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Meet Crystal Murray: “I don’t want to follow a beat, I want the beat to follow me”

Crystal Murray grew up as one of Paris’ teen ‘it girls’. A part of the female collective ‘Gucci Gang’ and known for her involvement with high-class fashion brands, Murray found herself DJing some of the most sought-after fashion shows in the French capital from the age of 13. 

Some may think 13 is too young to begin a career, but those people haven’t met Crystal Murray. A force of her own, the ‘Boss’ singer refuses to stay in her lane because she doesn’t have one. Murray was made to surprise people. 

After leaving behind her life in ‘Gucci Gang’, Murray embarked on a solo career writing music, creating beats and bringing her sonic creations into the optic world through bold and unapologetic visuals. In doing so, she proved that there’s no box you can put her into and no adjective that will do full justice to her otherworldly sound and unabashed style. 

Set for release on February 11th, Murray’s second EP, ‘Twisted Bases’, is a further testament to the young musician’s unchainable artistry. 

To mark the occasion, GenB sat down with Crystal Murray to talk ‘Twisted Bases’, shaking ill-suited sonic comparisons and attitudes to sex. 

Let’s start by speaking about your second EP, ‘Twisted Bases’. Some tracks like ‘Too Much to Taste’ and ‘Boss’ have already been released. Sonically, how does the rest of the EP compare to those tracks? What can we expect? 

Everything that’s out already is ‘Side A’ of the project. I decided to create a project where, when you hear a sound, the idea is almost upside down. And, it’s really graphical. The sound on the second side of this project is much faster; the lyrics push away more, it’s way more angry. There are also a lot of drums and heavy basses. The rest of the project stays on the same energy, but it goes faster. It’s also a bit darker. You know, being versatile is life. 

Speaking of your sound, it really is made up of a complete mix of genres and thematic influences. How would you describe what you’re trying to do with your music? 

In France, there’s a way of thinking that music is a recipe and it’s supposed to be done a certain way. And, when someone brings something new, they like to put you in a box. They like to put labels on people. When my first EP came out, I was seen as this new ‘soul girl’, and I was really irritated by the fact they wanted to put me in a box at such a young age. So, the second EP came from a place of not wanting anyone to be able to put labels on my music. I almost wanted the press to be like, “oh, I don’t know what to say!” 

When I’m in the studio, I’m always thinking about how a song can be something new that’s no-one’s heard before. I don’t want to just sell Crystal Murray, I want to sell a whole package. But, I don’t think my sound is 100% there yet. 

Do you think, as an artist, you’ll ever believe your sound is totally ‘there’? Or do you just think it’s always evolving? 

It’s forever evolving. I’m sure of it. I think that’s how you become a great artist. Imagine if I wrote my album and said, “This is my sound, now you can put me in this box.” I’m not going to put out three albums and have them all sound the same. That’s why versatility is so, so important because, without it, you’ll stay the same. 

So, how do you perceive your evolution so far, from when you first released your own music to now? What’s changed? 

A lot has changed. I’ve met a lot of people who I love artistically, mindfully and energy-wise. The way I party and socialise has changed. I started going out to places where I experienced music in the club culture, and I met DJs who wouldn’t play any songs that we knew, they’d just mix sounds, and it completely took my body away. 

I fell in love too. Love is a feeling that’s always written about in music, and I guess it’s because when you fall in love it’s so easy to write music. You have all these emotions, like the love and comfort that’s really beautiful. Then there’s also insecurity, sadness and rage that you didn’t feel when you weren’t in love. There are so many new emotions. I’m a very happy person, so rage was something I’d never felt before. 

Crystal Murray Press Image
Crystal Murray © Colin Solal Cardo

You started your career in a collaborative group. Now, with your music, how do you view collaborations? Is it something you’re interested in, or are you happy being completely solo now? 

It took a very long time for me to feel ready for collaborations. On the first EP, there were no ‘featuring’ tracks. Before, when I went into the studio with people, I would just freeze. I’d have no melody, no lyrics, nothing. But then, I met one of my best friends, Dian, who I created my label Spin Desire with. We really got close and understood each other artistically, and she helped me open myself up to other people and be more confident in my being. But, I still spend a lot of time alone in the studio. I need to feel very safe before I bring other people into the studio. I’m kind of insecure, but it comes easier now. 

How do you think you’re building that security and confidence in your music? 

It’s by making music and writing. Sometimes I even do exercises where I sing off-key melodies

that don’t follow any production rules or the normal songwriting path. Those exercises are just for me, but they help me become more secure in my writing and melodies. I don’t want to follow a beat, I want the beat to follow me. 

Would you say that’s your way of breaking down the rules around how you should write music or a melody? 

Totally. After the first EP and with people calling me the new ‘soul girl’, I was just like, “I’m not!” So, I was really trying to break down those boxes, and in doing that I hurt my voice. But, it was necessary.

You also have such a refreshing openness around topics that so many people shy away from, like sex, sexuality, race. What do you think gave you that outlook and the self-confidence to be so open? 

I think it’s always been important to me to not be shy about who I am because it’s really hard to accept yourself. As an artist, I want to be 100% myself. Everything is just me. In my videos, I might seem way more confident than I seem in real life, but that’s how I’d like to be. Often people point out that a lot of my visuals are very sexual, but I don’t view it like that. A lot of the clothes I wear, see-through clothes for example, I don’t see as sexy. I accept myself, but I’m not really that confident, so I’m not sure I ever aim to be sexy. 

And finally, when people listen to this EP, what emotions or feelings do you want them to take away from it? 

When people listen to this project, I want it to let out the beast inside them. The EP starts with ‘Boss’, which is about all the women in my life who inspire me and are living through so many emotions but are still standing up. Then, the project ends with ‘Games’, which is inspired by mixed feelings. So, I want people to feel like they can be enraged or a jealous, psycho bitch if they want to. I want people to be ok with the negative feelings.

 

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