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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Five minutes with Danish singer-songwriter Malo

The former Abu Dhabi resident is building a steady reputation in Denmark with tracks such as Soul on Fire and I Think We’re Getting Old praised for its blend of soul and indie sounds

Malo made her solo debut at the Dubai live music The Fridge nearly five years ago
Malo made her solo debut at the Dubai live music The Fridge nearly five years ago

Danish singer-songwriter and former Abu Dhabi resident Malo is building a steady reputation in her homeland with tracks such as Soul on Fire and I Think We’re Getting Old praised for its blend of soul and indie sounds. With her new single Kiki Dots set for release, she talks to us about her approach to song-writing and country legend Willie Nelson as her songwriting inspiration.

The first album I bought was: 2Pac – All Eyes On Me. I was about 15 years old, and we were living in Mozambique at the time, but then my parents sent me home to Denmark to go to boarding school. They said they wanted me to discover my Danish roots, because I had grown up living overseas.

But I think the real reason was that I had started to discover boys instead, and I guess I was a bit of a wild child back then. Well, some things never change. Anyway, I was in that teenage rebellious stage at the time and really did not want to move to Denmark. So I would bump 2Pac, thinking I was really cool. My second album was probably Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle or Outkast - Atliens. I was really into rap at the time. Still am, actually, but my taste in music has broadened quite a bit since then.

Funny enough though, the first song I ever wrote was a rap song. It was during a summer I spent hanging out with other musicians in Christiania in Copenhagen. It’s a very free-spirited kind of place, a place where everything goes and where you can let your creative juices flow. And yeah, that’s how I started writing songs. Nowadays I don’t write rap at all, but I sure am happy that it inspired me to go on this musical journey.

My first gig was in Dubai! Well that’s the first place I ever sang my own songs in front of an audience. It was a singer/songwriting event at The Fridge in Al Quoz about five years ago. I went up and sang three songs, just me and a guitar player. I was so nervous, but it went really well.

But the first time I ever got paid to sing was when I was 13 years old. I was one of the Queen of Denmark’s (Queen Margrethe II) choir girls, which was a huge honour. I sang for her every Sunday in her church called Fredensborg Slotskirke.

That was cool because we had formal singing training lessons on Fridays, so I learned how to use my voice at a pretty young age. I can kind of use it in an operatic way, but I don’t really express that in my songs at the moment. Maybe in the future. But the best part about that gig was going to the local corner store at the train station on my way home and buying candy with the money I had made. I looked forward to that all week.

One of my favourite musicians is Willie Nelson. I love his voice is so sweet, and he’s so badass at the same time. No one sounds like Willie. I saw him live in Birmingham, Alabama, a couple of years ago. He is so damn cool and writes fantastic songs.

I really enjoy old school country, outlaw style - like Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams. I guess I kind of like outlaw music in general. I was never into boy bands and stuff growing up. Too soft for me.

A song I wish I wrote is the Willie Nelson song Crazy. It was made famous by Patsy Cline, and I love her version. But it was actually Willie who wrote it, and I didn’t know that for many years, even though it was my favourite song. It’s definitely my go-to song at the karaoke bars.

My songs are awesome! To be honest, I don’t know how to classify my music, but I guess it lies in the realm of indie pop. Some have called it organic pop, although there are electronic elements to some of the songs. My lyrics are very honest, and I do touch on taboo topics at times.

I think my style is different and refreshing, not really like anything else. But you tell me! I love creating melodies, and I think they tend to stick in your head once you hear them. My next single Kiki Dots is coming out on December 29 and its extremely catchy.

It builds really slowly, and I almost dare to bet with you that at the end of the song you’ll hit replay, because it’s so strangely addictive. I co-wrote it with Greg Schutte, who’s a fantastic producer and drummer in from Minneapolis in the US. Funny enough, he was just on tour with Ryan Bingham and Willie Nelson. I love how everything in life is connected somehow. Especially when you send out a certain kind of energy.

To learn more about Malo, visit her Facebook and Spotify page.

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