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Mala: It’s never been about promoting myself through words, it’s always been about sound

Laura Davis

Untitled 136 300x289 Mala: It’s never been about promoting myself through words, it’s always been about soundOne half of dubstep veterans Digital Mystikz speaks about his first big break on the jungle scene, why he tries to give something back and how Malibu has played its part in his career.

Is it true you got your names, Mala and Coki, because your favourite drink was Malibu and Coke?

Basically. When you’re at that age and you start drinking cider in the park with your friends, I used to drink Malibu straight. I don’t drink it now! It’s too sweet for me. But that was from our nicknames in school days, we’ve known each other since we were 10 or 11 years old.

Is this your first time at Exit festival?

Yeah, it’s my first time in Serbia as well. I’ve been here for a couple of hours now and I’m enjoying it. I’ve known Benga and Artwork for many years  so where everything’s so busy for everyone nowadays, we hardly get to see each other and it’s nice to hook up with old friends. I’ve known Benga since I was 14 and Arthur from when he ran Big Apple Records, and they were the first people to sign a record for me and Coki, so they’re like my family.

Any collaborations with Skream planned?

Me and Skream do a lot of back to back sets. That all started in Miami actually back in 2007, and we both booked to play the same session and we ended up playing for 2 or 3 hours together, so whenever we’re on the same bill we always play together, it’s nice. Our styles can be very contrasting.

Do you think Dubstep going more mainstream is a good thing?

There’s always two types of music; you’ve got good music and bad music and I try very hard not to be prejudiced about whether something is mainstream or not, because over the years there have been may mainstream artists that have made incredible music. I think what can change though, is sometimes when something gets put into a new territory, it might affect their thinking as to why they do what they do and that then changes their vibe or their sound.

And what about when people say it’s a dying genre?

It’s really difficult to define what dubstep is. When the word dubstep came about, people were telling me that’s what I was writing, but there was no name for it before then, so in the early days we were just about vibes and about creating something that felt new and original to us.

Do you agree when people say you guys are originators of  the genre?

I don’t agree or disagree, it’s just my focus was never about creating a genre. My focus has always been about music and people. When you play music in a room full of people, a lot is shifting in terms of people and energies. Still to this day, that mystery that happens while people are together experiencing music, that’s something I find fascinating. Regardless of the genre, it’s about people and music.

Have you got more DMZ nights planned?

My focus was on DMZ and what we were trying to express and what we represented. This is a pretty big festival and we’re playing on the main stage after Pulp and Magnetic Man. I’m happy to play anywhere as long as you make that connection with people.

Has the crowd changed?

Music we listened to when we were eighteen or nineteen you wouldn’t necessarily look for now. I put my first record out when I was 23, I’m 31 now, and when I go out sometimes I’m the oldest dude dancing! It becomes a different thing. I always embrace change, because I think we can learn from it.

Do you think youth culture has changed along the years?

I used to do a lot of youth work actually. For about four years I worked with kids from the ages of 9 to 19. I thought I knew what it was like to be a youngster, as I was about 22, but I was shocked at some of the things I used to hear and see and go on amongst these kids. So I think it’s changed massively. I think it’s always changing because the pace of life is so fast. Everything’s so accessible. Kids can find out whatever they want, whenever they want. When I was a kid, that didn’t happen. There’s a real dangerous side to this immediate way we’re living.

You guys are reasonably unexposed on the internet, is this intentional?

Not consciously. When I talk I try and talk about something with some substance or meaning. For me, it’s never really been about promoting myself through words, it’s always been about doing it through sound. I think sometimes, depending on your education, or your geographic location, words can have different meanings. Through sound, people can take what they want from it, it’s abstract. Even when I listen to and write music, it’s not something I necessarily understand, it’s something I feel. Rather than yapping on about what this music is, I’d rather people thought about what it means to them.

What advice would you give to young people trying to get into the industry?

Years and years ago I was very lucky. When I was about 13 there were a lot of under eighteen jungle raves going on. I remember on a Wednesday night, we’d go to this jungle rave that was two bus journeys away, and we managed to get in with the local guys that ran the session. It was like a big network of people that were doing the shows across the country and we managed to get them to get proper jungle DJs down. Kenny Ken, Mickey Finn, Nicky Blackmarket, Randall, Jumping Jack Frost, Grooverider – all of these guys came and played.

The first session was Kenny Ken and I asked him if I could MC, and he asked if I was any good, and I was a cocky 14 year old saying “Of course I’m good.” And he let me MC. I’ll never forget how kind-hearted he was to allow me to play with him. I remember asking him after the session “How did you get into what you’re doing?” and he said “If this is in your heart and it’s meant to be, you’ll just keep on doing it and somewhere along the line, your opportunity will come, and you have to be ready for it because you might only get one”. That conversation’s always stayed with me. Luckily it’s something I feel, this is what I am, this is who I am, this is my life. So you just have to be really ready for that time when you gotta go, and you have to be ready to sacrifice everything else in your life. I gave up everything for music, when I got my first studio, I took up my bed and everything just to have it in there! It’s an incredible journey I’m on and I don’t think it’s stopping anytime soon.

That’s one the reasons I don’t have a lot of things online, like mixes online, or don’t really record stuff for radio too often. Even though I love pirate radio stations, I was never on radio or recorded, I was always playing live so for me that’s the natural environment.

Do you give young people the same chance?

Of course. If you can see it in their eyes and feel their energy then of course. That’s one of the reasons I set up my Deep Medi label. I was getting sent so much music from people around the world. It’s about helping people progress.

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