With both artists rising from the oaths of Ireland and going international, we caught up with Malaki and Tolü Makay about their latest collaboration, 'The Light', performing on The Late Late Show and what's next for each artist.
Congratulations on your latest single, ‘The Light’ – can you talk us through the background and themes you delved into?
Malaki: The way it all came together was quite organic. We were at the height of lockdown in Dublin, and many artists were struggling to find time to produce music or collaborate. It wasn’t until a writing camp brought myself and Tolu together to a studio in inner-city Dublin. Once we met, we hit it off straight away and began speaking about the last few months of our lives and the difficulty of being an artist at this time. Once we started writing, it just felt right. I think we both knew what sort of theme we wanted to speak about. The rest is history.
Tolü: 'The Light' speaks of the escape, dreams, hopes and wishes we want for ourselves. In my verse, that is what I explored. Knowing that we will make it out through the difficult times one day and we will celebrate. And Malaki's verse speaks of the hardship but still knowing it all be okay.
Being your first collaboration together, how did this track come alive, and how would you explain the creative process of it coming together?
Malaki: When we met, it just felt right. We have both found it difficult to record and release new music during this time, so we wanted to create an anthem in a sense that would feel special when performing live or releasing to the world. Hence why we say “we did it” in the pre-chorus.
Tolü: Due to the pandemic, there were a few things we artists could do, and one of them that was quite encouraged was collaboration. We met up for the first time when we wrote this song. A friend of ours from a company called Diffusion lab brought us in together, and I, and Malaki clicked. We wanted to talk about a type of freedom we weren't able to have. The creative process started with the producer in the room (Chris and Matthew) who were looking up splice sounds. It started, with layering a drum kick, to bass, guitar etc. While this was being looped and played in the room, I and Malaki, would point out what sounds we like and write and show each other what we've written. We had this incredible song written and recorded that day. It took 6 hours, and it was the most riveting experience and so freeing to see that we created work we love!
Both being two rising Irish stars and breaking internationally, what has been the biggest learning curve, and how would you describe your musical journey so far?
Malaki: My biggest learning curve for myself so far is trying to learn new ways of staying inspired. In a time of such turmoil and desperation, creatives have found it difficult to pick up the pen or paintbrush. However, I have found new ways of keeping my brain, and creative flows coming through new alternatives like walking, swimming, or meeting with old friends. We must stay occupied in a time when the world stands still.
My musical journey so far has been quite surreal. To go from one of the lowest points in my life to performing at some of the biggest festivals in Ireland and the UK is something I never would have thought. I am grateful every day for my career, my fans and my support along the way.
Tolü: Oh, I am still learning. Ha-ha. The biggest lesson I'm learning is if you don't trust yourself, it'll sting because you know what's best for you sometimes, and it's best to listen to your intuition. I would describe my musical journey as me becoming. Becoming confident in my abilities and being bold to do and achieve my dreams! Seeing that it can be achieved even if it may be a small moment in comparison to all the dreams I have, it's still a step in the right direction.
With live music back and already performing the hit track on The Late Late Show Ireland, what was that experience like, and how excited are you to get back onto the road?
Malaki: The experience with Tolu on The Late Late Show was amazing. We were able to perform to a live studio audience as well as thousands of viewers at home. I’ve met Ryan Tubridy before when I performed on The Late Late the year before, so I wasn’t as nervous and was ready to kill the performance! I have my first tour starting December 1st! Belfast, Cork, Galway, Limerick, London, and Dublin! I’ve been playing the odd show the last few weeks, but this tour is going to be so special I can’t wait to get back on the road!
Tolü: Oooh Performing with Malaki was incredibly fun. I am so glad that we can finally now be in the midst of audiences. The joy I had seeing people's reactions was the best! I had my first headline rescheduled in May, which was sold out, in Dublin, and finally, I have completed my first ever mini headline tour in Ireland. I called it the Tolü Makay Experience; a night to be reborn. A 5-day showcase with my incredible team. Oh, it was electric. I learnt so much about myself, and there's definitely an alter ego living in me. Haha, it was so fun!
Finally, what is next for both of you, and do you hope to work together in the future?
Malaki: I think Tolu is one of the most talented vocalists to come out of this country. Not only that, but she also speaks so highly of her culture and her passion for her art. She’s an incredible artist and an incredible human. I hope we remain friends and collaborators for life.
In terms of future projects, for the time being, I’m focusing on working on my own craft. I want to go back to my roots of working independently to improve my penmanship and why I began writing in the first place. I also have some new singles coming out very soon!
Tolü: Oh, it's been a joy working with Malaki, he is so sweet!! And I've collaborated with artists throughout the year but come 2022, I'll be prepping for my album, so that would be my main priority for the coming year. If we get the opportunity to work again, that would be incredible, but we both have busy years ahead.