The last time Nick Murphy toured San Diego, things were a bit different. Aside from still using his artist moniker Chet Faker - a pseudonym he’s since dropped - Murphy was also adjusting to the bright lights of fame after a variety of his tracks went viral online, including a revamp of Blackstreet’s 1996 hit “No Diggity,” which later found itself in a Super Bowl commercial.
“I was in a different frame of mind - definitely more of a stress-head,” says Murphy of his previous visit. “This tour, I’ve been making more of an effort to explore the cities I’m in and I can’t wait to check out the area.”
Aside from exploring the community - on his list is a visit to Del Mar Beach as well as a plan to munch on fish tacos from Rubio’s - Murphy has lately been on a musical exploration as well, releasing an avalanche of new tracks ever since he decided to stop using Faker as an artist name. It was a moniker he decided upon when he was still living in obscurity in his native Melbourne, Australia.
“I didn’t travel a lot before I started releasing music,” says Murphy. “I would never go away during holidays, mostly because Australia’s so far away from everything and I couldn’t afford it half the time.”
That all changed in 2011 when “No Diggity” took off, his first of multiple viral hits that landed Murphy a record deal and gave him a global audience well beyond the confines of the land of kangaroos and didgeridoos.
“Sometimes things seem so bizarre, they’re unfathomable,” he explains about the notion that his music quickly spread across the world. “My brother told me he was in a Japanese restaurant in Moscow and they were playing a song from my EP. It’s amazing and I’m grateful for it, but at the same time it doesn’t seem real.”
For Murphy, however, his quick success led to more fretting than celebrating.
“When it all started happening, it stressed me out at the time and was not particularly enjoyable,” he says. “I was so afraid I’d do something wrong and waste the opportunity. When people ask me for advice, I’m always like, ‘I don’t know, I went from zero to 100.’”
For the next six years, Murphy recorded under the name Chet Faker to successful results, with collaborations with British DJ Marcus Marr (“The Trouble With Us”) or the R&B singer Banks (“1998") hitting the dance charts in the U.S., Australia and beyond. In the midst of his burgeoning mainstream success, Murphy felt he needed a change and discarded the very name he shot to notoriety with.
“When I first started making music, I wasn’t sure if I should put it out with my own name or not,” says Murphy, who settled on Chet Faker as a nod to jazz icon Chet Baker. “I didn’t know who I was, so maybe I was a little nervous to put out music under the name my parents had given me, which always seemed kind of sacred.”
After getting advice from the legendary producer Rick Rubin, who thought the change was a good idea, Murphy sent out a tweet that announced that there was an “evolution happening.” Says Murphy upon making the decision: “These invisible walls broke down. This fluidity of writing music came out of nowhere and hasn’t stopped since. The amount of expression and inspiration multiplied immediately.”
The fruits of that labor are on full display in his bevy of new singles, including singles ranging from “Medication” to “Stop Me,” both tracks Murphy released after the name change.
“My writing process is always different, but sometimes I’ll pull songs from a lyrics book I write in,” he explains. “Whatever I write in that book, the lyrics end up meaning a lot more to me.”
Perhaps it’s appropriate then that the lyrics for “Stop Me” features Murphy crooning the line, You can’t stop me, I made it this far.
Nick Murphy (Chet Faker)
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21. (Doors: 7 p.m.)
Where: The Observatory North Park, 2891 University Ave., North Park.