How NYC Helped Form Maluca Mala’s Tropical Punk Sound
Maluca Mala‘s tropical punk sound is like nothing you’ve ever heard before, and she’s hard at work on all new music now.
Right before we shot her on a Hell’s Kitchen rooftop, Maluca opened up about her upcoming EP and how New York influenced her music. Oh, and she shared a pretty ridic rooftop party tale. Read on for more.
Jacket & Pant:Â Ground ZeroÂ |Â Mesh Top & Choker:Â American DeadstockÂ |Â Heel:Â Alejandro Ingelmo
You’re working on an EP right now. What are you writing about?
I met this producerÂ K.R.O.S.S.Â on the internet and we met whenÂ I was in London.Â I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna stay and work with him. And I flew him back out to New YorkÂ and kind of just kept him captive in my apartmentÂ for a few months. At the same time, I was in yoga school. So a lot of the themes are surrounding yoga â€” a lot of self empowerment ,kind of.
Does it have that “yoga class” sound?
No, not at all. NotÂ every song is about yoga, but it is about empowerment and reflection. SometimesÂ it’s really hard to know what [music is]Â about until it’s like done. It kind of takes its own shape and form as it’s being worked on.Â
What’s your definition of empowerment?
My definition of empowerment is just being self-realized and just feeling good in your own skin. Becuase I feel like once you feel good in your own skin, you’re like Teflon.Â
Is empowerment an ongoing journey or something that’s always been with you?
It’s funny becauseÂ Maluca and NatalieÂ are two separateÂ people. ButÂ MalucaÂ the persona is definitely, you know… I mean, I feel like for any performer, when youâ€™re onstage, just to get up onstage anyway you need balls. I do emit a lot of confidence. I am a confident person. But you go through shit in life where sometimes, you feel a littleÂ knocked down and stuff, but everybody has insecurities. There’sÂ always a journey, it’s never like, you knowâ€¦ I don’t feel like anyone ever gets to a place like, “I feel great, I’m gonna stop growingÂ right now.” You feel great and then have a breakup and you feel bummed again, then great again, then you lose your job…
Hoodie:Ground ZeroÂ |Â Heels:Â Oscar TiyeÂ
Tell me more about your relationship with K.R.O.S.S.
Like I said,Â we met on the internet. I’ve never done anything like that before. HeÂ kept hollering at me on Instagram like, “Listen to my music.” HeÂ had a lot of talent so I was like fuck it. WeÂ had a lot of chemistry. I will say sometimes it’s a little, um, I don’t wanna say difficult, but it can be a little challenging working with men in the studio. I feel like in the industry in general, it’s like, “Oh, I know better than you.” But he wasn’t like that.Â So it was really good, it was a lot of fun. We wrote all the songs in my kitchen. ItÂ was a lot of fun.Â
Where do you live?
Midtown. I used to live close to here [Hell’s Kitchen] but now I live on the EastÂ Side. Boring. I love this neighborhood. I spent most of my life in this neighborhood. My best friend is from Hell’s Kitchen and she was my neighbor for a long time.Â
Are people who grow up in New York City different from everyone else?
Yes, for sure. I would have to say we are just go-getters. We’reÂ very savvy, we just figure shit out. I love LA. My plan is to move out there becauseÂ I fucking love it, but I feel like when you go to places whereÂ it’sÂ sunny and laid back and stuff like that, I’m the one that’s like, “Hey, come on, what’s up,Â how are we gonna find this place?” and my friends are like, “Ahhh!”
But I kind of love California’s [pace], because I feel like New Yorkers are so anxious, too â€”Â go, go, goÂ â€” and we’re too in our head.
How have you seen your old neighborhood change?
I lived right on 10th Avenue,Â and I love that it’s so hood and queer at the same time, thatÂ they can exist together. I never feel not-safe walking down the street. I love how the homies and the queens are right in the same neighborhood and everyone gets along. I love how they still have bodegas and stoops and everyone’s outside kickin’ it on the stoop. I feel like it’s still very much New York.Â
Did growing up in New York influence your music?
Oh yeah,Â all the time. Moreso regarding genre. PeopleÂ are like, “What kind of music do you do?” When IÂ was growing up in New York City, even toÂ this day, I was going to raves and Spanish clubs and reggae clubs and hip hop clubs and techno partiesÂ and German bass parties. Sometimes all in one night. So that’s kind of what my sound is like.Â
Finally, what’s your craziestÂ NYC rooftop story?
The first time I smoked a blunt was on this girl’s roof and it was laced withÂ LSD and we got into trouble. That’sÂ all I remember. That’sÂ about it. WeÂ thought we were snakes or something? We were trying to crawl back into the girl’s house and her mom like caught us on the ground crawling. The girl’s mom tried to blame it on me and i was like, dude I’ve never smoke an L, your kid is the one whoÂ [brought it]. It was somewhere in the projects, like on the Lower East Side.Â IÂ kind of stayed away from the roofs because a lot of grimey shit would go down on the rooftops. Kids would have sex up there.Â WeÂ used to call it Pebble Beach.Â
Sunglasses:Â American DeadstockÂ |Â Sweater & Jean:Â Ground ZeroÂ |Â Heel:Â Oscar Tiye
Photos by Amber Asaly
Styling by Sarah Glenn
Makeup by SageÂ White