Interview: Nick Murphy Finds His ‘Missing Link’

Nick Murphy is tasting the rainbow.

After more than five years creating music under the moniker Chet Faker (with hits like “Gold,” “Drop The Game” and that seductive cover of “No Diggity”), the musician is shedding this outer layer and returning to his roots. “I’d felt like I’d been working in one color,” Says Murphy. “Once I realized, “Oh this is green, I can use other colors,” the music started opening up.” Now creating with a wider palette, Murphy has released his latest EP, Missing LinkThe five song record finds the artist in a more natural state: playing with reverberating melodies and blending his distinct soulful r&b style with electronic underpinnings.

Murphy’s latest single “Medication” explores “ignorance and flawed logic” with a brooding track filled with industrial samples, a heavy baseline, and an ominous recurring keystroke. “You got me talking about the truth for so long, its got me wondering where I even started” sings Murphy as he searches to make sense of the senseless.

On Missing Link, Murphy alternates from earnest vocals (“Your Time”) to playful beats (“I’m Ready”), revealing a multi-faceted side he’s been waiting to express for some time.

Culture Collide caught up with the singer to talk about his name change, his creative resurgence and the ‘medication’ for ego and ignorance.

Culture Collide: You’re now releasing music under your given name. What made ‘Chet Faker’ seem like it didn’t fit artistically anymore?
Nick Murphy: It was a personal change in my life. Especially in the last few years, I felt like I pushed through some walls that had been up for a long time. I was 22 when the Chet Faker stuff took off and I was still figuring a lot out. It was always meant to be a temporary project but it had other plans for me. I felt like putting music out on my own name made the most sense to people who were listening, to follow along.

CC: Your first release as Nick Murphy is the Missing Link EP.
NM: It really was a ‘missing link’ where I felt this experimental time and this purity in-between two places, where this might be the only time to put this music out. I thought if I don’t put this out now, I’ll probably never put it out.

CC: How did it feel creatively to go from making music under Chet Faker to your given name?
NM: That’s where it started to be honest. It started from the music and the studio.
Because it was my name, I didn’t have to consider anything. I Just did it. Whatever I felt was the right answer.

All of a sudden all of these invisible sources of inspiration started coming out of nowhere. In a way it was a return to unconscious creation and surrendering to pure expression. Which has kind of been the theme of this whole thing – it’s strangely less conscious.

CC: How did the short film and visual accompaniment to Missing Link come about?
NM: Johann Rashid, who I co-directed the film with, is a good friend of mine in New York. We’re always hanging out and initially he had an idea for the song, “Forget About Me” and I said, “What if we do a video for the whole EP, like a short film?” And he was down.

It was a wild ride. I’d never done anything like that before and I really enjoyed it. I often have visual ideas but I don’t have the experience or know-how to put that stuff together. It ended up being quite abstract which is the kind of film I like, so it was a really enjoyable process.

CC: You also have a visual component to the tour, what was the concept behind that?
NM: I worked with another good friend of mine, Benjamin Gordon who did the cover design for Missing Link. The big thing has been working with friends. In New York there’s so many talented people and I’ve got such an amazing group of friends that are so good at what they do, so collaboration has been a really big influence on this. I still consider this period experimental, I’m trying new things every night – I’ve really been enjoying it.

“We need more ambition from our artists. So many artists are just being safe…they have this platform and power of culture, which can start revolutions.”

CC: You’re latest single “Medication” is about “ignorance and flawed logic,” what is the cure for these epidemics?
NM: [Laughs] Education. Education. Yeah. Self-awareness. I think some people are so far gone there’s no coming back. I think everyone is seeing right now, the world is in a weird place with hyped up ignorant people. I find it really interesting how these people’s brains work. They are so confident in some ways, but it is just so illogical. It really baffles me because I have a lot of self-doubt and I deal with that. So it’s amazing that someone could be so confident who really lacks any sort of logical concepts.

But what’s the cure? Shit I don’t know. Long-term is education. Just not dumbing down people, especially in art and culture.

One thing I do believe: in music we need more ambition from our artists. So many artists are just being safe. They’ll be like “Oh that’s catchy, people will like that” and they stop there. They have this platform and power of culture, which can start revolutions, and it’s just self serving. I’m trying to be a part of the solution not the problem, so I’m not going to tell people what they should do or what the medication is, but I’m trying to do what I can from where I stand.

How would you describe your past-self and present-self in one word each?
NM: Past-self: learning. Present-self: growing.

Listen to Nick Murphy’s Missing Link here. Catch him on tour through the end of the year.

Oct 14 Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
Oct 16 Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
Oct 19 Los Angeles, CA – The Shrine Expo Hall
Oct 20 Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory
Oct 21 San Diego, CA – The Observatory North Park
Oct 25 Dallas, TX – The Bomb Factory
Oct 26 Austin, TX – Moody Theater @ ACL Live
Oct 28 Live Oak, FL – Suwannee Hulaween Music & Arts Festival
Nov 22 Berlin, DE – Columbiahalle
Nov 23 Cologne, DE – Palladium
Nov 24 Zurich, CH – Komplex 457
Nov 26 Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso
Nov 27 Brussels, BE – Forest National
Nov 29 – Paris, FR – Bataclan
Dec 02 Manchester, UK – Albert Hall
Dec 05 London, UK – Troxy