guinness, contemplating the night’s event. Easily distinguishable from the typical tweed-suited ‘folkie’, he is clad in a simply grey tracksuit hoodie and jeans. Rising with a determined handshake, it is evident that Murdoch’s confidence is overwhelming, despite being swiftly due to step out onto a sold-out stage. Sitting in the far corner of the sofa, cross-legged, as if attempting some form of meditation, the composed singer-songwriter reflects on the lyrics behind his songs: “It’s hard to say really. It’s just life isn’t it? Maybe I tend to focus a little more on the quieter things in life, or the smaller observations. Hopefully what I’m trying to get at is trying to observe the things that happen in the spaces between the loud moments in your life; that can kind of give you some insight into who you are in a different way.”

There is no mistaking the gentlemanly manner of Murdoch. As observed through both his composed stage presence and his casual tone, there is an air of elegance surrounding his peculiar dialect; riddled between being traditionally Scottish yet with a Californian uniqueness. It certainly is a voice designed for poetry. In resemblance, he is a man who thrives on peaceful ambience. Running his hand through his dark black curls, he recalls, “I don’t do well in really loud places; not that I don’t like loud places, I actually like going into places that are sort of super-energised. But in order for things to become apparent to you, you need some ambient noise”.

Although London-born, Murdoch’s bizarre travelling life has found him living in Greece, Scotland and America in his 38 years. With touring as a regular activity these days, Murdoch admits that his experience in moving across the globe has quenched any fears of homesickness. With eyes fixed upon his shoes, he says, “I think that part of this experience is that you do need a sort of grounding; a sense of belonging to one place; and I guess maybe that’s a little bit missing in my life and I definitely feel restless. It gets annoying sometimes. Even if I find a really beautiful place, after a certain amount of time I get this feeling like, ‘that can’t be it’.” From behind us, the haunting beauty of support-act Peter Gregson’s cello instrumentals echo through the walls, as if imitating a soundtrack to the rather poignant part of the conversation.

After the global success of 2006’s seminal debut record ‘Time Without Consequence’, Murdoch’s latest release has come in the form of 7-track sophomore effort ‘Towards The Sun,’ which is coincidently released today. As he performs several tracks including ‘Her Hands Were Leaves’, it is clear that it is an elusive, mysterious collaboration of stripped-down, raw acoustic magnetism. As the man himself ponders his personal opinion on this recent creation, he recites almost flawlessly, “it definitely feels like it’s as close as I’ve come to being able to really be direct, and I also feel that the writing has also become less cluttered and hopefully is getting a little closer to the heart of whatever it is that I’m trying to get at. So yeah, it’s definitely a big, big step closer to something that I want to do. For me it feels like a complete shift to something that’s far more actually me.” The release has found Murdoch delving into complex instruments such as Indian instrument the shruti box and he also tested his vocal range in such challenging songs as ‘At Your Door’, a track that’s highly reminiscent of such folk artists as Jon Allen.

Behind the intelligent thoughts of the Scot, there is a composed, humble gentleman who is genuinely blessed with a uniquely perplexing charm. Like his amiable music, Alexi Murdoch’s life is grounded on the need for peace and tranquillity. Before stepping onstage, considering his life outside of the ravenous and hectic music industry, he happily muses over the thought of his boat on the West coast of Scotland, and being out on the ocean once again. As he utters, “that’s really where I go”, you can almost see the contentment in his eyes. With a beaming smile breaking across his face, he quietly finishes, “and that’s probably where I’ll disappear someday”.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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