Creating The New Face Of New Zealand’s Music Scene
The new zealand music scene is a pretty unique place. We have duos like Broods or Ravines or single pringles like Lorde that make it big, as well as the nationally and internationally recognised groups. Now, there’s another name to remember and look for – MAALA, a.k.a Evan Sinton. He and I sat down to have a chat at a Converse photo shoot recently where he was paired with the All Star Modern Lux – a understated, subtle sneaker featuring a clean leather aesthetic.
He hasn’t been on the scene long – first appearing as a nervous 17-year-old in 2012 on the second series of NZ’s Got Talent. Coming third, he went off and developed his sound solo – moving from his then-trademark of a simple guitar/voice combo to a more modern mix of a keyboard and MIDI controllers. However, like so many Kiwi’s, music had been a part of his life since he was very young.
Sinton picked up the piano when he was about four, following in his father’s footsteps – in a way. He played the piano accordion, a “real sexy instrument,” as Sinton put it when he and I sat down for a brief chat recently. Sinton played it for a month or so before giving it up. MAALA is a relatively recent project though, with Sinton working on it for the last couple of years.
MAALA is primarily electronic music in a style reminiscent of Chet Faker, as his first, self-titled EP under the moniker reveals. Two singles, “Touch” and “In The Air” were released prior, and set the stage for the EP’s unique tone. Sinton’s voice is uniquely woody and full which lends itself well to the thick electronic tones he produces. Layers and layers of synths and simple yet effective percussion – with “Touch” a particular example – provide the foundations for the moody and well-written lyrics.
Following on, in 2016 Sinton released his debut album under the MAALA name – Composure. The album “took more pop influences; Ariana Grande… Biebs…” and netted Sinton nominations for four New Zealand Music Awards. He won Best Male Solo Artist, a massive highlight for the blossoming career.
It was at Sinton’s day job, packing in a warehouse in Mt Eden, when he first heard himself on the airwaves. He hadn’t been branding himself as a musician around the warehouse much, just mentioning it in passing, but the day he came on the radio he said “’Oh, this is me’ and [his coworkers] were like ‘Nah.’ So it was a really good moment, cause it was like a way of going “Yeah it is. That’s my song.”
When he does lose a bit of the flow of creative juices, he tries to simply “do something else,” something he readily admitted to be not very good at. “But that’s what my brain says I should do.” Having recently picked up a camera, Sinton managed to find another creative outlet that is different enough to music to feel fresh. Having “no end goal” with photography, and treating it “very casually” helps a huge amount to recharge.
Of course, we had to ask him a little bit about style. I didn’t want to lose the casual, conversational tone we had going, so the obvious question was: “Converse All Stars – high tops or low tops?”
“Oh it’s gotta be high tops. In saying that, I’ve never actually had a low pair…”
High tops it is. MAALA confirms it.
MAALA is wearing:
Clothing supplied; the Chuck Taylor All Star Modern Lux by Converse.