Mura Masa Has Something Unexpected Up His Sleeve
Mura Masa’s videos will make your head spin—literally. Watch “Complicated” and you’ll notice your POV start turning, round and round it goes, vibeing with the singer’s follow-up duet with Nao to their 2015 track “Firefly” until you’re not sure what’s up or down. There’s a figurative version of this head-spinning aesthetic, too—and it comes in the form of a tendency to always be switching things up, and keeping us on our toes. Masa’s last album, the self-titled Mura Masa, shot the self-proclaimed shy boy into the spotlight, but, don’t expect more of the same. It took us through London, the city he so loves, and was simply “a musical moment [he] was fucking with at the time.” Now, Masa is ready to take us in a new direction, and he’s going way left field. In his own words, he’s “chasing the dragon,” and we’re here for it.
How is London treating you? Do you feel like your environment influences you creatively?
Yeah, 100 percent. London in particular, there are so many different music scenes, you can just pick one and you can go those shows and you can still have so much to do. Even just walking down the street, you will hear like 10 different types of music—from different backgrounds or different scenes within London. And all the different types of club scenes – that has had a big effect on me. I come from very monocultural place.
Where are you from?
I am from Guernsey, which is a tiny island. No one is from there. It’s all the same types of people. It’s very small town. So going from that to London—it’s the opposite. It was a real eureka moment. I got exposed to some interesting things.
Your album last year obviously did really well—shat was the reception? Were you expecting such good reception?
Aw thank you. Not really… because electronic artist aren’t really meant to do albums. Dance music doesn’t really suit the album format. So it was like knowing that going in and still trying to do a long form project was quite intimidating. I just figured people would pick their favorite songs and playlist them and do whatever. And I think people did do that but I was surprised that so many people were willing to listen to it as a body of work. I’m glad I put some effort into the appearance of it and stuff.
What would you say is the thread that kind of holds everything together?
That’s interesting because when I started I wanted it to be super narrative-driven and flow. Almost like filmic. But as time went on, it makes more sense nowadays to just drops single. We’re in the age of the amalgamation—where everything is like news feeds and like different information compiled together. So it just became like—I’ll just make the 13 best songs I can, then i’ll figure out a running order for them and just have that speak for itself. The thread that runs through it is maybe that thing about London and all the different types of music I was hearing over there. But more than anything, I think it’s like a moment—like a musical moment—that’s what I was fucking with at the time.
Thinking about keeping people’s attention for a whole album… is that kind of the biggest worry going into making a full record?
No, I don’t think so. Attention is a weird currency nowadays because it’s like if you make a long form project—for me as a listener, I tend to skip through projects to figure out which ones I really want to listen to and then I listen to them. Unless it’s someone I am a huge fan of. So kind of having that in mind with the album, it was just like, I’ll make every song as strong as I can. Not everybody is going to like every song, but there will be something on there that people can grab onto.
What’s your favorite song on the album?
“Give Me the Ground”. The like one minute long bit in the middle… I just love that song. It’s almost entirely improvised. That is really weird for me to do that. It’s funny that it is on there as well because it’s just like a guitar and me. It doesn’t really belong on the album. But for some reason it’s fused to that.
I guess you do need a cool little black sheep on the album to throw people off a little bit.
I just like how it is right smack in the middle of it. It’s like an interlude.
So when you play those songs live, especially that one that was all improv, is it completely new every time?
I tend to do it how it is on the record but it always comes out weird. I have only played that one live a handful of times—at headline shows and stuff. I tend to do it first thing as I come on for the encore because everyone thinks I am going to do a hit single but it’s just me plucking the strings. I think it’s good to slap people awake every now and again.
So are you working on another album? What’s going to be the follow up?
I figured this year, just as a a connecting bridge between the first album and what comes next, I would just do these single drops. So we have “Move Me” and “Complicated” and there will be a third one as well. I figured this year, I would just focus on those but coming towards the end of the year I want to put together another long form project. I think it’s going to be way left of what I have done previously—which is quite worrying, but also when you feel like you just have to do something, it’s better to just follow it and if it turns out straight, then release it. Doesn’t it make sense to zag when they are thinking in a zig? If you have a really good first album, or if it is really well received, then the instinct is to build on it and try to do it again but better. But I think it what’s fun is going against people’s expectations and it almost frees you up more to something completely different.
There is so much pressure on artist to keep producing what has already proven to be good, too.
Yeah, and also during that album, I was really interested in pop music and how that ticks and stuff. Recently I have just been listening to so much left field stuff that it’s going to creep into the music. So I think I should just chase the dragon and go with that.
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