Easy Life: “I never want it to be boring for us to release music”

Finlay Holden chats to Easy Life frontman Murray Matravers about their recent debut album, life's a beach.

Finlay Holden
14th June 2021

Following years of flurrying EP releases that hugely succeeded in growing a large cult fan base, Leicester collective Easy Life finally dropped their debut album life’s a beach on 28th May 2021. Finlay Holden speaks to frontman Murray Matravers about the genre-bending group’s album campaign, fan involvement and thematic chase for fulfilment surrounding this summery LP.

So, you’ve debuted with a #2 album in the UK charts! How do you feel towards Olivia Rodrigo right now?

Oh, man. To be honest, she is a global phenomenon and I have mad respect for her, she’s crazy. The maddest thing is that she completely smashed it, she broke all the records and all that stuff, but I had absolutely no idea who she was – have I been living under a rock or has she just popped out of nowhere? It is what it is, mate. May the best man win and she’s certainly smashed it so full credit to her.

You guys released all sorts of merch and record variations for this campaign, how do you promo harder than that?

Yeah, I do love the idea of limited formats, I think it’s quite cool. We’re excited about the record store day release because it’s a really cool and wholesome campaign to be a part of, so we’re gassed for that.

Something that’s quite cool is that the first mixtape we ever put out was Creature Habits, and we made as many as we thought we could sell at the time because it was our first one. It’s kind of rare now, though! Our fans like things in physical form which is really fucking cool, and something that I like to do too… we’re quite into the idea of limited versions of things. I think we might’ve gone a bit overboard with the album –in a few years’ time, those formats will be super rare, and I kind of like the idea of that.

Image credit: Instagram @easylife

I’ve been after ‘Creature Habits’ for years, it’s an elusive vinyl! It is strange how fans always crave the exclusive releases, even though the music is essentially the same.

There’s another version too, we did a pressing on a label called Chess Club; Creature Habits was originally gonna be called ‘ringtones’ when we were signed to this Sony label Chess Club. We ended up switching, it was all a bit mental and I had no idea what going on at the time. We ended up with 500 of these ‘ringtones’ EPs where some of the music is slightly different, the songs are extended a bit. We couldn’t sell them because we were out of contract, so we had 500 vinyl copies in the studio that we couldn’t sell or distribute… I ended up going to a service station with like 200 in my boot and just tipping them out, hoping that someone will find them. I don’t know if anyone ever did find them, other than the dustbin man.

Easy Life has grown a huge fan base that jumps all over things like that. With such an intense audience craving your tunes and somewhat idolising your releases, is there one group you tend to turn to for a genuine reaction to your newest work?

The fans are always very nice, that’s why they’re our fans – obviously when we release music they’re like, ‘I love this song!’ I’m glad you like it, don’t get me wrong, but that much is hopefully obvious. It is still reassuring to hear, though. I wouldn’t say there’s one particular person I look to. Seeing my friends dig it is always a great moment; I like to think I have cool friends, so if they like it that means I’ve reached my target audience. I’ve always just done it for myself, so I’m not always that bothered.

I actually love seeing some hate – I really enjoy a negative review as well, a brutal Instagram comment always motivates me.

I haven’t seen too many of those with this album.

You’re not looking in the right places! There’s a lot of hate out there, and it’s actually really funny.

Some people always hate change, I suppose. The opening and closing songs on life’s a beach stylistically contrast with the rest of your songs, which can be jarring without context. Was this intentional as a way to bookend the album?

Yeah, totally. Releasing ‘a message to myself’ in the album campaign was such a funny thing to do because obviously it’s just a bit weird and nobody really gets in. It’s an interesting intro and outro that sort of makes sense, but if you only listen to those in isolation – which is how we released it – you end up with a lot of people like ‘what the fuck are you guys on?’ We had loads of bloggers being like ‘what has happened to Easy Life?’ I don’t care man, I love the song and it’s important to me and an important intro to have.

Without the full context, it’s certainly a jarring transition to experience.

I appreciate all reactions, I know it’s not an easy ask to see what people think when that was the first thing we’d released in a while. It does sound really weird, but I wanted to do that. I never want it to be boring for us to release music, or for fans to hear our music and know it’s just another Easy Life song that we’ve done again and again. It’s important to write something a little different, if a song is jarring that can be a positive thing; I’m glad we’re pushing boundaries in whatever way we can and staying exciting; staying excited about the music.

You’ve certainly explored a lot of thematic and sonic arenas already. With this release you focused on a beach holiday filled with underlying emotional turmoil – what drew you to this topic?

We’re from Leicester which is landlocked, so the British seaside was always far away and unattainable. There was an idea that if we make it to the beach then everything’s going to be fine because people at the coast have no worries. This album explores the idea that you get there and you’ve just taken all your problems with you, so everything’s exactly the same. The beach theme is really about coming to terms with things in your life and trying to deal with your current scenario as it is.

Lockdown did inform that, but it wasn’t intentional. I guess the situation was inevitable in that lockdown would always inspire themes like that. Being stuck in the middle of the country with no beach is annoying, I love the beach and it’s quite a nostalgic thing for me; I’m talking the British seaside, not the beaches of LA.

That theme ties in really well across the mad collection of songs on life’s a beach, with older songs, more recent singles and lots of fresh stuff to dive into. Towards the back end of the album, are there many moments you think will be difficult to translate live, bearing in mind you’ve yet to do so?

We’ve been in the studio working on that lately, and they’re all challenging actually. The production is such that we need a lot of keyboards on stage – we’ve always had a lot of keyboards on stage. It’s a bit of a headscratcher to play these things live because an easy way to do it would be to stick it on a backing track and play along. Don’t get me wrong, we do use backing tracks live, but we try to do it in an intuitive and rewarding way. Lots of the album has lots of different sounds so translating it is a challenge, but it’s also so much fun and something we’ve been gassed to do – it’s been great to get back to hanging in the studio!

‘Lifeboat’ has been really hard to do live, that’s the first one we’ve used auto tune on. Using live auto tune is so funny, you sing anything and it twists it to perfection, so we’ve had a lot of fun with that. I’m excited to play them all live; we usually play shows a lot so I usually know how our discography goes down, but I don’t know how literally any of these go down live.

It will be super interesting to play them on-stage and wonder ‘how are people gonna dance to this one?’ or ‘is this a slow one or is this a crazy one?’

Well, you’re playing in Newcastle soon so we’ll both find out soon enough!

Easy Life's debut album life's a beach is out now, and you can buy tickets to their upcoming UK tour here.

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