Caturday with Mura Masa

Jessica Gianelli

I’m reminded of Alex Crossan nearly everyday, whether by way of earphones, where ‘Complicated,’ swirls on repeat, or as I look up to find a beige billboard celebrating “Mura Masa’s sophomore album ‘R.Y.C,’” gleaming in a striking red sans serif. As a long time fan of Crossan’s—otherwise known as Mura Masa’s—eclectic sounds, I can’t help but sheepishly smile, proud, and mostly itching to get my hands on a copy of the Grammy winner’s most recently soul-spilled heart project, Raw Youth Collage. Here, we chat with Alex about using familiarity as a vice, and the powerful escape that is nostalgia.

JG: It must be pretty wild to see a Grammy with your name on it inside your flat.
AC: Haha, yes it is. I keep it on a little shelf in the kitchen next to the cookbooks. I keep the side with my name on it facing the wall, not sure what that says about me. A psychologist would probably have a field day with that.
JG: How would you say you, and your music have changed the most since your first album, Soundtrack to A Death?
AC: I think I’ve got a lot more confidence to take risks and trust my instincts, maybe against logic or reason. Most people would say I’ve had a pretty successful direction so far so to rip it all up and rebuild it from scratch felt very fresh and scary. I’m glad to have that instinct though, nothing worse than not being able to evolve and grow.
JG: Coming from a small island, London must be a pretty wild playground for you. What’s your favourite part about living here?
AC: I think the liberation of being amongst so many storied people from all sorts of backgrounds and places is very fun. As somewhat of an outsider I immediately felt that I wasn’t alone, everybody has their own journey towards ending up living in London. It’s also good to feel part of a city that’s so musically special. There’s a lot of amazing things happening in a really cool grass roots kind of way here.
JG: Ok so… South, North, East or West?
AC: South. But there’s little gems all over the city.
JG: The RYC tour begins here in London in February. I noticed a good amount of North American stops, too. What’s the most rewarding part of touring?
AC: I think just being able to interpret the music into a real space is really fun. People live with these records on their phones and at home so to be able to rebuild it in front of them as a performance can be super special.
JG: I’ve read about the kaleidoscope of emotion that’s gone into the album, especially through the many songs featuring your own vocals, and the beautiful array of collaborators, and energies that you’ve brought on board. What is it that you most hope the album conveys?
AC: I hope it just conveys a sense of community really. The album focuses around this kind of nostalgia and longing that I think is super culturally pervasive at the moment, so I hope people can feel some familiarity or camaraderie in the music. But hopefully in a way that feels current and relevant.
JG: Who and what would you say most influences you?
AC: I just love people who make art. It’s the most bizarre human experience to want to create and express and commentate I think. To have some instinct to want to put our experiences into words and pictures and music is so strange but so natural. I really just respect the shit out of anybody who’s brave enough to do that for the right reasons.
JG: Rawness is such a perfect word when we talk about feelings. It brings about this notion of getting to the nitty gritty, of unveiling the truth. We’re all in need of a good cry, and a whole lot of truth-telling these days. Songs like ‘Deal Wiv It’ and ‘No Hope Generation’ especially touch upon these themes. Which truths is R.Y.C speaking to? Who is R.Y.C. singing for?
AC: I think just the truth that we need to communicate more and share more. We’re all socially experiencing this mad world together, but it feels quite isolated at the moment. The way we learn about the world is so amalgamated right now. Everything is a ‘feed’ of different sources, different personal opinions, different conclusions and semantics. It’s so anxious! If we can find some escape and joy through nostalgia and shared memory then I think that’s something to have as a little victory in what can feel like a cruel world.
JG: Between climate crises, right wing governments, and social media overload, where do you go to escape?
AC: Familiarity is my vice. Old friends, old music, familiar films, places. It might have an unhealthy aspect of wallowing to it but I think if you can teach yourself about what makes you happy that can be helpful for looking after yourself.
JG: Where could we find you on a Saturday night? And what playlist would be bumping in the background?
AC: Probably in my living room with a good album playing. Yves Tumour, Big Thief, something like that. If I’m out it’s most likely to see a band I really love or a friend putting on a night or something. I’m going to see Black Country New Road next week, can’t wait for that.

Click to listen to
Mura Masa’s playlist