LCD Soundsystem James Murphy renounces ‘cool’ crown

Posted on 13 July 2010
By Martin Higgins
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LCD Soundstystem frontman James Murphy admits he spent decades trying to dissect what makes something cool in music and culture, but has renounced his band’s ‘cool’ crown.

James is for many a hipster, the cornerstone of cool, with his unique brand of low-fi, yet intimately sculpted electro, but he says his view on coolness has altered over the years.

Brooklynite James is playing the festival circuit in what will be the last performances by LCD Soundsystem.

The 40-year-old said: “New York likes art stars. When I was in DFA, we were seen as these crazy guys throwing these drug parties connected to some fashion show. That was cool to people.”

“Now I’m just a guy in a band. I suppose what happened is that I spent my whole life wanting to be cool, but eventually came to recognise the mechanism of how coolness works.

“So it’s not really that I don’t want to be cool any more – it’s more like I’ve come to realise that coolness doesn’t exist the way I once assumed.”

In terms of his musical output and natural musical ability Murphy is self-deprecating and does not believe he is particularly brilliant or outstanding musically. He says taste is his greatest attribute: “There are some people who are just plain great at making music. That’s not who I am.

“But, I can succeed at making music that works as dumb body music, but that can also meet someone in the middle if they want to investigate our songs in a deeper way. I know the things I can do: I understand music and I trust my taste. And taste is important.”

The New Yorker believes this selective, original taste in music was inspired by The Beatles’ seminal album Revolver and oddly, sounds from his parent’s old fridge.

He added: “Oh, yeah. Revolver, when I was six. It was the song Tomorrow Never Knows. The hum on that song is where it all started. The other sound that really affected me was the hum from our refrigerator. I used to lie on the kitchen floor and put my head next to the refrigerator vent and sing these weird melodies in my mind. I’ve always sung to machines.”

James Murphy also defended pretension in music and wants to put a positive spin on the what is often used as a disparaging label.

He says: “I actually want to write a treatise in defence of pretension. I think the word pretension has become like the word ironic – just this catch all – a term used to distance people from interesting experiences and cultural engagement and possible embarrassment.”

“But pretension can lead to other things. You know, the first time I read Gravity’s Rainbow, I did so because I thought it would make me seem cool.

“That was my original motivation. But now I’ve read it six times, and I find it hilarious and great and I understand it. You can’t be afraid to embarrass yourself sometimes.”