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In Talks With Murkage Dave: ‘This Album Has Stopped Me From Being The Intense Person At A Party’

Joe Simpson

By Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

15 Jul 2022

Murkage Dave is an artist who is difficult to pin down. Previously working as a club promoter in Manchester, Dave took to a solo career relatively late, but has provided two excellent albums so far that span multiple genres. His lyricism is sharp and humanising, and his last record has seen the artist take more risks in terms of subject matter, creating a more mature sounding record. We spoke to Dave about his career, his influences, and his upcoming UK tour:

So your album came out just over a month ago now. How have you found the reception of it?

It’s been great man. I think one of the difficult things that no one ever tells you about, is that your brain filters out a lot of the stuff that people say. And so it’s kind of ironic, I mean, maybe this is the way I’m just made up, I don’t know. But it’s almost like your brain will make you forget people complimenting the album in order to keep you humble. An artist that you really respect might tell you that they think it’s amazing, and you’ll forget, and then you have to kind of remind yourself that it happens. When I says that the response has been overwhelming, it sounds like a cliché. Actually, I kind of understand what they mean. It’s overwhelming, because you can’t actually process all the information that’s coming your way basically.

And it has been four years since your debut album, ‘Murkage Dave Changed My Life’. How did you find the process of creating a second album?

You know what? I think I got quite lucky in terms of the approach because I think with my first album, for sure it has all of my life experiences to that point going into it, but I think that I was kind of lacking in terms of being actually seen as an artist, and that’s where I wanted to prove myself. I think I was more frustrated, I was still kind of trapped in in club land and I didn’t want to be there, whereas I think on this record I’m talking about the world more: society – how I feel. It’s still introspective, but I feel like my first album was more introspective and nostalgic and stuff like that.

This album has stopped me from being the intense person at a party – like the intense person that is going to talk your ear off about some serious shit when you’re just trying to have a good time. I’m that kind of person where I just think about everything all the time. I think I’m one of those artists that has grown in confidence as I go and I think you’re going see that more as I keep going. It’s like, I’m opening up, if you see what I mean, like a flower.

You’ve taken the role of a solo artist quite late on in comparison to others, as you used to work as a club promoter. Do you think that time in your life has informed your musical influences?

Yeah, definitely. I think when I’m working with producers, you can kind of hear that influence. I think all of the records that I’ve worked on, the two albums, even also the project I did with Manga (St. Hilaire). But I think I also learnt a lot that has stood me in good stead in terms of how to navigate in the industry. When I was a club promoter you see that music and genres come in waves. I’ve seen a lot of people have a hit record or a viral moment and get carried away with it, and then a couple of years later they are trying to play catch up. I learnt a lot from that, in terms of how I carry myself.

On this new project, while in terms of musicality the songs can be upbeat, but lyrically there is almost a darker side to it. Would you agree with that?

That’s really interesting. It’s funny, I feel like everybody kind of has a different take on it. It’s quite nice to hear you say that, you know, it’s upbeat because I think that definitely there’s more energy on this album than the last, but I think that’s a difficult question to answer. I think that you’re right but then someone else will see it, like slightly different, and I think that it’s not really my job to kind of tell people how to take it. You only have to turn on the TV and there’s another 10 things to talk about, you know what I mean? But at the same time I like to show people that there’s hope. There’s always a path through, but it’s up to us whether we take it or not.

You’ve worked with a few artists on the new record as well? What was it like working with Caroline Polachek?

Amazing, man. She’s super inspirational. I think that when it comes to making music, I’ve got, like a real, intensity to me. Anything that I apply myself to really I just have like an intensity. But I think that sometimes when you’re working with other people, you will try and hide it, because you don’t want to piss them off or like, be difficult to work with. But I think because, she takes her shit so seriously and like, she really cares. It kind of let me know that that’s okay. Like, I can be like that as well. we actually worked on the record remotely but everything is so inter-woven, I’d love to dig up those emails actually this because like, it’s just like, an intense back and forth that’s so detailed. She had loads of really great suggestions and I learnt a lot from her, man.

How would you describe your music? Because as a listener I can’t really fit you into a genre.

 I get this question a lot. And I think it has its advantages and its and its disadvantages. Yeah, I definitely think I’m a singer, songwriter, and I think I’m a unique artist. Essentially though, I think it comes down to Pop. I see the Grime and the Rap thing, some people I guess just don’t know what they’re dealing with. I grew up in the inner city, I grew up in the same place, and I speak in the same language. So I guess like for someone who doesn’t really know, they might just call it that because they just don’t really get it. I also think that you know, like a lot of singers in this country, they sing in an American accent. I think that that kind of throws people off that I just sing in my own speaking voice. My friend Orelsan, who is a French artist, describes it as Underground Pop. I guess since after the 80’s and 90’s Pop has become a dirty word and I’m a bit more atypical than a standard pop artist, but if you look at Pop as like Prince, or David Bowie, that’s who I’m influenced by amongst other genres.

Who are you listening to at the moment? Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

I really like the Jeshi album, obviously the Kendrick album blew me away as well. Self Esteem too, it’s funny because we bumped into a fan at the pub and we started chatting. They told me about Self Esteem and I think she’s sick at combining lots of different influences. Little Simz of course, and I also feel like Central Cee, even though a lot of people see him as mainstream, he’s got something else about him that makes him sick.

I’d love to work with Kano. He inspires me a lot because he takes his art super seriously. You can see that across his music and the way he’s thrown himself into acting, he has excelled. That Rated Awards performance he did, it’s insane. He did that live, it’s just a different level, but still rooted in the things that are real. I remember I just texted him saying ‘Thank you’. When you see something like that it just motivates you as an artist. Why would you half step anything, when Kano has done that? He’s super inspirational to me.

What do you think of the new Beyoncé and Drake records? 

It’s funny, because obviously, House music is like, invented by black Americans. But I do think that there’s this thing in America, there was basically like a national campaign for the Rock and Roll stations in the 80’s, where they gathered in like parks around the country, and they burnt disco records. So it was like a backlash against the popularity of disco, because they were like, oh, it’s commercial. Really, there was an undercurrent of homophobia, racism, like there’s a lot of stuff going on there. We didn’t have that over here. And I think that that has had like an effect on American music going forward. Because there was that thing that they kind of did to disco, I think that if you look at their electronic music, even though like a lot of the genres like house and techno invented in America, but they tend to get big in Europe. More recently, I feel like the African continent kind of brought house music back. You know, I mean, even like, the Drake stuff is like, it’s Black Coffee. So it’s like,there’s a disconnect with America between like dance music, and Hip Hop, R&B, and so this feels kind of like a big thing. But like, for us over here, for me, it’s not really that crazy.

You’ve just announced your tour. I saw you on your last tour in Manchester and it seemed like it was quite an emotional experience for you…

I think the reason why I got emotional on stage is because I lived in Manchester for like 10 years. Wherever I am, I’m not really fully accepted. So it was like when I was in Manchester, the whole thing was like, is ‘all right, but he’s from London innit?’ So that was always the thing. And when when we did the ‘rewind to the 0161’ and everyone was screaming it back to me and I just couldn’t hack it, you know? Like, that day, I was walking around and every street, you’re like, ‘Man, I fell in love on this street!’, or ‘I had beef on this street’. It’s like all these different thoughts, like, I used to live there. It was all of that mix with my feelings about how I felt when I was living there, and how I was never really embraced. You know, like everywhere I’ve been, I’ve never really been embraced. It was just to feel that level of like, acceptance. It just spun me. That was actually my favourite ever show.

What are your plans going forward?

I mean, I had to take a week after the album came out. But no, I’m back at it, man. It’s crazy, you would naturally want to give yourself a bit more of a break, but I can’t because I’ve already got the next two concepts. I’ve got like a concept for a project and an album already locked. My notes is packed with stuff. I’d love to make a series you know, I’m coming up with ideas for that. That’s different. I feel like I’ve finally unlocked this thing in me where I’m like, ‘Oh, I can do this and I’m just gonna just just fucking go, man’. Obviously I’m getting ready for tour as well. So yeah, I’m out of the blocks now. 

You can listen to Murkage Dave’s latest album, ‘The City Needs A Hero’, here:

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