"By the time we got to make an album I’d hoped we’d know what we sound like, but we still don’t!" - Easy Life's Murray Matravers opens up about their debut LP Life's A Beach
In the four years of their career thus far, Leicester fivesome Easy Life have put an awful lot of themselves out there.
The band, who consist of singer and multi-instrumentalist Murray Matravers, drummer Oliver Cassidy, bassist Sam Hewitt, guitarist Lewis Alexander Berry, and keyboard player Jordan Birtles, have maintained a steady touring presence across the UK and the world, while they've also released three full-length mixtapes and a series of EPs and singles. That's more than many bands get in their whole lifespans.
Part of the reason for their gluttony of output is the band's sound, which defies an easy genre fit, with R&B, funk, hip-hop, soul, electronica and indie all thrown in their somewhere. Matravers doubles as a trumpet player, with Hewitt also adding saxophone. They write a lot, and take pride in not worrying if their next release sits easily with what's gone before. In fact, you get the sense they hope it doesn't.
Now a part of Universal imprint Island Records, the collective have finally been pinned down to a single LP, Life's A Beach, which arrives this week.
The album has largely been produced by the band's long-time collaborator and former Dog Is Dead frontman Rob Milton, with hitmaker Fraser T.Smith on there too. It is a sprawling 12-track collection that hops from genre to genre constantly, sometimes within the same bar.
As Life's A Beach arrives in hmv stores, we spoke to Matravers about distilling the band's frantic taste for songwriting into a single LP and why the album's theme came from an in-joke among the band...
You’ve put out three mixtapes already, well over 20 songs, how did you decide what would make the album?
“We’ve easily put out 25 songs now, maybe even 30, but that’s how we like to do things, we like to be prolific. There are three songs on the album that people know, but the rest are all brand new and written over the last 18 months. I write loads of music, we always have a lot to choose from. The mixtapes and the EPs have been us experimenting, just trying to figure things out, by the time we got to make an album I’d hoped we’d know what we sound like, but we still don’t! This is an experiment, the next album will be an experiment too. It’s a journey. I’m less concerned about the end goal, I just love the process.”
How many songs did you have to pick from? Did you record quite a few and cut them down? Or did you work on the ones that made the cut?
“Oh god, no. We’re pretty frantic. The creation process is all-consuming. We’ve written hundreds of songs, most of which are terrible. The irony with this album is the tracks that have made the cut were all written in about four or five hours, the ones that didn’t make it are the ones that I spent ages tweaking and crafting. I was aiming for pop perfection and it never works out. I’m less to teach myself to let go. The less I think about it, the better it is. This is a collection of things that felt great in the moment.”
Was there much arguing within the band about what was going to make the final tracklisting?
“We all know when there’s a good vibe with a song, when it’s got something authentic going on. It never got heated. I think we chose the ones we really enjoyed writing and remembered how good they felt to get down in the studio.”
What kind of album is this lyrically? Can you identify a theme yet? Or is it too soon to see one?
“I always talk about what I’m seeing and feeling. I feel like if I notice something then everyone else will notice it too. Personal experiences I hope people can relate to. I don’t feel like I’ve got a clue a lot of the time. I wanted to elaborate on a few themes, self-love and living with a glass-half-full mentality. The world can be a s***ty place, but it’s alright because we’re all in this together and it’ll come good in the end. Things could definitely be worse.”
Was the album always going to be called Life’s A Beach? Or did you kick other titles around?
“From the beginning. We always start with the title. There’s a real seaside thread, lots of nautical imagery and there are water-based metaphors all over the album. It gives the album real continuity. It’s a bit of an in-joke within the band because Leicester is about as far as it’s possible to be from the sea. So we’d dream that we were elsewhere in the songs.”
You did the album with Rob Milton, who you’ve worked with since the very beginning, he seems like less a producer and more one of the band. Can you talk us through that relationship?
“He's one of my best friends. We met very early on, in a time when things weren't going well in either of our lives. We wrote 'Pockets' together and that pretty much changed everything, for both of us. He's part of the band. We have that relationship with lots of people. We've always worked with the same mixer, same photographer, same crew, so many people work so hard for this band to work."
You're on one of the biggest labels in the world, has there been any pressure to get a named producer in? Or do things differently?
"Not really. Island have been great, they've pretty much let us get on with things and treated us really delicately. They appreciate that they signed us based on how we sound and what it is we were doing. We've been given more options by Island and there have been some discussions, but we've not felt any pressure. Our ethos is easy to get behind. We just love what we do."
You've got a hefty touring schedule coming up, are you in good shape?
"We're back practising now and we feel pretty rusty. We've not done this for 18 months. We're so excited to get back out there. It feels like the first tour we've done. I can't wait for my first last night McDonald's and a whiskey rider. It's going to be a lot of fun, but it's going to be a lot of rehearsal before we're ready.
How's 2022 looking? Are you booked up?
"We've had to be cautious. The state of the world dictates that. We're planning for a summer of festivals next summer and we want to tour America. We've not really done that yet. That's assuming we're able to."
And how's your next release looking? Is the new album already cooking?
"There isn't a plan. I'm writing, but I don't know what it's for. It could be a record, an EP, a mixtape, I don't know. There are some collaborations I'm working on too. I'm pretty frantic with a short attention span, so there's always something cooking. We had a lot of time to sit with the first album, it'll be more slapdash for this new album. I've got plenty of tracks sitting on a hard drive, I just need to figure out what to do with them."