Amelia’s Magazine | MALKA: Wonder Why

Tamara Schlesinger is MALKA. Here she introduces her new music, which is as ever accompanied by a brilliantly creative video:

Wonder Why is my latest single – I am back in the studio working on new material following the release of my album and this is the first track that felt ‘right’. It is about discovery and the realisation of your place in society and still maintains the tribal routes of ‘Marching To Another Beat‘. I like to create melodic sing-a-long songs with a deeper meaning which I hope comes across here.

The video was created by the same team that I always use. Directed by Lee Bamsey, DOP Steve Gray and this time we have had added CGI and amazing animation from Tony Lee. I think the video adds an extra dimension to the song and is really immersive.


Categories ,Malka, ,Tamara Schlesinger, ,Wonder Why

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Amelia’s Magazine | Marching To Another Beat: an interview with Malka

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.

Categories ,6 Day Riot, ,6Music, ,album, ,Crowdfunded, ,I’ve Got Nothing, ,interview, ,Lee Bamsey, ,Let It Go, ,Malka, ,Marching To Another Beat, ,Martin Macdonald, ,Matilda, ,My Body, ,Pledge Music, ,Steve Gray, ,Tamara Schlesinger, ,Woodbridge Music and Arts Festival

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Amelia’s Magazine | Malka: Tamara Schlesinger introduces the new video for Into The Night

Malka by Gareth A Hopkins
Malka by Gareth A Hopkins.

Tamara Schlesinger of Malka (formerly of the much loved 6 Day Riot) makes a triumphant return with the glorious tribal beats of new single Into The Night. It’s a step away from the acoustic sounds of the band she used to front, yet bears her unmistakable imprint in a sing along melody about the horrors of insomnia. Here she introduces the neon saturated video, made with a little help from legions of creative friends. And who knew her former career as an international gymnast could be put to such good use?

It’s late on a hot Tuesday night in an industrial estate in Walthamstow and I am looking around a darkened room filled with a group of my friends that are in the middle of shooting my latest music video for me.

It strikes me how much we are all enjoying ourselves, no-one is being paid for this, we are here for the love of it. I consider how lucky I am to have such talented friends that love their own creative art as much as I love mine, and therefore are willing to while away these long hours surrounded by hot neon lights and UV paint.

We managed to secure God’s Own Junkyard for our location which houses amazing neon artworks designed by Chris Bracey. My friend Stephanie Bamsey wrote a blog about him a few years ago, and while we were sitting drinking beers at the Wild Card Brewery (across the road from GOJY) I begged her to ask if they might let us shoot our video there.

Tamara MALKA by Karolina Burdon
Tamara MALKA by Karolina Burdon.

So fast forward 3 weeks and here we are. Steph’s husband (the director Lee Bamsey) has been back and forth from the venue over numerous days checking out which areas we want to capture and how we are going create the video (along with a timeline). Steven Gray (D.O.P.) has arrived with the most hi-tech gear I have ever had the pleasure to see in person and is calmly setting up. And Ellie Worthington is creating my UV face paint to tie in with the UV-splattered catsuit I prepared earlier in the week.

Malka by Lizzie Donegan.

I often think about what it is that makes me need to make music. After having a few years break following the birth of my daughter I realised that it is just in my bones. I am compelled to do it, I need to write music and I love to perform it. The same can be said for my friends in this room. They are here because they love their art and spending a sweaty evening creating this music video is a pleasure not a chore. All of them make a living within the film industry but they are still willing to get involved in a project that interests them – pay or no pay.

In walks my husband, Martin Macdonald. He has managed to get our daughter to sleep and has left our good friend babysitting. He is editing the video (which is also his full time job) and has arrived just in time for me to prance around under a UV light. I love dancing, I used to be an international gymnast and with this project I felt it would really let the audience connect with me as an artist to show that side of me.

The shoot wraps at around midnight, everyone is exhausted but delighted with the way the shoot has gone. Martin spends the next week editing the video (with ongoing tweaks throughout the month). And by the skin of our teeth we get an edit that everyone is happy with by the release date of the single.

Tamara MALKA
The end product is nothing short of excellent. I know that with the work that everyone has put in (including the colourist Kenny Gibb) and the normal cost of the venue and gear etc.. that we would be up in the 10’s of thousands for the cost of something like this. But here I am, thanks to my amazing friends (and family) with a video that I hope connects the song to me as an artist and creates the right visual identity for my new project.

The song Into The Night is the lead single from my forthcoming album under my new guise MALKA. It is a change in direction from my 6 Day Riot days, gone are the acoustic instruments and in their place are synths and tribal beats. And so, I wanted the video to be a step away from what I had done before too. Lee has directed all of my videos thus far and Martin has also edited them all, so they know what I like and they know my budget (none).

Malka-Into the night artwork
Running my own record label (Tantrum Records) for 12 years has been hard work, but somehow I have managed to find the money to record, release and promote all 5 (and now my forthcoming 6th) albums. I am at a place in the industry where I don’t have the massive marketing budgets to spend on every release, but I can afford to do what I do thanks to publishing/sync deals or touring/sales (or evening funding from Creative Scotland) and thanks to a little help from my friends.

Categories ,6 Day Riot, ,Chris Bracey, ,Creative Scotland, ,Ellie Worthington, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,God’s Own Junkyard, ,Into The Night, ,Karolina Burdon, ,Kenny Gibb, ,Lee Bamsey, ,Lizzie Donegan, ,Malka, ,Martin Macdonald, ,Neon, ,single, ,Stephanie Bamsey, ,Steven Gray, ,Tamara Schlesinger, ,Tantrum Records, ,video, ,Walthamstow, ,Wild Card Brewery

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