When discussing the next generation of New Zealand music, the conversation would not be complete without the inclusion of MAALA. Evan Sinton has been making waves in the New Zealand scene since the release of his debut self-titled EP last year, and has recently exploded into the hearts and ears of music lovers with his incredible new record ‘Composure’. I sat down with Evan for a coffee and a chat about the new album - the process, the feelings and the future.
I’ve known Evan for a little while now, and even without the introductions and small talk that usually goes with first-time interviews, I still couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming presence of how ‘MAALA-ly’ (patent pending) he is. As he sat back in his chair in a worn flannelette shirt, LA dodgers cap that partly hides his face, sporting an expression that says “Man, I’m so chill right now.” Perfect.
Without a better place to start I decided to start from the beginning – the birth of the MAALA project. Evan describes it as an organic process; a simply a natural shift inspired by the style of music he was listening to. “I didn’t feel like I flipped a switch. I’d done the Evan Sinton thing with an acoustic guitar, and I got bored. The MAALA project started because I was trying to find ways to keep music interesting.”
Evan started doing countless writing sessions with a varying range of producers, until he met Josh [Fountain, ‘Composure’ producer/Golden Age Studios engineer, as well as member of vibe-pop band ‘Leisure’]. “The thing that sealed it for me was the fact that I felt like I could have a beer with the dude.” Their first session together back in 2014 manifested as the original demo for ‘In The Air’, one of the driving singles from MAALA’s debut EP. Clearly a good match. “If there was a switch that flipped, that was it.” Their next session together became the demo for ‘Touch’. Josh was here to stay.
His acoustic past is definitely present however, there is a clear singer/songwriter element to his music – the layering, the depth, the pure musical intricacy. No this is far from the electronic industry norm.
“I guess it tracks back to what I was listening to at the time. When I wrote ‘Composure’, I was starting to appreciate well produced pop structures and melodies, so I was listening to a lot of One Direction, Rihanna and Carly Rae Jepsen to name a few."
For those have heard the record, you will understand the depth of emotion and feeling in each song Evan writes. Each song is a piece of him - I knew the next question would be a tough one, “So Evan, which song on the record means the most to you?”
“Oh man, I have no idea”. He deliberated for a while, explaining that they all mean a lot to him, he has many favorites for lots of different reasons, but also sometimes he’s so sick of his own material that none of them are his favourite. After a bit of pressure and thumb-twisting, if he had to pick one, it was ‘Forget About You’, the second single from the album. He sees it as some of the better songwriting he’s done, and he feels confident about what it says lyrically.
All that was left was the future - I asked him what he was looking forward to. In pure humility, Evan didn’t mention Vegas parties or being on the cover of Rolling Stone. He just wants to continue to improve his craft and create more material. Simple and Sweet.
“It’s all about the songwriting.”
The MAALA record is a testament to the winning formula – the right attitude and the right emotion. I’m not going to say anything else about it. Go and get ‘Composure’. You won’t regret it.