For a band who claim they don’t know what they’re doing, Easy Life sure seem like they’re on a charge. With their debut album finally here, it’s bucket and spade time for one of the hottest new acts on the planet.
Words: Jamie Muir.
It’s February 2020. Dork has just spent a couple of hours in the company of Easy Life, riding high with the world at their feet. Award show wins. Top 10 albums. That feeling of 2020 being their year buzzing in the air, a feverish excitement to their words, not knowing where the road was about to take them but ready to go. A dream that seemed so distant in those early years playing shows in and around their hometown of Leicester. It felt new, but also right.
Just over a year later, and frontman Murray is sitting perched in the sunshine, wracking his brains about the past year. Not just where the world has gone since that last chat, but where Easy Life have gone, too. Yes, it may be a pretty straightforward statement to point out that the past year or so has had its impact on us all – but for Easy Life, it’s changed them in ways they’d never have predicted. Shaking the foundations of everything they built, it’s left a big question mark on what comes next.
“You know, man, I’d hate to say I was feeling cool right now,” Murray admits. “We’re obviously hugely excited about putting the album out, and I don’t want to underplay that, but we were so used to getting out there and playing songs, almost road-testing them. We haven’t had that, and it’s added this extra level of anxiety where it’s like I have no idea if people are going to like these songs.”
Like for many artists, that lack of interaction has been hard to come to terms with. Easy Life know they’re in a better place than most, but for a band on the cusp of dropping a debut album, having to hit pause left them looking for that purpose.
“It’s left me feeling less confident because those shows are so massively reassuring,” explains Murray. “We’ve always been a live band. That’s what we do. That’s our bread and butter. We’re not those guys who are super trendy or up to date on Instagram or TikTok. That’s not really our forte. Our forte is putting on an amazing live show and being with people. To take that away from us; it’s kinda left me with some crippling anxiety – way more than what I was feeling before.
“I’m like – well, does anyone still care about Easy Life? I’m sure there are a few artists who feel the same because, other than self-promoting online, there’s not a whole lot you can do. Without those things that reassure you, it’s left us asking so much. Do people wanna listen to this new music? Or do they just want to come to a fucking show? What was and what is important about Easy Life has changed.”
It’s somewhat appropriate then that the band’s debut album, ‘life’s a beach’, arrives at a time of newfound hope and excitement for the future. A joyful scrapbook of looking around, embracing struggles, but knowing that ultimately we’re in this together and things will be alright in the end – there’s no doubt that this is a debut that wouldn’t have been the same without the past 18 months.
“That anxiety I feel now, that could be a good thing, you know?” reflects Murray. “There’s a positive. Like, I think the album probably sounds different because of that time, and I like to think different in a good way because all change can be positive.”
That feeling of optimism and collective hope in the face of every challenge life throws isn’t just a simple bow to tie up ‘life’s a beach’; it defines everything Easy Life do. A self-described “melting pot of shit we were listening to and our own individual tastes”, it’s why in the space of a couple of years, they’ve gone from a group of friends to a band soundtracking the lives of a whole generation. It’s the sort of grand statement the band wouldn’t make themselves, but that doesn’t make it any less accurate.
“It’s fucking crazy, man. Honestly, it’s a silly thing, isn’t it?” laughs Murray, thinking over the past few years. “Every young kid is in a band at some stage, and that’s literally all this fucking was! We were just people who were a little bit lost in the world and decided to make a band and smoke weed together. Now we’re playing two nights at Brixton Academy at the end of the year. It’s a complete joke!
“There’s a beautiful irony at the heart of Easy Life – that everything major that has happened to us has come at a moment when we thought it wouldn’t. We’re just blagging it! We have no idea what we’re doing!”
Refusing to play up to the hyperbole, ‘life’s a beach’ thrives in its grounded tales. It’s a snapshot of everyday feelings and emotions, finding the glint of light even when times are darkest. Whether it’s the call to better days of ‘a message to myself’, the grin-inducing smile of ‘have a great day’, the Streets-esque closer ‘music to walk home to’, or the potent bounce of latest number ‘skeletons’ – it’s impossible to come away from ‘life’s a beach’ without feeling warm. The culmination of every unpredictable step made so far, its roots in simply looking on the bright side of life is nothing short of vital. That message is something that only now Murray can come to acknowledge.
“It’s not something I went into thinking about directly,” he notes, “but in retrospect, I think the album deals mostly with this idea of escapism. Just the process of making music is pure escapism – so the album is about wishing things were simpler, but also coming to terms with life and realising: ‘…but it’s okay!’ With Easy Life, we do that a lot. We’ll always be like: look how bad this thing is, but it’s okay.
“It’s a celebration of all the things that are wrong with the world in a way which flips them around and says: Yeah, but isn’t it great that we’ve all got these similar issues that we can relate to one another with?”
“We were just a little bit lost and decided to make a band; now we’re playing two nights at Brixton Academy”Murray Matravers
Rather than aiming squarely for the knockout with a message of defiance, Easy Life’s stand revels in the everyday. They’re us. They’re you. They’re every little decision we have to make, from waking up in the morning until we rest our heads at night. It’s going with the flow, making things better along the way.
“It’s easy for me to glance over and think about it,” reflects Murray, thinking about what ‘life’s a beach’ truly represents, “but I’m certainly not like sat here saying it was all planned out. It all happens accidentally, like…” He cracks up laughing. “I swear people get me twisted. I’m not that much of a deep thinker. I’m just trying to work it out and let you know my view.”
Not many acts can come into a debut album already with a Top 10 position in the UK Album Charts secured, but then – it shouldn’t be a surprise that Easy Life already have that accolade in their back pocket. With ‘Junk Food’ – a mixtape that, much like previous EPs ‘Spaceships’ and ‘Creature Habits’, came together and captured a moment in time – they confirmed themselves as an essential new band to many. When it came to ‘life’s a beach’, even if life itself had changed dramatically, it’s that relevancy Murray wanted to get across once again.
“I felt like it’d be stupid to have come all this way and learn nothing about how to release music because we’ve released quite a bit,” he adds. “Every collection of music we’ve had, they’ve become collections because of when and where they were written. With this album, it’s everything that I wrote over lockdown and the year before.” Murray pauses. “I probably actually could have written this album in a week if I had put my mind to it, but you need to go through all the fucking crazy little anxiety attacks to make it the full cycle.”
There were dry patches as lockdown began, but the time to slow down and take a look around would eventually prove beneficial for a band forming their grandest statement to date.
From young love, to nostalgic yearning, to mental health and overcoming life’s darkest moments – there’s an unfiltered charm to Easy Life. Delivering on the hype, it’s a wide-eyed ride born from the tales Murray crafts from the dimly-lit moments in life – transformed into brighter and bolder surroundings.
“I’m only ever really moved to make music when I’m really sad and melancholic,” he continues. “When you’re in those sort of states, you often think about the past and shit you shouldn’t have done or shit you shouldn’t have said, or things that were said to you. When you’re in that sort of realm, I think it’s much easier to jump into the past,” Murray pauses, looking around while the sunshine hits his face. “Like when I’m sat outside in the sun and thinking about things, I’m obviously in a good vibe!
“When I’m writing, I’m terribly nostalgic. I think too much. I’m constantly referencing stuff that happened in the late 90s and early 00s where my memory first began. They are all the best things that ever happened to me. They’re the most beautiful things, you know? Your first memories, they’re just so crystal clear.”
What’s clear is that, like ‘life’s a beach’, Easy Life live off those human moments. It’s born from the innocence of taking the time to smell the flowers now and then. While it’s easy to point at the world and see the darkness, Easy Life are a band like no other because they’re simply taking it in their stride.
“There really is no master plan. It literally is just happening,” Murray explains. “We’re just going along with it and doing what we feel like in that moment. It feels like quite a recent phenomenon that you see with a lot of artists. You have 15-year-old kids making beats on their laptops at home, and suddenly an artist like Drake hits them up and asks to use those beats. Suddenly everything starts happening, and they didn’t mean for it to happen. They’re just having a good time in their mum’s house, y’know? It’s so DIY and so now.
“It’s the same with us. If we really look today, the only success we’ve ever had in terms of what we’ve created has come from those moments where we stopped overthinking, and we didn’t just ‘try’ to be successful. I know that’s some terrible advice to give to someone, but that’s the advice I give myself because whenever I’ve just let myself feel those feelings of sadness or just feeling shit, that’s when something good comes out. We never thought this would take off. We would think all the time, ‘how could anyone else want to listen to this?’”
It’s that openness and that Easy Life have come to symbolise. It’s why boiled down to its core, ‘life’s a beach’ is a record that only they could have made. Diary entries of life’s imperfections and finding happiness in every complicated facet – it’s a welcome tonic that feels essential as the world steps out into a new chapter. For Murray, it’s not the culmination of a journey they’ve made together, but just the next chapter too.
“There have been times I have looked back and thought, ah, it’s been good,” he smiles, “but, you know, we still haven’t put this album out yet! Like, I’ve even started working on the second album already, and I think it’s so much better than the first. That’s just how I am. I’m always about reinventing ourselves. This album is what we’ve all been about on this journey so far, cementing it in one place and one moment.
“I’m definitely one to look forward instead of back, though. I think in general it’s a good way to be – the past is exactly that. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it. So just try and think about the next big thing.
“I don’t try to think about it too much. It wasn’t like we just landed here from the sky, y’know? We’ve played every single tiny pub gig a thousand times over. My whole life for the past ten years has been this. That said, though, I still think it’s fucking insane that people have connected with it all in the way they have. It’s not like I feel any pressure or responsibility, to be honest. I just feel very, very privileged. To be able to make music for a living is a dream. A fucking dream. And it continues to be a dream.”
With the time now here for Easy Life, there’s a genuine hope that the good times are about to return in style. Listening to ‘life’s a beach’, you’d feel hard-pressed to bet against that.
“I think everybody’s ready to live their best life. I think people are genuinely about it now, rather than just talking about it. There’s gonna be people doing so much cool shit, and I’m excited. I can’t wait to be on that stage, looking around at one another and being like – yeah, this is happening. I’m so excited about this album. So excited to get back touring. When we get out of this fucking hole, it’s going to be really, really interesting.”
2021? Beyond? As Easy Life say – ‘it’s nothing you should worry yourself about’.
Taken from the June 2021 edition of Dork, out now. Easy Life’s debut album ‘life’s a beach’ is out 28th May.