Get To Know... Crystal Murray

Neu Get To Know… Crystal Murray

The emotional yet assured, genre-hopping Parisian powerhouse.

Hello and welcome back to DIY’s introducing feature, Get To Know… which aims to get you a little bit closer to the buzziest acts that have been catching our eye as of late, and working out what makes them tick.

Paris-hailing, London-based polymath Crystal Murray is an artist who is at her most comfortable when working outside the box. Her recently released debut album, ‘Sad Lovers & Giants’, delights in pulling from often drastically disparate genres and influences, while thematically Crystal mines emotional depths and addresses oft-tiptoed-around issues of societal power structures and female dis(empowerment). To celebrate the LP’s arrival at the end of last month, we caught up with her to find out more about her musical background and Paris’ thriving alternative scene.

What’s your earliest musical memory?
I was raised with an African-American dad, [who was] a saxophone player mixing soul, jazz, free jazz… between Ornette Coleman and Minnie Ripperton, music was always playing. I feel like I was born and raised with music all around me; my mom’s from the Canary Islands, [so there was also] lots of Latin sounds and Afro-Cuban music. It’s been in my blood since I was a little girl -  the earliest memories I have are of seeing my dad writing music on his piano in the living room.

You hail from Paris - in terms of music, what was it like growing up there? What were/are some of your favourite venues in the city? 
Paris is such a beautiful capital, and we have a beautiful alternative scene. Growing up there in such a diverse area (I grew up in the 20th [arrondissement]) really shapes you to understand that the world is so much bigger than you think; there’s a big diaspora there. I wasn’t really raised with French culture, but my big brother was listening to a lot of French rap at the time, from NTM to La Fouine - that’s the French music I know. I think our generation comes from everywhere, so there’s this beautiful melting pot in music right now; when I turned 18, I was already doing music and was hanging out at this bar called La Choppe des Artistes, where I met so many artists, from Bamao Yendé to Bonnie Banane. Rami, the owner, has this beautiful way of bringing people together. It’s still one of the best places to be in Paris, but nothing like when we all started hanging out there five years ago.

Your hot-off-the-press debut album, ‘Sad Lovers And Giants’, is difficult to pin down to a particular genre, variously incorporating elements of grunge, alt-pop, dance, gospel, and more. Can you tell us a bit about how this sonic diversity came about? Were there any particular artists you were listening to or engaging with during the writing and recording process?
The EPs I released before [acted as] research - I was still looking for this hybrid sound I wanted to do, but I think it sounded quite hectic. On this album, it’s a choice. The duality, the hybridity - every choice was made with love and passion.I think our generation can fit into any box and I like the idea of having this same energy in my music; I’m 22, I’m searching and evolving in the public eye. I make mistakes, but in these mistakes I found ideas. I started listening to other types of music that I didn’t really know about, including Massive Attack, Cocteau Twins, Jeff Buckley, Mazzy Star… As I was slowly discovering a sound that would help me build my own, I saw beauty and light in darkness. And that really struck me - mixing genres and emotions is how I feel, that’s how I connect. The rest is an experiment.

You’ve shared that the LP’s lead single, ‘PAYBACK’, was influenced by the 1974 film Lady Snowblood. What was it about this story which piqued your interest? What other non-musical influences informed the sense of power that runs throughout ‘Sad Lovers And Giants’? 
When I was doing this album, I started watching a lot of movies about women fighters - lots of which starred the actress Meiko Kaji - which explore the idea of a vendetta. Who’s seeking revenge, and for what? The idea of vengeance comes from pain and loss, and this was a subject that I thought was interesting and wanted to dig into - it’s an emotion that’s strong, raw and powerful. I also liked bizarre, satirical movies that combine the strange and the inexplicable, like House (directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi), or lots of ‘70s Japanese movies.

Tell us the best and worst advice you’ve ever been given as a musician. 
I think the best advice is “follow your gut”, and the worst advice is “do what you think people want you to do”.

Now that ‘Sad Lovers And Giants’ is out in the world, what else are you most looking forward to this year? 
Making more music - I feel like this album is only the beginning. I’m also looking forward to defining my sound and playing lots of gigs. I love playing live so much - that’s where everything makes sense for me.

Finally, DIY are coming round for dinner - what are you making?
I’ll make sticky rice, with veggies, gochuang and a fried egg. And natural wine!

'Sad Loves And Giants' is out now via Because Music.

Tags: Crystal Murray, Neu, Get to Know

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

June 2024

With Glass Animals, Los Campesinos!, Alfie Templeman, Lava La Rue and many more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY