James Murphy has been working on his pet project of changing the sound of the New York City subway turnstiles to something nicer for a long, long time. He recently partnered with Heineken to make this so-called Subway Symphony a reality, but the MTA gave him a pretty firm, unequivocal “no,” saying that the harsh tones are necessary for the visually impaired and they can’t take the turnstiles out of service to mess with the sounds.
Still, Murphy seems blissfully undeterred by that clear-cut rejection, and he talks about the project at length in a new video interview with Billboard. He totally gets that it’s an uphill battle and the onus is on him to do all of the work to persuade them, but he also fairly convincingly lays out his pitch in the most pragmatic terms possible, saying that he needs to make sure that the tones are just as useful to the visually impaired and arguing that the turnstiles won’t need to be taken out of service if the project is implemented in 2019, when the MTA is already scheduled to tweak the turnstiles and phase out MetroCards.
But the main thing that the video makes clear is that James Murphy is as full of low-key charisma as ever, and it’s entertaining to just hear him talk about pretty much anything. At the end of video, he briefly discusses meeting fans on the subway in a hilariously casual way, talks about coffee shops that he likes, and tells the interviewer that he doesn’t listen to headphones on the train so that he can listen to the city instead. As he says, the Subway Symphony “is a project, hopefully, to make people enjoy the sound of their city rather than hide from it.” You can watch the full video here.