KING KRULE'S IRREVERENT AESTHETICS
There is only white man I can trust other than Bernie Sanders and that is Archy Marshall. This 6-foot gingersnap of a man goes by many names including (and probably not limited to) Zoo Kid, Pimp Shrimp and most commonly, King Krule. All bad redhead jokes aside, Archy has a place in my heart for reasons beyond his melancholically motivating grooves. I have actively kept my Tumblr account for the sole reason of charting Archy’s aesthetic journey, which, when combined with raw sonic talent, gives him a pretty salient x-factor within the broad canon of male musicians in alternative music.
King Krule as a musical phenomenon is two things: 1) very, very sad, and 2) separate to Archy Marshall as a person. In an interview on FaceCulture’s YouTube channel, Archy details this separation of King Krule and himself with the ease and sincerity of a seasoned actor - the operating point being that the idea of King Krule is a stage persona with a band, versus Archy himself. Undeniable darkness emanates from King Krule, and I see them as more of an aspect of Archy that he performs through his art, rather than a mask put on to hide the self. We can see this in Archy’s incredibly specific look: something vaguely reminiscent of the Rude Boy and oddly nostalgic to the crunchy 90’s skater boy of your more shameful dreams. From eclectic vintage suit pieces pared down with grimy creps, to re-wearing the same checked shirt in almost every YouTube interview of 2014, Archy’s style is undeniably, well, him. King Krule is not a mask nor are they a fictional character who wears a costume for a performance. “All the world’s a stage,” and Archy performs his inner self in the same way he would meet an anxious fan outside The Line Hotel during FYF (it was me…I’m the anxious fan). There is a level of unparalleled self-awareness that Archy possesses as King Krule – the self-awareness of someone familiar with sadness who has the gall to make themselves raw in front of umpteen dedicated spectators.
"...something vaguely reminiscent of the Rude Boy and oddly nostalgic to the crunchy 90’s skater boy of your more shameful dreams."
This awareness is a type of emotional vulnerability that explains how King Krule is seen as a style icon by many a fan. Style is a phenomenon that is interpreted as an innate, stemming from an amalgam of your personality and life experience, that expresses oneself uniquely. So much of what we consider to be aesthetically “King Krule” is just Archy’s style accenting his emotional stage persona. While it’s a reach to call this style a type of confidence, a word thrown around much too casually when describing the aesthetic preference of an artist, there is something to be said at least about authenticity. Whether or not the ideas of “genuine” or “authentic” are solid and definable terms, Archy lives up to both in his undying Archy-ness. In a music world so oversaturated with the emergence of “lewks,” Archy’s -ness stands in gorgeous opposition to a menagerie of male artists whose images are constructed through a hegemonic ideas about what fashion is to a man making music. Not to shade the SadBoi™ faction of the audience, but I can’t help but feel that the sadness they perform is more representative of putting on an emotional mask for the stage than it is taking one off to reveal the true self – something that exempts Archy Marshall.
"I can’t help but feel that the sadness they perform is more representative of putting on an emotional mask for the stage than it is taking one off to reveal the true self."
There are inherent gender roles at play in this instance. Recently, a conversation has opened up about whether women and femmes actually emotionally mature faster than men and mascs, or if we are just pressured to carry more emotional weight so that men and mascs don’t have to. In music, there’s a boys-DO-cry movement that is so lewk-specific that it begs the question: are men actually learning about this emotional inequity, or are they mimicking a style, such as Archy’s, that they see as a means to commercial success? I can’t answer this question because there is no way to speak on behalf of an entire gender identity, but it is definitely something to consider with King Krule’s style and the artist’s contemporaries.
Ultimately, Archy is just a normal, loving man, making loving music for his loving fans. That emotional rawness? Hot. Whether informed or not by these grand theories, King Krule puts his chonies on one leg at a time like the rest of us, and holds the same power of stylistic expression as we all do.