Like many artists in the past few years, Easy Life had to watch the release of their debut album from indoors. Their fun, profound and energetic ‘Life’s A Beach’ was released in May 2021, but the lockdown-enforced period of isolation following the record’s release led frontman Murray Matravers to dive deep into his feelings, in which he reflected on the band’s meteoric rise and wondered what other paths he could have taken as a person.
Those feelings are laid out on ‘Life’s A Beach’’s follow-up, ‘Maybe In Another Life’, which pushes the band forward musically and marks Matravers out as a starkly vulnerable lyricist clamouring for connection and personal breakthroughs. “I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process [of making this album],” he tells NME. “Which is why I started making music in the first place; it’s an exploration of self. I’m glad that I have sort of gone full-circle, and that’s where I’m at now: making music to explore ideas of who I am, or who we are as a band, or who we are as a generation.”
For the latest instalment of NME’s In Conversation series, Matravers discusses the isolation and reflection at the heart of the new album’s lyrics, how Easy Life are planning to “step up” their live show with a huge Alexandra Palace gig in early 2023, and why he was equally excited and nervous to have Kevin Abstract feature on the band’s recent single ‘Dear Miss Holloway’. Here’s what we learned.
Matravers made his bandmate cry with the song he wrote about him
One of the highlights of ‘Maybe In Another Life’ is ‘Fortune Cookie’, a strikingly vulnerable and honest message about mental health from Matravers to one of his bandmates which left its recipient in floods of tears.
“It’s some Fleetwood Mac-type shit, where you’re just all writing about each other and no-one will say!” the frontman explains. “He rang me in tears, and we had this most beautiful moment together. I feel like we came a long way through that song, and that’s rare. That’s probably the only song that [has] had that effect on my personal relationships. I’m glad that happened, and it’s super special. We played that song for the first time on tour the other day and it was magical, because we were looking at each other in the band and we all know what that song means and how it feels for us.”
The “vulnerable” new lyrics can be traced back to Matravers’ “oldest memories and mistakes”
After releasing ‘Life’s A Beach’ in 2021, the band were unable to tour the record due to continued lockdowns. The isolation that was felt during this period prompted Matravers to reflect on both his earliest memories and Easy Life’s whirlwind success. “We’d been quite busy as a band for the last few years, and then, all of a sudden, we weren’t,” he remembers. “We were still releasing our debut album but we just weren’t touring it, which was so strange. It was this liminal place where we were in-between [things] – we were still active, but it felt like we weren’t really doing what we wanted to do.”
He adds: “I got all this time to reflect on the [band’s] journey so far, and I think that’s where the ‘Maybe In Another Life’ idea came from. I was thinking of all the decisions we’ve had to make along the way and how we’ve ended up, wondering, ‘Are they good decisions?’ And then when you’re left alone for a long time, [you] start saying, ‘No, they weren’t good decisions!’ The whole album is trying to work out what could have been [had] we done things slightly differently. Most of it is quite personal, and some of it [goes] way back in time to some of my earliest memories and mistakes. It was good, I think I needed to do that. I’ve actually come out of that, on the other side, feeling like I know myself a lot better. I certainly know what I need to do to become a better version of myself, which is nice. Before making this album, I had no idea.”
‘Maybe In Another Life’ is also a reaction to the “crazy shit that has gone down in the band”
“Things have changed and all of us are well-adjusted humans, and we deal with our shit. But from time to time, we don’t,” Matravers concedes about Easy Life. “There are many times when I feel like all of us need reminding that it’s OK to feel vulnerable and express these things. As a band, we’re getting better at talking among ourselves.” Vulnerability is a core theme of the new album’s lyrics and message, and a quality Matravers sees as both a positive thing, but one that’s also hard to reach.
“Embracing vulnerability is such a powerful thing,” he says. “It’s something that, like all good artists and good people in general, can do [you] really well. We’re all so vulnerable and all so insecure: if you can harness those insecurities and vulnerabilities, then they’re really powerful and really provocative things. With this album, rather than ignoring all of those insecurities, I’ve just spoken about them. [It’s] more for myself, but they sometimes sound like good little tunes as well! It’s important to embrace all the things that you’re scared of in yourself.”
Working with Kevin Abstract was a “super surreal” moment
The album’s first single ‘Dear Miss Holloway’ sees Easy Life team up with Brockhampton’s Kevin Abstract – a “surreal” collaboration for Matravers, as he explains: “[I’m] a huge Brockhampton fan, and that was actually a real moment for me. Super surreal. I was well nervous when I first met him!”
The pair met in LA and played each other unreleased music from their respective upcoming projects, with the rapper taking a particular shine to ‘Dear Miss Holloway’ (the first song Murray wrote for ‘Maybe In Another Life’). “He loved it and was like, ‘Oh maybe I could do a thing on this’. So I made a little space for him and he just recorded it. It was really chill actually, but the whole time I was like, ‘Oh my fucking God, Kevin Abstract on an Easy Life song! Mind blown!’ I was gassed.”
Back in June, Abstract joined Easy Life on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, where he proceeded to forget the lyrics to ‘Dear Miss Holloway’ in an endearing and instantly memorable special guest appearance. “He did his very best,” Murray laughs now. “It’s actually better in terms of the clickbait and the press! I’m glad he forgot his lyrics, we’re talking about it! Bless him, he felt real bad. It does happen – I forget my lyrics all the time! It was hilarious, it was really really funny. I’m glad that happened.”
The band have “all kinds of tricks up our sleeves” for their 2023 Ally Pally show
After playing two sold-out gigs at the O2 Academy Brixton last year, Easy Life will take things even further in 2023 by playing the cavernous Alexandra Palace on February 25 as part of a UK and European headline tour. For Matravers, it’ll be an opportunity to take their live show to new heights and provide a huge audio-visual spectacle for fans.
“I’ve never been [to Alexandra Palace], but we’ve all been looking at what other acts have done for Ally Pally and there’s some stuff that we could just never afford that’s just mental, you know?” he says. “It’s loads of fun for us to explore that kind of stuff. You see a lot of bands, traditional bands, they just leave it and don’t really do much [with their live shows]. Maybe they put something at the back with their band name on. That’s a very typical British thing, but we’re trying to up the production. It’s a whole new world.”
‘Maybe In Another Life’ is out now via Island