Hometown: Boston, MA / Lisburn, UK
◀ Q & A ▶
▶ Tell us about your artist/band name?
The name Malin initially came from the BBC shipping forecast as it is the name for the water surrounding Northern Ireland… sort of like “I’ve been around Northern Ireland too, you know.”
To expand: in my own lyric writing, and thinking about songs I admire I’m often drawn to irony, fun and multiple meanings – Malin (meaning Head) is 1) west of Northern Ireland, 2) part of the South of Ireland and 3) also the most northerly point – that sealed the deal for me.
Malin has gone on to become a flexible project as both a solo singer/songwriter or a band – sometimes playing alone and musing on a chord progression, but often it’s more fun when working with others.”
▶ When did you start playing music and how would you describe your sound?
I don’t remember exactly when I started playing music as I was very young when I began piano lessons. I started guitar in high school, which led to many years of intensive playing and subsequently started singing at University, as it was the best way to get gigs. My sound today is guitar-based pop/rock, as I mostly write on the acoustic or electric guitars lying around my home studio. Sometime piano comes into play as a writing tool, although I feel my piano songs are best reserved for a future album.
▶ What releases have you put out so far?
Having moved to America, my first experiences writing music were with Washington DC Jonasay – we put out a number of well-received records, toured the Eastern States, had plenty of label interest but unfortunately never went much further. It was a great foundation and invaluable learning experience though. When I moved up to Boston, I was inspired to write some solo material and this resulted in an EP and album which we are in the process of releasing at the moment. This was the genesis for Malin as many of the studio players now join me on the road for my live shows.
▶ Is there a particular live show that stands out amongst all the rest?
Sometimes it’s the smaller shows that are the most memorable – and it’s always the people. We played Mullarkeys in Clifden, Connemara last summer and during the set discovered there were a lot of folks visiting from Minnesota in the room. With half the band being from the Minnesota area too, we ended up finishing the show, then playing and singing covers till 4am. At one point our drummer even went into the kitchen and made everyone eggs! Oh yes, and opening up for Livingstone Taylor (brother of singer/songwriter James Taylor) was also a great buzz, especially as we got a nice write-up in the local paper.
▶ Can you talk about a Highlight and a low point of the journey so far?
I find that for me every day has the potential to be both – It mostly depends on mind-set. Obvious highlights are playing big shows and hearing the applause for songs that didn’t exist a year ago. In making the last record I got to play with some really talented musicians and having them join the project really felt like a huge highlight and step forward in my career. Everything felt like it was going to the next level, and that in turn, pushed me to write better songs. Low point? – I’m not really one to dwell on that, but it would probably be sometime mid-way between releases when my last record was no longer fresh and I didn’t yet have enough music to put out a new one. Looking back of course, it’s such a retro-active thing… you never know exactly when half-way was until you get the new record done.
▶ If you weren’t a musician(s) how would you spend your spare time?
Probably reading more about the process of recording music – I love the technical aspect of it and especially enjoy reading about historical sessions where the artists, engineers and producers were constantly breaking new ground. As an artist I have to force myself to let the pros get on with it and not get too drawn into the technical stuff while trying to record. Getting bogged down in these things can really suck the inspiration away from the initial idea.
▶ If you were to go on a world tour and you could pick any 3 acts come along, who would they be?
U2, Coldplay & The Killers. That would guarantee some pretty decent crowds I guess. Although the real reason for me would be to observe them at work; each are a great band in their own right, but, should they ever combine forces, the resulting songs would be spectacular due to the interaction and musicianship within the band-of-brothers. If I can expand the question to include an ‘alive, dead or broken up’ category, I’d have to bring Queen in 1977, Squeeze 1981, Beatles 1969 and 1992’s Crowded House as well! – wait that’s 4, oh well…
▶ What would be the 3 strangest things on your rider if you were able to make any demand?
1. Hot sauce to make the worst food better.
2. Fresh mint & limes to make the worst drinks taste better.
3. Tayto Cheese & Onion crisps for a taste of home… They’d have to be really paying attention and well prepared to supply those around the world!
▶ Is there a particular aim or goal which you hope to achieve through music?
Career sustainability and growth – to be able to do what I love, make bigger and bolder records while maintaining a reasonable standard of living.
▶ Who has been your biggest inspiration as a musician?
It’s been many people at many times, starting with Clapton, Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, who made me want to play guitar. The Beatles made me want to write pop songs, while many other bands in between have provided huge inspiration to me at distinct points in their careers. There have also been some inspirational teachers of mine along the way. Today I’m in awe of any musician able to focus 100% on their musical career.
▶ Are there any other Northern Irish musicians we should check out?
Some vintage Undertones or Gary Moore songs are always good for blowing the cobwebs out. Of course, as songwriters, we all are walking in the shadow of Van Morrison – how do you write a masterpiece like Into The Mystic? I also really enjoyed Snow Patrol when they broke out, again the band-of-brothers thing. Today, being in America a lot, I rely on my family to keep me hip to the NI scene.
▶ What is next for you?
Launch the new EP in the UK & Ireland and then lock in some fun tour dates for the summer whilst the album comes out.
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Facebook ▶ /Malin
Twitter ▶ @Malin