If I were to describe Chris Malinchak by a mantra, it would be, 'Stay in the present." A native Brooklynite, Chris is a prime example of a musician who has racked up years of musical training and exploration, ultimately reaching to the mature and unique style he's cultivated over those years. He's the creator of hit house tracks, "So Good To Me" and "If U Got It," the former of which was bumped to the #2 spot for radio play in the UK, just behind "Get Lucky" last year, and both of which reached incredible success in the US and around the world.
Last month, he released funky/disco/pop groove, "Stranger," featuring vocals by Mikky Ekko, which offers a different sound than his previous releases, but nonetheless provides the same high quality we've come to expect from him. Taking a look at how well Malinchak has been doing, you may be tempted to think it has taken years of planning to get to where is his today. We chatted with Chris about past and future releases, his upcoming album and tour, and his musical process, which really isn't a process at all--he's an "of the moment" kind of guy.
Chris' first-ever online mix is alsodisplayed for your EARMILK ears below. Check it out, share it, and get your groove on.
EM: Can you tell me a little bit about how your music career developed?
CM: It's funny when you say career, I don't know if there was such a plan. There is definitely a really clear line drawn with before and after "So Good To Me." Before "So Good To Me," I just always loved playing the piano, playing instruments, writing this and that. I would say maybe 2 years ago, I got particularly focused and met up with a friend from French Express. I decided I wanted to do something but I wasn't quite sure what that looked liked. I wanted a certain focus. I wanted to make music how I wanted to make it, and he bumped into something I just put on my Soundcloud randomly, a disco/house track. He was really into it, and just tracked me down. I liked his energy and approach, he just loved music. He wanted me to join the blog and the label. That's sort of what led to me making songs in the way I felt like making them, and he had a real sense for handling all the all other stuff like press, etc. I was just making songs, and doing stuff, and then "So Good To Me" happened. I make songs. That never changes, it never will, all though things around it may.
EM: French Express seems like a great place to start and it's wonderful to see you evolving and finding your own path through music.
CM: It really is that. The real truth my music is comes when I think of something -- I write it, and I enjoy it. It feels strange sometimes, but it's real. You can't take anything to seriously. You just have to have fun, hang out, make songs you like, and everything else will just happen.
EM: How would you describe your sound?
CM: It's strange because I really do just enjoy making songs, and sometimes it just happens that the song is meant to be delivered with different kinds of sounds. It just depends on the moment.
EM: You talked a little bit about this already, but is there anything distinct that is the inspiration behind your music?
CM: No, there really isn't. And sometimes, songs like "So Good To Me" and others are just flashes of moments for me. I can't really say what triggers them.
EM: I think that's great actually, you are literally living in the moment when it comes to your music.
CM: Yeah exactly, they're slices of whatever instances come together to make me feel a certain way.
EM: "So Good To Me" and "If U Got" received an incredible amount of love with their releases, "So Good To Me" reaching No 2. in the UK right behind "Get Lucky," 25 million YouTube views, premieres on BBC's 1 Essential Tune, described by Adele as "beautiful"-- "If U Got It" met comparable success-- were you expecting that kind of a response when they were released last year?
CM: Yes and no. It's s tough thing. I know that when I was finished, it was beautiful and exciting, and that I needed to share it. I've been asked that before and I have trouble coming up with an answer. I was really glad that so many people where touched by it. I didn't have an expectation one way or the other. I guess I was just so excited that so many people got to hear it. It was so gratifying, I was so glad this touched so many. Whenever I'm done with anything, I'm equally as excited. It's nice to see so many people were touched by it.
EM: How has your life changed in the last year since the release of "So Good to Me" and 'If U Got It"?
CM: Well there are a lot more people involved. When that song came out I was almost attacked by labels and managements, it was surreal. It was crazy. In a lot of ways, nothing's different. I just make songs. I just write songs and I do what I want to do. There's definitely more strategy, like there's a lot of talk with all the tours coming up. I'm excited, I miss being on stage and playing. Overall things are awesome, and I just continue making songs.
EM: Another congratulations on the release of "Stranger," which I love. It's definitely a different sound than what we've heard from you in the past. What was it like working with Mikky Ekko? How did you two link up? What was your favorite part of the creation process for that track?
CM: Oh, glad to hear you love "Stranger." Yeah it's definitely a different sound. Well, this is one of the cool things about being involved with a sprawling team now. There was talk about me going to London. Since all this new stuff, I've been to London a bunch of times, just to hang out, write, and play. One of these times there was a suggestion, "Hey do you want to hang out with this dude named Mikky?" I was like yeah, I'll hang out with whoever, just make sure the room is empty and there are microphones. I'll take care of the engineering and stuff, and make sure there's a piano, that's it. The studio, was cool, in central London. Mikki got there-he's really just a nice, chill dude, very easy going. We hung out for like 5 hours. 10 minutes before the session was over, I came up with something very specific. It was one of those weird flashes. At that point we were just hanging out together near the board, and I don't know, I looked to the left out the window, and the chords and the melody just came to me. He had being singing the word "stranger" in this deep, brooding way, and I loved the word. And then we started throwing the words together. It was just a day of being chill and relaxed that led to that moment. The instant of the creation was truly an instant. Everything counts. The littlest things lead us up to that moment. After that, we just met back up in New York and prepared all our verses. We just had fun.
EM: The music video for "Stranger" is set in New York city's streets, and is a 1982-themed modern day "bringing to life" of a celebration of popping, locking, breakdancing, and tube socks, also invokes the spirit of the King of Pop. Where did the inspiration for the video theme come from?
CM: Mark, the director of the video, had a very particular vision for it. He came through with all these treatments and had really cool ideas. I met up with him, he explained his plan. I told him I thought it sounded cool, let's just do it. And that's all there was to it. He had a vision of wanting it to capture the 1982 feel and era.The feeling of the melody and the chords and progression was accompanied by an instant of 80's sound in "Stranger." It just came with it. It just felt good.
EM: I hear you have a new album in the works...
It's true, I am deep in making songs. Absolutely. I'm still deciding how I want the album to feel. Like the balance of it, you know-how much people feel this and people feel that. It's really a feel thing. I'll know when it's done, when the complexion is right, when it's okay to put 12 songs together and say, this is an album. I'm not sure when it will come out, it may take 3 weeks, it may take 6 months, it's hard to say.
EM: Well we're eagerly awaiting its release!
CM: Well I'm just as eager to share.
EM: Well, that answers my questions about how the process is going for you.
CM: Well it's really no process of anything. Everything is just guided by how I feel, whatever feels right.
EM: So have you considered album making in the past? Why are you considering it now?
CM: No I haven't. I must admit, I like the idea of sharing a number of songs at once to create a picture I guess, but I really do also just enjoy putting stuff up on Soundcloud and sharing it as it's done. I just like that, and I'd like to do more of that.
EM: That's definitely how I discovered you and your tracks.
CM: Right, you found me just hanging out, after I just put stuff up on Soundcloud. When you get involved with all these things like having a video out for "Stranger" and machines like Sony and RCA, there's a lot of stuff that's happening. It's not that everyone's asking you to do different things, but I'm fine with every few weeks, just putting something up. I think it's okay to try different things like that. As far as the album goes, maybe it'll be fun to do it that way, maybe it can be something I put out all at once.
EM: Are you working with any one else on the album?
Yes, I've been making songs with a bunch of people, mainly in the UK. I've don some songs with UK artists, Katy B and Emile Sandé. I've enjoyed making some songs with them.
EM: Thanks again for premiering this mix with us. Is there a certain theme or inspiration behind the mix that you want people to know about?
CM: It's just about however I felt putting the songs together that day. Again I think it's just capture the moment "that I'm feeling right now," that's it.
EM: It's very refreshing to hear someone talk about how they are just constantly trying to stay in the present. It's one of the hardest things to do.
CM: Yeah, it's an exploration really. Sometimes it's fun to have no plan, and see how it unfolds, and try to hold on there being no plan for as long as possible.
EM: Now for the fun questions. What is the craziest experience you've ever had at a show?
CM:Well the two funniest things that strike me are when someone passes a phone to you, or you know, someone sticks drugs in your pocket. I mean you name it, it's happening at a show.
EM: If you were stuck on deserted island what three things would you bring with you?
CM: I don't know, maybe a little raft to get off it?
EM: That's a great answer, we'll stick with that.
EM: So, Shake Shack or In N' Out?
CM: In N' Out
EM: When you are not making music, what are you doing?
CM: I do enjoy going to lift, I like going to the gym. Hanging, bumming around. Since all of this craziness, it's nice to mess around not do much. I also enjoy riding my bike.
EM: What do you want to people to feel when they listen to your music?
CM: I just want them to feel something. That's it. However it makes them feel, that's all that's important.
EM: As far as future plans go, I know you have a lot of exciting things on deck-an album, a UK tour. Is there anything on your roster that you are particularly excited about?
CM: It's safe to say that I'm overall just really into all the things just coming up. And that's not a cop out, it's the truth.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
Thursday, October 9 - Oval Space, London UK
Friday, October 10 - The Warehouse Project Store Street, Manchester, UK
Saturday, October 11 - Saint Judes, Glasgow, UK
Saturday, October 18 - Electric Brixton, London, UK
- Chris Malinchak on Soundcloud
- Chris Malinchak on Beatport
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