Like so many of the early dubstep pioneers, Mala’s beginnings can be traced back to the epicentre of the scene: Croydon. Not traditionally a place considered a hotbed of musical talent. That is until garage splintered in the now infamous subgenre. The town boasts DJ EZ, Skream and Hatcha amongst its favourite sons, the latter of who would serve as mentor to Mala in those early days. Under one of his original aliases, Mala broke through working with the Digital Mystikz moniker, scoring some notable releases on Big Apple record store’s label - for which Hatcha was doing A&R at the time. These first dalliances with success led to the formation of DMZ - a coalition between Mala, Loefah and fellow dubstep pioneer Coki.
Perhaps one of the most compelling traits about DMZ is that instead of subscribing to a homogenous sound, all three architects have continued to push their own distinct style. Working as a three-headed tour de force, each component fed off the success of one another whilst maintaining artist integrity. The label would later spawn a party series. It was during this time that Mala slowly ditched the Digital Mystikz project, and almost exclusively reverted to the Mala name. Though he was making movements as both the dread-dub roller and as part of the DMZ crew, this was only paving the way for Deep Medi Musik.
It was now 2006 and DMZ had showed no signs of wane. But Mala had deeper ambitions. If dubstep had been reserved for bedroom geeks and pockets of dancefloors in south east London up to this point, Mala was about to inject soul and nuance - inadvertently pushing it closer to the mainstream. Within a few releases, Deep Medi Musik established itself as putting out complex dubstep that explored territories that had previously been unchartered. That’s not to say that his relationship with Loefah and Coki dissipated. In fact, the duo would release an EP on Deep Medi even before Mala.
Giving dubstep depth and soul on multiple levels is clearly no small feat. Kudos must be given to Mala’s vision for helping to establish not just one of the most absorbing label operating in the genre, but within all of underground dance music. In speaks volumes about his capabilities as both a producer and a label head, that even in the present day he is gracing the likes of Scuba’s Hotflush with material, long after Scuba himself has distanced himself from dubstep.
Compelling, rich and unafraid to broach musical boundaries, Mala is the hero that dubstep needs in a post-dubstep, EDM-infiltrated world. Stylized by screeching 140 bpm and equally adept at performing live on drum machines as he is on wax, Mala’s commitment to dubstep might be unparalleled. Few other originators can claim to have stayed loyal to the genre, whilst pushing it into new directions.
You can catch Mala headlining the Outlook stage at Hospitality In the Park 2019. Other acts confirmed for the fourth edition of the Finsbury Park festival, include Camo & Krooked, Danny Byrd, Metrik, dBridge, LTJ Bukem and Kings of the Rollers.
Fourth release tickets are on sale now.