MAALA. We’ve heard the name. But who’s the man behind the moniker? Where is he from? And does ‘MAALA’ actually stand for something? World, meet Evan Sinton. He’s from Auckland, New Zealand. And no, the letters just looked cool.
Over the past year, MAALA has risen from little known Kiwi enigma to garnering near instant acclaim on the world stage. Since first single ‘Touch’ hit the airwaves (reaching #2 on the Alternative Airplay charts and over 1 million streams on Spotify alone), the accolades flooded in, the streams kept flowing, and the fan base grew exponentially. In an age of oversharing, MAALA’s anonymity put the focus back on the music. Where it should be.
With the wheels firmly in motion, fellow Kiwi Zane Lowe, host of Apple’s taste-making Beats 1 radio show, proclaimed that MAALA’s music ‘blew him away’, even premiering the buzzing, new wavy ‘Into the Air’ to millions of listeners. Evidently, Evan’s first release, 2015’s MAALA EP, was an instant success (Top 5 iTunes, #3 NZ Top 40) with over three million streams and counting. Numerous international blogs praised the release, including Hilly Dilly (“…a rather invincible body of work,”) Acid Stag, (“Another mysterious newcomer bringing some serious talent to the scene…”) as well as local blogs including Sniffers and Libel. A sold out EP release show followed.
Now with his recently released new album Composure, MAALA reaches – and in many cases, surpasses — the upper echelons of his contemporaries. The songs twist and turn but never deviate from their path. Some swell up in steady euphoric revelry; others simmer in the heat of heartbreak and lost love. All this from a guy of just 21.
On creating the album, Evan says: ‘There was a lot of anxiety and findings… it’s a rollercoaster. A way of exploring things, a way of finding my feet.’ With ‘Kind of Love’, an insanely hooky, earnest-as-hell banger co-written with MoZella (writer of Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball), MAALA takes his moment and sprints. The song has been making waves on radio and streaming sites after making its global premier on Beats 1 (“…a brilliantly produced pop record,” says Lowe). It easily smashed 1M+ plays in its first month of release.
‘Forget About You’ is an aching, beat driven electro ballad with soul by the bucket load. ‘Feels So Right’, the latest release, is a delightful slab of minimalist electro funk fit for the biggest clubs, sure to further establish MAALA as a formidable young force. The addictive pop swells of ‘Hush’ and album closer ‘Soak’ are the icing on the cake.
You get the hint pretty quickly. There is no filler, no humdrum exercises in production on Composure. It’s exciting, unsettling, emotional, just like the best records in your collection.
Evan, of course, has a long way to go. After recent shows in London, New York, LA and Sydney, he’s about to play an opening slot on Flume’s NZ tour, an ideal setting for unleashing the new material on keen Kiwi audiences. ‘Giving everything I have (performing) live is something I can’t shake. That is the most romantic notion that exists in the world of MAALA.’
And he caught that wave perfectly with huge sell-out shows in Auckland and Wellington in August to celebrate the release of Composure and The Studio and San Francisco Bath House.
So as MAALA’s veil of mystique thins, his craft only strengthens on the new album. When the world can seem overrun by turbulence, instability and disagreement, maybe Composure is just what 2016 needs.