Leicester’s band of the moment return to Nottingham for an intimate celebration after the release of their latest mixtape, celebrating with a packed and jubilant crowd. Words by Ben Standring. Photography by Jade Vowels (@jadekmedia).
Over the course of twelve months, Leicester outfit Easy Life have shrugged away the shackles of cult favourites and broken out to be one of the most exciting modern crossover bands in recent memory, with their brooding blend of soulful hip-hop, smooth R&B, and disarmingly confessional pop acting as a refreshing injection into the current radio climate. On the quintet’s recently released third mixtape Junk Food, the band look to execute their ambitious vision in a traditionally humble yet decisive manner, shifting jazz-inspired origins into the realms of modern production.
'It is not an example of them taking on the mainstream as much as it is proof that they are becoming the mainstream'.
Despite being hailed as one of the country’s best ‘new bands’, Easy Life have come to represent and replicate the power of hard graft, dedication and trust in their sound since their foundations were laid in 2017. Consisting of Murray Matravers (vocals, keys, trumpet), Lewis Berry (guitar), Sam Hewitt (bass, saxophone), Jordan Birtles (percussion, keys) and Oliver Cassidy (drums), their eclectic catalogue so far spans topics including male mental health (Nightmares), personal vulnerability (Pockets), the future of the planet (Earth) and a heap of sex (Temporary Love Pt. 1, Sunday).
Latest mixtape Junk Food shifts their genre-bending indie-hip hop sound into new realms. It is not an example of them taking on the mainstream as much as it is proof that they are becoming the mainstream. The poly-rhythmic funk of Nice Guys contrasts with the wonky, monotonous Earth, whilst Dead Celebrities is the latest in a stream of tongue-in-cheek offerings to showcase Matravers as one of Britain’s most astute young lyricists. As part of a series of promotional in-store shows across the country, the quintet stopped off for two performances at Nottingham’s Rough Trade, the latter of which went from blissful to apocalyptic in a delightful forty minutes.
'The insatiable groove of Nice Guys ricocheted around the lofty venue – bouncing horns and a driving beat makes it one of the outfit’s most radio-orientated tracks to date'.
Taking to the stage for Earth, the band’s cheeky charisma matched the delirious student-dominated crowd from the first verse’s line ‘But look at me I’m just so fucking attractive’, which was met with immediate glee. Following Earth with the lo-fi magnetism of lust-filled Sunday, the band had already managed to demonstrate the depth of their current soundscape even before they launched into 7 Magpies, the opening track from the recently released Junk Food mixtape.
The insatiable groove of Nice Guys ricocheted around the lofty venue – bouncing horns and a driving beat makes it one of the outfit’s most radio-orientated tracks to date. With the crowd in the palm of their hands, the band opted to switch the mood, leading into Sangria, the precariously sensual collaboration between the quintet and rising London R&B singer Arlo Parks. A track about emotional dependency and the triggers that come associated with a specific person, Sangria is the rawest form of a love song, embodying a potent yet sinister sentimentality that ebbs and flows between Parks and Matravers. On stage, Matravers’ longing vocals pair up with the crowd’s, who collectively fill-in in Parks’ absence.
Whilst Temporary Love Part 1 and OJPL provide uplifting moments of crowd participation as two tracks that have become old favourites already among many audience members, latest single Dead Celebrities was met with surprising enthusiasm within its opening bars. A sobering rumination about the excesses of the Californian dream, the single is based on the band’s experiences in America throughout 2019. Yet seeing the quintet perform on stage in a crowed Nottingham room, it is apparent that their roots will never be cut clean completely despite repeated belief in the band’s capability in taking America by storm.
Easy Life shows have a reputation for the unpredictable, their lo-fi tracks luring masses of teenagers to gigs, where the seemingly relaxing descends into gloriously chaotic. Pints, bucket hats, lemons, band members, gig goers, retro vintage football shirts and now the occasional hot dog costume are hurled in all directions and as Spiders – the closing track from the new mixtape –subsided into the dual-pronged threat of Nightmares and Pockets, the crowd leapt into action, coating Rough Trade’s walls in sweat and pandemonium.
2019 saw the band selling out every UK show across their March and November tours, their infamous Rock City sellout becoming a crowning glory for a band rooted in the East Midlands. They sprawled across the festival circuit to pick up an even greater following and hit America like a storm at SXSW and then Coachella. Having already finished second in BBC’s Sound of 2020, the band will headline 2020’s Dot to Dot Festival and support Kasabian for a huge homecoming show in Leicester. In February they’ll return to the United States before playing their biggest show to date at a sold-out Roundhouse in London in March to celebrate their third body of work.
'Easy Life shows have a reputation for the unpredictable, their lo-fi tracks luring masses of teenagers to gigs, where the seemingly relaxing descends into gloriously chaotic'.
For all their travels, the rising hype, the Los Angeles adventures and sold-out shows in prestigious venues, seeing the quintet joke around on a crowded stage in an even more crowded room is a special sight for many locals gathered at Rough Trade. The East Midlands is where their heart truly rests. Easy Life’s commitment to the people who have followed them since the release of Pockets in 2017 and even before that shows that with loyal support and hard graft, it is possible to finally achieve an easy life.