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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Marching To Another Beat: an interview with Malka

Visionary musician Tamara Schlesinger talks about her brilliant new album, and what it means to control all aspects of her creativity whilst being a mother.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Malka cover art Marching to another beatMalka cover art Marching to another beat
Marching To Another Beat is the beautiful new album from Tamara Schlesinger, otherwise known as Malka in her solo guise. The album continues her journey away from the acoustic fanfare of her former band 6 Day Riot, combining dreamy vocals with driving basslines and joyous electronic production.

The album was part crowdfunded using Pledge Music – what were the biggest pitfalls and joys of doing it this way?
I really enjoyed using Pledge Music for crowdfunding the album. I found it really rewarding and so enjoyable to interact with fans both old and new. The biggest joy I think would have to be the sense of not being alone and having a real sense of people rooting for you. There were no pitfalls really -although I did find it nerve-racking to begin with, wondering whether anyone would pledge and also stressful trying to hit all my deadlines for fulfilment.

Tamara Malka portrait
I know you are also juggling being a mother with being a musician – how do you manage the both?
Well, that can be hard work. Finding the time to switch off from being a mum and trying to be creative – to run the label, rehearse and gig without feeling guilty about being away. But I think we have found a healthy balance. My daughter loves music, and I am constantly making up silly little ditties while trying to entertain her (and I record the good ones on my phone for future use). Plus hearing her shout “mummy is that you on the radio?” when my song came on 6music made it all seem worthwhile.
I have found that being a mother has increased my creative ideas but finding the time to makes those ideas a reality is in frustratingly short supply. How have you found the time to create such an amazing new album, and what inspired the lyrics and general atmosphere?
There have been a lot of late nights! I also have never felt more inspired or creative. I would say my new family life has definitely inspired the lyrics: particularly My Body which is about being pregnant and I’ve Got Nothing which is about how important my family are to me. It took me longer to get this album together than with previous releases but in a way that has made it stronger in my mind. I was in the studio one day a week with my good friend Jay (who produced the album with me). I found the mood and sound of the album about midway through recording, songs moved and developed to fit into the final direction.


How did you physically manage playing all the instruments yourself and what kind of help did you have putting the album together?
I began all the songs at home by creating drum loops. I wrote all the melodies to the beats which was a new way of writing for me. Then I would create synth sounds (often just distorting vocals) at home as well. And then I would bring what I had into the studio with Jay. Once there, I would add guitar parts, electric ukulele, keys, handclaps, bass and anything I could get my hands on to create the sound I wanted, along with lots of harmonies. I can play most stringed instruments (not that well.. but editing is a great tool) and piano to a basic level so it wasn’t too hard. It wouldn’t sound how it does without Jay. He helped me create the sounds for lots of the synths and we would discuss arrangements together.

Imagery remains very important to your vision – what has inspired your most recent look and videos?
I have always cared about the visuals, I did my degree in fashion and I strongly believe that music and art are hugely connected. You can certainly create a stronger identity sonically through visuals too. The visual for the album artwork came about as I felt that the tribal beat suited the image of a warrior queen. I painted the main image. With regards to the videos, it is the same team that I have always used. But again the imagery was very important to me. Particularly with “Into The Night” as that was the first introduction to MALKA. I thought that with the change of sound to electro from folk that UV was a pretty decent statement of intent.


Who do you work with on your videos? (and is that wee blonde one in Let it Go Matilda?)
I work with my friends (who are incredibly talented) Lee Bamsey is the director. My ever suffering husband Martin Macdonald is the editor and D.O.P is Steve Gray. I must point out that they all do this for me as a favour. I just cover costs. I couldn’t do it without them all. And yes, well spotted that is indeed my daughter in “Let It Go”.

What does a major release like this mean for someone who runs their own label?
Everytime I release a new album I think maybe this time it will breakthrough. You would think I would learn! It’s so frustrating at times to compete with major or even indie labels as you never have the same clout, even if people are really behind the album. However, it is beyond rewarding to see the results and to receive good reviews and radio play when you know that you have done it all by yourself (with a little help from your team of course).


Your album was released a few days ago, what has the feedback been like?
The feedback as been amazing. It’s so terrifying to release an album, even when you feel it’s your best work to date. But having fans (and critics) enjoy your music makes the hard work and sleepless nights so much more worthwhile.

Where can people catch you live?
There will be more dates coming up soon. But for now the one date for your diary is Woodbridge Music and Arts Festival in August. We are playing on the mainstage and I am hoping to bring my daughter along to watch me on stage for the first time.

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