We chatted to Murray Matravers, lead singer of Leicester born band, Easy Life, about being a weirdo, celebrating individualism and feeling like you’ve got a fishbowl on your head. Read why he’s getting candid about mental wellbeing and find out what to expect from their latest album.
It’s tricky to pin Easy Life’s music down to a genre – describing themselves as an alternative R&B group, there’s much more to their songs than that. Murray’s a natural storyteller and his poetic lyrics are punctuated with hip-hop beats and a dash of jazz thrown in for good measure.
He joins the call from his sofa, a little bleary eyed as if he’s just woken up. Growing up on an organic sheep and cattle farm, he’s come from humble beginnings and seems unphased by the band’s rising success. Easy Life are quickly gaining popularity, reaching number seven in the UK album charts with their mixtape, Junk Food, and winning Best New British Act at the NME awards last year. When we ask how they started making music, Murray laughs:
“It wasn’t really a eureka moment. We all just kind of fell into each other’s company and started writing music. Ever since I can remember I’ve been writing songs and I was really lucky to meet the band. I went to school with the bass player and he’s a really old friend of mine. I met the other lads because we all lived in Leicester at the same time – that was it really.”
Stumbling rather than breaking into the music world, it’s clear that fame isn’t Easy Life’s motivation for making music. Instead, Murray views music as a form of expression and a chance to speak truthfully about topics that are sometimes hard to broach.
“Music allows me to talk about things that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to talk to my friends in the pub about."
"With a lot of blokes, there’s this whole fragile masculinity thing going on where we don’t want to talk about our feelings, it’s really negative.
“In a song, I have three and a half minutes to say whatever I want. I’ve written music since I was an angsty teenager and it’s really helped me understand how I feel about things. As a writer I hope that if I talk about important stuff, then it will be in the limelight for a minute or two.”
It’s the main reason he’s speaking to CALM today, keen to open up the conversation and break down the stigma around feeling shit or anxious – a topic he tackles in many of his tracks:
“People have been suffering with their mental health for years, but it’s a relatively new term. Whether or not you’ve struggled with it, everyone knows somebody that has struggled and it can be very isolating. Any charity or organisation like CALM that helps penetrate that isolation is so valuable and the more we talk about it, the better.
“And that’s what I do with music – I talk about the things on my mind, because I know other people think about them too. In the same way, we’re having this conversation now and it might inspire someone else to have a conversation about how they feel. All of a sudden it’s no longer a taboo.”
It’s easy to get lost in Easy Life’s catchy melodies, but beneath many of their buoyant tracks often lies a more serious message. Nightmares is an introspective song about the worry that if you put your emotions on the line, people might not care or listen.
“The hook in the song is ‘who gives a fuck about my nightmares’. I think it’s something everyone’s paranoid about. Often you think that by putting yourself in a vulnerable position and talking about things, you’re weaker, but it actually takes a lot of courage to do that. The song champions the idea that we should talk, even though nobody cares, because the irony is that people should care and often they do.”
Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but Murray kind of liked lockdown. Aside from giving him a chance to knuckle down and write the new album, he believes it was pretty useful in getting people to talk more about their feelings.
“People have felt isolated, claustrophobic, paranoid and very, very anxious, because it was the end of the world for a while, wasn’t it? But there’s been positivity in people picking up the phone to tell someone they’re upset or worried about their job and things, because it starts the conversion. People are more in tune with how they’re feeling because normally when you’re non-stop, you don’t give yourself time to reflect. I think that’s been a silver lining from lockdown.”
Easy Life’s debut album, Life’s a Beach, echoes this sentiment. Addressing the anxieties, doubts and downers we all have from time to time. Opening with a personal track for Murray, A Message to Myself has been two years in the making and is a reminder that things are going to be okay, even though they might not feel like it on the difficult days:
“We were in L.A working on the song and I called my friend, director and animator, Andy Baker. He told me he was in Portugal because he needed to take some time out and was suffering with anxiety, so I told him I’d been working on a song that deals with the same shit.
“Andy said that when he’s anxious he feels like he’s got a fish bowl on his head, like he’s claustrophobic and can’t get outside of his own mind and the idea just stuck with me."
"It was from that initial conversation that we started working on the video. The idea is that there’s this goldfish which is a positive voice in your head, you’ve just got to find it within this sphere.”
A Message to Myself is a celebration of individualism, with the lyric “there is nobody else who can do you like you can do” encouraging us all to keep going even when we feel like weirdos, because let’s face it, many of us often do.
Easy Life’s new album, Life’s a Beach, is out now. Find it on Spotify, or wherever you like to listen to music.