PARK CITY - James Murphy wants a new job in music. Or rather, "to figure out how to make it my job without making it my job in the same way."
It's been about nine months since the LCD Soundsystem frontman waved goodbye to fans from the stage at Madison Square Garden and during those weeks he's busily helped build the film "Shut Up and Play the Hits" around LCD's final hours, the days before after the band had officially called it quits.
And now the movie has bowed, at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, another job done.
When I spoke to Murphy at the film premiere last night (Jan. 22), he seemed calm, if not plainly wary of the fact that every fan (and journalist) wants to know what he's up to next.
"I had fun and I want to be able to do things that I wouldn’t have been able to do before in the band. And ['Shut Up...'] is one of the things that I wanted to do that I couldn’t do before," he said. Beyond this, he said, he doesn't know.
Collaboration wouldn't be out of the question, since its been central to his career with LCD and beyond. He had help from Arcade Fire and Reggie Watts at the finale. Aside from starring in "Shut Up...," he also plays a role in another Sundance pick "The Comedy," directed by Rick Alverson and starring Tim Heidecker along with half a dozen musicians and comedians like Richard Swift, Heidecker's other half Eric Wareheim and Okkervil River's Will Sheff. Murphy plans to continue working with the roster at DFA Records, the label he helped to co-found. He's obviously got plenty of old and new friends who could help out on whatever it is he wants to do. But with his unsurety comes some skepticism and even healthy cynicism.
When I asked if he wanted to work more in the movie industry, Murphy said, "I don’t know how I feel about industries in general whether it’s music or movies, it’s like coming out of the frying pan and into the fire -- quit music and get into movies. [As if] I just couldn’t get enough crazy, self-important people..."
He said he doesn't want to expand DFA. "I don't want to make it bigger," he said, but instead is "spending more time at the office, and talking about theories and processes... I don’t like labels that much, it’s a necessary evil."
As for creating new music, Murphy says he writes a song a day but most of the time it just "disappears," or he sings it to his girlfriend. Recording, he said, is another matter. And promoting a recording is too far away from the music-making process. "It wasn’t a fame thing. [LCD was] not particularly famous. As a job experience, I started feeling like there was a lot of pressure on it being a career," he said.
Even the title of his film is a bit cheeky: "Shut up and play the hits" is line Win Butler jokingly shouted at Murphy during the MSG concert, as Murphy lapsed into earnest banter about his plentiful and talented guests.
Check out my interview above with Murphy on the red carpet of "Shut Up..." for more on what it takes to feel normal, "Apocalypse Now 2" and if New York City brings him up or (still) down.