The Spinoff presents the exclusive premiere of MAALA’s new music video, the Connor Pritchard-directed ‘Fire Burning’.
Evan ‘MAALA’ Sinton says:
I released Composure, my first album, in 2016 and then I did these two quite random singles – ‘In My Head’ and ‘Crazy’ – in 2017. Those songs were quite a weird tangent, which I think sort of indicates how confused I was at that point as to what the fuck MAALA should sound like.
You kind of have this confidence after you finish the first album, like ‘I got this, the second one’s gonna be easy’. But it’s not. Or in my case, at least, it wasn’t. When you’re making your first record, it’s all your first ideas, so they can come quite freely because you’ve got nothing to compare them to – there’s no context, no grander scheme, you can just put it down. But this one felt like… I think it’s probably what that whole ‘second album curse’ thing is, you just start overthinking everything.
I’d done a couple of sessions with Montell2099 before, just casually, which had been quite unsuccessful. That’s just songwriting though, sometimes you walk away like ‘yeah, it was really great working together’, but you just get nothing from it. So with this one, we were a bit more like ‘ahh, we’ll see what happens’. But we played a couple things, and the session just kind of… worked. And with ‘Fire Burning’ especially, it just felt like it had a bit more of a MAALA tint to it, the track was just a bit easier for me to write to.
It wasn’t written with a person in mind so much as just a bit of self-love – I think I have a tendency to write these songs where it sounds like they’re about someone else, but really I’m just talking to myself. I was frustrated. There’s that line, “You keep on running through red lights,” which was, like, I was literally driving to a studio session and some dude ran a red light in front of me. I was like ‘fuck you, man!’ Just getting way too angry. And I guess that’s where it stems from, like ‘why are you getting so angry? Just chill out’. Not sweating all of that small stuff.
Working with Connor was quite straightforward, I hit him up with a couple of references – some other videos, some screenshots, the single artwork – and a couple of parameters I wanted to work with, but I really liked the performance aspect of his videos, the pace of his edits – it’s quite hip hop in a sense, the way he cuts things. So that’s what I was really vibing.
I didn’t really want to be, like, the punisher of an artist that gives him exactly what it should look like, but I also didn’t want to be the punisher that just gives him nothing. He’s got a real good way of finding that equilibrium between working with the artist’s vision and putting his stamp on it.
I pulled together the artwork for the singles myself – I slaved over that design – and because all of the art for the album is on white backgrounds, I wanted the video to keep that empty feeling, that idea of open space. I’m a full entry-level beginner on the graphic stuff, so it took me way longer than someone who, you know, can just slap something together like that quite quickly. But it was important to me to just stretch myself a bit, to make sure I was on top of the whole project.
It’s like when I’m writing a song in a room with someone who doesn’t write music – I’ll be focusing on the kick drum frequency, but they’ll be listening to something completely different. It’s nice to just be able to look at the big picture, and not get too caught up on the details that, you know, someone who actually knows what they’re doing would look too closely at.
MAALA’s as-yet untitled second album, featuring ‘Fire Burning’, will be released in 2020.
This content was produced with support from NZ on Air.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.