CMJ 2015: Malia Grace x Vinyl Mag

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Malia Grace -black and white

Soulful pop singer Malia Grace is heading to New York this week to perform at CMJ Music Marathon.  The Austin-based singer-songwriter has already made a name for herself in her hometown, between playing local weddings and being invited to perform at South by Southwest.  Now, Malia is set to drop her debut EP on October 29.  We grabbed a few minutes with Malia to talk about the release, having her song shared on Jimmy Fallon, and her week at CMJ.

Vinyl Mag: Your debut EP is dropping in a few weeks (October 29th) – can you tell us a little about that?

It is! I’ve been working on this EP for a year and a half and am very excited to finally get it out. The release is going to be at One2One Bar in Austin, TX and it will be a “Spook-tacular Release!” I figured since it was so close to Halloween, I might as well tell people to wear their costumes and celebrate that too. Who doesn’t love Halloween, right?!

VM: You did crowdfunding through Indiegogo for this album. What made you take that route, and how was the response? Was it surprising at all?

I took this route, because I’d seen my peers do it and be successful with it and I didn’t have the money to fund the album. I was concerned we wouldn’t reach the goal, which is why I made the funding “flexible.” I was very pleasantly and humbly surprised by the response. We hit the goal and even exceeded it!

VM: Your single “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool” was just shared on Fallon (so cool!) – how did that feel?

Oh, my goodness! It was thrilling. I still get butterflies thinking about it. When I got the notification on my phone, my heart started racing. I had to go play a four-hour gig that night, and my hands wouldn’t stop shaking due to the excitement. It really made me feel like my music was worth it and all this time and effort wasn’t wasted. It validated my passion.

VM: You were a Music Business major, and I read in your bio that you turned down other opportunities on the business side of the industry to pursue your music full time. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What led you to decide to take that path?

I was actually interested in becoming an entertainment/copyright attorney. When I graduated college, I planned on taking a gap year, working in a law firm, and studying for the LSATs. My absolutely amazing, supportive parents talked me out of it and encouraged me to follow my passion. It was an interesting juxtaposition of roles. I decided to still work in a law firm as my day job to get to know the field while recording. Nowadays, my music is my day job, which is a blessing in itself. I still may follow the law path later in life, but I hope my music works out and I can continue on this route.

VM: Being a full-time musician is really hard in this day and age. Even huge musicians sometimes have to have a day job when they’re not on the road to pay the bills. How do you make that work?

I have a fabulous 3x/week four to five-hour gig at Truluck’s, an upscale restaurant in Austin, Tx as well as church gigs I play. Having a consistent paying gig helps me to sustain.

VM: Do you have a favorite song to play live?

It changes depending on the gig and my mood. I do always love to play, “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool,” because it changes the energy in the room and people start to dance more. My favorite thing to do is sing my wedding song, “The One,” which is not on this EP, for bride/groom first dances. Watching two people dance while you play them your song to celebrate coming together in union is…well, there are no words.

VM: What can people expect from your live shows?

They can expect a good bit of fun and a little bit of song-therapy. I want my gigs to be cathartic for them. They can also expect to get a good dose of my personality and dry humor. I don’t really change on stage, so what you see up there is pretty much exactly what you’ll get if you talk to me in a grocery store.

VM: Who are you most excited to see at CMJ?

Honestly, I’m most excited to see a bunch of new bands I’ve never seen before. The great thing about CMJ is you can discover new artists you may have never heard of previously. The amount of talent is insane!

VM: Got any advice for attendees?

Sneakers, water, and protein bars. Keep yourself healthy, because a fest like this will take it out of you. Also important: Have fun! Go see some great bands, relax, and find some new music you dig.

VM: Where can we catch your shows this week?

I have an I Heart Radio session at the Z100 Dunkin Donuts on Friday, the 16th at 4pm, a show at Postcrypt Coffeehouse at Columbia University that same day at 9:30pm, and my official CMJ Showcase at the Big Picture Media Showcase Saturday, the 17th at 9:30pm. It’ll be a fun mix.

VM: What is next for Malia Grace?

Releasing the EP at the end of the month and getting my tour together! The Tonight Show activity generated a lot of new interest and we’re thinking through a range of fresh options. Between gigs and private events, the schedule is pretty hectic through the New Year, but I have a lot of energy and am looking for more. Other than that, only time will tell and I can’t wait to find out.

VM: Anything else you want readers to know?

I want to meet all of you!

Emily is an over-enthusiastic lover of music, books, movies, fashion, and culture in general. Her love of music spans across all genres (what is a genre anymore? she waxes poetic to herself), though she was nursed on true punk and will never understand “redneck country” music – tractors are not and cannot be sexy. Emily currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and considers herself to be a great wit, though she is still waiting on validation from a credible source.

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