How We Met: Feargal Murray & Camille O'Sullivan

'We still live together, which can be hard for the people we date'

Camille O'Sullivan, 37

After training as an architect, O'Sullivan had a near-fatal road accident in 1999. During her recovery, she decided to follow her dream of being a performance artist and is now known for the cabaret style of her shows, arranged with long-time collaborator Feargal Murray. They live together in Dublin.

I fancied Feargal immediately. He was an attractive man who was great with music: a winning combination. We met 15 years ago; he was living across the road from me in Dublin. I was an architect student doing showbiz by night and he was the piano player at one of my first gigs – a dodgily named event called Pyjamajazz. Within a month of meeting, we started going out.

He comes from a family of 13 siblings and I had to learn all their names; it felt like revision. I went through an initiation interview with each of them.

A car accident I had in 1999 changed everything. Our relationship had ended the week before – it was a bad break-up – but after the accident Feargal came to see me in hospital every day, and when I moved back home to my flat, he moved in to take care of me: bathing me, cutting my food and helping me learn to walk again. He saw me at my most vulnerable and ours became a special bond.

That accident tested everything I believed in and what I really wanted to do became clear to me. It was Feargal who said, "We're going to write a show. I'll write the music and we'll put it on together." Twelve years on, the way we collaborate has hardly changed. We are each other's left arm and right arm and he knows how I work with song. I wasn't trained as a musician so I explain images in my head to Feargal, like, "The dark, the light, what animal are you coming through the forest as," and he'll say, "Sing like it's a beaked [animal] with dark eyes, and here's the tempo."

I'm full of emotion and with Feargal it's easy to be free and passionate about things. So when people first meet us they are like "Oh My God, do they not get on?" To us it's just being passionate.

It was difficult when we started going out with other people – we were explosive with jealousy – but now we've adjusted. It can be hard for people we date, though, as Feargal and I still live together. Others say, "Why aren't you still together?" But it's not that sort of relationship any more.

Feargal Murray, 40

A pianist and composer, Murray has worked with Amy Winehouse and Nick Lowe and played piano at George Best's funeral. He became O'Sullivan's main carer after her accident and their artistic collaboration has lasted 12 years.

I moved back to Dublin in 1997 after studying in London, and I landed in the same neighbourhood as Camille. I'd heard there was a music happening and I fell in with the people doing the show that she was in. They said, "There's this girl who's a force to be reckoned with." And I ended up on stage with her. She looked beautiful, sounded fantastic and my sisters who were in the audience kept saying they couldn't take their eyes off her. She was great craic and we started dating.

Our relationship had fizzled by the time of her road accident. When I saw her in hospital I wanted to stick by her, so I hung out with her for a while. When she started getting better I remember offering her practical solutions [on what to do next]: "Let's do a few gigs together, I know a few boys in Dublin and we can get a band together."

She's full of ideas – me too – but when we first suggest something to the other its natural for us both to dislike it. So we always have to go through a few refusals before we eventually do it.

We're total opposites but complement one another: Camille is expressive and dramatic and I'm more low-key and theoretical so I interpret what she comes out with and translate [our vision] for other musicians. The best moment [in our collaborations] for me was when I'd just come back from touring America in 2008, and decided to work with Camille full-time. Our first gig was on Later Live… with Jools Holland. I remember seeing Tom Jones and Friendly Fires on set and thinking, "We're past [performing] cabaret now!"

We hang out together at home mostly – we live with one another – and play with our cat Burty. It tends to take people [we're going out with] a while to get to grips with that, but until something major comes along, I think it's something they'll [have to] be cool with.

O'Sullivan & Murray will be performing 'The Rape of Lucrece' from Wednesday to Sunday at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, and 'Changeling' at Priceless London Wonderground, Southbank Centre, London SE1, from 28 August to 2 September, to mark the launch of O'Sullivan's album, 'Changeling'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot