After shutting up and playing the hits for one last time at Madison Square Garden in 2011, James Murphy finally completed his long goodbye – albeit one that ended with a near-four-hour show that spanned his band’s entire discography, featured guest appearances from Arcade Fire, and was later made into a documentary that enjoyed a prestigious premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
But in the intermittent years between that New York City show and this morning’s big Coachella announcement Murphy has kept himself more than a little busy – and that’s without counting LCD’s recent Christmas “comeback” track.
Here’s a quick catch-up on the often weird’n’wonderful things that have kept Murphy busy since he called a halt to the Soundsystem party over four years ago.
Remixing data from a load of tennis matches
It does sound a bit strange on the surface, doesn’t it? But, back in 2014, Murphy linked up with computer giant and tournament sponsor IBM to “remix” the US Open. Taking performance data and scores provided by IBM and feeding it through a complex algorithm, Murphy composed over 400 hours of music inspired by the rate that Andy Murray pounded the base line (probably). You can listen to the results below.
Developing his own line of coffee
Once you’ve enjoyed a long streak of success in music, you can be excused for wanting to take a break from dark studios, stage managers and countless press commitments. In fact, you could even take said break with a nice cup of coffee. But none of that Nestle rubbish, oh no. If you’re like James Murphy, then you go ahead and develop your own line of coffee products (in collaboration with artisanal NYC coffee company Blue Bottle), call it ‘House of Good’, and sell it for $26 (£15.50) a pound bag.
“I am a little sad that percolators weren’t figured out to be good coffee makers,” he said in the accompanying press release, unintentionally naming a new LCD song in the process. “Because there is something quite great about them.”
Planning to open a wine bar
If you’re looking for something a bit stronger than an espresso, then don’t worry, because James Murphy’s got you covered. Setting up once again in Brooklyn, Murphy announced plans last year to open a wine bar: called The Four Horsemen, it intends to stock up to 350 different wine selections, serve food and, rather intriguingly, have acoustics that the musician has specially designed himself. Eh? “That’s why it doesn’t sound cavernous,” he told The New York Times. “All people will know is that they’re happy. They’ll not feel the unpleasantness.”
He aimed to change the noise of the turnstiles on the NYC subway
Apparently vexed about the annoying beeping sound made on this part of the New York subway since 1999 (and what a grudge to hold), Murphy decided to launch a bold plan to get all the subway turnstiles to make music. “I want to make every station in New York have a different set of dominant keys,” he told Sound Opinions in 2013. “So that people who grow up will later on in life hear a piece of music and say, ‘Oh, that’s like Union Square’.”
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Last year, Murphy’s vision began to take reality: with a little help from Heineken, his “subway symphony” was introduced to firstly New Yorkers and then the world, as you can see below.
He made a film
Do the LCD man’s creative talents never end? Seemingly not: in 2013, Murphy took part in Canon’s ‘Project Imaginat10n’ as one of five famous faces tasked to make a short film. The LCD’s man’s effort, entitled ‘Little Duck’, was shot in Japan and chronicled a man “pulled from his life in Manhattan back to his home in rural Japan when his estranged brother runs into trouble.” He also cheated a little bit by asking legendary film director Ron Howard for advice during the filming process, but when you’re LCD Soundsystm’s James Murphy, you use the tools that are available to you, right?
He buys zippers for every new pair of shoes he buys
To “save precious seconds putting them on”, apparently. Not sure it’s an idea that’ll catch on, mind – although it must presumably aid the “Chinese sneakers that are nine dollars each by the dozen” that he apparently buys in bulk.
He designed an actual soundsystem
Yup, this was a thing: linking up with Soulwax, Murphy made ‘Despacio’, an 11-foot, custom-built disco soundsystem (which operates exclusively with vinyl, naturally) that they’ve since taken on tour. He also gave the best reason for doing the project: “I feel like it’s taking responsibility for the opportunities that we have access to and doing the best we can, rather than just complaining in a plane in business class to each other about where we’re going to get paid to play records.”
And, perhaps unsurprisingly, he still made and produced a shedload of music
Arcade Fire teamed up with Murphy for ‘Reflektor” (which he described as “the food I eat and the air I breathe”), penned music for a Daniel Craig-starring Broadway play, and worked in the studio with the heavyweight likes of Gorillaz, Andre 3000 and Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the interim. And then, of course, there was the small matter of ‘Christmas Will Break Your Heart’.
But now all attention turns to LCD Soundsystem’s imminent return, which begins in April on a stage in a Californian polo field – and with further tour dates promised, it seems that Murphy will well and truly return to the day job in 2016.