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An Interview With WAMALA

In a new EP release from WAMALA, the artist has no problem getting personal and brings that emotionally driven palette to his music with a driving color and this dynamically balanced energy that feels flowing and very genuine.

The Fitter, Better, Healthier EP is something that feels like it was cathartic for the artist as it speaks of these personal topics and seems to come from real-life experience and this is as good as it gets when it comes to using your own life when it comes to creating your music.

One of the things that makes this record so unique is the crossing and mending of genres throughout its course.

Not only do you get this almost fantastical undertone that makes things feel like you're stepping into a particular sort of atmosphere, but you also get this gorgeous mix of contemporary pop, soul, R&B, and even more.

One of the things I really enjoyed is the fact that throughout the EP you get blends of old and new school vibes as some of the tracks come through with classic feelings synths and keys giving them this almost vintage tonality at times.

There was definitely a lot of thought that went into this record and we're no strangers to the artist as we've had the pleasure of reviewing and hearing singles from WAMALA in the past.

I was definitely hoping to get my hands on the full ep once I heard the earlier single and what I can tell you is that this definitely surpassed what I thought it was going to be because it's got a lot of emotional beauty to it that really makes it authentic and gets you more attached to the artist as a person.

The way he just lets you in is very particular and unique and the way things are articulated is what hits you a certain way because we all feel different kinds of emotions of course we're only human, but to be able to articulate that and put it into song the way that he does it is wonderful.

If you are a listener you can understand and relate to a lot of these songs and it's great to have this artist sort of just take you along with his musical journey for a moment in time.

There are not a lot of artists out there that will grab you and pull you along for their ride so to speak.

WAMALA seems to have no problem doing just that and he does it in his own way which helps him pave his way in the pop and R&B arena.

There's also the fact that this record has very few walls built around it so this also helps you connect with him as an artist and with the songs that he's giving to us.

This was an absolutely gorgeous record that's performed with lots of heart, end after hearing his previous single, we're not that surprised.

We did however want to have a chat with him to talk about where this EP actually came from and what might be coming up next for him as an artist.

Here's what happened.

Buzz Slayers: Okay, let's start with the Fitter, Better, Healthier EP! This record had a ton of character and combined classic pop with a new approach! How did this release come about?

About 5 years ago I went through some pretty life changing stuff. I just come out of a decade long mental health battle (which to be honest will never really end) and had found a new sense of self so I wanted to make a record that represented the changes I had been through whilst still making something that was as accessible to as many people as possible. So when I first spoke with Josh (producer) about the brief, more than anything I wanted to make something that was magical, ethereal, really beautiful and vulnerable but also big, fat and thumping and so that was what we set out to do. I’m also not really a fan of genre’s. I love music. Full stop. And have always found a connection to ideas in any style, so the plan was to try and combine those different ideas as much as possible.

Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you as an artist?

I started singing and learning to play instruments when I was really young. By 14 I was playing guitar, drums and trumpet and playing in punk and alternative bands, but it was really my experience growing up in Australia that solidified my need to write. I was the only mixed race black kid that I knew all the way up until my late twenties, and as much as I love Australia there is a lot of ignorance, especially around black culture, and it had an effect. I mean I grew up here, I was born here but I never really felt like I belonged. Spending a lot of time around white kids who called themselves n-words and who were obsessed with African American culture and being gangsta's, the expectation to be the kind of black man that they saw on tv, movies and heard in their favourite records was a lot, but it wasn’t me. And because I didn’t fit into any specific stereotype that was thrown at me, writing music always felt like something no-one could take away from me. In the community I was black enough to be spat at, but amongst friendship groups I wasn’t black enough so it was a pretty confusing. But there are no boundaries with music. It didn’t judge, or expect me to be a certain something. It allowed me to be whatever and whoever I was and that was the safest place for me to be myself. Whether I shared my work or not. My songs existed. Therefore I did.

Buzz Slayers: What kind of things really inspire songs for you?

As cliche as this sounds but the darker side of the human experience is everything for me. I’ve always found happiness to be such a fleeting experience. And don’t get me wrong, I love being happy but there’s no colour or depth in it, and as important as happiness is, I’ve always learnt more about myself from how I deal with the shitty stuff. And in the hyper masculine world that I grew up in, being vulnerable and willing to understand who you are in those shitty moments of life always seemed like an act of rebellion you know? But more than anything, I write to understand who I am and what I’m going through because sometimes it’s not clear what’s going on with me until I start bashing out chords looking for a sound that fits my mood. An honest human experience is never lacking in inspiration.

Buzz Slayers: This release has some great approaches to it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?

Radiohead are absolutely at the top of the list. When I talk about combining beautiful and magical melodies with thumping and fat production they do that really well. Nick Cave, Daniel Johns, Sarah Blasko, Damien Rice and Goldfrap have all played a huge part in my musical journey. But then I also grew up listening to Rage Against the Machine, Stevie Wonder, Tracy Chapman and my mum was a huge theatre fan so I think all of that imprinted itself in my brain melodically as a kid. Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?

Spending time with my partner and my dog are my main drivers. They’re both really important to my sanity, especially my dog Suki. She’s been around for nearly 12 years and starting to get a little old. So, I try to get as much time in with her as possible.

Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?

Lana Del Rey. I’m obsessed with her new record at the moment. It’s sooo moody and written so well I just can’t get enough. St Vincent (Annie Clarke) is also on high rotation.

Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?

Yeah, we’re launching the record with my first full band show of the year at The Workers Club in Fitzroy Melbourne on the 30th of November. This is the first time trying out the new set up so it should be a great show. And then we’ll be playing a lot more next year.

Buzz Slayers: Do you record these at a big studio, or do you have a home studio set-up?

A bit of both. I do all my writing and demoing at home. The strings & piano tracking were all done at The Base Studio in South Melbourne. But the rest of the record was all recorded at Josh’s home studio where he makes a lot of his own bands records as well. Home studios are great because you’re not on the clock financially and technology is so good these days that a big space isn’t really needed for everything.

Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?

We’re working on the next record as we speak and will hopefully have the out in the next year. I’ll also be hitting the road as much as possible next year as well so lots of shows and more music!

Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?

More than anything, thanks for listening. I’m not doing this to chase fame. I make music because I need to create and knowing there are people connecting with it is everything. So, thank you.

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