Artist Q&A

Dark surf noise pop outfit MALK on their inspiration and songwriting

The Cascade sat down with members of local band MALK Alex Smith, who provides vocals and guitar, and Miranda Maria, who sings and writes songs. Other members of the band are Kyle Schick, Jaydee Bateman, and Lou Labbe-Bass.



By Martin Castro (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: November 26, 2014

Abbotsford band MALK is playing in the semi-finals of Shindig, UBC’s competitive battle of the bands, on January 20.

The Cascade sat down with members of local band MALK Alex Smith, who provides vocals and guitar, and Miranda Maria, who sings and writes songs. Other members of the band are Kyle Schick, Jaydee Bateman, and Lou Labbe-Bass.

Where did the name “MALK” come from?

Alex: It’s a Simpsons reference … I can’t remember the name of the episode. I wish Kyle was here, he knows [the reference]. It’s [something to do] with Bart.

How did all the band members meet?

Alex: Well, we knew each other from the local music scene … a little over a year ago we all ended up moving into a house together, in Richmond, actually, and we ended up starting the band there.

So how long have you guys been making music together for?

Alex: We played in bands together before this one.

Miranda: I think my first time playing with you was when I was 14.

Alex: We’ve all been making music on and off together for years. [MALK] is the final culmination.

How would you describe the type of music that you make?

Alex: I like to call it “dark surf noise pop.” I don’t know what that means, exactly, but [our music has some] ’60s surf-y elements, but with a lot of ’80s and ’90s alternative rock. So a lot of ’60s sweet pop elements with a bit of frenetic psycho-ness going on.

Miranda: Frankenstein pop.

What makes you get up in the morning and say, “I want to make music”?

Miranda: [laughs] Waking up in the morning and feeling like shit, probably.

Alex: That’s pretty spot-on …it’s the only thing that makes sense for me to do. Making music is itself the reason for getting up in the morning. It’s what I feel must be done.

If you weren’t making music, could you picture yourself doing something else?

Both: No.

Alex: I think I’d be long-gone crazy by now.

What are your main musical influences?

Miranda: Tori Amos … Lyrically, it’s just [things like] poetry, books, anything.

Alex: Musically, each member of the band brings separate influences … I mean, as a songwriter, the Pixies [are a big influence]. They’re one of the only bands that I’ve listened to since I was like 15 and I still get a kick out of them now. That means something, for sure.

With your music, do you aim for a particular aesthetic?

Alex: I feel like [our music] forms itself quite naturally. I feel like when something aesthetically comes along, and it just works, we’re all usually on board with it. So it just clicks with what we’re trying to go for … I think people will put their own meaning on [our music when] they listen to it. So I won’t give away too much on that aspect and let people make their minds up themselves.

What’s your songwriting process like?

Alex: Usually the music comes first … Kyle, Miranda, and I will usually get together. I’ll bring close to fully formed music or half-formed music to the table, and we’ll work out vocals, lead guitar, and the lyrics together, so that’s usually how [we do it]. I suspect as time goes on that the process will become even more collaborative.

What was the process of writing and recording your new record, and how is it different from your previous EP?

Alex: Well, it’s a little bit of a spill-over … We re-recorded one of the songs [from the Prehistoric EP], and one of the songs we intended to put on the demo we ended up scrapping because we knew we were probably going to end up re-recording it. So the process really for this record is a kind of mixed bag.

Any upcoming shows?

Alex: Well, we’re playing the semi-final round of Shindig, which is CiTR’s Battle of the Bands, which is on January 20. Farther in the future, we’re planning [on playing] on the island in February … and then recording.

Someone sits down, listens to your music for a solid 20-45 minutes, and then they get up and say one thing, what do you want that one thing to be?

Alex: Crap. [Laughs.] Pretentious crap. [More laughter.] How can you sum that up?

Miranda: I hope that it just, touches them, in any way that it can, you know? It could be anything that they’re thinking about or saying, as long as they feel it.

Alex: Yeah, I don’t know as far as a statement goes … but even though it’s fun and catchy and pop-sensible stuff, I definitely want people to be affected by it and recognize the passion that’s [behind it]. And also the effort that’s been put into the songwriting. I’d like it if it made people think a little bit, you know?

If you say one thing to any potential listeners or fans out there what would it be?

Alex: Come to our shows. Buy our tape.

Miranda: Yeah, haha.

Alex: Well, check it out … and if you like it, support it. Come to a show and buy the record, or don’t, probably we’ll give it to you for free.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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