#POPULARPLAY: KING MALA
Aug 12, 2020
The LA-based artist KiNG MALA transmits good vibes on her new track “sugarblind”. The song is about a passionate relationship and the heightened fever that follows. Through her metaphorical lyrics, KiNG compares this lust and passion for someone with the ravenous and addicting hunger for something sweet. Her angelic voice fits the blend of alternative rock and pop beats, creating a whole musical immersion.
The song, produced by Rob Auerbach and mastered by John Greenham (Billie Eilish, Sam Smith, Katy Perry, Banks), evokes youthful energy while maintaining a musical sophistication.
KiNG MALA uses her talent and passion for music to support the LGBTQ+, POC, and Indigenous communities, in addition to covering in her lyrics subject about mental health, feminism, and internal feelings. Her music narrates letting go of fear, being honest with yourself and those around you and ultimately living your truest self.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story. How did your background and culture shape you and what creative expression means to you?
I grew up in El Paso, Texas with my very large, very loving family. My mom is originally from Puerto Rico and my dad was raised in Mexico and came into the US with his parents when he was a child. They met and had me as teenagers and then had my 3 younger siblings when I was around 10. Needless to say, my house was LOUD and full of kids, cousins, grandparents, and friends at all times. It was so fun and really shaped me as an artist and a person. My family is really big on expression, everyone is always talking about how they feel and what’s going on, so I quickly learned that in order to understand myself and others I had to talk about it. That evolved into me being obsessed with writing and poetry throughout my childhood. My parents bought me a piano off of craigslist when I was a freshman in high school and I started writing music. I realized that the most cathartic thing for me was songwriting and that blossomed into a full-blown career choice very quickly. I struggled with mental illness throughout my teenage years pretty severely and my one solace was writing. When I started performing in my small town, I knew I could bring that solace for other people and connect with them on a level I thought I was alone on. I was hooked.
2. How did your upcoming single ‘sugarblind’ come together?
I started writing the song with my producer Rob Auerbach early this year in his home studio in Los Angeles. It started with that bass riff you hear in the beginning and it was so reminiscent of the alternative rock music I grew up listening to, bands like The Black Keys and Cage The Elephant. I loved the way it felt fun and a little reckless. It reminded me of that feeling of wanting something/someone so bad that it’s addicting, so I wrote the song based on the metaphor of finding someone so cute, you could literally eat them.
3. You mentioned a new EP in fall in one of your last Insta posts! What can we expect from it?
I have been working on this 6 song EP since the fall of last year with my producer! I’m so so so excited to finally release these songs, I have never been more proud of something in my life. Each song is its own universe, no song sounds like another and I think that’s what makes this EP so exciting. I really spilled my guts on this one and I can’t wait to share.
4. What has been the most memorable performance of your career so far?
There have been so many but the most memorable show for me so far was Echo Park Rising last year. I hadn’t played a lot of big shows at the time and wasn’t expecting a lot but I ended up playing on the patio of a tea shop called Hey Hey during an SXSW-like festival here in LA called Echo Park Rising. We ended up drawing in a crowd of over 250 people spilling out of the bars and venues around the street and it was just so special. Everyone that ended up seeing us that night was so sweet and supportive and I still get messages to this day saying that they saw me at EPR and have been fans ever since.
5. In December, you spoke about wanting to eventually become an artist, songwriter, and creative director. What career-wise has changed for you since?
I have stayed true to that for the most part! I think I have just discovered more of what that means and honestly, I have been loving every minute of it. On top of being more of an active songwriter throughout the last year and really honing in on my artistic vision, I am a marketing coordinator for a pop-punk record label on the side so I am getting to do all of the things I am interested in for a living as well.
6. Your debut single ‘Hurricane’ released in October. What were your expectations like for your debut?
I wasn’t really sure what to expect! I did the whole release DIY with a couple of friends who helped me record it and I was not at all sure what I was doing haha. The response to it has been overall very positive and that makes me really happy because I truly was just winging it. I am very happy to have my team helping with these next releases for sure.
7. KiNG MALA was originally a band! Is that still true today? What is the creative process like from being a band to working alone?
Originally I marketed the project as more of a band because it felt important to recognize the people that helped me build it. I still feel the exact same but now I market KiNG MALA as more of a solo project because I bounce between writing partners and players all the time and I just found it a bit less confusing for the fans overall. I still work with a lot of the same people but I like to collaborate with everyone I can. Also, my band members are verrrry happy to not have to do photo shoots anymore so that’s a bonus haha. The creative process is very similar as it was, I typically write the songs on my own/with my producer and bring it to the band to create a live version.
8. Was music something that called to you over time more than other artistic avenues or did you just know at some point?
Luckily for me, because I’m very indecisive, it wasn’t much of a choice. I always wanted to be an artist and I have always been obsessed with writing so it just sort of fell into place (plus I cannot draw to save my life haha). I don’t really remember making a decision to pursue this as a career, it just always felt like what I was supposed to do. I’m grateful for how everything has worked out so far, and I feel super lucky to have such an awesome group of people supporting me through this career.