and his ‘nothingness of possessions‘

London: Sometime in the earlier years of Archy Marshall’s media coverage, rumours spread that his stage name, King Krule, came from King K. Rool, the villain in a Donkey Kong video game. In fact, it comes from the film King Creole, starring Elvis Presley as a struggling singer in New Orleans, avoiding the temptations of a life of crime. Like the romanticisation that fuels any good fictional character, King Krule the public persona has always had a layered relationship to the truth. Teetering between a natural openness and concern for the privacy of his loved ones, Archy avoids interviews as best he can. But following the release of his newest album, Space Heavy, he agreed to this story about his transient relationship to homely comforts. His show this year at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts was packed to the brim, tickets so coveted that his management received death threats. Conversely, he spent last Christmas in a motel on his own with a Snickers bar for dinner. Having only met Archy in passing at parties, deciphering what attributes of his are King Krule the character and which are Archy Marshall the artist and father is not obvious. Because Frank is a long-time collaborator of his, he spends the day with us, and we play with truths and lies. Over the past few years, Archy has moved a few times. Not long ago, he traded the small flat near Liverpool where he first moved to be closer to his daughter, Marina, for a one bedroom in London. On the triangular balcony of his new place, he’s getting a haircut, and ginger clippings collect on his shoulders. The balcony is too small and oddly shaped for me to stand with them. He and the barber, both from South London, chat about magazines. Neither of them have heard of Apartamento. On interior design, the barber says: ‘There are a lot of people who curate their houses, but they haven’t curated their minds’. Archy likes that thought. I can’t really hear.

Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE

Next to where I’m propped up on a small chair, tiny Frozen slippers are placed in a sideways cardboard box beside a pair of Archy’s comparatively huge trainers. As he comes inside, he explains that after you have a kid, boxes take on new purpose. Another cardboard box, from his sofa delivery, has been transformed into a skyscraper with windows drawn on with markers. I think about him being a fun dad, and Archy starts to play a Harry Potter video game, despite company. He never liked the books much, he says, because he was always compared to Ron Weasley. Later, at Archy’s childhood home in South London, his mom Rachel is in her studio at the back of the house. A professional seamstress, she used backdrops—painted by Archy’s brother, Jack—from Archy’s tour of his second album, The Ooz, to make a sofa cover for the sitting room. In the garden, Rachel has made a gazebo-like area dedicated to playing snooker, covered by a masterfully sewn green canvas tent. Currently leading in the second round of a women’s singles tournament, she plays with a custom ash and ebony cue handmade by a local craftsman. Archy is from a family of makers, but he describes his work as coming from somewhere that isn’t his hands. When Frank texted Archy about doing this story, Archy referred to his ‘nothingness of possessions’. But the music room upstairs still has several instruments, and his childhood bedroom—from the shelves to the bed’s surface—is covered in collected objects. ‘Burdens’, he calls them. He refers to a bracelet and his sketchbooks as the only objects he owns of real importance. His sketchbooks are where he wrote Space Heavy throughout the past few years of moving around. Something like the home he could always return to. The bracelet is one he made with his little girl.

Carmen Hall: It’s always a combination of truth and lies to some extent, in a magazine article. Maybe it’s better to just embrace that.

Archy Marshall: Yeah.

Frank Lebon: We’re manipulating the session.

Carmen: What are your thoughts on interviews?

I mean, it’s been pretty hardcore doing a thousand interviews this year. I’m pretty good at dealing with it, but it’s harder with this.

Carmen: How come?

Your questions are quite direct in certain places. If it was some random person, I’d be able to skip to the next question.

Carmen: Really?

Yeah. Like, ‘I’m not talking about that’.

Carmen: Like what? Daughter?

Pretty much anything. I mean, if they talk about, ‘Does she like my music?’ I’m just like, ‘No, I think she hates it’. She does. She doesn’t hate it, she’s just like, ‘Turn it off’. Or if I’m playing guitar, she comes over and puts her hand over the guitar, and she’s like, ‘Shh!’ But then I get her to interact with instruments and sing.

Carmen: Like the musical chairs thing, where you play music and freeze. I love that as a way of introducing—

Musical statues.

Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE

Carmen: Musical statues, sorry. Cool to introduce music to kids.

It’s about groove, as well! It’s about how your body reacts to it. I’m like, ‘Come on, dance!’ And the moves she was pulling out were crazy. She was doing all this mad stuff, and I’m like, ‘Whoa, that looks really good. You might be talented at dancing’. You know when you’ve got a kid that you’re just like, you are going to be a mechanic. You’re going to be Bob the Builder. You’re going to be an artist!

Carmen: Be the president.

When anyone was a kid, you’ve probably done something in front of your parents or someone, and they’re like, ‘I always thought you were going to be an artist because you loved this’. And then they turn out to be lawyers and stuff like that.

Carmen: When did you start writing the album that came out this year?

In 2020, but I had loads of songs from before.

Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE
Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE

Carmen: Is it about moving around?

When the whole thing was written, my home really was just my sketchbook. That’s what it felt like.

Carmen: The place you return to.

Well, it came with me everywhere. It was really important to me to fill it with everything I could. Most of my sketchbooks, they end halfway through, or there’s loads of gaps between. This was the first time that I really felt I needed to do the paper a kind of justice of being like, ‘This is a part of me’. I really wanted it to be filled to the brim. So much so that I was upset when I had no more space left in it! But now, I’m like, ‘I have it still’, and it’s one of my main possessions. And my new one’s already getting pretty filled.

Frank: Is that the one we took a photo of, with the photo on it?

That’s a new one, from the start of this year, but that one’s getting filled really quick. It’s this one, with the Hello Kitty sticker on it. Probably about three or four times, I thought I lost it, and my heart sank into a cold unending pool. I never felt loss as I did then—well, I have felt loss, deeply, but it was a different kind of loss. So much of the record is in this book. Oh, there are some blank pages. Anyway, they weren’t right to fill, those ones!

Frank: You want to leave a bit of space sometimes.

Yeah, but don’t say that. Say, ‘It’s filled to the brim. Bursting at the seams’.

Frank: Overflowing!

I couldn’t fill a page now because it just wouldn’t make sense with whatever’s in it already.

Carmen: Yeah, a notebook represents one period in time.

For every record, I’ve got at least three or four that represent the time, and there’s loads of work from that.

Carmen: You’re a pretty private guy, but on stage, it’s like you put your heart on a pedestal and put a spotlight on it. Do you get nervous before you go on stage, or not really?

Depends. Not in New York, no. I felt like I needed to be there. I felt like I needed to be the best thing in the world at that point in time. I don’t think I was, but I tried. My ego was going, ‘I need to be a form of icon tonight, because this is a massive show’. As soon as I stepped onto the stage that morning, there was a nervousness. I could see it: We’d gone from smaller cap venues to a bigger one. Quite a leap. When I’m up there, though, it’s where I belong. That’s how I feel about a lot of it: I really want to be there. So, I don’t feel nervous as much anymore, but every now and then, it does catch me out a little bit—the nerves and the anxiety.

Carmen: Does it feel like you’re the same self on stage and off?

It’s different. I’ve lived with it for quite a long time now. Almost 15 years, so I’m a veteran of it. I don’t feel as much of that tension. All I feel is, I need to fucking do this. I feel a lot of energy, and I feel really capable. But then there was a night in Philadelphia when I felt like I was going to collapse. Up until being on stage, I felt like I was going to die. That was the only time on that tour that I felt any kind of nerves, and the nerves were just basically, ‘Am I physically going to be able to do this for two hours?’ It can be hard sometimes. You have to give something that exists between spaces, that bleeds between love and hate, that doesn’t echo reality but speaks of the traumas of the past.

Frank: I thought it was interesting, watching that show in Brooklyn, how your saxophonist, Galgo, is on stage. He’s obviously so charismatic, and I thought it was kind of cool that you give him that.

He takes a lot of heat.

Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE

Frank: Yeah. But it’s nice that you can have someone to back you.

Yeah, I can stay back.

Frank: Stay back. And I feel like you actually enjoy that.

Yeah. The only thing is, musically, I have to keep everyone in check. If someone goes too hard and tries to flare out, they can let everyone down. Musically, that’s where it’s like, fuck that. You know what I mean? But physically you can do whatever you want.

Carmen: Do you feel differently about making work now that you’re more settled?

No, I feel like I’m moving constantly still, because I’m going on tour. I mean, it’s constantly happening. It’s just nice to have a base again, but a base that’s not as far and isolated as Liverpool. To come back, fly to London, and have to go all the way up there would be quite painful. I’m very thankful and privileged to be able to actually live in London again.

Carmen: Was there a moment in your new flat that made it feel like home?

The first night I stayed in it, I had like a temporary bit of fabric that I put on the ground, and I slept on the ground. It didn’t feel like home then, and I actually kind of regretted even renting it. I woke up, and it was super bright. It was horrible.

Carmen: Nothing was in there apart from a bit of fabric?

And a carpet in the other room. I got a big carpet. I didn’t really appreciate it until coming back from being away for a long time, and then just knowing that it’s there, it’s quite nice.

Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE

Carmen: Have you had people over much?

Not too much. People have come ‘round a little bit.

Carmen: Do you cook for them?

I have, but this year my cooking has gotten worse. Maybe my standards have gotten higher, so what I thought I was good at cooking is actually just shit.

Carmen: What are you good at cooking?

Spaghetti bolognese and, like, fish. Fish is really easy to cook. You just bake it for like, 20 minutes.

Carmen: What kind of fish?

Salmon and basa are my favourites. Basa is a Southeast Asian fish, you can get it in the supermarket. It tastes like chicken.

Carmen: How come you moved out of your flat in Liverpool?

Because there was no reason to be there anymore.

Carmen: And the reason you were there before was your daughter.


Carmen: You’ve been transient for years now, right? I mean, you’ve had different bases, but you’re kind of always going away.

I was living between London and Liverpool, so even when I was in this country, it was very much like I didn’t feel necessarily settled. Sometimes I would spend a month in Liverpool and not really see anyone during that time, and then come back and maybe spend a month down here.

Carmen: Is there a place during that period of transience that you considered home? Would that be your mum’s house?

No. More so the flat in Liverpool. But sometimes it would get lonely because it’d just be so far removed. On my phone, I’d see people were together doing stuff, you know what I mean?

Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE

Carmen: I sometimes think when you’re bouncing between loads of places, you don’t fully submit yourself to any of them.

Yeah, I think that was definitely the case. But I only realised that recently, in a way. I was just super tired from the journeying. The journeying was more of my home than anything else. That was always the feeling in the back of my head: that I needed to go back.

Carmen: Did the place you were living when Marina was born feel like home? Where were was that?

In the sticks. It was in the middle of nowhere, it was anywhere. In St Helens, which is near Liverpool. Hugged inside Merseyside. That’s where we lived and breathed. It made sense. It was good for me. I liked it a lot.

Carmen: Was that your first time not living in a city?

It was my first time living out of London. It was really good to have a different perception of the country and stuff like that. And I feel quite good for it. It definitely opened my eyes to a different world because London can be a bit self-centred. It’s just a bit pompous, and a bit of a platform, sometimes. And I’m from here. So it was hard to ever imagine living anywhere else. But doing it was great, it was really good.

Carmen: Did you feel your headspace change while you were living away from London?

It changed for multiple reasons. Becoming a dad was probably the main reason. Landscape was one of the most important things for me in the Northwest. Being able to see nature like that confronted with man-made factories and monolithic creations. The Fiddler’s Ferry gushing out towards the stars or the thousands of pylons that stretched from the east. That was quite inspiring. I found myself, a microscopic being holding love.

Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE

Carmen: What about having a daughter? How has that changed things?

Well, home just becomes hers half the time. It’s filled with toys and stuff. It’s important, though, that she recognises a place that’s mine and hers.

Carmen: A couple of months ago, when we first spoke to you about doing this story, you referenced your ‘nothingness of possessions’. What about now? How do you feel about owning more stuff?

I don’t know what to do with that kind of stuff. My flat in Liverpool was fully furnished, so I at least didn’t have to worry about getting rid of it all when I moved. But I did accumulate a lot of random bits and bobs whilst I was there. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. But I felt like I obviously needed more because it was an empty space. I had a TV from Liverpool, so I brought that down. And yeah, I was like, ‘I’m going to spend more money than usual on a sofa and a bed frame and a bed’.

Frank: The album’s really about empty space, though, isn’t it?

It’s about space and space being empty or filled. I was filling space when it was being released, so—

Frank: It’s also interesting what you said earlier when we were in your old room. I love all the shit that you have accumulated, and you’re like, ‘It can go, it can burn in there’.

I’ve been a hoarder for all of my life. I’m really getting away from that as I get a bit older. I enjoyed going to Liverpool because I didn’t have any of that stuff holding me down. I hoarded loads and loads of stuff over the last 20 years or whatever.

Carmen: Like the mirror thing in your room that had been thrown out of a window and landed right in front of you?

Yeah, all kinds of junk. Bits of equipment and stuff that I was going to fix one day and never fixed—classic hoarder behaviour. Old radios and stuff like that. And I fixed a couple, and then I just got bored, and then they were junk in my room. Also, I had a few people, close friends, who would be walking down the street and just turn up with something ridiculous. They’re like, ‘You might want this’. And I’d be like, ‘Yeah, I do want that. That’s cool’. And I didn’t want it. I ended up throwing it into a big trash heap where I’ll hopefully end up one day.

Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE
Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE

Carmen: Is there anything you take when you’re going on tour, or did you take anything on your last tour to be cosy?

I take my bracelet. When I got to the airport in Minnesota, in Minneapolis, I had just gotten through two hours of waiting at customs. I looked down, and one of my two bracelets was broken. It’s the one with all the saints. I had that for years, and it had completely fallen apart. Luckily, it was slightly wrapped around the other bracelet, the one me and Marina made. I only had three of the saints left. A friend told me the idea was that the saints—they peel off, they fall off. And you get left with your patron saint.

Carmen: OK, so now you’re down to three saints?

I looked down, and I was like, ‘That’s not a good omen’. I really despise putting sentiment into objects because they can deteriorate, they can fall apart, you can leave them somewhere and think about them for the rest of your life. I really despise that. But with the bracelet, I couldn’t help it. So instead, I took my favourite saint—lucky that one was still there—and put it in the middle of this bracelet. This bracelet was the only thing that kind of grounded me.

Carmen: You could see having three left as a negative or as a positive. Maybe you only needed those three.

Yeah, yeah.

Carmen: Your family seems to all use their hands a lot. They’re all makers. Are you?


Carmen: No?

No. When I create, there’s nothing to do with my hands. It’s a let-down. I wish I was more like my family. My hands are the last point of call for the energy coming out. Or my face, or my ears. Maybe not so much my ears, because they don’t project; they consume. My face and my hands are the last point of release. I don’t see my hands as crafty hands. I see them as dainty, almost ghost-like beings that exist with me. And I felt that way about my body for years, anyways. It doesn’t really exist.

Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE

Carmen: Do you mind that? 

I think I actually have quite a practical brain. I just never applied it to anything, you know? When I was driving, I thought I was quite good—surprisingly good.

Frank: You can’t drive? 

Well, I was doing lessons. There are quite a few things that, when I learn them, my hands do the right thing. Like rolling cigarettes or something, you know?

Carmen: You said that before New York, your ego was saying you have to be this icon. Are you conscious of how vulnerable your work is, how much you’re exposing yourself?

I don’t feel anything about that. No, no. I wouldn’t record the records if I felt that way. Sometimes in this record, the last one, I felt a bit like, ‘Shit, I’ve said everything really straightforward’. Sometimes I dart around with a lot of metaphors and play with words so that it’s a bit more disguised. But with this one, I was just like, ‘Why not?’ As a release, I needed to do it. I don’t know.

Carmen: It’s admirable.

Not at all.

Carmen: I think it is.

It’s just been such a long time that now, it doesn’t even feel like anything. It feels like it’s just part of what exists. But I’ve ruined relationships, friendships, because of the lyricism. Because of how open some of the words are. 

Carmen: You need a disclaimer.

Yeah, to a degree. There are interviews where people get really pissed off because it’s written down forever. Whereas with the lyrics, it’s like there is ambiguity to a lot of it. And that ambiguity can be perceived by the audience, or people I know, or any kind of ears, as whatever they want to perceive it as. A lot of the words and a lot of the interpretations are not necessarily what I meant, but they’re still valid because someone felt that in what I was saying. And I quite like the openness, to be interpreted in a million different ways.

Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE

Carmen: I guess what we’re doing is hard. Talking about home without exposing too much.

Yeah. Because you’ve got a lot of emotion and stories within every object. People are fascinating, aren’t they? All these strange, weird creatures who put hats on and bracelets on and carry around books. They’re just animals who have found their own kind of magpie relationship to stuff. I remember really thinking about it deeply a few years ago when my mum came in and was like, ‘I need cake, I’m going to go and get a cake’. And I was like, so weird that this woman is omitting time. This animal is going, ‘Oh my God, cake’. You know what I mean? I’m sat there, just writing furiously about nothing, and she loves cake. We make instruments. We make all these kinds of ornaments to drink out of and to smoke from and to sit on.

Carmen: We create all these rituals. 

It’s really odd. In this country there’s a thing that you put your sliced toast on to serve it, and people do that in their own home! And even a boiled egg in the cup, like, an egg cup. What the hell! I remember someone trying to give me an egg cup and I was like, I never eat boiled eggs. But now I just have it in a box somewhere. You know what I mean?

Carmen: Yeah. I mean, Frank loves boiled eggs. He’s sat at the table every day at the same time having two boiled eggs the same way. Do you have any routines like that?

Actually, I’m trying to get into Tai chi at the moment. That’s what I’m going to try and push myself to do.

Carmen: At home?

At the moment, yeah. I do like the exercise of Tai chi. Breathing. I’m just trying to get more and more into it so I can channel different powers from it. Because it’s all about breathing. I’m trying to just centre myself and feel different energy in a different way.

Carmen: Well. I think it’ll be good.

You guys going to get me a drink then?

Frank and Carmen: Yeah.

Apartamento Magazine - KING KRULE
The product is being added to cart!