Hot on the heels of the release of one of the most anticipated debut albums of the year, Gemma Cockrell delves into the deeper message behind new LP life’s a beach with easy life’s frontman Murray Matravers, as well as his love for the British seaside and the pride he takes in his Leicestershire heritage.
“It was a long time coming, the debut album. We got side-tracked with a million mixtapes and other releases, so it was good to finally get it out and move on. I feel happy, it’s nice that it’s out in the world,” Matravers smiles. It’s true that a debut album has been long awaited from the Leicestershire five-piece, who have been releasing singles and mixtapes since 2017. “Before releasing an album, we wanted to experiment with sounds, discover what easy life sounds like, and figure out what easy life talk about. All of those sorts of questions that arise when a band first starts,” he explains. “But to be honest, on a more practical level, I just didn’t have time to write an album. When we weren’t on tour, we would have two or three months where we had time to go to the studio and write music. I’d write six or seven songs, then I’d be going on tour again, so I’d release them. But then I’d have zero songs again! I just hadn’t given myself enough time to make an album, and then lockdown happened and I had no excuse. I had to write that record that I’d been promising!”
Despite the immense success of their Junk Food mixtape, which reached Number 7 in the UK charts, Matravers maintained his relaxed persona whilst writing life’s a beach and didn’t let pressure overwhelm him. “The way that Junk Food charted was from selling physical copies. We have fans who want to buy vinyl, which I think is a great and healthy obsession to have in the modern age,” he comments. “I knew that those same people would buy our vinyl again. We have an amazingly dedicated fanbase, I knew that they would get the album on physical format if they liked the songs. So, there wasn’t really any pressure.” He admits that he did put some pressure on himself, “The only pressure was that I wanted it to be good, and that pressure comes from within,” but ultimately this was healthy pressure which inspired and motivated him. “Having pressure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At least it made me sit down and get on with the bloody thing!” he laughs. “I always felt comfortable within what I was doing, and inspired by what we’d done previously and the success that we were having, to try and make a good album.”
“It’s nostalgic, it’s easy to get inspired by the British seaside. It’s really iconic, how tacky and naff it is, it’s really beautiful.”
life’s a beach captures easy life’s ultimate ethos. As summarised by Matravers: “What easy life does is pose certain problems, certain flaws in society, or flaws within oneself, insecurities, anxieties… But I always try to conclude in the most positive way possible.” Even if he is dealing with thematically dark topics, on songs like nightmares and living strange, he manages to find the silver lining. “This is how things are, if you can try your best to choose to come to terms with them then that’s the first step to being happy with how things are. Even though the way things are isn’t perfect, coming to terms with things is a really important part of understanding yourself.” As the album opener a message to myself proposes, Matravers wrote this album for himself just as much as he wrote it for his fans. “The whole writing process for me, honestly, was trying to figure out what was going on. I don’t understand the way things are, or the way I am, but music is a really good method of self-discovery and discovering how the world works.”
The album, as the title suggests, “follows a hypothetical journey to the British seaside.” Due to their fanbases preference for the vinyl format, easy life split the album conceptually into two halves separated by an interlude. “Side A is really happy and sunny and optimistic. But Side B is a bit more dark and real,” Matravers confirms. “It says that no matter where you are geographically, you’re only where your head is. You can be on the beach, but still having a really difficult time mentally.” Hailing from Leicestershire, Matravers couldn’t have grown up further from the beach geographically, but this is what inspired him to write an album about it. “That was where the inspiration came from. It was all about being from Leicester. Where we’re from has been completely instrumental in the whole thing. Going to the beach as a kid, it’s such a massive thing because it’s so unfamiliar. It’s nostalgic, it’s easy to get inspired by the British seaside. It’s really iconic, how tacky and naff it is, it’s really beautiful. life’s a beach is about wishing you were elsewhere. You can transport your mind to the beach but from Leicester it’s a three-hour drive to Skegness, so it’s pretty difficult!” I nod along –being from Leicestershire myself, I can relate to this all too well.
“I was born on a farm in Loughborough. I could make loads of noise, and that really informed the rest of my life. I had the luxury of space; I could play the piano or bang a drum without annoying anyone. Because of that, I got into music,” Matravers reminisces. “I moved to Leicester after I left school, and Leicester is where easy life actually formed. It’s such a multicultural place, that’s something that Leicester does really well,” he praises. “Our studio was on Narborough Road, which was at one point the most culturally diverse road in the country. I think it’s been superseded by Bradford now, but it really was a cultural epicentre of all kinds of things.” He credits this diversity for easy life’s genre-fusing sound. “For easy life to have grown from that place, it was easy for us to pick and choose different genres and different ideas that we liked and smash them together. We were fearless in the way we did that because of the environment that we were in. It was like anything goes, this is Leicester, whatever we do here no one is going to know anyway so we can do whatever we want!” he laughs. “That ethos inspired us to be brave with our stylistic choices.”
However, when asked if there were any particular artists who influenced easy life’s sound, Matravers admits that he always “swerves this question” whenever he is asked it. “I genuinely listen to as much music as possible. There are obviously artists who I enjoy listening to, that I take pleasure in. But in terms of easy life, I always try to listen to things that don’t sound like easy life so I can steal things and make something new from it. Music of all genres, from all over the world. Spotify has been great for that, because ten years ago you might have had to buy the CD and that can be quite an expensive pastime,” he reflects. “I think you get in danger of just listening to the same stuff that you already like. You need to broaden your horizons. I think it’s important to listen to as much as possible.”
“Leicester is in the middle of nowhere, with not a whole lot to grab hold of, but the football club is something to be proud of.”
Another compliment Matravers pays to Leicester is their football club, despite admitting he isn’t even particularly interested in the sport. “As a band, we aren’t really into football, except for our drummer who has a season ticket. But we all love Leicester City Football Club. As soon as the football team started to do well, that inspired such a lovely sense of community. When we won the FA Cup, the scenes were ridiculous!” he exclaims. “Like I said, I don’t even like football, but to go out there and celebrate something for the city, it’s bigger than football. Leicester often finds itself in the middle of nowhere, with not a whole lot to grab hold of, but the football club is something to be proud of and Leicester doesn’t really have a whole lot to be proud of a lot of the time.” The football club is one of the city’s greatest assets, but thanks to Matravers and his bandmates, now Leicester has easy life to be proud of as well.
Written by: Gemma Cockrell
Edited by: Olivia Stock