BBC Sound of 2020: Indescribable indie band Easy Life are the runners-up" width="1024" height="800">
The quintet are formed of Murray Matravers, Oliver Cassidy, Sam Hewitt, Lewis Berry and Jordan Birtles
Hard to describe, but easy to love, Leicester's Easy Life have been named runners-up in the BBC's Sound of 2020.The genre-hopping quintet formed "on a whim" in a pub two years ago, after earning their stripes in an assortment of swing and reggae bands around the city.Fronted by singer/trumpeter Murray Matravers, they've "bodged together" (their words) an incongruous mix of wonky hip-hop beats, gossamer jazz guitar, afro-beat optimism, wavy pop melodies, psychedelic electronica and witty lyrics, all filtered through the lens of "rainy middle England"."We've been in lots of projects before and this was very much for ourselves," says Matravers. "Very self-indulgent, going down rabbit holes with the sound. "I thought no-one would care, that they would be like, 'What are you doing
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Classic.[/b]We called that "the classic," in fact! But then we did beef chilli, and bolognese and garlic butter. I still make homemade garlic butter now. I've got some in my fridge. It's pretty good.The other lads had funny jobs, too. Jordan was a music teacher in this school for troubled kids. He used to come into rehearsal after having to restrain kids who'd tried to beat him up. Sam [Hewitt - bass] did clinical trials, where he'd be given the flu for a week for ?1,000 and he'd come back like completely ragged. And Cass [Oliver Cassidy - drums] was an electrician, so he took a bit of a pay cut to be in a band! At least you've got someone to rig the stage.Honestly, he's amazing. He wired our whole studio. And when my grandma needed some lights doing six months ago, he came through on it. He's great.
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One thing I hear repeatedly in your lyrics is that life can be a struggle - but there's optimism and beauty in the small moments.Absolutely. The overarching thing is the idea that life can get a bit crap, but everything's going to be OK. It's quite a British outlook to grit your teeth and smile - but I can't help it, that's my general outlook. Bad stuff does happen to me and I feel sad and all the rest of it, but I always have to smile at the end of the song and think, 'You know what? I've got running water'.There's also a thread of escaping reality by getting into altered states...I don't want to go too deep into that. I'm pretty clean now. I've quit smoking and I'm pretty tee-total. But I write from experience - so I think back to when I was really trying to push the boundaries. The world looked different through a different lens.But that's not to say I would recommend that myself, or even get involved with that any more, really. I was actually hit by a van once when I was on acid. I was in hospital, broke my collar bone, both my hands. That's not good for a trumpeter.No, no I was ok after a while but it knocked me back into reality. On a completely different tangent, Earth is a song that deals with climate change. Why was it important to make that statement?WelI, I was brought up on an organic farm, and we've had to change the way we farm completely in the last 10 years because of the weather. We can't plant certain crops at the same time we used to because it rains, or it's too hot or it's too cold. And this is England - we have a moderate climate. If you're already facing an extreme climate, and then you add global warming and climate change on top of it, it becomes almost impossible to farm.
A young Murray Matravers on his parents' farm with his pet lamb and older sister, Amy.
So my parents were pumping me with environmental ethics from quite a young age and it just felt like a good time to sing about it. In an interesting way it unites people - because if we don't sort it, we're doomed. This really is our problem to solve.Was it eye-opening to film the video in a junk yard?So that was in Morocco, literally in the middle of the desert. You drive out of Marrakech for maybe 20 or 30 minutes and there's this recycling centre in the middle of nowhere and they had acres and acres of plastic. Most of the rubbish didn't have Arabic writing on it, it's mostly been imported from England. You realise we're shunting our problem to someone else; and this beautiful environment was completely destroyed by plastic. It really hit the message home.Is that the biggest problem - that we can choose to ignore it?It's easy to ignore it. When you put something in the bin, it's done. You never see that piece of rubbish again. But realistically, someone comes along, picks it up and drives it off to a landfill, where it lives for decades or centuries. It's out of sight, out of mind.
The video for Earth was filmed in a plastic recycling facility in North Africa
Your new EP has a song called Dead Celebrities. What inspired that?We played Coachella last April, and that was my first time in LA. Mate, honestly it's amazing, for so many reasons but they're completely obsessed with death and celebrities. There's the museum of celebrity death, the dearly departed museum, and even a hotel we were staying in which was supposed to be haunted by Marilyn Monroe. So that inspired the song.We shot the video in LA, too, and it's very very funny. We got lots of celebrity look-a-likes and they chased me down Hollywood Boulevard. There's one moment where I'm holding Paris Hilton and my mum over a cliff; and I'm not sure which one to drop. It's really out there.And should we expect an album this year, too?Yeah. I've just started work on the album; and I've been lucky to work with some incredible producers. Some heroes of mine, actually.Can you name them?Not really, sorry! But it'll all come out in the wash.When you say 'I've started work on the album,' does that mean you're the chief writer?Sometimes it's all of us together but I write a lot of the music on my own. I'd say 80% of it. I'm a recluse, really. I don't like to get out much. When we do the gigs, it's all very extroverted and a big show, but for me that takes quite a lot of doing. I need the rest of the week to sit and read or listen to music.That surprises me... You've got a reputation for stripping down to your underwear on stage!Being fully-clothed on stage is difficult when you play for an hour and a half! We might be under those lights for a long time and it's nice to get naked, man, it feels liberating.Clothes are, you know... we become institutionalised. A million years ago we would all be running around naked eating berries. Things were simpler back then.
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Sound of 2020
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