Róisín Has Landed
Did you know you wanted to make a disco record after Ruby Blue?
Yes, I actually wanted Ruby Blue to be a disco record. 'If We're In Love' was the first song Matthew and I wrote, and it's the most disco-y song on the record. But he was bringing in objects from his house to create the record, so it had to be very open and experimental. Overpowered was the first time I'd ever approached a record with a focus before I sang a note. I had like 400 songs in my iTunes, I knew the references -- this was what I'd wanted to do for a very long time.
What were your references?
Not things that everybody's heard of. I was given millions of CDs from [New York City DJ] Danny Krivit when I came over here to sing for him.
Performing at the 718 Sessions party in New York City was when you interacted with Krivit. It seems like a turning point for you.
Definitely. I knew I was going to make a disco record then. I was with a friend in New York and she brought me to Body & Soul, then I went every Sunday, even on my own, just to go listen to music and dance, to absorb the atmosphere. I was asked to come back years later, and 'Forever More' [the Moloko song she performed at 718 Sessions] became one of those songs that has a life of its own -- I think of Body & Soul and Danny when I hear it now. I remember asking [DJ-producer] Francois-K, [who launched the party] years before, if Moloko could perform, but he said he didn't invite just anyone. Then I ended up performing 'Forever More' there. It was the same crowd at 718 that went to Body & Soul, and they embraced me. These are the people who have created everything good about the scene.
You've said that dance music plus emotional complexity equals disco.
I like things that are complex, things that shouldn't go together. You have the functionality in dance music, but you can't have disco without a layer of emotional complexity. I can't think of anything more multilayered than disco. I think there is a resurgence of disco on a more mainstream level, if you think of bands like Hercules and Love Affair and Hot Chip. It's not strictly disco, but it's certainly not dismissive of disco.
Do you think the scene is still alive?
Well, the 718 is like the northern soul scene in the U.K, which is based on old soul records from the '60s and '70s. In the '70s, it was retrospective, about finding rare records. There was something really beautiful about it -- not just nerdy -- like, 'Let's find something that is forgotten and reopen it and make it relevant again." The northern soul scene in the U.K. was the first scene where you had parties all night long. People were on speed, people didn't dance together anymore -- people were dancing in their own space. It was the prototype nightclub. It still exists today, but it's very much smaller, just people holding on. You go there and it's middle-aged people there, ordinary people. You know the guy dancing next to you is a plumber or an electrician. He's a normal guy singing along to this black woman, and he's skinny and white, but he has this poise and dignity. Those are the places I wanna be, where you feel like you learn, you talk to nice people, and they don't spill drinks on the dance floor. I don't wanna be shoved around. I like nightclub etiquette.
You consider Grace Jones an icon. You've met her twice. What happened?
After a show, five or six years ago in Florence, these Italian guys were like, 'Come back to our hotel.' She was getting out of the cab at the same time, and she was like, 'Where are you going?' I told her I was going to the hotel party after the after-party. She was like, 'Control! Control! Get these people out of here!' So we went off and serenaded these guys in the square under a full moon in Florence. Then I met her recently. We did a thing for Jarvis Cocker. We were all singing different Disney songs with an orchestra. She complimented me on my hat, I complimented her on her hat, and we were fine. I don't blame her for throwing people out of a bloody hotel room. She's had a massive influence on my music.
What hat were you wearing?
A Stephen Jones big, black, wide-brimmed hat with horsehair sticking out of it.
Have people compared you to Kylie Minogue?
No, but people say, 'Have people compared you to Kylie Minogue?' And I go, 'No, but people have asked me if I have been.'
And Alison Goldfrapp?
Yes, I get that comparison.
I can hear that. 'Movie Star' has that Supernature sound.
Yes, and Supernature has the feel of 'Indigo' [from Moloko's 2000 album Things to Make and Do, which came out before Supernature.] I ain't copied anyone ever, maybe to my detriment; things that are copies do very well. A female musician recently said, 'Being a woman is not a genre.' It was a great thing to say. It's so annoying the way we're compared to each other. It's bitchy, like we're schoolgirls. You know, who's popular and pretty. I've always felt confident. I was given bags of compliments from my parents.