Introducing the magnetic Parisian newcomer infusing neo-soul with her jazz-inflected tone.

Crystal Murray release her new song
Crystal Murray release her new song

Listening to Crystal Murray is like inhaling a breath of fresh air. It’s sharp. It hits the back of the throat. And its heady texture makes for a dizzying new highs.

Growing up in Paris’ inner city project housing, the singer-songwriter is a smorgasbord of her experiences – constantly changing and adapting. At just 13, she formed all-female collective Gucci Gang, then launching Safe Place – an online platform giving a voice to people who have suffered sexual abuse and harrassment. How can we not stan?

And her sound pulses with nostalgia and playfulness. Exhibit A? Her brand new track “Princess”, which merges jittery percussion with jazz-inflected melodies and Murray’s undulating soulful vocals. It’s a whole summer vibe. Just shut your eyes and feel the heat.

There’s no doubt about it. The ever-evolving singer is on a meteoric trajectory for success, thanks in part to her unique sounds – packed with crooning teenage angst and full of heart. 2020 – it’s her year. Watch this space.

We caught up with the singer below…

What was the moment you realised you wanted to make music?
I actually wanted to be a singer when I was a little girl and the moment that I really started to see that it could be my job was about two years ago – when I started to go into the studio and really make music. That’s the moment I realised I could. When you’re in school no-one really becomes a singer, you know? But if I didn’t make music, I think I would always do artistic stuff.

Who did you grow up listening to?
Macy Gray, Kelis, Minnie Ripperton – for sure – they were the three great singers. They really made my vision of what a singer is, screaming on stage and having so much soul.

Where do you get your inspirations from?
I got my inspiration from my parents, my family, my background and my dad especially – he’s magical. My grandma played the piano at church, my grandad played the guitar and my dad learnt the saxophone in church too. I have very soulful influences from them. Music is in my history. But now I’m influenced by life, lovers, stories, parties, and my new emotions.

How does your online platform Safe Place tie into your identity as a musician and the music you make?
It’s funny because the first song I ever recorded was for Safe Place. It was a whole song about women: “Safe Place Anthem.” It was almost a jingle but there were a lot of different versions of it. We started Safe Place when I was 14 and it made me grow really fast and become aware of a lot of stuff at a young age. Knowing that things can happen to you and needing to be aware as a woman – being aware of sexual abuse and all the different things woman need to know about. My femininity and my body. It influences my music because it helped me be myself and build a part of myself.

Will you tell us a bit about your collective Gucci Gang (how it started, how it influences your music)?
The Gucci Gang came together very naturally. We were friends from the age of 12 – we met through friends and naturally became really close. You know we come from a generation of Instagram so we all had Instagram and were taking a lot of pictures. We loved to dress up and take outfit pics and then it became a thing – the word influencer came in. But to us it was just natural, the love of fashion and dressing up. Everyone wanted to shoot with us and it was really fun but at some point, after we partied and DJ’d – we realised it was an unrealistic life – just getting money for wearing something. It was a privilege but it also really made me grow up really fast. In two years I became a woman. It makes you realise what you like and don’t like, what you want to be and don’t want to be. After two years, we realised we didn’t enjoy that world anymore – we wanted to do something useful because we felt useless doing the shallow/fake things we were doing.

I read you’re a party girl and you love raving – have any of your experiences informed your lyrics or music?
Yes, I still go to all the parties – that hasn’t stopped since The Gucci Gang. I love to party and am grateful for the times we DJ’d as Gucci Gang and we met some amazing people like, my manager, friends etc – it helped us to realise where we wanted to go.

What’s the best party you’ve ever been to?
We did something with MCM the other day and only played French rap and it was amazing – the whole building was moving. The lamps were shaking. We brought our own vibes into the fashion world!

What is your EP “I Was Wrong” about?
“I Was Wrong” is about a relationship – when you see a lot in somebody and you give so much but you get nothing back. I was wrong. There’s also a track on there called “Diamond Man” – It’s one of my favourites, building up expectations of someone and then them all falling down. The last sentence is “he ain’t no diamond man” – the EP as a whole is me – it’s various feelings.

What’s been your biggest pinch-me moment so far?
I don’t have a pinch-me moment just yet, I hope there are some to come. It’s step by step and I need to keep working. I don’t feel ready, or not ready, famous or not famous – I just want to keep working on my sound – so I can get to where I want to be. Right now, I’m just thinking a lot and taking my time. But once I’ve got all my new work out, and I’ve progressed, I’ll have those moments where I’m like ‘this can’t be real!.

What would you love to explore next in your music (whether it’s dabbling into other genres or collaborations)?
I’m in this phase where I’m alone in my music right now, I’m trying to find the right people to collaborate with at the moment but I can’t find them yet. I’m collaborating with some people back in France that I’ve worked with for a while. I did a concert last week and shared the stage with 7 people – so I feel like I’m collaborating a lot live. It’s easing myself into it.

What’s next for you/what are you excited about?
Partying a lot! I have some new music coming out after the EP. It’s going to be very dance-y and it has sexy summer vibes. The new songs I’ve written are what I’m doing right now – they’re about sex and parties. Hopefully, they’ll be all out by summer!

Erica Bowes