After 9 years focusing on Wintersleep, Paul Murphy finally gathered the right mix of songs to put out another Postdata album. Murphy’s busy life meant focusing on constants in life and finding what songs stuck with him over the years. We caught up with Paul Murphy ahead of select Canadian dates to talk about his new record Let’s Be Wilderness and where the project is going.
Northern Transmissions: How did you want to reflect on the relationship between love and death with this album?
Paul Murphy: A lot of the songs center around love, but there’s songs also centering on the end of those relationships or life as well. There’s definitely a lot of love songs on it, but they’re also looking at these existential things, and they connect in weird ways. There will be these songs with stranger existential themes before and after them, and it becomes this broader idea.
NT: You ended up beginning this record on vacation, so how did you start involving people and writing from there?
PM: The songs were accumulated over the years, eight years of material which didn’t quite fit Wintersleep but I still felt were strong. The songs were pretty far along, so it was about retaining the way they felt in demos and bringing that to the studio. I wanted to keep it fun working in the studio with friends, and I just wanted to keep it fresh and jump into the void a little bit production-wise. I just wanted to have fun with the material so that was kind of the idea.
NT: How did Tony Doogan shape the record as a producer and how did they get involved?
PM: Tony has been a long-time collaborator with Wintersleep, so he was a natural person to work with. I had the demos and I wanted to retain the feel from the demos, and Tony is known for being able to do that. I knew he could make templates from my demos. I could really trust Tony, he was in Glasgow and I was touring with Frightened Rabbit a lot so I knew I wanted them there, so the beginning was really just travelling to Glasgow and getting Tony to help bringing the songs further. I didn’t know if it would be a band or just working on songs in the studio with Tony, Tony helped a lot, he was really the rock.
NT: You’ve been buying art from Cecil Day for some time so did it just seem like a great fit for your artwork this time?
PM: I’m from Yarmouth and my brother Michael, who produced the first Postdata record, had introduced me to her. A lot of her art is up in rural Nova Scotia, and her stuff is a lot of Maritime landscapes and some American material. The way she does it is kind of abstract and cosmic, it magnifies rocks on a beach to something really incredible. So we’d been buying stuff from her, and I had this mock-up that wasn’t working. I thought one of her pieces would be amazing cover, and thought I should ask her about it. I contacted her and she had all this material that was modern, and we found something that fit the record.
NT: Looking at a song like “Black Cloud” how did you want to comment on mental illness and how did a documentary help you on this point?
PM: The original idea for the song was just working off this dream where I was surrounded by clouds, just this vague feeling. I had melodies but then I saw this documentary on PBS about veterans coming back and turning their uniforms into art to deal with PTSD. They wanted to make their uniforms into these positive symbols and that connected these ideas I was working with.
NT: Given your last Postdata record came out virtually a decade ago, what’s kept you away from the project and what pulled you back?
PM: I think the beauty of this record is that the majority of the material I write is really going to Wintersleep. But I’m writing so much material that you don’t want to put everything on a record all the time. The guys are such great filters for music, they can hone in on the ones that works well with them. The Postdata stuff takes longer because it’s just me filtering it, so you have to feel when you have a record that’s worth recording. There’s a lot of material to draw from so sometimes you’ll have a song that gravitates you towards writing a certain way.
Words by Owen Maxwell
05/31 Halifax, NS – The Seahorse Tavern
06/01 Fredericton, NB – The Capital Complex
06/02 Moncton, NB – Tide & Boar