Archy Marshall first arrived in late 2010, under the name Zoo Kid, with the hypnotising song/video, ‘Out Getting Ribs’. The visuals introduce us to every inch of the 17-year-old singer/songwriter, as the camera explores his thick-knit jumper, button-down shirt, gaunt cheeks and shock of red hair, worn like a 1950s rockabilly singer. 2011 saw a swift name-change in honour of Donkey Kong Country’s King K. Rool, as well as the release of a self-titled EP and various performances across Europe and the USA.
Marshall’s music could be described as bleak and introspective, the work of a disillusioned young man whose writing reaches above and beyond his short 17 years. His sound takes cues from an amalgamation of sources, citing Chet Baker and Gang Starr among his motley crew of inspirations, with guitar playing that flicks between jazz-edged discords and surf-rock nostalgia, all funnelled through the heavy reverb that has become a staple of the King Krule sound. The lyricism finds its roots in Marshall’s literary pursuits, as an interview with NOO Mag sees him pay respects to Franz Kafka, Charles Bukowski and W. H. Auden for their ability to deconstruct and relate to the world around them. His own words are flecked with pain, as the dulcet tones of Marshall’s untrained voice carry a rawness of passion that would have much less of an impact if he could actually sing in tune; “I don't hear my voice and think, ‘Yeah, that’s a banging voice!’ It’s more about putting the right emotions into the right words and the lyrics than anything else to me.” he's said.
At this point it seems as though there should be some sort of spoiler alert, as I go on to reveal King Krule is one of many artists to have emerged from the BRIT School in recent years. However, don’t let this taint your preconceptions – where fellow alumni Rizzle Kicks traded indie authenticity for pop success, Marshall has done quite the opposite, rejecting the charts from a young age: “I remember listening to S Club 7 and just thinking: ‘What the fuck is this?’” His live band is made up of fellow students and descriptions on the Zoo Kid Bandcamp page refer to tunings he picked up from friends or moments in the recording process – it becomes clear that the BRIT School is a lively environment of creativity and that can only be a good thing.
A trawl of the internet for King Krule’s back-catalogue will bring up just a handful of songs, but it is this reserved offering of music that makes the young artist ever more exciting, with a small army of fans waiting intently for a new release. Of his musical output, Marshall noted; “The fact of the matter is that I am only 17... I wanna hold back and have a proper amount of time so I can make really good, intricate, detailed music.” With only a short time left at school, 2013 could be a productive year for Marshall and we can hope to hear his already-mature sound being further developed across a full-length release.