Paul Rooney is based in Liverpool and makes music with words, for record releases and for galleries. The words of his sung and spoken pieces deal with ordinary moments and familiar places that are made strange by music, by narrative daftness or by other kinds of artifice, stressing the complications and absurdities of our attempts to make meaning out of the world.
From 1998 to 2000 he released three lo-fi experimental pop CD albums as the band ‘Rooney’, in which every song's anti-lyrics simply described mundane life, from looking at found photographs to doodling on a call centre shift. Rooney appeared in John Peel’s Festive Fifty in 1998, and recorded a session for Peel's Radio 1 show a year later (which was re-broadcast on BBC 6 Music in 2016). Rooney's pieces have been broadcast on BBC Radios 1, 3, 6 Music, Cymru and Scotland amongst many other stations.
Paul Rooney's next public release, under his own full name, the 2007 post-punk dub 12" single Lucy Over Lancashire, featured an unreliable narration delivered by a satanic Lancastrian sprite. His first full length album since 2000, Futile Exorcise – sung and spoken word post-punk experimental folk revenant songs featuring ghosts playing poker and haunting toilet seats – was released in 2017.
Rooney also makes musical or non-musical museum and gallery artworks, some of which have been commissioned by organisations such as Film and Video Umbrella, The Drawing Room or Tate Liverpool, or have been made during artist residencies at places like DCA, Dundee; Proyecto Batiscafo, Cuba; and University of Oxford/Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. He has shown work at Tate Britain; The Arnolfini; BALTIC; Whitechapel Gallery; and ICA; and has exhibited internationally at places such as Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City); Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (Seville) and at the Shanghai Biennial.
Works by Rooney were included in the British Council show Electric Earth: Film and Video from Britain, which toured to eighteen international venues from 2003 to 2006; British Art Show 6, which toured around the UK in 2005-2006; and Running Time: Artist Films in Scotland 1960 to Now, shown at the National Galleries of Scotland in 2009. Other projects include solo art exhibitions at Site Gallery, Sheffield, Matt’s Gallery, London and the Liverpool Biennial; a site-specific sound ‘lecture’ in Leeds for Sound and Music and MAAP; and a museum object divination website for University of Cambridge Museums. He was the winner of the second Northern Art Prize in 2008, and two of his video installations were purchased for the Arts Council Collection in 2015.