Anna Murphy – ‘The Hurdy Gurdy Returns’

Anna Murphy. A name synonymous with majesty and melody.

10 long years with a band that has created a unique niche for themselves in the metal world, Anna has moved on from Eluveitie to now focus on her creating her own musical style. Wall of Sound caught up with the lovely vocalist and hurdy gurdy player to talk about her past, her future and of course her upcoming Australian tour.

With the loveliest smile in her voice, Anna greeted and gave me an update as to what she’s been up to.

I’ve been fine, and everything’s going really well. I am pretty busy with what I’ve been doing, which is a good thing. Right now, I’m just finishing off my new single – I did the first mix a few days ago. After that, I’m going to do some tweaking around and hopefully it’ll be done so I can release it as soon as possible.

Australia is so excited to have you return to our shores so soon.

I’m so excited that I’m coming back there. I’ve been there twice before with Eluveitie but now I’m coming for my solo shows and it’s going to be fun performing with Ivo, Merlin and Rafi.

What do you love about Australia and what fans can expect from your upcoming shows?

Well, I think the people there are friendly and open. Its’ really nice talking to people and having a laugh. It’s also a very beautiful country. As for the shows, I’m going to be coming along with a full band – it is going to be a very eclectic show with lots of different things going on. For instance, we’re going to play some of my solo songs as they are, then we’re going to play some of them in a harsher, more metal version, acoustic versions of some Eluveitie songs and some of my songs as well. The new single definitely, and there might be some surprises along the way that we’re still working on.

tumblr_n929rh8r8O1swvoczo1_500What kind of atmosphere do you aim to create when you get up on stage and play music?

With my solo project I like to keep it very personal and toned down because I like small settings. I prefer them to big stages. The tour I did with Anneke van Giesenbergen was perfect because it was exactly the way I wanted it to be. There was communication with the audience, I said some stupid shit here and there and overall it was very relaxed and I didn’t have to act like something that I’m not.

You released your debut solo album Cellar Darling back in 2013 and I believe your currently working on more new music?

The main reason I wanted to to do my solo project was because I had so many ideas that didn’t really fit anywhere else. At some point I started collecting them and there was enough material for more than one album. That’s when I decided to record the songs and see what happens. I didn’t really have any plans and I didn’t really think about whether people were going to like it so I did it more for myself than for other people.

Many words have been used to describe your voice, talent and musicianship. Where do find your inspiration from?

From everything. I’m especially creative when my mind is in a strange place. I mean it’s kind of unhealthy in a way but when I sleep well and eat healthy, don’t do shit that’s stupid. That’s when I’m least creative. This is why I need some sort of chaos in my life that drives me to write things. My music, it comes from everywhere. I think I can write lyrics about anything, as long as it comes from within and well, as long as it’s not about politics or something like that. It’s a bit more abstract than having just a topic. 

So what does Anna Murphy aim to bring to her captivating live performances?

The thing about me is that I’m not very good at acting. The way I am on stage is just how I feel. So there are days where I feel really happy and good about things but then there are days I don’t feel great and not as energetic but then I just try to focus on something else. What I like conveying to people to put it very simply, is just how I am. I don’t want to pretend I’m some kind of superhero or rockstar. I want to show my appreciation to people and that I’m doing my best for them.

You are multi-talented, able to play a couple of instruments, sing and you have even ventured into the world of audio mixing and sound engineering over the past couple of years. Was it all spontaneous?

Yes it just kind of happened. The weird thing is that my family are singers as well. Everyone is an artist of some sort. I wanted to finish school and study history or philosophy. It just happened that I met this band and joined them. A few months later I quit school and focused on everything music and now I cant even imagine being anything else but a musician. I would fail at it.

 You also play an instrument, the hurdy gurdy, that is very unorthodox in today’s musical world but at the same time is one of the most traditional instruments from the Middle Ages, tell us how that came about.

I fell in love with it when I saw the instrument being used in another band. I heard the sound of it and it was really weird. I like weird things. I rented one from a school which was for old music and then at some point I got my own instrument when I was with Eluveitie. I’ve kind of taught myself how to play and I don’t play it the traditional way. I’m sure I’d make hardliner hurdy gurdy players from the Medieval period cringe.

10 years of being in one of the biggest folk metal bands in the world, what did you learn from your expereince with Eluveitie?

I discovered my musical side which wouldn’t have happened so quickly if I hadn’t joined the band. It helped me understand and realize that this is what I want to do. Of course, I also learnt things like how to perform on stage and most of all Eluveitie has helped me personally to grow in many ways.

So, what lies ahead for Anna Murphy?

For the future I learnt a lot of aspects from the music business as well. In the new band we’re going to be very careful in choosing business partners, see what we can do ourselves, where we need to get other people on board. It’s important, every aspect of your business, that you’re interested in it and you don’t just put it in other hands that easily. Also with band members, we’re going to be more careful now, keep it among good friends who can work together very well.

I have to ask you the inevitable question of what everyone’s main thought was when yourself, Ivo and Merlin parted ways with Eluveitie. Is that chapter closed?

I would say yes. The chapter is closed for now, but you never know do you. It’s not like we absolutely hate each other. We respect each other for who we are and we’re both going to do our own thing. It’s just done, that’s all. Life goes on.

What would be one of your favourite memories being in the band?

I’ve had so many amazing experiences. I mean there have been moments for me, personally, on stage that helped me a lot if I was feeling shit or nervous. I’d kind of look at the audience, see what I can do to stop myself crying. I would make eye contact with a fan and he or she would notice that something wasn’t quite right. They’d give me a sense of security like a sign or something or they smiled. That has helped me. One of the last shows I played with Eluveitie. I almost started crying because I knew that this was going to be it. There was this one guy in the crowd that caught my eye and made that sign with his fist on his heart, and it was really nice to see. It gave me a sense of courage.

One final message from Anna Murphy before you land in Australia for your two solo performances in Sydney and Melbourne.

Well I want to thank everyone for their unbelievable support and I really hope that they will keep enjoying what both sides are doing so that they can also see the best of the situation and I’m really looking forward to playing for them.


Interview by Prarthana Venunathan