Easy Life: “You don’t get any points for playing it safe”

Easy Life are a band on the rise. With three mixtapes behind them - one of which even cracked the UK Album Chart top 10 - and a debut album on the horizon. 2020 could well be theirs.

The streets of Camden glitter like proverbial gold. That oh-so-metropolitan glow that greets the end of a working shift and the start of an evening of endless possibilities. A concrete optimism, it’s the best part of the day. As North London bustles around them, Easy Life are nestled in a townhouse studio, taking a moment to reflect on a journey that continues to get even more ridiculous with each passing week.

“It’s always funny when we do things like this,” opens vocalist Murray, sorting through his bags after a 24-hour whistle-stop visit to the capital. “It’s funny because you end up reflecting on what was really, really exciting to you like two years ago, and now you think, ‘Fuck! We got gassed about that, and now we’re gassed about this!’ In two years, we’ll probably look back on this too…”

“One thing I love is that there are so many new experiences and not really any routine,” bursts guitarist Lewis. “Like Murray is saying, the path we’re on at the minute, everything is like, ‘Wow, how are we going to top this?’ It’s the best feeling ever.”

Like the shimmering lights of London around them, Easy Life are caught in a moment where the potential of what’s to come is palpable. Blending styles and sounds with effortless ease, their rise has felt fitting of the world around them – a cocktail for a generation that refuses to stick between the lines. They’re simply Easy Life; a label that’s starting to stick.

“It’s nice to get a pat on the back,” smiles Murray, recognising how the past 18 months have taken Easy Life a rehearsal space in the heart of Leicester to travelling the world, eyed as one of the most exciting bands on the planet. “It feels good though, we’re having lots of fun.”

“When you’re in the middle of it, you don’t really notice,” admits Lewis. “It doesn’t feel any different really, other than things like going to awards – day to day, it’s the same.”

Their diary would suggest otherwise. While they’re attempting to take it in their stride, the list of achievements they’ve clocked up reads like an especially impressive resumé. Sold out headline tours? Rabid fans bellowing back every word? Tip list nominations? Awards? Prime festival slots? A mixtape so popular it landed them in the Top 10 of the Official Albums Chart? Check, check, and check again. It’s pretty clear; Easy Life are taking over.

“When we’re playing live is when the whole thing is quite tangible,” pinpoints Murray, coming to terms with where he and his mates now find themselves. “You’re standing there, and the crowd are singing back to you, and it’s like, ‘Fuck, we actually have a few fans’. We started out just playing to our friends like all bands do, so it’s got a bit mental really.

“That’s definitely when it feels like you’re doing something way bigger than yourselves.”

Easy Life: "You don't get any points for playing it safe"
Easy Life: "You don't get any points for playing it safe"
Easy Life: "You don't get any points for playing it safe"
“I have this idea that when I’m 70 I can listen back and go, ‘What the fuck was I thinking?'”

Increasingly, the impact of Easy Life can’t be denied. If ever any band had their finger firmly on the pulse of the playlist generation, they’d be it. It’s something that Murray and Lewis are firmly aware of too, as they continue to pull in fresh, interesting new directions.

“We’re still working out who we are,” explains Lewis. “That’s why we’ve released so much music and not done like an album yet because we don’t fully…” He pauses. “Actually, to be honest, I think we realise that there isn’t going to be a point where we go ‘this is what we sound like’. That’s great. If anything, that’s really exciting for us because we just write whatever we want. I think our audience accepts that. If we made a complete u-turn on our sound, people would still be into it because that’s what we’ve always done. Because Murray has such a distinctive voice, in his lyrics and his actual singing, we can do quite a lot. It’s all Easy Life.”

“It’s just modern culture, isn’t it?” affirms Murray. “Nobody is defined by the one thing that they listen to because everyone listens to everything. Kids are just crazy, they’re into everything. When we were at school, you could see the kids that were into their particular thing. That kid is into that scene, or that kid definitely listens to that type of music. Whereas now, when I look into our audience, I have no idea what any of them fucking get up to because they’re into everything.”

“I feel like we’re not at the very top of that spearhead, but we’re close to it. We’re saying it doesn’t matter, you can be experimental and into so many different things at once. You can be really honest and say what you think – about anything!”

They talk emphatically about the latest Tyler, The Creator album as a shining example of this. Of ripping up the rulebook and welcoming in a new wave of artists where the overlapping of different genres is celebrated. “He goes to so many weird places,” gushes Lewis. “I think other styles of music are starting to be like – right, we’re bored of that, we want to do something different.”

“It’s what music is all about,” Murray adds. “It’s a safe environment to try things out. As soon as music isn’t that, then it becomes boring and stale. Nobody’s going to listen to your shit anyway, so you might as well do something a bit wacky.”

“It’s just a crazy fucking time to be alive,” he continues. “Bands in 10 years are going to be fucking mental. They’re going to be making such interesting stuff, because being pigeon-holed in the 21st century? People hate that.”

Already stepping out onto stages and finding themselves drowned out by fans signing back every note, Easy Life’s star looks set to only shine brighter. “Every time, things get noticeably bigger,” Murray explains, “and we are shitting ourselves every step of the way. Playing to a 200 capacity venue for the first time is intimidating in itself, then playing to 600 people is like fuuuuckk. The sensation just repeats, you never get used to people turning up to the shows, especially when they get bigger. We lose our shit every time.”

“Yeah we are all broke, what are we doing? Why do we want to be in a band?”

Easy Life’s journey began in glamorous Leicester. “None of us grew up in a particularly musical background, or had any idea really – we just liked doing it,” recalls Lewis. “It’s where we’re from, we never expected any of this.”

The freedom to experiment and create without fear of overstepping boundaries is one of the band’s defining traits, one indelibly tattooed on everything they do. Whether it’s reggae, dub, hip-hop, jazz, R&B, indie, pop, or whatever other genre you want to cook up, the way they mix it together never feels anything less than natural. Murray and Lewis, joined by Sam, Cass and Jordan, jump between instruments as easily as they skip through a wide spectrum of musical influences. Playing pub shows to mates, building their own studios by hand and crafting songs that would one day take them to something more, all while working away at day jobs in shops or food stands to pay the bills – the dream was always there. It’s not an unusual story, but for Easy Life, it came true.

‘Pockets’ arrived bright-eyed (and with a sausage dog in hand); a track that hits like a fist full of extra-strong mints all stuffed in your gob at once. Urgent, immediate and able to obliterate any thoughts of what came before, it introduced Easy Life in style. It was also the song that truly bonded them together in a way they’d never been before.

“When you started writing the lyrics for things like ‘Pockets’, some of our really early work, it gave the song a whole new meaning,” muses Lewis, chatting to Murray. “Even though I have nothing to do with the lyrics at all, it embodies everything about us. Our whole lives, it means something to all of us”.

On top of sultry beats, tooting trumpets and a never-less-than-suave vibe, it blazed a trail which Easy Life have followed to grander and grander stages. While their sound may ebb and flow, that deep emotional crux that sits at the centre of everything they do stays strong; a matter-of-fact mirror held up to the world around them. “That’s a big contributing factor as to why people have started turning up to our shows and listening to our music, because it’s not necessarily…” Murray pauses. “I just try to say things as they are. Things I’ve seen that I’m sure everyone else has seen, too.”

Be it pointed statements on a planet under strain (‘Earth’), 21st-century celeb culture (‘Dead Celebrities’), longing for love (‘Sangria’) or a reminder to take a moment to appreciate the good things in life (‘Slow Motion’), even in the darkest moments Easy Life have a sense of optimism and better days ahead. All that, and shoutouts for Colin The Caterpillar cakes too (‘Houseplants’) – what more could you ask for?

“A lot of the songs start as something that I’ve heard someone else say. They’ve said something, and I think, ahh – that’s a really interesting spin on those set of words,” explains Murray. “I don’t ever feel bad or worried about communicating. The production and depth in the music leaves me in a safe space to say anything I want, without it coming across as too cheesy.”

“You’re so open in your music,” points out Lewis. “I’ve probably learnt more about Murray from what he talks about in his lyrics than anything else. He doesn’t talk about these things every day to me. Like, oh, he’s in love! Sorry, that was kinda…”

“No, no, of course,” continues Murray. “Only because the music is so good, the backing is there. The lyrics are very obvious, and I like that. I have this idea that when I’m 70, if I make it that long, that I can listen back and go, ‘What the fuck was I thinking?'”

“I hate lyrics where it’s hard to put a meaning to something, where it’s quite vague,” admits Lewis. “I like that they’re direct. I think that all brought us closer together.”

The importance of communication is something that Murray is more than aware of. It’s easy to see, too. “I’m pretty obsessed with idioms and dialects, coined phrases,” he details. “It’s especially clear in England, but I’ve been in London for a while, and ‘cockney’ is just brilliant. I find that so romantic and poetic – the ability to express yourself in so many different ways depending on where you are.”

Murray stops before laughing. “Wow, that may be the most pretentious thing I’ve ever said! It is interesting, language is the most romantic thing in the world, the ability to communicate. Our inability to do that effectively as humans causes so much trouble. If we could all communicate, then a lot of problems the world faces wouldn’t exist. You have to be vulnerable to communicate in that way, and music has an amazing ability to communicate an idea that everyone can then understand.”

It’s just part of what’s led Easy Life to rise so far, so fast. In under a year, they went from a debut single to appearing on national TV. A slot on Later… with Jools Holland is the sort of occasion more often reserved for big-time festival headliners, as exclusive as they are game-changing. As they whipped through ‘Nightmares’, Easy Life were beamed directly into homes up and down the land.

“That was the first time that we all looked at each other and were like, ‘This is mental’,” recalls Murray. “That’s iconic. Some things you do in music change with the times and the culture. Something like Jools Holland is like… Jools Holland! We’ve gone on to do some great stuff, but that for me was something.”

Not that they’ve stopped there. With newfound confidence, each mixtape they’ve released has been a signal of something fresh, exciting and new for the band. A fully immersive snapshot of five mates living life, embracing the experiences that come their way. From ‘Creature Habits’, ‘Spaceships’ and now ‘Junk Food’, they continue to surprise, even if by now it really should be no surprise at all.

“We’ve put out three mixtapes plus a bunch of singles along the way, so there is a lot of music out there,” lays out Murray, thinking across a prolific run that has seen Easy Life continue to fill radio airwaves on a consistent basis. “Each mixtape encapsulates the time it was created – the three or four months where you’re working on each project. It really sounds like that time of your life. Obviously, music is a deeply personal thing – so it’s even more apparent for me – but if you listen to them, you can hear our development and where we are going in our sounds.”

Each resulting offering has been fed by what came before. The experiences of travelling, engaging with the sights and sounds around them, aren’t unique influences for a band, but for Easy Life, it’s a process you can hear in every step. Murray and Lewis cackle between themselves as they recall stories from the road.

“Me and Lew would never have gone to America if we didn’t get sent there,” Murray exclaims. “We never would have gone, it just would have been too hard to get there. Too expensive.”

“One thing I can remember is going to a jazz night in New York,” Lewis begins to chat, stopping and bursting with a smile. “Ahhh, I just can’t believe how many different styles of music I’ve been exposed to from going to all these places. That sounds corny, but just general bits of information that I’d never have known, going to places and being like wow, this culture and these people live like this. I dunno, it’s just crazy.”

He turns to Murray, “lyrically too, you’re getting exposed to all these new experiences. Just the topics, they’re varied. You write songs about things that if you hadn’t have gone to certain places you might never have done that.”

Easy Life: "You don't get any points for playing it safe"
Easy Life: "You don't get any points for playing it safe"
Easy Life: "You don't get any points for playing it safe"
Easy Life: "You don't get any points for playing it safe"
Easy Life: "You don't get any points for playing it safe"
“It’s a crazy fucking time to be alive. Bands in like 10 years are going to be fucking mental”

With three mixtapes down, attention inevitably begins to turn to that fabled debut album. With Easy Life, there’s a sense to expect the unexpected. Need an example? “Yeah, the first tune on our album is quite the departure,” Murray slyly states, turning to Lewis as both light up with cheeky smiles like school kids trying not to laugh in assembly. “It’s kinda musical theatre, with a Romanian Orchestra that we recorded with. It’s the most free jazz shit, but it’s like… mate. When you hear it, you’ll know the track we’re talking about!”

“You’ve got to be brave with your decisions because you don’t get any points for playing it safe,” Murray continues. “When you say, oh look you’re a four-piece indie band it’s like – great, I’ve heard loads of them, and I’ve heard loads of really good ones too so for you to interest me, you’re going to have to be absolutely fucking amazing. For us, it’s a bit of a cop-out because we can also interest people with these weird and brave choices. Like oh, they make this weird Romanian-style music…” he laughs.

“But y’ know, the challenge is to package that up in a way that is easily digestible, and if you can do that, and switch people on to that idea, that’s when things become more than just another band. All of a sudden, you’re drawing people towards different cultures and different ideas that they wouldn’t have been exposed to previously.”

They’re acutely aware of the importance that is put upon a debut full-length, but they’re in no way afraid of it. “It’s really not that big a deal. It’s a collection of music that we’ll probably find not that hard to put together, but it’s just… the debut album, isn’t it? That’s the only pressure, but at the same time we want it to be good.”

“I don’t want to feel too pressured about it, but sometimes pressure’s a good thing because otherwise we’d just all be sat at home doing nothing. There are so many great albums. Some in the last few years have been incredible. It’s a cool time for popular music, so hopefully, we can add to that. It definitely feels different to anything we’ve done before.”

“It’s only intimidating because everyone seems to make a big deal about it,” lays out Lewis, “but when we release an album, we’ll probably have a mixtape out like two months later.”

That’s Easy Life for you. A band forever living in the moment, finding reasons to be cheerful even when life is hard. “Bit of wisdom,” Murray laughs, pondering a philosophy that has inspired all five members of the band. “If you set out to do X, Y and Z in life it never happens anyway so there’s no point making too many plans, especially in this industry where things change every day. I just think that we’re out here trying to make interesting music and that’s all it really is about. If people want to pat us on the back and say well done, then that feels good too – but who cares? It’s nice to get recognised, but it’s not important for us to get recognised.”

“We’re lucky that we’re in a position where we enjoy our work. There are so many people, and we’ve all got friends that you go and see – like old friends who are down and bummed out about stuff and what they’re doing. We’re so privileged to have something we’re so invested in that we love to do. We don’t forget that.”

Lewis smiles. “Do you know what? This may sound so lame, but I find it so inspiring that the five of us are so into this, and so wanting to reach wherever we can. It’s lucky to have mates who are just like, ‘Right, what’s next?’ Everyone is ready for this.”

The sound of anything and everything, that’s the beauty of Easy Life. Standing on the edge of something massive, eager to grasp it with both hands, that golden hour glow is going to last a lot longer yet. 

Taken from the April issue of Dork, out now – order your copy below.

Words: Jamie Muir

“Yeah we are all broke, what are we doing? Why do we want to be in a band?”

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