――Watching you perform your recent events and Summer Sonic, we saw that you performed songs from the new album. From the performances, you can tell that the band is in a good place now. So could you tell us how your album captures your band?
Murray : Well, thank you so much. I think we are so proud of the new album. It’s a very authentic portrayal of Easy life and how we are feeling right now. I’m glad that you noticed how playing live gives us so much energy. I love playing new music and I can speak on behalf of the rest of the band. We get so much life from it we want to jump and go crazy. Because we are proud of the record, it’s just so easy to perform. It’s a pleasure to play it with you guys.
――Musically what were you trying to go for?
Murray : Traditionally we used a lot of electronic instruments, keyboards and synthesizers. Our drums used to be quite electronic in the past. With this record, I tried to explore more organic acoustic-sounding instruments but made sure they sounded modern and interesting. So I did a lot of recording with these acoustic instruments but distort them inside the laptop or remit them through tape machines. I wanted to capture the essence of the old records like from the seventies with the chords. I wanted it to sound classic and nostalgic to make them feel more timeless rather than just modern music. We tried to capture the beauty of those old wonky records.
――What attracted you to the organic sounds from the seventies?
Murray : Especially in England, I started to hear more music that sounded like Easy Life. When we first started we had a quiet and original sound that wasn’t happening in our neighbourhood. Now people are starting to replicate it and I’m flattered, it’s great but I wanted to switch it up to make sure that we will always sound fresh, exciting and explore new ground. There are a lot of people replicating the seventies, it’s been done to death but I think we are doing it interestingly because we combine it with some samples and hip hop-based production techniques. My main reason for doing it was I wanted to and it was exciting to me. I’ve written so many songs that they all sound like the same old Easy Life song. I wanted to do something new and fresh, you know.
――For the first record, you mentioned you had influences from Kanye’s “Ye” and Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” for your first record. Did you have any influences for the second record?
Murray : I think I’m constantly inspired by the work of Kanye and Kendrick. They are like the greatest artists and contemporary artists too. Same with Tyler the Creator too. For this album, I was listening to a lot of classic songs like Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Bee Gees. Lots of those very classic sounding songs, not only the chord structure but the melodies and sometimes the lyrics being really simple. I kind of wanted to write an album of classic songwriting songs. There is a beauty in the simplicity of those records. I think for a long time we used a lot of jazz chords, we are very inspired by jazz. With this album, I wanted to be inspired by more of The Beach Boys and those kinds of classic songs.
――The new Kendrick Lamar album was about him confronting the pain that he was going through, he was taking this therapeutic process in the album. What do you think about it?
Murray : I thought it was amazing and it was very brave of him to do that and talk about his personal experience in such a raw and honest way. Some moments were really sad as well. He deals with his addiction, sex addiction, as well amongst other things. I always admired his ability to be brutally honest. Not just about himself but the world. I think it’s brilliant. It was a strange follow-up to DAMN because DAMN was like a pop album. I love it, I’m obsessed with it. Let’s talk about Kendrick all day.
――From the lyricist’s point of view, you also have a different attitude towards writing lyrics. You are very honest about what you are going through especially in this album.
Murray : I always felt like if something has happened to me, chances are it happened to lots of other people too. You can only write what you feel. I think if I’m going through something and I feel a certain way and can talk about it, perhaps it will help someone else who is going through a similar thing. There is an element of doubt to it but it is about me trying to work out how I feel about myself. The world is like super confusing and lots of the time I feel very overwhelmed and anxious. Music is a good therapy to work out how I’m feeling sometimes I would even write an entire song before I know what it is about. Then I listen and I would understand how I felt about that situation.
Sometimes it’s scary. Scary to be honest but being vulnerable is important and powerful if you embrace it.
――Which song is the most honest song that you wrote? Perhaps it is about overcoming or facing fears.
Murray : I think Memory Loss would probably be the most real song on the album. I struggle to remember anything. I wonder if it’s due to past traumas or if it’s easier to forget things because you don’t have to confront what an idiot you’ve been or what’s happened to you or whatever it is that you are scared of. I think Memory Loss says a lot of stuff about that which I wouldn’t be able to say to my friends but in the comfort of my studio or home, I can have these honest conversations with myself. Like I said it’s very therapeutic.
――Not just your new album, and in Kendrick’s new album you talk about the pain you experience, the loneliness and trying to comfort the listeners. Meanwhile being very open about these feelings for self-care. What do you think music can do?
Murray : I think music and art talk about your feelings. It can give you a guide or be a lifeline. I am lucky to meet many fans that say our music has helped them in a situation. They might even ask me about my words in a song and what I was going through. I can explain to them and the same things happened to them as well. The world can be a cruel place. Terrible things can happen to you and it can be really difficult but those things happen. I think music can offer a lot of solace. I always listen to music when I am sad or when I am happy. Music is always there it’s like your best friend and it doesn’t judge you, which helps because everyone judges you. Honestly, the biggest honour of our careers is meeting fans and being told I am helping them in some way. It’s such a great gift to be able to help young people through maturity because growing up is hard.
――What are some artists or records that served as a guide or lifeline to you?
Murray : I mean a lot of the work that I am listening to is just instrumental. I listen to a lot of Bonobo which can calm my anxiety. For the same reasons, I listen to Bon Iver.
I grew up listening to loads of hip-hop which didn’t help as a guide because their lives were very different to mine. I used to love listening to Dr Dre and helped me to go flex and have some confidence. You can learn a lot about confidence from rap music. To those guys, confidence is like their currency. Again classic Bee Gees songs. I am obsessed with Bee Gees sadly. Some of their hit songs are just so sad. I love listening to them, they bring me so much joy and they are very hopeful. I find a lot of hope in music. It’s a good remedy for the world.
――You write these songs very open with raw feelings. Do you talk about or share those stories with your band members?
Murray : No. A lot of the time they know what I am talking about because they lived the same experience as me. But music is the place where I say things I wouldn’t dare to say to my friends in the pub because British people are very reserved especially males sadly. So I use music to say things I won’t dare to say to anyone else because it’s safe. Strangely I don’t share them with the whole world, I don’t understand how that part works.
But they get it. We all talk a lot. We are on tour for months and we share a lot of stuff. We are very close.
――So you write the song and bring it to the band. Only then they realise what you were feeling or experiencing?
Murray : I think so, yes. There are some funny moments when I write songs about people in the band. That’s happened a couple of times and the person would ring me up and be like “I can’t believe you wrote a song about me”. Sometimes it’s hilarious, there’s been a couple of them in the new album. The last one Fortune Cookie is written about members of the band. He rang me up and he was crying. We had a good moment, a beautiful moment because there are a lot of things I say in the song that I struggled to say to his face. We were going through some really hard moments together. So they know exactly what I mean. I’m just too scared to say it so I just hide in the studio and speak it into a microphone from a great distance.
――The new album, it’s about the post-pandemic world, and the anxiety that comes with it for young people since life has changed so much. What is the takeaway for the listeners and what do you hope they would do?
Murray : Well, I said I hope they feel hopeful that things are going to work out good in the end. In the whole album, I deal with various traumas and situations. Throughout the album, I’m still an optimist. The world could be better, we could all work together to create something better than the current situation. There are so many problems with wars, global warming, social media, the internet and people not connecting as they should be. But through music, you can remedy that. I just hope that people enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be this deep they can just stick it on in the car with their mates and enjoy it. But If they are going through something I hope this can help them.
――The first album was lowercase and this time it’s uppercase. What is the reason for this?
Murray : Again, I was just tired of everyone else using lowercase. I don’t know if it happened over here but everyone in England is doing it. Well, let’s see if they start doing this now. I think it’s important to lead instead of following and creating new things. It can be as simple as writing things in capitals.
photography Marisa Suda（https://www.instagram.com/marisatakesokphotos/）
text Junnosuke Amai（TW）