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"I've never been good at just being a fan—I've always gone straight to being a participant." James Murphy, the co-founder of DFA Records and the former front man of dance-rock ensemble LCD Soundsystem, taught himself to play drums, guitar, keyboards and a mean cowbell on his way to becoming one of the most influential producers and musicians of the 2000s. Since disbanding the group two years ago, he has thrown himself with the same participatory fervor into the world of food and drink. Murphy, who still travels the world DJing and producing, has cooked at events alongside rising-star chefs Iñaki Aizpitarte and Kris Yenbamroong. He hosted a wine-tasting seminar on the indie-rock Coachella cruise and is currently collaborating with Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman on a signature roast. Food & Wine dispatched writer Jon Fine to London, where Murphy spends a lot of time, and the two met at Brawn (brawn.co). The East End wine bar is one of Murphy's favorites, both for its "evangelical" list of natural wines and its delicious menu of updated French-focused dishes from chef Owen Kenworthy. Over hand-chopped steak tartare and cauliflower-and-fava-bean risotto, Fine talked to Murphy about his conversion to wine-and-food geekdom.
Jon Fine: I heard that Christina [Murphy's girlfriend, Christina Topsøe] called Brawn the world's most dangerous restaurant. You could lose a day and a night here.
James Murphy: Christina and I came at four in the afternoon one Sunday. We thought, We'll have one glass of wine and a little charcuterie. I texted a friend to tell him and he wrote back, "We're on our way." They came, and we thought, So now there's four of us. We might as well get a bottle.
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JF: And cut to eight hours later.
JM: To 2 a.m. Some friends were eating three tables over, so they joined us. A couple of guys we knew from France came over. It became a rotating table.