Get To Know: Mahalia
We caught up with Mahalia, a singer-songwriter from Leicester, check out interview...
We caught up with British singer-songwriter Mahalia to get to know a little bit more about her and her music.
From who inspires her musically to her career highlights so far, this girl is definitely one to watch. Check out our chat with her below.
1. For those who don’t know about you and your music, tell us a little bit about who you are and where you’re from…
For everyone that doesn't know me, HELLO! I'm Mahalia and I'm a singer-songwriter originally from Leicester. I've been writing songs on the guitar since I was about 11. I did my first ever open mic in Leicester when I was 12 and I've been gigging ever since.
2. Describe your sound in three words…
It might not make too much sense but, when I first started playing, my dad always described my music as ‘PHYSCO-ACOUSTIC-SOUL’ and it's stuck with me ever since. So now if anyone asks me, that's the answer I give! I think it's clear that I've been influenced heavily by Soul/RnB music and whispers of Jazz. But, I've always been crazy interested in that kind of singer-songwriter style. That's really why I wanted to start playing instruments. I wanted to be able to stand on my own without needing anyone behind me. I love playing with a band now, however there's something proper rewarding knowing that I can always walk out on stage just me and my guitar and play a 30 minute set to a crowd.
3. Who inspired you to start a career in music?
Well, I definitely listened to a lot of music as a kid. I was always inspired to write when I heard songs in the car or on the radio. Also, my parents are both singer/songwriters. I used to sit at the front of the stage at their gigs when I was a kid - singing EVERY single word. A part of me really thinks that if I hadn't been exposed to that performing lifestyle as a kid, I may not be doing it now. My mum and dad have always been so supportive with my music and I couldn't be more grateful. They've always made me feel like I could do anything I wanted. It's the same with my brothers... they're both out in the world achieving their dreams. I want to do the same! #DreamTeam.
4. Who are your biggest musical influences?
To be perfectly honest, I have a few. Between the ages of 12 and 14, I was really into singers like Lily Allen, Kate Nash, Corrine Bailey-Rae, Adele and Amy Winehouse. I used to try and imitate how they all sang, haha! I was really trying to find my voice. I wanted to have that distinctive thing that they all had. It wasn't until I was about 16 that I just started to really sing, and stop thinking about it. The less I thought about it, the more my own personality and character came out in my singing.
I was really into indie bands when I was 14. I wanted to get on stage with The Arctic Monkeys and The Kooks and rock out. I used to sing along to the Bombay Bicycle Club album in the shower all the time! I SO wanted to make music like them. I went through a huge James Vincent McMorrow and Bon Iver phase around the same time. I remember all my mates said, ‘Why are you listening to that, May?’ But, I loved it. I listened to Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago every day on my walk to school.
As I've gotten older, it's kind of changed. I've been listening to loads of great female soul singers. People like Lauryn Hill, India Arie, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Angie Stone, Floetry and so the list goes on... but, I love my RnB and Hip-Hop now that I'm a bit older. I'm a sucker for the new Frank Ocean album. I think it's beautiful. He's a genius. I love me some Drake, too. His voice could send me to sleep. I've been listening to Chance The Rapper every day for the past two years. I'd love to work with him.
5. Tell us about the writing and recording process for your new single/album…
Well, this one didn't really have an exact process... My newest project is called #DiaryOfMe and it's really a collation of songs from the past 5 years. I didn't ever have a diary growing up; I think that my writing was really how I documented my life. So I wanted to share this music with listeners so I’m releasing a new track every two weeks between now and the end of the year. I'm really proud of it. Most of the songs I wrote at home in Leicester/Birmingham. Some, I wrote in the studio. They're all very personal.
6. What can we expect from your live shows?
Me, my guitar and A LOT of chatting. I love to laugh and have a bit of talk with the crowd. There's nothing more rewarding.
7. What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
I've done a lot of really amazing things. Sometimes, I forget. But, Summer 2015, I was able to perform for Other Voice Live THREE times - Latitude festival, Electric Picnic Festival and then at the Other Voices Festival in Dingle, Ireland. I have never enjoyed anything as much as I enjoyed that. It's a great memory to have.
8. Have you met anyone and been totally starstruck?
Of course! ALL the time. I met Stormzy at the Brotherhood premiere earlier this year. I was acting so cool but maaaaaate, I was shaking in my boots. What a nice geeza!
9. What’s on your iPod/playlists that people wouldn’t expect?
Well, I'm listening to Tori Kelly right now on the way to London. But, I'm not sure what you'd be shocked at. Up next is ‘Pick Up The Phone’ by Young Thug and Travis Scott. That's my jam. I don't listen to much of your typical pop music. But I love love love ‘Side To Side’ by Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. Always got a spring in my step when that comes on my headphones!
10. When can we see you live?
I’ve have just announced my own headline show at The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington on 2nd December, so come along to that! I’ve just come off tour with the beautiful Ady Suleiman - I was his support for his October UK tour - it was so much fun, so I can’t wait to be playing live again in a couple of weeks. In the mean time, keep your eyes peeled for all the latest #DiaryOfMe tracks and videos I’ll be putting out! >> http://thediaryofme.co.uk/