The official bio notes for refrag available at various Independent Music sites read like absurdist short stories. Some of the band members are murdered during a Salvation Army charismas party. Additional band members are incarcerated for unethical scientific studies with insects and fruit. The underground cult participants who comprise the band are exposed as Jehovah's Witnesses and swiftly dis-banded. Assuming that none of this is true, who really makes this unique and genre-bending music?
Desmond Murphy of Auckland, New Zealand is the one-man electronic orchestra behind the music of refrag. Des began making music in the early 80's when he played bass in a band he describes as "punk and also shite." The members of The End Band were "very bad", in Des's estimation. The band remained together for three years but never got any better. After the demise of The End Band, Des continued to record demos and found a few gigs in a series of bands with another of its original members. The name of the new band changed from week to week to disguise its reputation. In 1998, his participation in the production of lousy live music ended, and Des got his first PC. He began to "mess around with music sounds" and the PC made it "easy to get the sound I like."
In 2001, Des relocated from London to New Zealand, his wife's home, and the country where their son was born. With this move, refrag was conceived. Working in Reason 2.5, Wavelab 4, and with the recent introduction of Melodyne into his compositions, Des achieved a level of excellence that has received significant notice in the on-line Independent Music community. Broadcast radio audiences in the cities of Christchurch and Wellington, New Zealand, are also privileged to be able to hear his music.
It is difficult to accept that someone with no musical training creates the music of refrag. Des plays the guitar, the bass guitar, and does his composing by ear. Self-effacing and perfectionistic, Des has no idea why one of his songs would be chosen as an Editor's Pick at Download.com or why he receives email from fans. When forced to comment, he says, "Maybe it's a bit odd and some folks like it? I like music that does not sound like anything you heard before but not so mad that it has no reference. I have made 100's of tracks and a lot of them get deleted, and I only put a few on the net. I'm never happy with what I do, and I always think it could sound better." Whatever the reason might be for the attention, he notes that the best moments he has had with his music are from emails that say the music is good, because "I don't do it for fame or money."
The son of Irish parents growing up in a West Indian area, Des heard and enjoyed traditional Irish music and Reggae. As a teenager, he notes, "I was very depressed and would only listen to Joy Division", but (deciding that statement would make him sound too mad) he added, "I also listened to dance music and anything with deep bass." He currently listens to all forms of music and any of those forms is likely to find its way into a refrag piece. Although his music is often gloomy, he enjoys lacing it with just a bit of humor. The titles and lyrics of his compositions are often certainly of black humor variety, and a careful listener will sometimes note just a touch of silliness in much of what refrag does. Des also enjoys remixing the music of other musicians into new compositions, some of which are posted as a separate band, the beerkats, at SongPlanet.
The addition of live guitar and vocal performance to refrag's recent electronic compositions is slanted toward the goal of performing with a live band again. He has located a guitar player, but is still searching for "a very good drummer." Fans of refrag may be disappointed that there are no plans for a purchaseable high quality CD because Des likes his music to be free.
When asked what the one thing is he would like the readers of this article to know about him or his music, Des replied, "I'm a bit mad and taking all kinds of drugs. . .not for the madness, just for fun." That statement neatly sums up what refrag is about--it is music like Des himself. Don't take it for the madness. Take it for the fun.
Posted by jillnojack of www.songplanet.com