Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy

With the release of ‘Balearic Breakfast: Volume 2’, an album informed by her eclectic radio shows on Worldwide FM, Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy shares her key influences

Photo: Eilon Paz

DECKS APPEAL

“When I was 12, my dad brought me a hand-me-down GE Trimline record player, which was made in the 1960s. His friend was having a clear-out and had this record player with the speakers that fold out. When I was growing up, the only way you could hear music was if you owned it or you heard it on the radio.

“I used to have to listen to music on the hi-fi in the living room where my mom and dad were. But once I was able to control my own listening with a turntable in my room, that’s really the start of my huge passion for albums. With no one bothering me, I’d listen to an album from beginning to end, and my uncle lived down the street so I was able to raid his record collection. The first one that I became obsessed with was ‘Days Of Future Passed’ by The Moody Blues.”

ON MY RADIO

“Growing up outside Boston, we had great radio, which most of America didn’t have. Boston has the most universities out of any city in the country, so we had all these college stations. By the time I was in high school, my favourite commercial station was WBCN – the local album-oriented rock station.

“The programme director was called Oedipus, and he had this terrific radio show called ‘Nocturnal Emissions’ on Sunday nights. He would play records I’d never heard before that weren’t classic rock – Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, and all this new wave and off-the-wall music way outside of the Top 40 and classic rock canon. The music inspired my record collecting, and I would go into Boston to try to buy some of the records that I heard him play, which could be anything from ‘Nuggets’ compilations to Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The clerk behind the counter would be wondering what this 15-year-old white girl was doing buying Roland Kirk records.

“I don’t know how Oedipus got the name, but that’s what he called himself. And then, ‘Nocturnal Emissions’? You can’t make this stuff up.”

LOFTY IDEAS

“I first started going to The Loft when David Mancuso reopened it on East 3rd Street in 1991 or 1992. It changed my life in terms of becoming a dance music DJ. I’d been playing different kinds of music up to that point. I heard dance music that really resonated with me, and it also turned me on to audiophile sound. Even though I was a tape editor and had studied sound at New York University, I didn’t know much about speakers and amplifiers, preamplifiers and moving coil cartridges. That was all new to me, and David taught me that.

“He also recommended a book called ‘The Life Energy In Music’ by John Diamond. And although both David and I didn’t agree with everything Diamond had to say – because he was only into classical music and dismissed pop and rock – he said that music should be raising your vibrational energy.

“This is something I really feel, and it doesn’t mean that all music has to be happy and positive. Sometimes you need music to help you cry, sometimes you need it to express your anger. But it’s still tapping into your soul, as opposed to bland music that just brings down your energy levels. Music is for healing, and music that you identify with because it’s painful is just as much a healing experience.”

NORMAN CONQUEST

“I grew up listening to Motown, which was the sound of young America in the 1960s. It was quite extraordinary, but it was also locked into a certain sound of optimistic pop or beautiful ballads, or whatever. And [producer/Motown arranger] Norman Whitfield just bucked the trend, combining two of my favourite forms of music – soul and psychedelic rock.

“He could see in the late 1960s that there was a massive cultural shift in America – students were protesting against the war, people were taking acid, there’s the hippie movement, the civil rights movement, and there’s a lot of positive ideological action about moving forward and progressing. And he taps into this in a musical sense, and realises that we need to reach beyond just thinking about the Top 40 audience.

“So he’d be listening to Hendrix and Sly Stone and trying to incorporate that into his own productions and songwriting and arrangements with The Undisputed Truth, Rare Earth, The Temptations and later, Rose Royce. It’s rock fused with soul, funk and gospel – all my favourite things wrapped up with great songwriting, lyrics, performers, musicians and singers. It blows my mind.”

GOOD WOOD

“I’ve lived in east London for over two decades. Epping Forest has always been on my doorstep, but I’d only been two or three times before the pandemic. Suddenly, I found myself going there all the time, and I know it like the back of my hand now. I grew up in a small town where you’d just pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and go to the woods for the day, and as you get older, you tap into those childhood experiences. I found that I really still needed nature in my life.

“I love London for its diversity, arts and culture, and we have more green space than any other major city in the world. I’ve meditated in the forest and hiked the entire thing from top to bottom. I just find it’s a great place for me to reset. I never wear headphones, and I don’t listen to music when I’m walking there. I just listen to the trees and the birds, and completely tap into another world.”

‘Balearic Breakfast: Volume 2’ is out on Heavenly

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