IN CONVERSATION WITH MALIKA
Malika’s journey as a Dj and artist is not only marked by her constant motion and globetrotting experiences, but also by her ability to weave together diverse musical influences into a deeply personal sound. Her early love for hip-hop and jazz serves as the foundation for her sets, which now encompass groovy house and electro. Having moved from her home city of Casablanca, and experienced different cities and continents, Malika has been able to gather musical threads from various places. Malika’s Djing style is elegant and fresh, characterised by an eclectic approach. Having performed at clubs and festivals like Primavera Sound and Glastonbury festival (to name a few), Malika has gained recognition and visibility in the scene. She’s that type of artist who is committed to self-releasing her own mixes and steadily honing her production skills in the studio. Beyond her work as a DJ and producer, Malika’s roles as a music supervisor for high-end fashion and films represents her versatility within the music industry.
How was your upbringing, and when did you get into music – DJing, etc? How were your first experiences playing music?
I was born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco, and spent almost a decade living between France, the US, Germany, and Spain. All of these places have played different roles in my musical education. While growing up, in the background, it was a big mix of things; there was often Arabic music and folk at family gatherings, Oum Kaltoum, Nass El Ghiwan…lots of Jazz Divas like Nina Simone, but also the top 40 on MTV! I think it all gave me a very broad foundation. The discovery of electronic music came as I started relentlessly browsing the internet, and it took shape throughout the following years in Europe/the US, thanks to record stores and nights out. Berlin worked as a catalyst for it all with my first encounter with the production and technicalities of sound.
I first discovered you in your ‘High Seas’ mix. I remember listening to this set nearly every day while attending college in the States, I absolutely love it! Can you tell us the story behind this mix and the vision you had in mind before putting it all together?
Thank you! It was back at the beginning of the Lockdowns, and for context, I was stranded in Berlin while my family was spread between Morocco and Spain. It was a sinister time and one of the most beautiful springs I had seen in Berlin. It was very contrasting, and It got me daydreaming a lot about previous carefree times.
While at home, I realized that some of the records I was listening to were helping me to remember those times more vividly (like a specific souvenir of a holiday, for example) or sometimes just helping me completely zone out and forget about the whole situation. So I thought, why not extend that feeling for as long as possible within a mix? This is how the idea came first. It took me longer to gather the music than to actually record it; I think two/three days later, I was posting it on my Soundcloud without much thought to it; it was to myself… This is when people started sharing it, which went on for months! I’m just very happy and humbled that it kept company to many people worldwide during that grim time.
How was getting into the electronic music scene? What were some of the challenges you have faced? And some of the lessons you’ve learned so far?
Getting into the scene happened when I moved to Europe with the freedom that came with it. At first, it was fascinating to see people coming together, forming little scattered sub-societies worldwide with their associated sounds. I was 22 and hungry for music…the rest just naturally followed! Fast forward a few years and countless gigs and destinations, I realized there’s quite a dangerous and direct association with constant gigging, and the success of a DJ/producer, which I’m starting to think is a big misconception, or at least, for myself. Historically, musicians create in the studio and tour to present their creations. With djing, it’s 365 days a year; something always happens somewhere, right? So I would say a big lesson I’ve learned quite recently is not to fall into the circuit pressure, accept that I simply can’t be everywhere at the same time, pick my gigs carefully, and allow myself the necessary time to create and nurture my inspirations with a range of experiences that are diverse!
** no brand is a piece of fabric ** Style by: Susana Restrepo
In your perspective, how do fashion and music relate to each other?
Music & fashion have a very special bond but aren’t necessarily mutually inclusive! Both of them have allowed people to express themselves and affirm their differences over the years. Some designers have been behind some of the musician’s most iconic looks as much as music has been elevating the atmospheres of catwalks. This is also for more undergrounded electronic music; last year, experimental and techno producers like Susanne Cianni and Jeff Mills brought their live shows to Acné Studio and Dior. This year, Rabanne used an Aphex Twin track to soundtrack its show, but is Aphex Twin himself big on Fashion? I doubt so. I’m trying to say here that there’s an apparent relationship between the two that I love to see. But can a Musician or a Fashion Designer exist in their own right without being deeply involved with the other craft? I think that’s also possible and perfectly fine.
I mostly thrive on escapism. By nature, the music I select for DJ sets is usually deep and abstract (all things being relative). In this sense, it leaves a lot of space for people to interpret freely and connect the dots with their own experiences vs. music with a clear lyrical message… But being able to escape also implies freeing yourself!Malika
What values and messages do you want to transmit with your music and DJ sets?
I mostly thrive on escapism. By nature, the music I select for DJ sets is usually deep and abstract (all things being relative). In this sense, it leaves a lot of space for people to interpret freely and connect the dots with their own experiences vs. music with a clear lyrical message… But being able to escape also implies freeing yourself! I know it’s a big word, but I’m pretty big on freedom, which I feel is extremely fragile; it needs to be continuously pursued, re-affirmed, and protected for oneself and others…
** no brand is a piece of fabric ** Style by: Susana Restrepo
You worked as a music supervisor for some time and are now pursuing music fully. How was your experience in that job?
I’ve been doing Music Supervision for films and fashion/beauty for a few years. The last year was the biggest one I had in that field within Too Young Music, where I’ve been lucky enough to supervise soundtracks for brands like Jean-Paul Gaultier, Ferragamo, and Tom Ford. It’s something that I genuinely enjoy and goes beyond the simple act of selecting music… In djing/production, the focus is mostly on sound; in Supervision, the music has to sound good, but it also has to be culturally relevant to fully fulfill its role of enhancing the storytelling. It’s funny because the relationship between music/images is an invisible thing, but still, a few perfect fits exist out there! I find it exciting to be on a quest for that invisible feeling and uncover those fits while also shedding light on talented upcoming artists through that channel.
What are some of your all-time favorite records that always spark a massive smile on your face?
It’s really hard to pick only a few, if not impossible 🙂 These 3, however, never fail without exception to make me feel a certain way:
– Room Service – The Living Room:
A cut from Dutch producer Orlando Voorn, this is a prime example of when classical and jazz composition meets Detroit-style techno and creates something fresh and unique.
– Luv Dancin’ – The Underground Solution
The quintessence of New York House Music! A timeless SR release, infectious baseline, subtle organ, and a jazzy flute… On paper, this could easily go wrong, ha! But here, it creates perfection.
– Millsart – Josephine
This one was part of the High Seas mix, the last track, a release from Millsart (aka Jeff Mills) from his very special ‘Every Dog Has its Day’ project.
Are there any upcoming projects/events you are excited about next year?
Yes! I’m particularly looking forward to spending more time in the studio experimenting, collaborating, and working on my first release, including a few exciting collaborations. Regarding events, I’m very much looking forward to my first gigs in Asia happening in 24’!
Music editor/director: Joiah Luminosa
Photographer: Viviana Franco
Photographer Assistant: Gina Beltran
MUA: Gina Beltran
Stylist: Susana Restrepo
Stylist Assistant: Monica Lopez
Location: Miami, USA