We all know the internet is a 5 year old child with a bit of an attention problem. This morning they love you, then it’s a whole different story five seconds later. What more for musicians and producers on the net fighting to stand out in our Soundcloud stream? Gaining fame and attention from the Great WWW is 75% absurdity and 25% talent. But a young producer from the small island of Gursney begs to differ. Alex Crossan or more known to us as MURA MASA jumped from viral to vital real quick, proving to us that sometimes raw talent is the only gimmick you’ll ever need.
Mura Masa’s growth seemed to be in an unfathomable 50 mbps. He jumped from our weekly Majestic Casual digs to collaborating with the biggest musicians up to date. But just like the digital platform he grew in, if there’s one thing you need to learn about Alex’s sound, it’s the fact that it cannot be boxed. He might’ve grown up in a small town, but this musician has no narrow mind.
“I’d say growing up there definitely gives me an outsider’s view into things which can make for some interesting creative choices.” He tells us about his childhood. “There’s a lot of things going on, but it’s quite far removed from underground culture, which meant I had to kind of experience that from a distance through the lens of the internet.” He narrates in the comfort of his tour bus in Vancouver. “It’s helped me to hear things I wouldn’t have dreamt of being interested in, so in that I owe almost everything to the internet.” The rising musician continues.
“Initially I wanted to do something very narrative and conceptual, but as time went on I found it more interesting to try and avoid narrative and instead focus on the quality of the records as individual things.”
His sound might be wrapped on wires and circuitry, but it doesn’t mean that it lacks heart. It’s filled with it. Listening to Mura Masa is every music snob’s nightmare. His sound is inclusive and all of it captures his pure, unadulterated love for music and how vast the music sheet could be. “I’d say my main inspiration starting out was James Blake. Just hearing that electronic music could be passionate and expressive rather than just dance oriented changed my whole perspective on music.” He quips. This made him know when to party, when to inject the feels, and to hybrid the two in an eerie “sad banger” sort of way.
Hearing tracks like Blu featuring Damon Albarn and maybe just hearing the entire Someday Somewhere EP will give you enough perspective that he’s bringing heart back in electro. Although, it never really left. It’s just refreshing to hear producers like him push the envelope on how far electronic music could go in terms of context and how it could sound. He has his love for genres outside of his own plays a big role on this. “But also I love traditional songwriting. I also grew up playing in a lot of punk and hardcore bands, so learning about artists like Iggy Pop really opened my eyes to how music could be a tool for rebellion and counter-culture. “ He explains his roots further.
“Each song on the album is a kind of marriage between my style and theirs which became a really interesting way to work for me.”
His self-titled debut is all about how he evolved as Mura Masa in the music streams to Mura Masa in the Abbey Road streets. What did it take to give birth to his Billboard charting album? Giving a big middle finger to his first idea and rebelling against himself.
“Initially I wanted to do something very narrative and conceptual, but as time went on, I found it more interesting to try avoiding the narrative and instead focus on the quality of the records as individual things,” he recalls the process of his top-charting brainchild. “It meant I could really curate the features particularly and I’ve ended up with an amazing list of collaborations,” he adds. It’s more than just an achievement unlocked when you somehow managed to get Charli XCX, Damon Albarn, and Desiigner in one record together. All of them sound super far fetch to be together if it’s another artist’s record. But with Alex, it just makes so much sense.
“Once you’re in a room with people like that, the focus has to be on the work rather than just being a fan, which can be difficult at times. But I figure once they’re in the studio with you that’s approval enough and the music should be the focus,” he admits. “Each song on the album is a kind of marriage between my style and theirs which became a really interesting way to work for me.”
His debut album proves that he’s more than a game change or just another producer. He’s also one of the producers out there showing to us that electro isn’t just confined in the dance floor. “It forced me to think about what a producer actually does, and in the case of this album, a producer finds a way to frame a vocalist’s vision in a way that’s tasteful and collaborative,” he says. “It took a long time to do, but I’m glad I was patient with it. Drawing a line under it was the hardest part. But when I held the first test pressing of the vinyl, it was a real weight off my shoulders to know I couldn’t change it any more.” He remarks the conclusion of his latest brainchild. Currently on tour and onto releasing more ear candies in his own label Anchor Point, Mura Masa is building the future of pop and we’re here for it!
By: Rogin Losa