Teen pens mature tunes

At only age 19, English singer-songwriter Archy Marshall, better known as King Krule, writes about the struggles of life with the maturity of someone in his 30s.

Marshall's music has already achieved success that belies his youth: King Krule made it to the top 15 of the annual coveted BBC Sound Of 2013 longlist recognising the best indie acts around the world; and his debut album, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, has received warm reviews from top publications including Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and The Guardian.

The teen artist admits to Life! that his youth has not always worked in his favour, but there are some positives in being young.

"People always have that kind of ageism, but if anything, it kind of empowered me to be able to play with 30-year-olds and 25-year-olds and so, like, I end up smashing the live set a lot more than they did," says Marshall over the telephone from Tokyo, ahead of his maiden show in Singapore as part of the Hostess Club Weekender festival on Saturday.

"A lot of people are always commenting on my age, but I'm just writing honestly... but I think my naivete is good."

When Marshall engages in conversation, he does so like a world-weary soldier of life, speaking in a deep, baritone voice, mumbling every now and then, much like he sounds in his music.

He explains that his debut album, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, is a "documentation of myself between the ages of zero and 19".

"I was looking up to the moon, and that was a metaphor for my aspirations. I guess the theme is that I never quite knew what I wanted; I could never quite express what I wanted perfectly and I always felt trapped... my aspirations were too far away for me to succeed," says Marshall, whose father is an art director for television shows and mother is a screen printer, according to reports.

Works such as his hit single Easy Easy sing of working-class struggles and reveal a bruised teen spirit: "With your dead-end job/ That's been eating away your life/You feel a little inside/The trouble and strife/And now you spend your evenings/ Searching for another life."

In contrast to such lyrical eloquence, his answer to the question of whether his new-found success as a musician means he has achieved his aspirations is a lot simpler: "Kinda, yeah."

He says he has been producing music for the past three years, previously performing under different monikers, including Zoo Kid, DJ JD Sports and Edgar The Beatmaker, before he finally settled with the name King Krule.

The name is inspired by a song by the late Elvis Presley, King Creole.

Marshall says: "I like the aesthetic of letters and the shape of letters, and I especially like R-U-L-E, so that's how I picked the name."

At times, he can sound awfully like his age. He jokes that his introduction to music was when he was three years old, when "all the boys came over to me and strapped the drums to my head and started hitting on me".

His first show in front of a crowd was just over a year ago in a small pub, which he says turned out "really good".

"I never had a feeling like that, being nervous and having pure adrenaline, it was pure, pure esctasy for that fact that I could sing about these fools in front of me in a pub," he says, adolescent angst showing through.

His music is one that is difficult to define, sauntering through jazz, post-punk, dub-step and hip-hop.

Of his use of jazz samples in his tunes, he says: "I love improvisational jazz and I listen to quite a lot of it. So I sample jazz because it's kind of like a moment in time when I feel like they could have made more out of that one simple note."

Lyrics are important to him, he adds, revealing that he travels with a little book in which he scribbles his thoughts whenever he can.

"There is a poem and there is a text, as there is an emotion in the songs. I talk about emotions a lot and eternal feelings. What I want to convey is a satisfaction within myself, that I've actually written something that expresses something of myself."


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