’Mura Masa – …Girl’

I can remember pretty distinctly when my enchantment with Mura Masa’s music began—specifically the first time I heard “…Girl.” That piano-driven, trap-influenced beauty served as an ample intro to his intricate production style but it really only scratched the surface of what was to come. His 2014 debut album Soundtrack to a Death, a collection of dynamic beats, cemented his status as one of the most exciting electronic artists out–seamlessly fusing the enormity of trap percussion with fluttering instrumentation and chopped vocal samples.

While that first project captured the bloggers and electronic music enthusiasts, it was Mura Masa’s Someday Somewhere EP that, with the help of a diverse set of collaborators, catapulted his notoriety among casual fans and the biggest producers in the game alike. Since that release, he’s launched Anchor Point Records his own label that’s already brought us fantastic projects from Bonzai and Jadu Heart.

In San Francisco, it’s common to discover an artist on Soundcloud and find them on a show flier within a few months. In the case of Mura Masa, though, the wait for a live performance felt like an eternity—spanning almost three years. Having checked literally hundred of artists off of the must-see list in that time, it would be a massive understatement to say we were excited as we walked into The Independent to see the 20-year-old phenom’s SF debut alongside Bonzai and NAO. So, if you’re wondering why this article is so long it’s probably because we’ve been waiting for so long to write it.



’Bonzai – Daniel Gets It Wrong’
’Bonzai – Where Are U Now’

Equally stoked for the openers, we made sure to catch the first set from Irish vocalist and producer, Bonzai, who’s Sleepy Hungry EP is one of the most boldly creative projects of 2016. Backed by a single band member on the electronic drum pads, Bonzai’s stage presence jumped out immediately.

With the help of that partially live backdrop, Bonzai’s percussion-heavy, at times delightfully abrasive, sound truly came to life in a way that captivated a mostly unfamiliar audience. The most impressive aspect of Bonzai’s performance was her vocal versatility; she showed an ability to oscillate effortlessly between a rapping cadence and beautiful rhythmic singing on tracks like “Lights On” and “Faze.” To close her set, she played her most addicting song to date “Where Are U Now,” which was received with awe from the audience as the venue filled up. Bonzai proved herself as a natural performer and, when she appeared with Mura Masa later in the evening, we got a promising glimpse into what a more elaborate live set from her might look like in the future.




’NAO vs. A. K. Paul – So Good’
’NAO – Bad Blood’

It’s not everyday that you hear a crowd clamoring for an encore from an opening act, but that was the case after NAO’s set. The London-based singer/songwriter, who followed Bonzai’s brief set, wowed those of us in attendance and displayed a level of talent worthy of her own headlining tour.

Following up a 2015 campaign – which saw unanimous praise from media sources – is no easy feat. The mounting pressure coupled with the hype around collaborative releases with Disclosure and Mura Masa has not seemed to distract from her stage presence however. Moreover, it seems likely that NAO will take full advantage of her rising star power and transition into summer with another solid touring season. Clad in some of the coolest gear we’ve ever seen, NAO played a dose of her older songs – such as “Zillionaire” from her 2014 EP and “So Good”- as well as her latest single, “Fool to Love.” NAO had the entire range of music fans in attendance vining to her neo-soul crooning. Aside from seriously flawless vocals, NAO’s backing guitar and bass players were able to translate the glitchy, futuristic production into powerful, dance floor ready jams.

Just as the show wound down and NAO left the stage, we were treated with a last song, her now-famous original track “Bad Blood”. Although this was her first American show, we definitely expect to see her return to the Bay Area soon – and on an even bigger stage.DNP_2417DNP_2467

Mura Masa


’Mura Masa – Lotus Eater’
’Mura Masa – Lovesick’

Off the heels of a breathtaking performance from NAO, it was rather incredible to think we still had a set from Mura Masa coming up but, nonetheless, the anticipations was tangible at The Independent. With two keyboards, a microphone, electronic drum pads and a single cymbal; Mura Masa’s setup brings to mind that of similarly talented, multi-instrumentalist producer Lido. He opened his set with an enormous unreleased track that filled the venue with blaring bass between pretty melodic lulls. Fittingly, the song sounded like it could be the intro for his upcoming album. Breezing past a quick technical difficulty, the set dropped right into “Lovesick,” one of our favorites, with Mura Masa taking on the vocals himself until Bonzai joined adding a beautiful layer as he alternated between playing the melody on the keys and adding percussion. As the night went on, a healthy dose of tunes from Soundtrack to a Death made it into the set with songs like “Cloud Claps,” “Lotus Flower” and “Hell” getting the crowd’s feet off the ground more often than not.DNP_2729

’Mura Masa – Firefly (feat. Nao)’
’Mura Masa – What If I Go?’

The back end of the set ventured more into the vocal-heavy songs in Mura Masa’s catalogue starting with the gorgeous “Are U There?” on which he slowed things down temporarily and showcased his vocal chops. A highlight from the second portion came when Bonzai performed Jay Prince’s verse from “Low,” leaving all attendees wanting more rapping from the versatile songstress. The show’s finale included the latest singles from Mura Masa’s upcoming album: “Love For That” and “What If I Go”—both crowd favorites pulled off perfectly with the help of Bonzai’s vocals. With the audience demanding an encore, NAO emerged for an impassioned finale performance of “Firefly.”

Mura Masa’s set felt like a mapping of his past, present and future capturing the full spectrum of his experimentation with textured, shimmering and hard-hitting soundscapes. With an artist like Mura Masa at the helm of Anchor Point Records, along with the talented Bonzai on board – and Nao as a close ally – there’s little doubt that all three artists will only be going up from here.





All photos by Dom Powell.

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