After soundtracking our last summer with Love Is Written In Cursive, Malo is back to take over your playlist with Dancing By Myself! Ten songs work together to paint the picture of a young artist exploring success, relationships, and identity in a world that always tries to define us before we define ourselves. On the album’s first track, a skit called “Leaving Hollywood (Got Out),” he advises a fellow artist, “Make sure that when you go there, you bring that passion. Bring that energy, show them what you’re made of. Go crazy.” You can see that quote as Malo’s mission statement for the record, challenging himself to level up both artistically and personally for a project you’ll never forget.
“I have never gotten this much support for an album drop,” Malo tells TREMG. “Everyone walks around my city calling me Malo and telling me how much they love the album. Three years ago, I never would have had something like that. So no matter how well this album sells or how good streaming does, I’ll know that people connected with this album and that’s all I really want.”
Through each song on Dancing By Myself, Malo’s love for music and improving his craft is more clear than ever. On the pop-laced “Ruin My Love,” which we could totally imagine playing on the radio between Lil Uzi Vert and Post Malone, he chimes in with a spoken bit, “Nah, I’m just tired of this sh*t. This sh*t’s so f*cking stupid.” As you listen, you’re hearing Malo nail the fusion of hip-hop and pop while also hearing him outgrow it entirely, clearing this level before moving onto the next and evolving into a better version of himself.
“In the skits, I talk to Willie Manic on the phone telling him I need to change and get away,” Malo explains. “I do this to let the people know I want to move away from what I did before. I’m tired of doing mainstream songs to get the attention of the public. I want to do my weird sh*t and make and release crazy music. This album was put out to give myself the chance to do whatever I want in my next project and still have it be canonically correct with all of my past and future releases.”
Hi Malo, congrats on your new album, Dancing By Myself! How does it feel to finally share the project with the world and see how fans are reacting?
It honestly feels like a huge weight off of my shoulders. I am always one to stress to make sure that everything is perfect for my releases. I normally stress so much that it delays the album until it can be perfect enough for me. With this one, I was trying to teach myself that sometimes there is nothing more you can do and you just have to drop the shit. As far as how the fans are reacting, I have never gotten this much support for an album drop. Everyone walks around my city calling me Malo and telling me how much they love the album. Three years ago, I never would have had something like that. So no matter how well this album sells or how good streaming does, I’ll know that people connected with this album and that’s all I really want.
What does Dancing By Myself mean to you? Is there a certain message you hope listeners take away when they listen?
I have a song on the album called “Calm Down” that I made when me and my girl were going through rough times. A line in the song goes “Dance around, I’m on my own now, yeah, mess around and call your phone now, yeah.” So the title drew a lot from that song itself as it’s a very important song for me. Not too long after that song was made, me and my girl split up for a while, and I was actually dancing by myself. I was going through the motions, depressed, and not knowing what I was going to do. I don’t believe there is a certain message I intended for people that listen to receive, instead I hoped that they could just feel what I felt when I was going through it. So that way when they go through the same things, they know they aren’t alone.
This album has so many clever lines, with one of our favorites being “no coal, I’m a diamond in the rough” from “Ruin My Love.” Is there a certain lyric from Dancing By Myself that you’re especially proud of, or that you feel summarizes the whole project best?
“Please come back, I miss you always, yeah, we ain’t gotta do it our way, yeah, lot of broken hearts we stargazing, remember broken holes in hallways, yeah”. This series of lines just hit home for me. It brings up touchy subjects of my relationship and the kinda thing I went through to be quote “dancing by myself.”
Which songs on Dancing By Myself took the most and least amount of time to make?
All of the songs were made in under an hour. I’d say the quickest one was “Ruin My Love.” Me and Willie just hopped in the studio and I was like, “let’s make something and release it right now,” and that’s how it became the lead single for this album.
There’s a lot of confidence throughout Dancing By Myself, particularly on songs like “Ruin My Love” and “Pass.” With all the chaos and negativity in the world, how do you keep your mind in the right place and maintain that confidence? What helps you get into the right mindset for a song when you’re recording?
My life right now is more chaotic than it has ever been. I’m a bartender working from 6pm-3:30am. I don’t sleep anymore, what I put in my body is questionable, and I can barely maintain current friendships. I think all of this chaos contributes to my music. I haven’t been recording as much, but when I do, it’s when I need to let out all of this pent-up emotion. Music has always been a release for me. I can’t afford therapy so I use my music to convey my emotions and how I’m feeling at that time.
Dancing By Myself has some cool interludes and snippets of phone calls, which is a fun way to let each song have its own moment to set in. How did you create those interludes and choose where to place them on the album?
The skits were made the night we submitted the album. I wanted to kinda have this album be a sequel to my first album, Hollywood. That’s why in the skits I talk to Willie Manic on the phone telling him I need to change and get away. I do this to let the people know I want to move away from what I did before. I’m tired of doing mainstream songs to get the attention of the public. I want to do my weird sh*t and make and release crazy music. This album was put out to give myself the chance to do whatever I want in my next project and still have it be canonically correct with all of my past and future releases.
You got to play a show on your album release night, which must have been so exciting! How do you prepare for a show and pick the perfect setlist? Which of your songs is your favorite to perform?
Willie flew all the way from Connecticut to come play that show, and let me just say it was amazing. No one in town knew who I was beforehand and now they come to my bar and call me Malo. We had a great turnout with around 70 people, and it was a pretty small venue so it was packed. I was very nervous beforehand. I was also a little high from secondhand smoke. We drove to soundcheck with another artist who was performing and he was hotboxing the car. We walked inside the bar and I walked ahead of Willie and the other artist. These crazy motherf*ckers walk in, blunt still lit, in front of the owner. Weed is legal in Connecticut so Willie didn’t know any better. The owner quickly told him to put it out and we all had a big laugh. The high took the edge off a bit and I had a couple of drinks before the show for some liquid courage. I put my headphones in backstage told everybody not to talk to me and just put my set list on repeat and locked in. I had performed before so I kinda already had a set list picked out, but Willie went back and forth with me picking some songs. Out of my 32-minute set, I think my two favorite songs to perform were “FWhatYouThink” and “Trying.” I pulled Willie on stage when I performed “FWhatYouThink” and the crowd went crazy. “Trying” is an unreleased song I made for my mom. My mom was watching the livestream so I made sure to perform it just for her. I started crying on stage when the song was almost over and people on the front row started crying. Overall the show was amazing, my goal was to connect with them on a different level and I think I accomplished that.
The last time we talked was around the release of your Love Is Written In Cursive EP last summer – how do you feel you’ve grown as an artist since then?
I feel like I have become a lot more comfortable with myself and what I make. Nowadays, I just hop in the booth and do whatever I want. I’m always trying to push myself and go to the next level something that I haven’t done before. I’ve been experimenting with my voice a lot. The other day I made a song and sounded like Pop Smoke which is crazy, because if you heard me talk, I sound nothing like that man. I don’t want people to think I am imitating people. I used that example to show how far I’m actually pushing myself. When everybody hears my next project, it will all come into realization. I’m not scared to be me on a track anymore. Before, it was as if you were looking at a fabricated image of me in my music. From here on out, you will be getting a better perspective of who I am from my music.
We at TREMG love getting to know new artists who haven’t gotten the success or attention they deserve. Who are some of your favorite underrated artists at the moment?
I will always answer this question first with Willie Manic. He’s the only person I know that puts in more work than me. His music is amazing and he deserves all of the credit he gets. I also met a young artist this year, his name is Reesi. He makes plug music and alt shit. He’s a great singer and I’m looking forward to working with him on future projects.
What can your fans look forward to in the last few months of 2023?
I’m gearing up right now to drop a mixtape. Kind of an aftermath of Dancing By Myself. I’m gonna be talking my sh*t on it and also giving people an idea of how my life is at the moment. I’m tryna line up a show before the year is done as well. We will see how everything works out. I’m hoping everything goes well.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention or say to your fans that the questions didn’t touch on?
As always Madison, your questions are great. I think you got everything covered. I just wanted to say I love everybody who listens to my music and everybody from TREMG for making this possible. As always, it’s been a pleasure.
By Madison Murray
Featured Image: Courtesy of Malo