You might have heard the name MAALA being thrown around a bit over the past year, and there’s good reason for it. The solo artist has an incredible voice and authentic, alternative electro-pop production; it’s a proud feeling when you realise the guy behind it all is a Kiwi, no less from East Auckland.
The 21-year-old's sound is a fresh take on what works, and his ability to calculate what fits with the uniqueness of his musical skills means we’re bound to see his name soar against the likes of Lorde and Broods… yep, you heard it here first.
MAALA has just released his debut album Composure which features a writing collaboration on lead single ‘Kind of Love’ with US songwriter MoZella - who can claim tracks performed by the likes of Miley Cyrus, Ellie Goulding and One Direction. Another one to watch - Leroy Clampitt, is accredited to the record ‘Hush’; he recently wandered into the spotlight after collaborating with Justin Bieber on the hit track ‘Company’.
MAALA’s unique sound isn’t at all slipping under the radar. Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe gave a nod in MAALA's direction when he hosted the worldwide radio premiere of the track ‘In The Air’ on Apple’s Beats 1. The fellow Kiwi said MAALA has a great voice and the track was 'a brilliantly produced pop record.'
At a glance, MAALA’s traction across the music scene has been seemingly rapid - an EP late 2015, debut album mid-2016, a run of international shows, a wad of VEVO certified music videos… it’s all looking pretty good. However, to really get to know MAALA, you have to understand how he came to be.
In 2012 under his real name, Evan Sinton, MAALA appeared on TV show New Zealand’s Got Talent. Throughout Evan’s time on the show it was obvious his voice possessed a unique sound that stood out from the rest but he seemingly fell flat when it came to building a career off the back of the show.
What NZGT did do, however, was give Evan insight in to the commercial side of music and for the first time he came to recognise it was something he could potentially pursue as a career. After throwing a few weeks at University, he decided to go for it.
Six months after the end of the show, he released an EP, entitled Evan Sinton. He said, 'The EP achieved what I wanted to at the time but I was kind of getting bored of what an acoustic voice and a guitar could do. I felt quite restricted by that and I kind of wanted to try something else.' He got stuck into song writing and a couple of years later, in 2014, MAALA was born. 'I was working at other things and trying something different to excite myself and re-ignite and that’s kind of where the early MAALA stuff was.'
He - under MAALA - released an EP late 2015 to an encouraging response from critics and after recent shows in London, New York, LA, Sydney and playing an opening slot on Flume’s NZ tour, MAALA says he finds the response to his music bizarre. As his music circuits radio airwaves here in New Zealand, he also has a fast-growing following online. 'That’s the crazy part about SoundCloud and Spotify, it’s not just a restricted territory thing, it’s worldwide. The international shows were an indicator of a face to face response – it’s lovely playing live especially overseas, it’s quite romantic.'
He’s been song writing for a long time now – in his mind anyway - and he says the process of creating music thrills him. 'It’s so intriguing. There’s no formula. I couldn’t see how you could not be excited by the prospect of something that’s ever-changing. Like, it’s something you couldn’t sit down and think "oh, it’s that task again". It’s totally different every time. And that’s going to keep it exciting and that’s why I still do it.'
For now, MAALA is feeling inspired and wants to put his head down writing while he’s feeling so energetic. 'I’d love to get out of New Zealand and see what else is out there. The next step is trying new things and seeing how I can grow', he says.
Listen to Composure below and head here to enter to win tickets to both his Auckland and Wellington shows.