We caught up with singer-songwriter Mali-Koa to discuss her latest single ‘Dancer‘ and the sleek visuals that accompany the song . We also got into which songs always put her in the mood to dance, what we can expect from her debut album and the dream artist she would love to write a song for.
Tomi: I watched your music video for ‘Dancer’ and I love how free everyone looks in the video.
Mali-Koa: Thank you, I appreciate that! I think everyone’s energy felt quite like that, it was very free-spirited and it felt like a close-knit community. Which is interesting because we hadn’t met that many times but maybe the song encouraged that kind of feeling, which is great.
T: What do you want people to take away from the song?
M: When I wrote the song, it was about feeling limited by your environment or the people that surround you. I want people to feel empowered to achieve what they feel they should be able to, whether they’re limiting themselves or other people are limiting them. I don’t want to be preaching to the choir, it’s just something that makes me feel good and hopefully it makes other people feel good.
T: What song or songs always put you in the mood to dance?
M: I always listen to a song called ‘May I Have This Dance’ by Francis and the Lights feat. Chance The Rapper, that always makes me feel good. I think ‘The Sound’ by The 1975, I really love that song. I guess anything more classic like Earth, Wind and Fire’s ‘September’.
T: Yes, that’s one of my favourite songs.
M: It’s literally my favourite song actually, whenever it comes on I always feel so good.
T: How has this time in quarantine impacted your songwriting?
M: I don’t think I’ve ever been as busy as I’ve been during this quarantine, I feel like musicians and creatives are providing the entertainment that the wider public kind of need while they’re at the home. We’re all kind of creating on demand which is really great, I have been writing songs still from home. I’ve got a set-up so I bought a mic, I have Logic and I’ve learnt how to cut my own vocals so it’s been a good learning period. It’s been quite intense to go from going to the studio everyday and now being at home, being completely self-sufficient. I’m actually appreciative of the opportunity to learn because I don’t think I would have done so without having a real reason. I think challenging yourself as an artist to do those other parts just helps improve your craft.
T: Who would be your dream artist to write a song for and why?
M: Oh wow, who would I love to write a song for? Not with but for them?
T: Or with as well.
M: If I was going to write a song with somebody, then I’d pick Ryan Tedder as I’m a massive fan of his and OneRepublic are one of my favourite bands. He has written some amazing songs, I would love to write with him! For someone else, I would love to see if I could probably write for John Mayer [laughs]. He has so many different kinds of facets of artistry and I love John Mayer because he can kind of get away with singing rock, country or pop, as he has created albums in those genres. He can kind of pull off anything in a very musical way so I’d love to try and write something, probably with him because he’s so talented but also for him.
T: What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far in 2020?
M: This year has been really…it’s funny because when I started this year, everyone was like a new decade, a fresh start. Obviously that changed very quickly and it’s not only the quarantine but there are a lot other things that have required patience and trust in my own experience. My biggest lesson has been learning how to be more patient with myself and the process. Especially in the time of quarantine, it’s important to try and pick up skills but to be patient in that practice because you’re out of your comfort zone. So it’s about trying but not being too hard on yourself.
T: What are we the fans going to learn about you when we finally hear your debut album?
M: My debut album is going to be very heartfelt and meaningful, everything that I’ve written comes from a genuine place. It’s important for me as an artist that everything I say has a purpose so everything is going to be very relatable – well relatable to me anyway so hopefully relatable to others. It’s going to be full of surprises, I think people have been quite surprised that ‘Dancer’ sounded the way that it did. I think that this album is quite different to what people expect of me so all of the songs are going to be still heartfelt like ‘Sorry‘ but it’ll be a new fuller sound, it’ll have more production. It’ll be more finished, more wrapped up and excellent [laughs].
T: When we’re allowed to travel again, what are some secret gems people should visit in Sydney?
M: I’ve not lived in Sydney for a long time but I do know a lot about the city, it’s my hometown. My favourite things to do, are to go to the Opera House so around Circular Quay, there are boats, the harbour and beautiful scenery. You also have the botanical gardens right next door to the amazing Opera House, I usually go have a little soda lime down at the Opera Bar. Blue Mountains is another one of my favourite spots so if you travel about an hour out of Sydney city, you’re going to be in the Blue Mountains. There are amazing hikes, walks and trails there and certainly every kind of beach is beautiful in Australia but I would say my favourite beach is Milk Beach.
T: What has been your quarantine go to snack?
M: I’ve got a real problem with snacks so I have been trying to limit myself, if I’m indulging then I’d say ice cream. I just eat ice cream all the time [laughter]. I’ve started making these little protein bites, they’re not really protein bites but more like these kinds of healthy bites with dates, coconut and all kinds of goodness.
T: What words of encouragement would you like to share with your fans during this time?
M: I would like to just say to everybody that you’re not alone, we’re all going through it. However you feel, it’s okay to express that but also important not to dwell on the negative. Make sure you’re practicing self-care so that you can enable yourself to come out of this time feeling well rested, happy and healthy. Look after yourself, listen to music, create or don’t, do whatever makes you feel good!