TJ & Murphy have been causing quite a stir in their hometown of Liverpool, England. A talented guitar and vocal duo, they perform their own distinctive original songs delivered with clean, tight vocal harmony and tasteful finger picking. Their music is intricate and memorable, with beautiful interweaving melodies and harmonies. Their debut album “Weary Nights” has been well-received and the recipient of rave reviews. The duo is now eagerly working their way through the recording of their second album “Hurricanes”, which is due to be released soon.
We discovered you guys when you joined our sister site, Songswagger.com. We were impressed and took the time to do a little research on you. Thanks for agreeing to this interview.
Speaking on behalf of TJ & Murphy for this interview is Thomas-Joseph (TJ).
To begin, please tell us about your upbringings and the personal influences in your lives.
We are two Liverpudlian lads, from working class backgrounds, who shared a passion for music and writing. There wasn’t much money growing up, so you learn to get creative and that stayed with us. I’m from a strong community of family and friends who have all been an influence on my life and made me who I am, and continue to influence who I will come to be.
How did you guys meet up?
We first met in secondary school, but we didn’t work on a musical level until later. A couple of chance meetings put us in contact again, and we ended up travelling around 14 countries busking, you know, learning the trade.
You are living in Liverpool, how much influence does ‘place’ have on your work?
I think it must have, but it’s not something I’m aware of. I think what happens “in” the place has more of an influence.
The obvious question everyone asks is what musical influences had an effect on you guys – but we want to narrow that down. What are the qualities you hear in other artists that you embrace in your own work?
I need to be convinced that they feel and believe in their work, then I can relate to it; also a strong lyrical content, something that makes me think, makes me say “wish I’d of thought of that”..
One of the things that impressed us was how very confident, and sure, you both are in your performances. The vocal element, lyric, harmony, and the musical arrangement are well constructed. Would you give the readers a start to finish glimpse into your writing, and arrangement process, as a duo.
It’s always a little different each time, but generally, for me, I’ll be playing and stumble upon something I like and it’s almost as if the melody I play suggests lyrics. Sometimes, at first, I don’t know what the song is about, almost as if the song reveals itself to me. This is pretty much the way we work, individually getting a song to a certain point and then finishing it together.
There is a definite style and quality to your work, was that a happy accident or is it a function of deliberate effort?
Definitely a happy accident! It just happened!
Your songs all have a definite storytelling bent, where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, it’s hard to pinpoint. It generally sources from Extreme emotion.
There is a strong and lucid poetic quality to your lyrics. How important is the lyric to you?
Lyrics are very important in a song, they are ultimately what connect you to the audience, the melody is the conveyer that delivers the lyric to the listener.
Equally as deft is your musicianship, how much effort do you put into that aspect of your performance?
I just be myself, if I started trying to perform it wouldn’t look natural.
I don’t mind “atmospheric folk”. It’s hard for me to categorize my music, so if people want to do that for me, that’s cool. I’ve a strong feeling that “atmospheric folk” won’t be a good description for the next album. It’s a little different!
Listen to “Old Dog” and “Late Night Line” by TJ and Murphy
We found you, thanks to the Internet, how much time and effort do you put into promoting yourself on the web?
We don’t spend much time on the Internet. Billy, our manager, deals with that side, although once a week we check our sites and reply to a lot of messages personally.
From your prospective, how has the music business changed in the last ten years in the UK?
I think its a lot easier to get your music heard these days through the Internet; this is the only way I have known it. I imagine it was much harder years ago, people produce themselves more lately with the aid of pro tools and computers etc. Older musicians tend to tell me its harder to secure a record deal these days, because of free download sites, more money is earned touring and licensing your music. I’m new to the business side of things, so I guess I’ll find out
Your self released debut album “Weary Nights” was well received and you are working on a new album, are you looking to get picked up by a label?
Yes, we would like to be under a good supportive label to get our music to a wider audience.
Tell us about the new album.
The new album “Hurricanes” is much different to the last album. It is a mix of electric and acoustic songs, instead of all acoustic. I’m very excited and confident about this next album.
We’re sure there are many fans looking forward to your new album. With the new release you will undoubtedly be playing a lot of gigs and promoting your new material. What’s the music scene like today in Liverpool?
There is a really healthy scene in Liverpool. A lot of talented artists, both native and from abroad; great live venues and a lot of good festivals-a real buzz here, and I’m proud to call it home
We want all our readers in the US and around the world to discover you. You are rightly getting a lot of attention, how is that for you?
It’s just a real buzz that we’re doing something that we love and people are relating and enjoying it as much as we are. I am immensely grateful to all those who support and believe in us. Especially our manager Billy.
Are there bigger things on the horizon?
Yes, we have just signed a licensing contract in Seattle, US and looking forward to launching the new album.
Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Under a good label, touring, and making the best albums we can.
Thank you, so much, for your time. You guys are at the beginning of what we believe will be a well deserved and prosperous career. Based on what you have accomplished, right now, what advice would you offer to a beginning singer/songwriter?
Be confident in your own ability, follow your impulses, and most importantly play the music you love.
TJ and Murphy
Like to hear more from TJ & Murphy? Visit them on My Space