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Up Close & Personal: An Interview with Malaky


Fans of liquid Drum & Bass will surely have been seeing an artist who goes by the name ‘Malaky’ popping up in mixes, podcasts and charts a lot recently. His sultry tones, crisp beats and warm basslines have captured the attention of some of the genres biggest names, with DJ Marky, LTJ Bukem, Bryan Gee, Fabio and Grooverider to name but a few of the most respected DJ’s who are all championing his music. A sublime use of samples has helped him to develop a unique sound that he has presented in DJ sets across the continent.

Who are you and what do you do?!

I’m Malaky, I make liquid Drum & Bass and play champ manager.

Badman! I’ve never got into that game myself through the fear of addiction, anyway, where did the name come from? And could you clear up the confusion over the correct pronunciation please? Is it MA-LAH-KEY or MAL-ARK-KEY?

Ah, a common question! I pronounce it Ma-lah-key, like the guy who was in Hollyoaks. Ha ha. I heard the name about 12 years ago, some guy said “my mate Malaky…” and I thought that it has got a nice ring to it. Then I spent the next decade failing to think of a better name and couldn’t, so it stuck. I’ve got Irish roots as well so thought it’d be fitting.

Where did your production journey begin for you?

The same way as a lot of people, to be honest. It was a natural progression from playing in bands when I was at college. I was playing guitar when my brother bought some decks; I got into mixing D’n’B and the production side of it started to interest me a lot. When I found out I could make tunes on a laptop it was time to begin! After a few years banging my head against a wall (not literally), things started to fall into place. I fell in love with the deep and rolling style of liquid Drum & Bass and eventually made something that was releasable… Just!

Nice! Have you ever recorded yourself playing guitar in any of your known productions?

Funnily enough I haven’t. It’s definitely something I will do in the future but I don’t currently have the set up to do it, besides, samples sound nicer.

Yeah, I’m with you on the samples. Would you say sampling is where the tunes usually start for you? Or do you write the music first and add samples in the later stages?

Normally I’ll start with a main sample and work around it but it can work both ways. I’ve started a few tunes with just a few beats and pads before stumbling across a sample that works. Obviously if you find a killer sample a tune can pretty much write itself because you know exactly which direction you want to take it.

Do you combine many different samples together in the same tune or usually work around one main thing?

Well, ideally, I like to have a few main samples that work together and then just fill the gaps in-between. I do layer a lot but it is easy to get carried away! I try to add depth to my tunes by layering up pads and samples. Some good things happen by accident as well by just messing about with samples and seeing where it goes.

I must say you find some absolute gems. How do you go about sourcing your samples?

Most of the time it’s just trawling through random artist’s back catalogues. It’s the best feeling when you hear a sample that you know is perfect. It’s nice to sample hunt too, I’m always discovering new music. Sampling can be really creative and I’ve sampled some things you wouldn’t expect! That’s definitely the beauty of it.

Any hints for the readers which artists to have a listen out for or are you keeping your cards close to your chest?

I’ve been loving Bobbi Humphrey at the minute but no massively obscure artists unfortunately, I’m always hunting though.

You’ve come out of nowhere to be all over the liquid scene. With support from the biggest DJ’s and some strong labels backing your music, all the heads know who you are now… What would say has been your proudest moment throughout your music career, so far?

The support I’ve had is crazy! People I would never have dreamed of have played my tunes. My proudest moment would have to be playing at ‘Bukem In Session’ at Fabric, I still can’t believe it happened, it was such a blur! Another one was my track on vinyl for Good Looking Records, that’s something I can keep forever and show my grandchildren.

Oh yeah man, I’ve had my moments, but I’m jealous of that. I’ve just seen you’ve announce a gig in sunny Moscow too! They absolutely love D’n’B in Russia. Do you notice a different atmosphere and crowd reaction to your tracks in different countries?

Yeah that’s mad news! I’m sure it will be amazing. I’ve played Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, I absolutely loved all of them. The hospitality of everyone is humbling and the fact that they want to bring me to their country to do what I love is an incredible experience. All the crowds have been wicked, the people just seem to want to party! I’ve found a lot of people are enthusiastic about D’n’B as well, like, encyclopedic knowledge of tunes. They seem very eclectic too, I’ve felt free to play what I want and even my own music which I don’t do often, to be honest.

You’ve collaborated with some of the continents most promising talents; Command Strange, Intelligent Manners, Changing Faces and Satl. Is it collaborations like these that open more doors for bedroom producers, like yourself, to get opportunities to play outside of the UK?

It definitely helps. I’m really happy to have worked with those people, and I don’t think I would have got the same opportunities without those collaborations. For me, working with Command Strange was one of my first breaks, he was one of favourite producers at the time. I feel very lucky to have produced tracks with him! I think all of these producers are on the same wavelength, we all know how we want a tune to sound so I’ve found it easy to work with them all.

Do you prefer working on your own or collaborating? Or does it totally depend on the collaborator?

I definitely prefer working on my own as I’m completely free to try what I want but collaborations offer a lot of other things, like the kick up the arse I need to finish a tune. Ha ha. At the minute I’m making loads of tunes with Satl, from Poland, we’re kind of into the same sound. I don’t want to solely create deep tunes, so he’ll send me an idea for a sample and a few tunes have just come together really easily. I’d like to knuckle down with my own stuff now and work on my LP, so we will see how it goes.

Yeah, you and Satl both make so many tunes individually, I can imagine you put dozens of tracks together in no time at al! An LP would be amazing to hear from you, what else is in store for the future?

I’ve got a new track with Greek producer mSdoS out now on 12” for Soul Deep. There’s two more to drop on the huge vinyl and CD compilation for Fokuz Records with Intelligent Manners and Changing Faces but that won’t be out until 2015. I’ve got a digital release ‘Sundown’, which is out now for Diskool Records. All the profits will go towards a project that is being run by Joe Nebula, which helps to put people through education in The Gambia, so please go buy that one! Finally another track with Intelligent Manners for DJ Marky’s Innerground Records, which I’m certainly happy about. Plus there’s loads of unsigned stuff too as always, yeah, I’ve been busy!

Wow! So much wax! Where do you stand on the whole vinyl Vs. CD debate?

Oh god, that old chestnut. In a perfect world I’d play vinyl. I only have Technic 1210’s at home but I play on CDJ’s when I’m out, a lot of the music in my sets doesn’t get released on vinyl. I like Serato and Traktor but I wouldn’t trust myself playing out with a laptop. It’s nice seeing people still play great sets on vinyl though but it’s not the be all and end all, tune selection is the main thing for me.

Where I’m based, in Leeds, it feels like there has been a massive resurgence in liquid nights, have you noticed that across the UK with more bookings than before?

Well, this year I’ve had nearly as many bookings abroad than I’ve had in the UK so I haven’t been to too many nights in Leeds. I definitely agree about Leeds though, great scene there now, I played recently for Overflow and I’ve been booked for another night called High Rise in November, I can’t wait to go back! Everywhere else I’ve played has definitely been buzzing, I’ve been fortunate to play with some wicked names in this country and would have to agree about a resurgence. Promoters are putting on big names where they wouldn’t have before so it’s great to see.

Agreed. Now, top 3 dream collaborations?

Calibre, Lenzman and Random Movement, that’s off the top of my head, I could sit here all night trying to think. Non-D’n’B dream collaborators would have to be Burial, Bjork and Bonobo.

Ooh great selection. Now pick one, DJing or producing?

Personally, I’d have to say production because a lot goes into making a tune, it can be a journey. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s the perfect way to express yourself!

And finally, any wise words for the people?

F**k knows. Ha ha.

Spoken like a true genius.

Support D’n’B.

‘nuff said.