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13 July 2021

James Murphy Of LCD Soundsystem On Working With David Bowie

James Murphy
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James Murphy, frontman of LCD Soundsystem, has spoken about his experience of working with David Bowie in the latest episode of comedian and actor Mark Maron’s podcast, WTF With Mark Maron. Murphy worked on Bowie’s final album, 2016’s Blackstar, contributing percussion to Sue (Or in a Season of Crime) and “Girl Loves Me.

Murphy explained how he came to work with Bowie: “I made a mix for Bowie, a remix of a song from The Next Day. It went really great and everybody was really happy, apparently he was quite happy. He also came in to record on the Arcade Fire album [Reflektor] I was helping make. We met then, became friendly and exchanged emails.

“I remember being on a trip once and writing him an email, being like: ‘Hey, I’m away right now. But one of these days it’d be great to get together and I’d love to make some music with you.’ This is a big thing for me: I’m like the guy asking someone on a date for the first time, working up the courage. He writes back: ‘Funny you should say that, please come and see me when you’re back and we’ll talk.’ I’m doing backflips and losing my mind, I’m like: ‘I’m gonna make a record with David Bowie!’”

Bowie was in the early stages of making Blackstar and was keen for Murphy to contribute: “He’s like: ‘You feel like you can add something?’ And I’m like: ‘I definitely feel like I can add something.’ So the time comes, I’ve signed all the NDAs and I go to work. I come in, meet all the players in the band: love ’em, they’re so nice, there’s a really great rapport.

“When I walk in, I see David sitting in his chair and the rest of the band are in the other room playing. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I was struggling to find my way into this already-moving machine. It started dawning on me that maybe what my job was was to be the disturber of the process. The remix I did was so disturbing: it was take this thing and turn it upside down, reverse it and put it out this way – but that’s not what I do with people. I didn’t know [Bowie] at all, but he definitely seems to have a kind of confidence that they weren’t handing out when I was born in 1970.”

Murphy explained that he opted out of working with the band in the, telling Bowie: “‘Look man, I think I need to take these things to my studio and work on these things myself – that’s the instrument I play. It wasn’t a good fit and it broke my heart. I had to leave: I kind of talked myself out of a job. I don’t have that gene.”

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