Cool can’t be trained and it can’t be manufactured. Guys like Archy Marshall, a.k.a. gutterpunk angel King Krule, are simply born with it. Or in Marshall’s case, born into it: His mom, a screenprinter, outfitted Prince Be of PM Dawn for the “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” video; his uncle played in a ska band called the Top Cats; his godfather was in punk band The Ruts. Marshall grew up a school-ditching, music-loving rabble-rouser, immersed in London’s wildly progressive art world. No wonder then that he began writing songs and making beats as a teenager.
Now 23, Marshall has applied his inherent cool to two King Krule LPs, both of which feature an inimitable postmodern pastiche of blues, dub, lounge, hip-hop, jazz, downtempo, and experimental noir. His latest, The OOZ, is an itchy, bleary smear of atmosphere and attitude, swinging on saxophone and laden with songs about marginalized Bohemian existence, sung in Marshall’s tongue-swallowing Cockney twang.
Before he anointed himself streetwise royalty, Marshall ran under a slew of other names, some of which he still adopts depending on his mood, including Zoo Kid, DJ JD Sports, Pimp Shrimp, and Edgar the Beatmaker. He’s collaborated with now-disbanded Manhattan rap crew RATKING and London soundscapers Mount Kimbie. He even recorded an album under his own birth name.
Given his lifelong exposure to off-the-radar music, it’s no surprise that Marshall’s stated influences—and the less obvious ones—comprise a sonic roadmap through the global underground. From ’80s New York no wave to golden-era hip-hop to mid-century country crooners to Jamaican classics to of-the-moment indie agitators, King Krule has swallowed it all and spit out something wholly unique and utterly captivating. Here’s your tour through the Kingdom of Krule.