Name: Malia
Nationality: American
Occupation: musician
Current release: What’s After ‘I Love You’? on Black Sea Music
Recommendations: The Untethered Soul helped me learn not to take things so personally / The Surrender Experiment gave me a new perspective on being open to possibilities beyond what I may have thought were possible.

If you enjoyed this interview with Malia, visit her website www.maliavibes.com for updates on new music and tours.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started when I was 27 and my earliest influence was Lauryn Hill. I’ve always gravitated towards music and singing from a very early age. I don’t know what it was about singing that drew me in, it was just in me. As early as pre-kindergarten I knew I liked to sing and really enjoyed any musical activities we did in school

Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?

I feel good and usually feel like moving my body in some way, and it influences my approach because sometimes it can spark a creative idea or just puts me in a good mood which then leads to messing around with music

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

I started this journey just knowing deep down this is what I’m supposed to do, and that inner voice has just become more solidified as the years go on. Sometimes doubt can arise and be challenging but so far I’ve been able to transmute those thoughts into something positive.  And just me deciding I want to take this journey is a miraculous breakthrough in itself, but as I continue to have life experiences that shape my music and teach me lessons about myself and how I show up in the world, I feel like I have breakthroughs all the time as I evolve and get better.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

Over the past year I’ve gained such a grasp of who I am, how I spend my time and what I truly wish to give energy or attention to.  And really I feel like a loving female who makes music because it feels good and my intention is to give and receive love to myself and others and a big part of that love exchange is in the music.
  I tend to listen to pop and R&B and that influence happened early on for me. I think since my ear likes those sounds it influences my music and what I create as well.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

Do it from a place of love for the creation.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

I don’t think I have a view on those things. I create what I like and what feels good to me and if other people like it that’s a nice bonus. Truthfully, I don’t pay much attention to following trends.  

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

Guitar for sure has allowed me to learn to write songs and brought me incredible peace of mind learning to play. Also learning to record myself changed my life because it allows me to make music whenever I desire, and now my production skills are getting better which is also positive. I don’t have too much of a strategy besides staying consistent with guitar practice.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

I wake up and meditate and do my yoga routine in the early morning.  I exercise as well most days or will go for a walk or just go out in the yard to ground. I also dance around the house everyday. I make a conscious effort to eat well and I’ll rotate during the day from computer work to music work or guitar/piano practice with breaks for sunshine and fresh air or errands if needed. If I’m working on a music project, I have a schedule of days where I cut vocals, days dedicated to production, writing, etc. I generally cook or prepare food at least twice a day and clean my space to make sure it stays tidy so my mind is clear, and to wind down I’ll read, watch a comforting movie or YouTube.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

This latest EP is very dear to me. It represents transforming the hardest times I’ve ever gone through into something I love that can live with me forever and perhaps give someone else inspiration or comfort.  The process of creating it was the same as usual which is starting with a concept and then finding some chords that I like on guitar or piano and then finding melodies and lyrics to fit.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

I love to write with someone else. I’ve been creating with Jess Best the past couple years and I’ve really loved our creations. I do love a collab that feels good but as far as recording vocals, I like to do that alone or only with someone I know and trust. If a session isn’t flowing, it influences the music because it generally results in music that is never used or that I revisit again lol.  But sometimes it does go very well and it’s a beautiful blending of minds.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

I think music is so healing and we all need that energy in our lives.  I get to make music and sometimes people let me know that something I created helped them heal or inspired them.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

Sometimes I hear a song and the lyrics feel like they were created directly from a similar situation that I’ve had so I know we are all going through the same emotions just via different experiences. My latest project taught me all about love, loss, and mostly pain.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

When I write or perform music I feel good, like I’m right where I should be. I think it’s clear when I perform that I’m all about the music and always have been. When I perform mundane tasks I still feel good in a sense like cooking for myself because it’s just another form of self love. Nourishing my body and soul but via a different task. However, the intensity of the good feels are amplified when it involves music for me

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

I read that the stereocilia in our ears learn early on what they ‘like’ and they get imprints from early influences of music. Since we are all so diverse there are infinite stories to tell, each one unique even if the underlying emotion is the same like heartbreak.