The naked DJ strikes again.
Cole Murphy, the artist behind one of Knoxville's preeminent native musical acts, Fine Peduncle, entertained audiences Wednesday night at the Pilot Light with his unique blend of electro-soul R&B and his signature semi-nude performance.
"I suppose some people might think it's a Miley Cyrus-like gimmick," Murphy said of his act, where he is known for stripping on stage. "Really, it's a performing function similar to shedding and growing, like an insect metamorphosis."
Murphy, a 2010 UT graduate in printmaking, said he draws much of his performance inspiration from this cathartic evolution of insects, a fascination that helped lead to the naming of his solo project.
"I liked the alien-like sound of 'peduncle,'" he said. "I wanted to create a hip-hop kind of character through this act. And then the actual, anatomical definition of 'peduncle' is a connective tissue that's found in insects, arachnids, plants and human brains."
This allusion to interconnectedness is an example of the several fold spirituality that saturates Fine Peduncle's music, according to Murphy.
"I don't subscribe to one particular faith, but a combination of different ideologies influence me and my music," said Murphy, who was raised in a Southern Baptist community. "Mainly, I incorporate a lot of occult beliefs, some aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jewish Mysticism and also Wicca.
"I view my shows as being kind of like Pagan circle magic. I believe in making your own deities."
On stage, Murphy's face was painted to evoke a mask and long hair coiffed into a mohawk. The top of this massive 'do could be seen bobbing by the front of the stage throughout the early evening as Murphy listened to the night's two opening acts, Jungol and Linear Downfall.
By midnight, it was time for Murphy, now fully in character as Fine Peduncle, to take the stage. Performing his trademark beat-heavy tracks built on loops and falsetto vocals, Murphy delivered a psychedelic sex jam that revved up the audience and left them raving, according to Ivy Latham, senior in organic horticulture.
"He's revolutionary, Knoxville's finest," Latham said. "He gave a very sexually charged performance, like always, and was super amazing. Everyone got naked, men and women alike."
"He's the prince of Knoxville," Jimmy Russell, senior in psychology, said. "No one makes people get down to their dirty selves like Fine Peduncle."
Fine Peduncle has performed at Bonnaroo but said attendees were hesitant to let their guards down in his early performances.
"When I first started performing, people thought I was this crazed man – until they started joining in," Murphy said. "I want to assist other people by taking them away from their anxiety and inhibitions to the point where they take their clothes off – I think that's an amazing thing to see.
"You have to let yourself go free."
Murphy has plans to release a new album later this fall and will perform next at the Pilot Light on Friday, Sept. 27.
For more information on Fine Peduncle, click here.