The musician best known as King Krule has released yet another project, under yet another moniker, leaving us confused and in need of guidance.
We find many names for those we love, but sometimes the people we love find many names for themselves. This is definitely true for 22 year old Archy Marshall, better known as London’s prodigal blues/jazz/post-punk artist King Krule, who in the last six years has released music under at least six pseudonymes. He now returns for his newest project, and it goes without saying that a fresh pen name has been penned. On August 24 (his birthday by the way), King Krule released the song ”Feel Safe 88 (just say no)” on his Facebook, presenting his new alter ego The Return of Pimp Shrimp with the caption ”another age another name for the stomps”. The song contains elements of jazz, disco and has that unmistakably Krule-ish distant and hazy feel to it, making the connection to the rest of his work clear.
So how are we to understand Marshall’s obsession with constantly releasing new music under new monikers? To date, we have seen him release work under Zoo Kid, King Krule, Archy Marshall, DJ JD Sports, Edgar The Beatmaker and now The Return of Pimp Shrimp. Confusing, right? I mean, even Snoop Dogg did keep the Snoop part of his name when he dabbled with alternative animal/reptile endings to his famous alias, no drastic changes there á la Archy Marshall. In order to avoid further confusion, we thought it was time for someone to try and connect the dots so that you don’t have to, and there is no better way to do just that than to map all the monikers (we could find) with its corresponding music.
So let us begin with Zoo Kid, the genesis of the successful career we are now witnessing. In 2010, only 16 years of age, Marshall recorded a couple of soulful and intimate songs full of raw guitar play and his trademark exposed vocals, laying the groundwork for his breakthrough as King Krule a couple of years later. Add his poetic lyrics and references to Basquiat to the mix, and one will begin to wonder whether a 16 year old boy ever has seemed more complete in terms of story-telling ability.
After having stirred a few pots with the Zoo Kid project, but not really getting that final recognition needed to fully gain the respect of the industry, Marshall started recording music under the name King Krule, releasing the eponymous EP in 2011 before returning as King Krule on August 24 (he does seem to have a thing about releasing music on his birthday) 2013 with the critically acclaimed album 6 Feet Beneath the Moon. Relying on much of the same magic that had defined Zoo Kid, but with a more complete feel to it, Marshall made an instant impact on the world with heartfelt songs such as ”Easy Easy”.
But the King Krule album was not the only Archy Marshall project to release music in 2013. In April, a seriously jazzy hip-hop album with the name Darkest Shades of Blue surfaced on the wide web, performed by an Edgar The Beatmaker, Marshall’s beatmaking alias. The fact that the boy who performed soulful pop as King Krule also would be producing hip-hop might have come as a surprise for many, but Marshall had in an interview with Pitchfork stated that he sees himself more as a MC rather than a vocalist. Marshall’s infatuation with the hip-hop worldwould become even more obvious, when he released more beats under the DJ JD Sports pseudonym.
After having performed under four pseudonyms, Marshall finally decided it was time to release music under his birth name in 2015. The album A New Place 2 Drown was like a hybrid of his earlier work, mixing the drum machine of his hip-hop aliases with the raw vocals and melodies of Zoo Kid and King Krule. Melancholia and darkness are omnipresent sentiments in this introverted yet lovely album, leaving the listener with a feeling of being able to see right through the fears and insecurities of Archy Marshall. In relation to the album, Marshall also collaborated with his older brother Jack to release a book with artwork as well as a short film directed by Will Robson-Scott.
Unless there is music out there under another moniker he has yet to tell us about, The Return of Pimp Shrimp is the latest, I do not dare say last, pen name of Archy Marshall. Looking at this output and taking into regard that he just turned 22 last month, it is surprising what high quality of music Marshall has been able to maintain, especially when considering how heavily he swaps between styles. One explanation probably lies behind the fact that he has been able to create his own sound, and that he can use that sound in whatever type of song he wants to produce. That does, however, not make his feat less impressive but rather the opposite. To have, at the age of 22, created a unique sound that unmistakably belongs to only you is quite impressive. Therefore, we really do not care if Marshall performs as Zoo Kid, King Krule, DJ JD Sports, Edgar The Beatmaker, Archy Marshall, The Return of Pimp Shrimp or whatever it is, we know that we always can trust him to pass some good tunes our way.