First off, introduce yourself.
-I go by the name ‘Malakai Beats,’ which is incredibly unoriginal. Even though my real name is John people have been calling me ‘Malakai’ for the better part of the last 10 years so I decided to roll with it. Everyone needs a pseudonym. They combat the tyranny of ‘real names’ that are imposed upon us at birth. I think I originally picked the name because it sounded dope. It had Children of the Corn and Sailor Moon references so why not? It was originally supposed to be a wrestling moniker, an alter ego to ‘Homicide,’ which is what I was called before Malakai, so go figure.
Where you from?
-I’m originally from the Bay Area. Martinez is where I was born and raised and made many friends and enemies. Mostly though I was a recluse by choice and didn’t have too many friends in high school to speak of. Every now and then I found myself within a small group of 2 or 3 people, but I was a creative youth and spent most of my time trying to envision something new. I have fond memories of Berkeley , Frisco, up and down the coast, Pleasant Hill, Concord, etc. Man this question makes me miss the Bay. For the past year I’ve been living in Elko Nevada which has been a real psychogeographical shift. However on better days I like to consider myself a ‘citizen of the galaxy’ as well so location doesn’t matter as long as electricity and a strong Wi-Fi signal are present, and enough food to keep me going.
What genre of music do you record?
-I like to pretend that I make hip-hop beats, and in some cases I think this might be true. My musical interests related to hip-hop have always been predominately underground/East Coast (the og shit like Eastern Conference, Def Jux, etc.). As a white kid trying to be hip who grew up on the internet, I think I’ve done pretty well for myself. However, I’m a huge fan of various forms of electronic music which have shaped my outlook on life to a tremendous degree. I have another project called Maple systems Road which has been in the works for several years off and on within the last decade, even though only a couple of tracks have been revealed. This is an IDM project, which is a form of ambient/breakbeat/chill-out music. I also have another project called **** which will either be a purely dubstep project, psychedelic trance, or both. Big influences in music, aside from the obvious culprits (the older gods like Pete Rock, Large Professor, Marly Marl, DJ Premier, etc.) include cats like Prefuse 73, Boards of Canada, Infected Mushroom, Madlib, and at least 20 others I can name right off the bat. Unique music has always shaped my life and I hope to eventually break free from the cookie-cutter mold of predictable rap beats. However try as I might, at this stage I still seem to be unable to shake the love of what I do. I just need to find ways to mix it up a bit.
Do you belong to a label or have any group affiliation?
-Yes! I represent the (for all functional and practical purposes defunct) Ambient Abstractions crew. This was the collective I started back in my Defcon 5 days, when I wanted to start a legitimate cult (or an anti-cult, depending on how you wanted to look at it. But all cults no matter how benevolent somehow manage to become “real cults.”) Defcon 5 was originally a group started by myself and rapper Still Doe. We were both brought up on a local level by the Juggalo wave, horrorcore rap and so forth. We both wanted to do something different, because this was right around the time when home studios and making your own music because accessible to a lot of people. Everyone we knew was about horrorcore, and we wanted to break free from that by instead doing a sort of science-fiction-core, if you will, mixing in real life stuff, conspiracy theories, questioning the status quo, and all the rest of it. We wanted to give the impression that we were starting something new (and hopefully ‘something new’ it would become). However this never really happened. We found more people for the collective, which was intended to encourage people to be successful on their own terms and to utilize the power of the strength in numbers and all that. It was basically intended to run on the principles of anarchism and adhocracy. No leader (unfortunately as the only person with a microphone and the only person who made beats and knew how to record it became somewhat inevitable that I became the unofficial leader); But it never really worked out as was anticipated. There was no division of labor so very little got done, and everyone was constantly bitching and fighting with each other so I eventually threw in the towel because it seemed like wasted time and effort. Plus I did a reality-check and came to the conclusion that I would rather devote myself to production because I didn’t consider myself to be the best rapper. Fortunately, everyone involved is on good terms and we mostly have solo projects happening now. I taught my minions well. And who knows what the future may hold?
Do you have any active releases or upcoming ones projects?
-The major project I’ve been focusing on for quite some time now is Victory Over Dampness Under Fire. I’ve invested quite a bit of effort into this and I hope people enjoy it when it eventually drops. It’s a downloadable mixtape (right?) featuring numerous emcees I’ve come across, including this really dope one named Zero Caige. The idea was generally to create a mutually-beneficial project with no money involved. Free music for the humans, exposure for me as a producer, and promotion for the artists involved. Included with the download will be a .PDF booklet, which will hopefully explain things in greater detail. Prior to this upcoming release I dropped two free download albums, all instrumental: 2008’s “Tapeonesidea” EP and last year’s “2002-2007” double-album, which as the title suggests contains beats and instrumental pieces that represent the early flavor.
How long have you been writing/recording music?
Since I was 5 I was playing the piano by ear, messing with tape recorders, and damaging expensive hi-fi equipment.
Do you have any upcoming shows you want to promote? If so where and when?
Funny you should ask. Eventually I want to actually do live shows that are freeform instrumental jam improvisations with very little planned in advance. Hip-hop, jazz, dubstep, trance. I haven’t quite decided exactly how this will play out or what styles I will devote myself to, if any. Part of me which is a huge rave buff wants to leave my former life behind and DJ parties with original psy-trance or dubstep music. But I dig the idea of just showing up somewhere whether it’s a paid gig or a skatepark, with an MPC, turntable, keyboard, computer, and mixer, and just get down. Unfortunately I don’t know how Elko will react to such a thing.
What got you into music?
Excalibur. Dopest largely unknown hip-hop producer EVER. Also I think I was somehow meant to do this. As I mentioned from a very early age I was messing with sound, and in the late ‘90s I discovered tracker programs and when FL Studio version 2 dropped, when it was no longer simply a midi composer but included the ability to manipulate and sequence .wav files it was on. Eventually I acquired a keyboard and bought Cubase and got an MPC. But I still use FL Studio quite frequently. It has nostalgia for me I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let go of.
What do you see in the future for your music career?
Making enough money to live in a shitbox apartment adorned with Persian rugs and turtles crawling around the floor with jewels affixed to their backs.
What do you think of the industry today?
FTI. Collapse = good. Let it all burn.
What impact would you like to make in the music world?
Question consensus reality. Always. Everything you know is wrong!