“I’m trying to unlock doors with these musical keys,” sing Leicester innovators Easy Life on ‘Pockets’, from their recent mixtape Creature Habits. The line, rapped atop a summer haze of hip-hop claps and jazzy guitar jangles, could be their manifesto: a nod to the eclectic, electric, genre-hopping spirit that drives them. How many other new UK acts –least of all from “rainy middle England” -do you know whose sound joins the dots between the optimistic gospel-rap of Chance The Rapper, scattergun storytelling of Arctic Monkeys, electronic invention of Glass Animals and velvety vibes of vintage Dilla? Exactly. “We’re a collective with a lot of different flavours between us,” explains front-manMurray, fittingly for a band with a trippy twisted pop anthem called ‘Ice Cream’ among their early arsenal. “We all come from different approaches, which means songs can have contain anything from wonky funk to sax or weird beats. From the beginning we’ve never wanted Easy Life to feel tied down to one sound.” It’s a formula that’s working. Led by singles ‘Ice Cream’ and ‘Pockets’, both of which were accompanied by warped, kaleidoscopic videos, Creature Habitshas rocketed Easy Life to the brink of breakout success, championed by BBC Radio 1, DIY, Dork, The Times, Line of Best Fit and more. Notion described their idiosyncratic styleas a "a lavish mutation on hip-hop thatlooks set to take over in 2018", though the band themselves put it down to their positive but heartfelt lyricismas much as their free-wheeling sound. “We’re often drawn to particular situations one of the guys or our friends have found themselves in, little observations like that,” says Murray of the stories behind their songs, which are also regularly rooted inhisown specific experiences “wading through the jungle of young adulthood” growing up in Leicestershire: Murray was raised and has worked all his life on the farm run by his parents, selling potatoes, plucking turkeys, and learning from an early age the value of getting your hands dirty and working hard to get where you want to be. Beneath the musical bravado, then, things clearly haven’t come easily for Easy Life –which is precisely the point. Effortlessly confidentdebut single ‘Pockets’ in factdocuments that terrible sinking feeling of releasing you can’t afford to pay this month’s rent, whilst alsochronicling those vain attempts to find happiness via other vices. Elsewhere, Creature Habitsopener ‘0250’ was inspired by blasting BBC radio staple The Shipping Forecast loudly in a Renault Clio on the way to sell jacket potatoes at Loughborough Market, while ‘Slow Motion’ is a soulful acoustic guitar-led homily about taking nothing for granted in life (which also features a shout-out to Murray’s gran).Upcoming single ‘Frank’ meanwhile –all West Coast groove and sun-kissed melodies on its shimmering surface –actually finds Easy Life at their most soul-searching, and vulnerable. “I’m sorry that I’m such a show-off, sometimes I need to let it out and put it on my chest and blow it off,”sings Murray with Drake-like cadences over Prophet synth swirls. “I wrote ‘Frank’ in a cripplingly anxious and introvert state, about a summer fling that got seriously out of hand. At the time I was gutted and, at best, very confused: even now when we play it, I still feel a litle uneasy.” Few bands announce their arrival quite like Easy Life, yet Easy Life are in many ways like few other new acts. Murray is joined by bassist, saxophonist, singer and school friend Sam, who he formed the band with on a whim in late2017 after bonding over classic hip-hop as kids in theMidlands. Also in their ranks are Afrobeat-obsessed drummer Cass, guitarist Louis and Jordan, on percussion, keys and backing vocals. The way they came together is as natural and organic as their sound. “We never set out to start a band. We were just messing around and it kind of came together,” says Murray, who explains the group’sname also reflects their vision of music as a
hedonistic form of escapism from the pressures of life. Speaking of hedonism,Murray recallshow Easy Lifeenlisted their final member, Jordan, a story that underlines their suitably happy-go-lucky approach. “There was no eureka moment;just me going up to him drunk and saying,‘you should fucking join the band!’I called our manager the next day to say that we’d gone out last night and now had a fifth member -hope that’s cool!” What’s emerged –albeit by accident –is a band (and manifesto)for the five-piece to truly stand behind. “Easy Life is a form of escapism,” says Murray.“Living is proving to be increasingly difficultwith all the pressures that modern life brings,and easy life rejects this materialistic philosophy; easy life is a hedonistic vision. When we coined the name there was a lot less thinking involved, but it feels like we have embodied the name over time rather than setting out from day one knowing exactly what it is we were looking for.”It’s already been quite the journey since then. Easy Life have gone from menial jobs –ranging from farm life to stocking shelves in TK Maxx –to landing millions of streams and a packed-out year of showsand recordingahead. A love of Leicester (and of course its football club) remains at the heart of what they do, as does the candid, occasionally tongue-in-cheek but always honestattitude which underpins their songwriting (“I was in the pub when Creature Habitswas released, and only remembered it was out when a friend textedme,” laughs Murray). But Easy Life also appear the type of ambitious young band who will grab with both hands the surprise break they’ve grafted for. Their ultimate vision –much like the producers and rappers they grew up admiring –is to explore more than just music, with the launch of ‘Easy Co.’ (a burgeoning collective under which the boyswill explore a variety of projects) already in the works.“We just want to be able to keep doing what we’re doing and release more music that we’re really excited by,” says Murray. “And we’ll see what happens from there.” Forget unlocking doors. Easy Life are busting them down.