The sonic world of genre-busting French singer-songwriter defies categorisation just as much as her sense of fashion does.
very now and then, when the right stars and planets align, a new performer emerges into the ever-changing world of music and art with a certainty and grace worthy of one who has already ruled this world for ages. Paris-based Crystal Murray – whose recent single ‘BOSS’ perhaps describes such an ethereal ascent most fittingly – is just such an artist. She has entered the music world in a manner that says she’s here to stay and to slay, pay her dues and pay no attention to being categorised. “I’m a freak, I’m a ten, I’m a creep, I’m a queen, I’m a riddle, I’m a witch, I’m a lover, Ain’t your girl” are the concluding lyrics of ‘BOSS’, all of which pretty much sum up Crystal’s essence as well as her message.
Musically, she belongs to an as yet undefined, genre-less movement establishing itself slowly but surely across Europe, spearheaded by other newly born stars such as Blu Samu and Greentea Peng. The sound carries characteristics of soul, house, jazz, soul, pop and countless other styles, but it cannot be definitively filed under any one of them. You could say that post-modernism finally has embraced the world of music, or you could simply let go of the human instinct for eternal labelling and cultural cataloguing, and just enjoy the ride.
“Music you can’t put in a box!” as Crystal Murray puts it herself when asked about her charmingly uncategorizable sound. “My generation is full of different influences” she says. “I don’t want to pick a side, I just wanna bring my energy to the table. I love this word genre-less – I think that’s what we should call all music. My dad is Afro-American, my mom is half French, half Spanish and from the Canary Islands, and as a result, I’ve been influenced and see things in so many different ways.”
This ability to view the world from different perspectives is totally underrated, and perhaps the younger generation of creators that Crystal belongs to has picked up on that fact. She elaborates the origin of her soundscape and simultaneously comments on a possible foundation for this musical curiosity currently spreading across the continent: “It is important that my music comes from my gut, for it to sound real, and for people to relate to it. My foundation is soul and jazz and as a girl of my generation I go to parties, I meet new people, listen to other sounds, new modern sounds that make me feel my body and make me move so easily that I wanted to link these dual parts of me.”
Almost like a modern-day Impressionist painter, Crystal Murray successfully channels her surroundings into her work, which has sounded and felt deeply personal and intimate ever since the release of her 2019 debut single ‘After Ten’. During the two years that have passed since then, a steady stream of diverse singles has dropped, showcasing her exploring nature along with her talent for tasty melodies teamed with god-like grooves.
So, where does Crystal get her creative fuel and her seemingly endless flow of inspiration? She is, she says, empowered and revitalized by her friends and collaborators. “I feel like the more I bring different people, minds and artists together, the more I’m growing in my own sound,” she says. “To have new influences around me – essentially, I am constantly revitalizing my influence with the people around me and who I give my time to.”
For someone so utterly attentive to her immediate cultural environment, one might think that Crystal is susceptible to trends overall, which she flatly denies. “I really try not to be. It is so important for me to do, create, make and look like something new and to always stay true to myself and who I am in each moment.” And appreciating others while staying true to oneself is probably a clue to the simple secret behind her elusive yet attainable artistry – Crystal’s constant on-point fashion sense also speaks to her knack of playing with influences, puzzling together pieces of herself with visual elements. “I’ve been into clothes since I was a little girl and the fact that I can really draw a persona with the way I look and have fun with it is what I enjoy the most,” she says when asked about her thoughts on the connection between music and fashion.
The level of freedom in Crystal’s expression is undeniably evident when she explains her upcoming EP, the follow-up to last year’s statement piece ‘I Was Wrong’. “My next EP will be called Twisted Bases because I twisted my bases,” she says. “I took what I knew and put them into things I didn’t know, like alternative rock, electronic, UK garage, and sonics that you can listen to without lyrics. I really worked on the production of every single instrumental, then worked on the melodies and lyrics second. The next project can’t be put in a box, but you can box the tracks up in boxes of emotion.” The new Crystal Murray EP marks a significant moment in her career; as Crystal herself says, “I’m actually very proud of this project because I can see in it the evolution of my own growth and experience from my first project.”
So, twist your bases and join Crystal Murray on the next step of her genre-less evolution.
Words by FILIP LINDSTRÖM
Photography by MATTHIEU DELBREUVE
Styling by VICTOIRE SEVENO
Make-up: CÉLINE EXBRAYAT at Call My Agent
Hair: KEVIN ROUX
Stylist’s assistants: ANJA MATOUG and ELOISE RONCONE
Photographer’s assistant: ANGELA DI PALO
#1 Total look by KENZO
#2 Bra by AIKOMOTO, shorts and shoes by MIU MIU, jewellery by TÉTIER X PREEN
#3 Top by FRIDA JŌE (IFM Paris), earring by VANESSA SCHINDLER
#4 Dress by MUGLER, bra by LOU DE BÈTOLY, bracelet by ACNE STUDIOS, earring by D’HEYGERE, necklaces by JUSTINE CLENQUET
#5 Body by LOU DE BÈTOLY, tights by FALKE
#6,7&8 Hat, bra and panties by GCDS, Pants by AIKOMOTO, shoes by VICTORIA/TOMAS
#9 Bra by LOU DE BÈTOLY, belt, skirt and shoes by LANVIN
#10 Body by KESAKO, suspender belt by FIFI CHACHNIL, bag by LANVIN, knee socks by FALKE
#11 Socks Vintage, shoes by MIU MIU