July 24, 2021
The singer-songwriter, who started out with guidance from Nick Cave, keeps listeners suspended between euphoria and unease
One to watch: Martha Skye Murphy
When Martha Skye Murphy was three, she would stand up on tables and sing at family birthday parties. Her big break came when she belted out Cat Power’s Free in front of her parents’ friend John Hillcoat, who was directing the 2005 film The Proposition, soundtracked by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Cave had told Hillcoat he would like a child to sing the opening credits for the film, and so began Murphy’s mentorship under Cave. As well as vocals for The Proposition soundtrack, she contributed to his 2013 album Push the Sky Away.
Three EPs into her career, the London-based songwriter and Actor relishes suspending her audience between euphoria and unease. Murphy likens it to a duel. “It’s not easy listening – you are being activated and being guided through an experience that doesn’t allow you to come up for air until it’s over,” she says. Her single Found Out, released last month, features a distorted bass – sparring partner to her airy, Kate Bush-like vocals. In her latest collaboration, with the Brighton band Squid on their single Narrator, Murphy portrays a woman defying what she deems the male character’s “dominating story”. Midway through the track, pleasure jackknifes into pain,her whispers spiralling into a shriek, dragging us into the beautiful fray.
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