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Q&A: Nick Murphy

How do you get inspired?

I’ve always been kind of over-sensitive about everything, which I then funneled into creativity. But now I try to smooth things out and not be such a bleeding heart all the time. It’s useful for making music, but it’s not as much fun being an individual.

Do you find catharsis in creativity?

Absolutely. That’s how this all started: as a coping mechanism for feeling stressed. That’s not to say I don’t have techniques to get inspiration moving. Exercise is a huge one. Especially during the early days of my career, I’d go for a run and would almost always get inspired and think of an idea.

What is it about running in particular?

When you’re running, or doing something that’s physical that requires a kind of focus and pushing, you can give your problem-solving to your subconscious which I think is better than your conscious mind 100 percent of the time. It’s about trying to default to that subconscious. That’s why people have ideas in the shower or when they’re driving, because your conscious mind is busy doing something else. It’s weirdly ironic and paradoxical, but to have good ideas you have to give up wanting good ideas and just go and live.

How do you stay grounded?

I do yoga and meditate. A couple of years ago, I was having such bad anxiety and had no way of fixing it. I got into meditating using an app, and it saved my life a little bit. Now I have my own way of meditating, which I do every morning. If I’m in a rush, I’ll do 45 minutes and if I have time I’ll do an hour and 45 minutes. I also do holotropic breathing, which is breathwork. It’s really simple. I’ve found that taking deep breaths and doing body work has a profound effect.

The life of a musician is known for being unhealthy. How do you manage that?

The average lifespan of a musician’s career is seven years. A lot of artists don’t hang around very long. They either die or just burn out, and what’s the point of that? You think you need that drink at the end of the day, but that’s a ritual you created. Everyone needs a vice—I have vices—but what people don’t realize is that you can choose your vices. You can even choose a vice that’s good for you. Right now, one of my vices is exercise. Maybe I’ll go a bit too much, but I think it’s a good vice to have because you end up pretty damn healthy. I’m probably a bit of a workaholic, and that’s certainly a vice. But at least the ramifications are always good.

How do you feel about the release of your new album?

I can’t fully give it a positive or negative emotion. When a record of mine comes out, it feels a little sad, like I’m giving away something I’ve been so connected to. I dream about these things and I wake up with ideas. It consumes me, so to put it out [into the world] means that process is over. It also means that all of the opinions are about to come. I’m fine with opinions, but some people are too outspoken. For a long time I couldn’t read them, but these days I can. The purpose for what I do is to express myself rain, hail, or shine. People can see that and it might inspire them to express themselves, too. Even if I do something that isn’t good, it’s worthwhile. Someone might say, ‘Wow, that sucks... but he means that.’

This interview has been edited for publication.

Photo by Willy Lukatis