Sat 16 Jul

FIS X Warm — Colleen Cos­mo’ Murphy

Presented by Faith In Strangers X Warm

About this event

Colleen Cos­mo’ Mur­phy is an unde­ni­able musi­cal tour de force. A dis­co doyenne. The audio con­nois­seur you want in charge of your par­ty. A cura­tor with a deep under­stand­ing of the pro­found ways in which we con­nect with music. A sophis­ti­cat­ed broad­cast­er with a vel­vety voice and an envi­able crate of under­stat­ed gems. Over the last 30 years Colleen has gone from being an afi­ciona­do of the NYC under­ground, men­tored by dance music leg­ends David Man­cu­so and François K, to an inter­na­tion­al­ly renowned tastemak­er and in-demand selec­tor and remix­er, whose events have helped to shape the cul­tur­al land­scape and change the con­ver­sa­tion.
Her flag­ship of these is Clas­sic Album Sun­days, which turned 10 in Octo­ber, and has become a glob­al phe­nom­e­non. What start­ed as a Sun­day after­noon event in Lon­don to cel­e­brate icon­ic, genre-hop­ping records on a high-end sound sys­tem soon erupt­ed world­wide, and helped to pio­neer the audio­phile and lis­ten­ing bar move­ment, as well as the vinyl renais­sance, with a book, Clas­sic Albums By Women, released last year. There are now CAS events across Europe, USA, Asia and Aus­tralia, at insti­tu­tions such as Roy­al Albert Hall, The British Library, V&A Muse­um and Edin­burgh Inter­na­tion­al Fest, live streams that have blos­somed dur­ing lock­down, and with spe­cial guests includ­ing Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, Jarvis Cock­er, Jazz­ie B, Thurston Moore, KT Tun­stall, Nile Rodgers, Sis­ter Sledge and many more.
For Colleen, Clas­sic Album Sun­days was a punk-rock reac­tion against the dimin­ished qual­i­ty of music thanks to the down­load age, as well as an eclec­tic approach to record cura­tion. It’s about cham­pi­oning the real joy behind music, the ethos that has under­lined much of Colleen’s career: the art of lis­ten­ing. When I found­ed CAS a decade ago,” she says, it was to redress the way we lis­ten to music in the 21st cen­tu­ry – encour­ag­ing peo­ple to take the time out to savour an entire album, unin­ter­rupt­ed, and with­out divert­ing their atten­tion to the noise of mod­ern life.” It turns out that, despite our atten­tion being increas­ing­ly splin­tered these days, many peo­ple were keen to find a com­mu­nal expe­ri­ence” in this way. It tapped a cul­tur­al nerve,” Colleen says.
Key to Clas­sic Album Sun­days’ suc­cess is the rather spe­cial expe­ri­ence of get­ting to hear an album on an audio­phile hi-fi sound sys­tem and dis­cov­er­ing pre­vi­ous­ly unheard details. This is an audio love affair that, for Colleen, began back in 90s New York, when she was broad­cast­ing her pop­u­lar disco/​house shows on WNYU – like Manhattan’s answer to Mary Anne Hobbs – and cut­ting her teeth at David Mancuso’s leg­endary Loft. It start­ed as a pri­vate par­ty in 1970, long before dis­co music had been giv­en
a name, and where DJ leg­ends like Frankie Knuck­les and Lar­ry Lev­an would find inspi­ra­tion for their own clubs The Ware­house and The Par­adise Garage.
Two decades lat­er, Colleen found her­self going to The Loft every week, often on her own. It com­plete­ly trans­formed my life,” she says of the expe­ri­ence. Even­tu­al­ly she became Mancuso’s pro­tégé, fill­ing in for him and even musi­cal­ly host­ing The Loft by her­self. Only a few oth­er selec­tors, includ­ing François K and Lar­ry Lev­an, have enjoyed such a
priv­i­lege. In 2000, David told Time Out New York City, She is very devot­ed and very pure about the music. She’s one of the only peo­ple I would trust, both with the music and with the equip­ment, to fill in for me.”
The Loft was pio­neer­ing for its inclu­siv­i­ty and pro­gres­sive ide­ol­o­gy, pro­vid­ing a safe space in which peo­ple could socialise, dance and cel­e­brate life irre­spec­tive of race, gen­der, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion or eco­nom­ic sta­tus. As evi­denced by the Loft com­pi­la­tions David and Colleen pro­duced for Nuphon­ic, the var­ied musi­cal selec­tions also pushed bound­aries – the music had all of the deep, psy­che­del­ic and emo­tion­al soul that I found in rock music, but had nev­er heard in dance music until then,” says Colleen. And The Loft’s inge­nious sound sys­tem for­ev­er changed Colleen’s rela­tion­ship with music. It is an audio­phile hi-fi rigged to per­form like a club PA, but pure­ly repro­duc­ing the music in hon­our of the artist’s orig­i­nal intent,” she explains, the result of which was crys­talline sound that brought the records to life.
Colleen has brought her own eclec­tic musi­cal sen­si­bil­i­ty to the inter­na­tion­al cir­cuit as Cos­mo. She toured exten­sive­ly in the USA, Europe and Asia, off the back of her huge­ly suc­cess­ful radio shows – so pop­u­lar world­wide they were even boot­legged in Japan! — as well as hold­ing down guest slots at François K’s club nights, Body & Soul and Deep Space. She relo­cat­ed to Lon­don in 1999 and sev­en­teen years ago, Colleen co-found­ed the Lucky Cloud Loft Par­ty with David and a non-prof­it team, includ­ing dance his­to­ri­an Tim Lawrence. They invest­ed in a state-of-the-art audio­phile sound sys­tem mod­elled on Mancuso’s own and threw quar­ter­ly events called The Lucky Cloud Loft Par­ty. Before he passed away in 2016, they’d fly Man­cu­so over from New York to join them. Now Colleen is a musi­cal host at The Loft in New York City, the Lucky Cloud Loft Par­ty and was asked by David to help over­see his lega­cy.
Colleen car­ries the torch of her own var­ied musi­cal his­to­ry with her unique musi­cal mix. As well as her Clas­sic Album Sun­days show on Gilles

Peterson’s World­wide FM, she hosts Cos­mod­el­i­ca, a month­ly excur­sion spot­light­ing the diver­si­ty of dance music from psy­che­del­ic rock to jazz funk to dis­co to house”, which has branched out into nine-hour par­ties at Giant Steps, fes­ti­val sets at Dek­man­tel and Houghton and a Boil­er Room, as well as a clos­ing set with Peter­son at the 2017 World­wide Fes­ti­val. She has con­tin­ued to inno­vate through the 2020 lock­down with her Balearic Break­fast request show, where she push­es the bound­aries of what is con­sid­ered Balearic’, far past its more shal­low rep­re­sen­ta­tion of pool­side muzak’.” Broad­cast­ing live dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, she con­tin­ues, has giv­en the shows more mean­ing both for my lis­ten­ers and for myself.”
As well as cel­e­brat­ing CAS with a var­ied range of dig­i­tal events and more planned for 2021, Colleen has also been step­ping it up with her remix­es and pro­duc­tions. Her 2013 take on Fat Freddy’s Drop Moth­er Moth­er’ is a low-key clas­sic and, after a break focus­ing on Lucky Cloud and CAS, she is back this year with a high­ly antic­i­pat­ed remix of Mel­bourne cos­mic funk band Midlife’s track Vapour’. In 2020, she was also enlist­ed by art-pop fire­brand Róisín Mur­phy to remix her incen­di­ary sin­gle Murphy’s Law’. She’s steeped in every­thing that’s drawn me into house music and dance music,” Róisín, a huge Body & Soul fan, said dur­ing a joint inter­view between the two Mur­phys this year.
In that same inter­view, Colleen espoused the impor­tance of dance music and club cul­ture, with words that tru­ly sum­marise what she is all about. You can be from dif­fer­ent walks of life and have noth­ing else in com­mon except for this shared pas­sion and this one par­tic­u­lar song or album,” Colleen said. It just brings peo­ple togeth­er, it’s a com­mon lan­guage and some­thing we real­ly need in the world right now.” It will be excit­ing to see where her adven­tures in sound go next.

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12:47 PM

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