Enter multifarious bassist Joy Orbison, micro-garage flag-bearer Jacques Greene and the pirate radio inspired riddims of Special Request. Crossan says Gorillaz’s Demon Days (2005) was the album that galvanised his own cross-curricular pop ambitions.
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Mura Masa, the London-based producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist — who counts marquee names like A$AP Rocky and Charli XCX to his credit — may be an innovative curator of cool now, but his story didn’t start that way. Commercial impact doesn’t seem to be Mura Masa’s only goal. He’s also trying to conjure tricky emotions and build eccentric structures in and around his pop verses and choruses. His songs have needy, uncertain narrators, and his productions are reticent, almost shy; they avoid overblown bass and drum sounds and back away from obvious buildups, often placing silences where a big, obvious beat could go.
Mura Masa is one artist of a generation who grew up with access to music from all over the world, and has brought that ethos onto his own album. As seen most recently with the Reggaeton-pop track Despacito” – a remix of which featured Justin Bieber, audiences are more than willing to listen to songs in other languages.
See below for a list of Mura Masa’s GRAMMY Awards history. Mura Masa: born in Guernsey, now sporting the name of a 16th-century Japanese sword maker. Watch the video for I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again” below, and scroll down to check out Mura Masa’s upcoming tour dates.
With headliners like that you need variety elsewhere. Enter multifarious bassist Joy Orbison, micro-garage flag-bearer Jacques Greene and the pirate radio inspired riddims of Special Request. Manchester’s Space Afrika combine spatial ambience with imposing, atmospheric leftfield-techno, positioning them as one of the city’s most exciting new prospects. Similarly interested in sparse but unarguably beautiful soundscapes, Vegyn has grown into an alternative electronic bellwether via his own PLZ Make It Ruins label. Then there’s TSHA; one to watch for fans of Four Tet and Jon Hopkins. Put simply, intelligent homegrown boundary pushers in abundance.
Love$ick” definitely felt like a turning point for Mura Masa – he says the huge reaction was a side effect of working with someone like Rocky” – but the intention had always been to get a rapper onto the track that originally came out as an instrumental, and Rocky brings “a different flavour to it”.
The attention is warranted. In the words of MixMag, this kid is terrifyingly talented” – his deft combination of heartfelt lyrics, glitchy-tropical electronic beats and his broad spectrum of instrument usage (Asian flutes, even, the parts for which Crossan writes himself, because he’s one of those plays-every-instrument geniuses) definitely made his work stand out amongst the more homogenous electronic productions out there right now. The producer self-describes his style as: taking everything I love about hip hop and electronic music and mashing it together in the setting of lo-fi, oriental-influenced beat music”.
Perhaps part of Mura Masa’s success comes from how he seems to approach each song individually – each has its own stamp which is partly down to having a different voice, but also because he finds inspiration outside of the Top 40.
The next release is called To Fall Out Of Love To – it’s kind of like a coming of age record. Since the last release, I dropped out of my English Literature degree at Sussex Uni to do music full time, and moved away from home, so it’s all based around that.
Alongside appearing at FOMO By Night Brisbane and Auckland, the production heavyweight will invite collaborator and fellow FOMO artist Cosha to the Forum stage, to share Masa’s tropical-inflected beat-heavy hits including Move Me” and Til The World Falls” with Nile Rodgers, Chic and Nao.
The musician, whose real name is Alex Crossan, talked to the BBC from the flatshare in Brighton where he records all of his music. Mura Masa twists and turns over 13 tracks and boasts an impressive range of featured artists, from A$AP Rocky to Charli XCX, Damon Albarn to Christine and the Queens.
You’ve really nailed the essence of great pop music. Where it has to sound effortless and has to be really easy to listen to, and has to glide. This is the most I’ve ever worked on a song. If you go on my laptop there is a “Complicated,” version #69, “Complicated,” version #80. Version 30 is full of ideas and very complicated. It took me forever to figure out what the song was really about. It was literally complicated.
If you just played that ^ and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I’m hip, I’m up to date with new music, how have I not heard this yet?!’, don’t stress, you’re not losing your edge. Mura Masa’s transition from a bedroom operator uploading links to his Soundcloud and watching YouTube studio production DIYs from an isolated island in the English Channel, to a familiar presence on British contemporary – and now, Australian – radio waves, has all happened in under six months.
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Where he’ll go from here is a mind-boggling thing to consider, but calm as ever, Alex seems ready for whatever comes next. For now he’s taking in his stride the growth of a young and excitable following who turn up for his shows and are even starting to sing along to some of the tracks. He never writes or structures songs with the live stage in mind, but he is beginning to turn over thoughts about pulling together a proper band to perform them, because if you’re going to do Glastonbury or whatever you don’t want to just be standing up there hitting a drum pad.” He may have considered himself culturally isolated on his island home, but this child of the internet generation is now ready to make a serious mark on the big, wide, real world.
I don’t know if I’ve ever done that. I grew up kind of poor, so like, I know it sounds pretentious, but I don’t really know how to spend money. For the first year it was just like taking everybody I knew out for meals. I found that such a novelty, being like, Let’s just go out.” Everyone would say, We can’t do that, it will cost loads of money” and I’d be like, I’ve got it. It’s cool, this is a different world now!” Yeah, so mostly food. I didn’t buy a car. I didn’t live in some fancy place. I really didn’t spend any money until two years ago. Even then I just started like buying music equipment and I bought a house. Moving my mum out of her house, that sort of thing.
Mura Masa is a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from the Channel Islands. After a childhood learning guitar, piano, drums and writing with local bands, he turned his hand to production. With cues from acts such as Hudson Mohawke, James Blake and Cashmere Cat, he began uploading tracks to Soundcloud produced in his small bedroom on the coast of Guernsey. He quickly gathered a loyal online fan base and, at only 18 years old, he sold out his first London show and released his debut mixtape « Soundtrack to A Death », which was picked up by Zane Lowe, Annie Mac & Huw Stephens.
Bonzai, featured on his tracks What If I Go?” and Nuggets,” exhibited vocal prowess in her range and ability hold notes endlessly, but was too heavily autotuned on tracks such as 1 Night,” whose original version features Charli XCX. Bonzai, a natural performer, affirmed her enjoyment of the power of the stage, her expression strained by heartfelt singing but always coming back to a smile. She danced incessantly in a style inspired by hip-hop and perhaps other genres like dancehall while whipping her braids and making use of the entire stage, bringing an energy unparalleled by other festival acts. As she sang Are U There?,” she asked the right side of the stage, Are you here with me?” and then the left, involving the audience seamlessly via the lyrics of the song without the irksome How are you, Boston?” calls heard at too many festival sets.
Alex Crossan (born 5 April 1996), also known by the stage name Mura Masa, is a Guernsey-born electronic music producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Crossan is perhaps best known for his song “Lovesick”, which reached number one on the Spotify Viral charts in the United Kingdom and the United States.
I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again” opens as a subtle acoustic number with warped synths and Clairo’s velvety vocals, but slowly evolves into a glitchy dance track with electric guitar flourishes. Mura Masa’s production know-how and genre-hopping abilities always keep listeners on their toes, and this new single opens an exciting gateway into indie-dance music.
The videos for his tracks – like the fabulous What If I Go featuring Bonzai – are all part of the concept, featuring young Londoners of various hues and proclivities partying photogenically, taking drugs convivially and having sex with love. This is not a dark record, but one whose interstitial found sounds and international guest list celebrate Crossan’s adopted London.
I put out a mix tape at the end of last year called Soundtrack To A Death and it was just a beat tape – but Jo Whiley played it on Radio 2, and then Huw Stephens made it album of the week on Radio 1. It was all very strange.
Mura Masa’s most widely heard song so far, Love$ick,” is actually a newer iteration of a song from his 2015 EP, Someday Somewhere.” It’s built on a Caribbean-tinged beat and a four-bar loop of a piano that soon switches its sound to steel drums. In the old version, the track’s only lyrics were pleas: I need you,” I want you” and Come over here”; A$AP Rocky’s rap adds details that mix boasting and longing.
Mura Masa has been played over 40 times on NTS, first on 4 January 2015. Mura Masa’s music has been featured on 46 episodes. Mura Masa released his self-titled debut album in 2017 with a star-studded list of collaborators, which earned him the two Grammy nominations (best electronic album and best recording package).
Yeah, basically I make music that I listen to and all I have been listening to at the moment has been mad left-field, electronic stuff. I think I learned that coming up quite weird. I’m doing lots of fun stuff like working with orchestras and just trying to make it more expansive. Make it more interesting.
Bonzai performs with DJ Mura Masa at the 2019 Boston Calling Music Festival. People don’t always realize how hard it is to write a pop song. Mura Masa’s estimated net worth in 2019 is $100,000 – $1M. It’s been a long time since Mura Masa did what he refers to as a proper release”.
Most of the time I was really lucky with the shows I’ve had so far. To not have an album out is very contentious but I’m pretty pleased with what I managed to achieve. Coachella this year was probably the best show I’ve ever played. When Rocky came out it was like Michael Jackson had appeared – people were climbing over each other just to get near him.
British electro producer Alex Crossan has skyrocketed to fame since debuting in 2014 with the mixtape Soundtrack to a Death. In 2015, he released his breakthrough single, the flitting collaboration with fellow Brit Nao, called “Firefly.” As Mura Masa, the Guernsey-raised producer-songwriter and jack-of-all-trades has become well-known for his blending of genres and ability to work with artists from all over the pop spectrum — in addition to Nao, he’s worked with English pop futurist Charli XCX, style-forward New York MC A$AP Rocky, and French movement specialist Christine and the Queens.