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: Ground Zero | Mesh Top & Choker: American Deadstock | Heel: Alejandro Ingelmo

You’re working on an EP right now. What are you writing about?

I met this producer K.R.O.S.S. on the internet and we met when I was in London. I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna stay and work with him. And I flew him back out to New York and kind of just kept him captive in my apartment for a few months. At the same time, I was in yoga school. So a lot of the themes are surrounding yoga — a lot of self empowerment ,kind of.

Does it have that “yoga class” sound?

No, not at all. Not every song is about yoga, but it is about empowerment and reflection. Sometimes it’s really hard to know what [music is] about until it’s like done. It kind of takes its own shape and form as it’s being worked on. 

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. 

Is empowerment an ongoing journey or something that’s always been with you?

It’s funny because Maluca and Natalie are two separate people. But Maluca the persona is definitely, you know… I mean, I feel like for any performer, when you’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 little knocked down and stuff, but everybody has insecurities. There’s always a journey, it’s never like, you know… I don’t feel like anyone ever gets to a place like, “I feel great, I’m gonna stop growing 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 Zero | Heels: Oscar Tiye 

Tell me more about your relationship with K.R.O.S.S.

Like I said, we met on the internet. I’ve never done anything like that before. He kept hollering at me on Instagram like, “Listen to my music.” He had a lot of talent so I was like fuck it. We 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. So it was really good, it was a lot of fun. We wrote all the songs in my kitchen. It was a lot of fun. 

Where do you live?

Midtown. I used to live close to here [Hell’s Kitchen] but now I live on the East 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. 

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’re very savvy, we just figure shit out. I love LA. My plan is to move out there because I fucking love it, but I feel like when you go to places where it’s sunny and laid back and stuff like that, I’m the one that’s like, “Hey, come on, what’s up, 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 — go, go, go — and we’re too in our head.

How have you seen your old neighborhood change?

I lived right on 10th Avenue, and I love that it’s so hood and queer at the same time, that 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. 

Did growing up in New York influence your music?

Oh yeah, all the time. Moreso regarding genre. People are like, “What kind of music do you do?” When I was growing up in New York City, even to this day, I was going to raves and Spanish clubs and reggae clubs and hip hop clubs and techno parties and German bass parties. Sometimes all in one night. So that’s kind of what my sound is like. 

Finally, what’s your craziest NYC rooftop story?

The first time I smoked a blunt was on this girl’s roof and it was laced with LSD and we got into trouble. That’s all I remember. That’s about it. We 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 who [brought it]. It was somewhere in the projects, like on the Lower East Side. I 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. We used to call it Pebble Beach. 

Sunglasses: American Deadstock | Sweater & Jean: Ground Zero | Heel: Oscar Tiye

Photos by Amber Asaly

Styling by Sarah Glenn

Makeup by Sage White

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