ASBO Meets: Malunga
As we have said countless time at ASBO we pride ourselves on the fact that we are always looking for the emerging talent on the UK and international music scene. From seeking out fresh talent and our live shows we attend to meeting artist out and about we are here to give those new faces in music an opportunity. And so with all that being said we caught up with Malunga East London girl who hails from Zambia and is all about the music which she refers to as Electronic Soul. Ahead of the upcoming release of her new single, we went down to the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch to talk with Malunga about her musical influences her heritage and all things music.
How did you get started in music?
Malunga: I just started writing quite a lot, I studied drama and in drama, we used to have to do diary entries. So I started writing a lot and I got involved in a youth group in which did a lot of creative things. I just sort of started singing naturally and I figured it was something I enjoyed, so I just kept doing more of that and also kept writing whilst also acting and then that was it.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Malunga: I love India Are. She is the first person that comes to mind because to me she really embodies what it is to speak your mind and put your energy into your music. She is just a really good artist and writer, whenever I listen to her music it puts me in the calmest mood like it’s such good vibes. I also love a bit of Gwen Stefani, Nelly Furtado just artists that are truly themselves and authentic.
How did growing up in East London develop your knowledge and love for music?
Malunga: I come from a big family, I’ve got two older sisters and when I was younger my sisters and I would always pretend that we were in a little band and we would sing together, and the usual kid stuff when you’re playing around and dancing. There was a lot of energy in my household and we were allowed to be free and do the things we liked. So to me, that really allowed me to have my own creative freedom to do and try anything I wanted. So definitely, my environment helped me be more creative and free thinking.
When did you know that you wanted to be a singer?
Malunga: When I was around 17/18. I was just bored of going to college, I was bored of doing things that didn’t make me feel excited and at a certain point when everybody was thinking about Uni I took that as a perfect opportunity for me to have a go at and try and take the singing thing seriously. Even before that, I was doing a lot of music outside of school. I was consistent and that gave me more opportunities so when I was around 18 and I could fully make the decision for myself that’s when I started gigging and doing open mics and just getting experience. And for me I think that’s the best way to learn is to just throw yourself out there.
How would you describe your musical style?
Malunga: I’d say experimental. I really do not believe in being in a box I like to experiment. I’d also say full of emotion and expression, positive energy and I’d say just honest. I like to speak my mind and say what I feel.
In terms of doing Electronic Soul, how did you come to blend those types of sounds?
Malunga: To me, I hear it and I see it in my mind. It feels like such a strong vision and I’ve had that from when I was young. Quite bossy and the fact that I know what I want to do, and that’s why I also feel like having a big family helps you gain more confidence. So for me it’s like blending those two sounds was more me being at home on my own in my room and just playing around with my voice notes, so I record myself singing random ideas and random melodies and I present those to whoever I’m working with.
What is your creative process like?
Malunga: Firstly, it's always different and I think that is what always what’s makes it exciting. It’s like a blank canvas. In mind there are no rules, I hate bang told especially when it comes to music that you have the verse-chorus here and the breakdown There. In my eyes music is not meant to be like that there are no rules. No rules apply. So that’s my attitude when I go into the studio and I just present my voice notes and my melodies and my ideas and I’ll tend to straighten out the lyrics afterwards and feed of what the producer feels as well, and then I’ll go of that so it’ll be a good back and forth. I always love doing things from scratch it’s nice to have the inspiration if I have the instrument beforehand that also works but I find that building from scratch is always exciting for me.
You have released 2 EPs, What was it like making your EPs? Malunga: It actually came about naturally. When I was working with my producer we just found ourselves having sessions writing and just kept on building, so we had a couple of tracks and then it was just like we might as well put this together and release an EP. The first one felt a little more exciting, the second one was like okay we’ve got extra material let’s just release this. The experience as a whole taught me a lot about myself. I did feel slightly deflated because I was doing a lot of the pushing. like I remember my launch party, organising the whole thing and I did feel deflated afterwards but I was really excited to have music out there and that made it worthwhile for me. So I’d say to artists that when you are starting out just release it, don’t hold on to music forever otherwise you never release it. Especially when you are not signed that’s the best time to do when you’ve got all the freedom and all the control just do it.
How do you feel your sound differed from the 2 Eps?
Malunga: The first one was a little more honest. The second one was slightly more experimental, I was just seeing how far I could go in terms of pop, and then when I listen back to it I like certain tracks but then some tracks I’m like nah. But it’s good to have it out there because it’s all a learning curve so that at least you know what works and what doesn’t. You can’t be too hard on yourselves.
You released a song called Learning to Love, tell us about that song and what it means to you when you first wrote and when you listen to it now?
Malunga: When I wrote it I was in such a vulnerable place I was just trying to find confidence in my direction because I wasn’t sure, and I made the leap to say that I’m going to do music but didn’t fully understand what that meant. And it’s such a journey and is still a journey that I’m on and I get so tired sometimes and that point when I was first writing it I was looking for confidence and belief.
However, now when I hear it I’m like YEAH DAMN RIGHT I’m learning to love myself and It elevates me, and gives me that confidence and helps me to remember that we all need to learn to love ourselves. I like to revisit that track because it reminds me that sometimes we are so hard on ourselves but we need to keep loving ourselves and it’s a daily muscle we need to exercise.
You are about to release a new single Never Let Go, what can you tell us about it?
Malunga: This track is different it’s like no other. It’s fresh and it captures this day and age that we are in that’s a mixture of things. It’s exciting, it’s young, it’s slightly futuristic but it’s most of all me saying I don’t need you, you and you. I need to know who I am, and doing what I do to the best of my ability and just keep learning and growing and nurturing who I am as a human being and as a spirit. So it’s me just saying never let go of your vision. Almost like the younger me talking to me now saying you’ve continued on this journey so never let go.
What are you excited about with your new music?
Malunga: It’s exciting and it’s different, It’s actually what people need to hear like genuinely. I don’t think it’s what people will expect me to be bringing out in certain tracks and the sound. But I feel like it’s unique to me so I'm excited for people to hear that.
What is your atheistic like as an artist?
Malunga: I’d say definitely edgy, I’d say poppy and I’d also say experiential. I wear what I feel and I like to feel comfortable.
How important is your sense of style to you as an artist?
Malunga: I think it helps solidify your identity and it helps paint a clearer picture of who you are as an artist. When I’m performing I like to be a bit more glamorous but I also like to be quiet comfortable but then also another thing is I like to have fun when I’m dressing up so it’s the same with makeup and what I’m wearing I like it to be expressive. It’s more about being a bit artsier and fun and experimental.
What is one thing you have learnt about yourself from when you started?
Malunga: That I’m stronger than I think. That I’m really driven but at the same time I wear my heart on my sleeve, I have two sides to me.
What is one thing you are looking forward in your journey continues as an artist?
Malunga: I want to do more radio, do like a live lounge and just premiere something live on radio, and I also want to do more performance support tour. I'm supporting a show tonight with Shae that I am so excited about, I definitely feel like I’ve had enough experience performing on the circuit to get out there. And so now to support someone on tour would be great and yeah I want to collaborate more, meet some really cool wacky people and get some inspiration.
Who would you like to collaborate with?
Malunga: Just on the top of my head because I think he is such an incredible artist I would have to say Childish Gambino. I know there is a lot of excitement around his recent release and video. However, even before then to me he’s always been a really interesting person that I just wanted to sit down with and have a conversation with. The way he executes all of the things that he does, I think he does it perfectly and he really flows into it. It doesn’t feel forced to me, it just captures how art should be. It should make you feel it should make you think and it should bring about a conversation.
Aside from everything you’ve got going on, what else can we expect from you?
Malunga: I think Just music, I’m doing stuff with the National Theatre as well, recently I just back into the acting. The video for the single will be dropping soon so keep your eyes peeled and the single drops on TODAY so make sure you get it and I will also be performing live tonight so it will be the first time performing it and I'm really excited for people to hear it.
Malunga's newest single Never Let Go is out NOW and you can check it out on her out on Spotify here. You can also catch her TONIGHT performing at Camden Assembly opening for SHAÉ and can still get tickets here. You can also follow Malunga @malungamusic on Instagram and all other social media platforms.
Words: Seneo Mwamba