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Coordinates | Mura Masa

June 20, 2024 9 min read

“I’m a real homebody, I don't really fuck with leaving the house too much”: MURA MASA TALKS THE PLACES THAT MADE HIM.

From serpentine Tokyo districts, to the Hollywood Hills and his native Guernsey – despite an inclination for remaining indoors, the Grammy-winning superproducer guides us through the globe-spanning locations that have informed his artistry.



“I used to be of the opinion that places didn't really matter in the internet age,” Alex Crossan, better known as Mura Masa, tells me. You can’t really blame the 28-year-old. He did, after all, ignite his now storied musical career via Soundcloud, aged 17, after schooling himself on production using the internet from his remote childhood home in Channel Island, Guernsey. His early tracks, uploaded to the music streaming service, in 2014, would garner the attention of the likes of BBC Radio 1 and a couple of years later, he had a self-titled debut album under his belt – with an over-spilling lineup of features spanning Charli xcx, A$AP Rocky and Christine and The Queens.

Mura Masa was characterised by its global sonic outlook, a reflection of Crossan’s absorption of life, during the record’s creation, in his new home of South London, one of the UK’s most culturally diverse areas and a veritable antithesis to the 60,000–strong, primarily white population of Guernsey. Driven by dance, pop and hip-hop, the record traversed everything from London-reared genres like UK garage to Carribbean calypso and won critical acclaim, Grammy nominations and legions of international fans in the process. He followed it up with 2020 sophomore R.Y.C and 2022 third LP demon time, in tandem earning a reputation as the man behind the buttons for some of music’s most eminent. Gen-z pop heavyweight PinkPantheress’ 2023 year-dominating single, “Boy’s A Liar”, is just one to benefit from Crossan's production prowess in the last 18 months.  

Boasting fans the world over has quite literally taken Crossan across it, something he’s somewhat accustomed to these days – he’s just wrapped up a South American tour when he sits down with Man About Town, although he dials in from LA. Nowadays, he flits between localities with fluidity, however, early travel experiences, following the release of his debut, took a minute to adjust to – perhaps, unsurprising given he was still feeling the reverberations of the jolt into new surroundings that came with his leap from sequestered island life to the metropolis of the English capital (via a uni stint in Brighton). “I'd get fired out from Peckham Rye for a weekend or even two weeks and jettisoned into a completely different culture, world, country, city and people,” he says of initial trips to the likes of Tokyo. The globe-trotting has reshaped his perception of the power of his physical environment. “I think having travelled a bit more, things that you take for granted, like climate and politics and social etiquette, they really bleed into your life in a way that can affect your work and your attitudes. You don't absorb that stuff through the internet.”

He recently played a festival in Medellin, a city in the Andes of Colombia. “That place was crazy, it's like in the mountains, in the jungle,” he enthuses. He’s been using his tour to quality-survey his incoming batch of hedonistic, club-destined singles. A few days ahead of our chat, he released hypnotic banger “Still”, featuring the diced vocals of British pop breakout, Griff. The plan release-wise for 2024 is undefined, but fans can thankfully count on a steady supply of musical delights from him. “I’m just going to be releasing those songs and hopefully it culminates in an album moment, but really it's just about releasing music for people to enjoy. It's kind of become that simple for me.”

But in the meantime, he takes us on the geographical story of the artist he is today. From the beach a stone’s throw from his childhood home, the Brighton venue he played his first gig at or the residential Hollywood studio that housed the creation of his upcoming work, dive into Mura Masa’s coordinates, below…



Vazon Bay, Guernsey [49° 28.1534' N 2° 37.1152' W]
[That beach] is probably the place I've spent the most time at now that I think about it. It's a few hundred feet from the house where I grew up and spent the first 18 years of my life. It's where I would hang out with my friends and watch the sun go up or down, depending on what kind of day we were having. For this interview, I was thinking about what it is about that place that has affected the way I live or the way I work, and I think it was just being so close to a wide open space that has a very visible horizon, cold fresh air and is a very stark place to face the rest of the world. But it's also a place where you can feel isolated because you can feel the boundary of the edge the island, so there's a kind of safety and a cloistering in that as well, a juxtaposition of wanting to feel safe and kind of stowed away. But on the other hand, you can literally see as far as the eye can see and you can imagine what's out there. So there's an interest [harnessed] for me at Vazon Bay in otherworldly things or what seemed otherworldly to me at the time. It's basically where I grew up.

When was the last time you went back?
Probably around the middle of last year. It feels very different to me now. A lot of things have changed for me since I left there. I’ve seen a lot of the world which makes going back to a place like that so different because you realise how beautiful and isolated it is. It's ornate and worth protecting.


The Green Door Store, Brighton [50° 49.7591' N 0° 8.3949' W]
For this location, it was a toss-up between The Green Door Store and the actual Brighton train station which sits above the venue, because, I went to university in Brighton, I was doing English and philosophy but ignoring my coursework and just making music. My early stuff was getting made from my university dorm. And, I was at the train station a lot because I was going back and forth to London to try to meet people and go to gigs. I spent a lot of time around The Green Door store and it became the venue that me and my university friends would go to hip-hop nights at. It was just an easy hang. It's not that big. It was a really good vibe, and I ended up playing my first show as Mura Masa there, because we figured it was a perfect place to start the journey, so it's always going to be a special place for me.


Peckham Rye, London [51° 28.2004' N 0° 4.1647' W]
I tried to be specific with the locations that I was picking but with this one, it's almost representative of all of South London, because after I’d dropped out of university and got a publishing deal and decided I was going to try and do this full-time, that's when I decided to move to London and I was living in Brixton, then Camberwell. South London's always the area that I've gravitated to. It's just more green and it feels grounded in a way that some other parts of London aren't. But Peckham Rye, specifically, a lot of my friends live around there, so that's where I would go to grab a coffee or for a walk and just drink in the English weather and talk about what films we'd seen that weekend or whatever.

I think when I picked it for this list, it was more representative of just a sense of community, creatively speaking. And Peckham Rye is quite a large park, so it offers the ability to wander around aimlessly in a green space, which is quite rare in London. And it's been a venue for a lot of chatting with other creatives about what kind of work we're doing or why we're doing it. I'm thinking specifically of Will and Ed Reed, a pair of brothers and directors who directed my last three music videos for this album. We've just been on so many walks there talking about music video ideas. So it just really represents a safe space for dialogue and somewhere that doesn't feel too intensely urban in London which is important being from a little island.


Golden Gai, Shinjuku, Tokyo [35° 41.634' N 139° 42.2789' E]
I think the leap [from Peckham to Tokyo in this list] is representative of something that was happening in my life a lot at the time [when I first visited Tokyo]. It’s representative of the days when I'd wake up and be like, 'Oh yeah I actually am on the other side of the world.' But Golden Gai specifically, my experience of it as a tourist was that it's a kind of serpentine series of alleys and smaller streets that jet off into these tiny bars. And when I say tiny, I mean the ability to fit three people into the room. Some of them are members' clubs, some are open to the public, some have English-speaking staff, some don’t. But you can't, as a tourist, get a sense of what any given place is until you've walked in and figured out the vibe which I really like because it just forces exploration. And we ended up in one of these bars in Golden Gai and there was a karaoke machine and we were doing Lincoln Park's “Numb”, but the bartender obviously really loved to sing in English and he was doing the Chester Bennington parts and I was doing the Mike Shinoda rapping parts. It's kind of sappy, but it was just an example of music's ability to transcend other barriers that might exist between people. It just felt like such a silly moment, belting out Lincoln Park, both of us a little bit drunk, not really able to communicate any other way. I don’t speak Japanese, he didn't really speak English, so all that was left was music.


DAMMIT, Harajuku, Tokyo [35° 39.8805' N 139° 42.4176' E]
DAMMIT's a consignment store and is very selective about what kind of brands are in there. I've only been once, the last time I was in Tokyo. Harajuku is the clothing district, and me and my partner spent a day walking around trying to find the cool spots and we had been recommended this store by a friend of ours who's really cool and plugged in. And it was the end of the day and we walked a little bit outside of Harajuku to this address and we were like, 'I'm not sure if it's here, this all looks like houses.' But we found it in the end and I included it because I really love fashion and the stories that clothing can tell and the culture around clothing. It all kind of bleeds into music. Anyway, this store is just a nice memory, going there and realising that all the clothes were really great. And it was just like a man and a woman running it and they were trying to work out how we heard about the spot. It's unusual for tourists to just rock up. And we were explaining that we were in music and we were in town for a show. And then it turned out that they had heard both of our music and were fans of it. And it was just really nice again that the music had already broken down the barrier before we even started talking.

And also, the other reason why I mentioned it is because there's a perfume that they make there that's specific to that store. It's called Pound Fidget. I don’t know why it's called that, but I still wear it every day. It's my favourite scent at the moment and I'm running out of it and they don't ship to London. I'm going to have to go back.


Perfect Sound Studios, Hollywood Hills, LA [34° 6.3144' N 118° 19.3423' W]
Perfect Sound is a residential studio, there are very few of them, where there's a house and you stay there and the recording studio is also on the property. And I really like that style of working. This was one of the only places that was available in LA, so we ended up booking it but it's way out of my price range. It's like the BoJack Horseman House. It's just ridiculously modern and there's a big pool. And, the first time I stayed for a week which was plenty in terms of the cost. But then the next time, I was like, ‘What if I stayed for a month and then just used the time to make the money to pay [it off]?' So the reason I included it on the list is because it is basically the place where I started this current set of music, the second time I was out there. And I had a bunch of sessions booked around that time with other people to work on their projects. But by the time I got there, I was like, 'I just want to sit in this beautiful studio and just mess around on my own', like I would have done in Guernsey in my bedroom, but with way more gear. So I cancelled a lot and just sat in that house for a month and made a lot of the music that's been coming out slowly over the past six months and is going to be coming out this year. PinkPantheress was in there for some time with me. There are a couple of other really interesting people that I did stuff with, but the music isn't released yet so I won't mention it. Anyway, it feels like a good place to end the list because that studio was the genesis of this new set of music which is ecstatic, footloose and fancy-free.

Interview taken from Man About Town Spring/Summer 2024


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