Catching Up With Malina Moye
Independent artist Malina Moye has all of the characteristics of a successful entertainer. The left-handed guitarist has both a signature sound and look, as she typically plays r&b, rock, soul and funk infused music by flipping her guitar upside down. From the business side of things, Malina has cross-marketed herself in a number of diverse areas including projects with Victoria’s Secret and Steve Madden and she has endorsements deals with Fender Guitars, Foxx Pedals, Moody Leather Straps, DiMarzio and Ernie Ball Strings.
Malina’s unique style has landed her great opportunities including sharing the stage with such artists as Prince, Robin Thicke and Pinetop Perkins. She has also performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and The Robert Johnson Festival. Malina’s independent efforts are paying off, as her fan base is steadily increasing. Her first single, Girlfriend, reached the 43 slot on the R&B/Hip-Hop Billboard chart in 2003 and her second single, Alone reached the number 9 spot in 2004. She has also released her debut album, Diamonds & Guitars.
Malina made time during a very busy week to chat about her musical influences, her experiences and her unique playing style.
Mimi Soul: What are some of the things that inspire and influence your music?
Malina: That’s a really good question. There are so many facets to Malina Moye. As a singer, I would have to say my influences would be people like Chaka Khan, Janet Jackson and of course Michael Jackson. As a guitarist, I love Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King. And in general, I love real music. I love funk, soul and things where people think outside the box. So, I obviously love Prince.
My parents made sure that we had a plethora of artists to listen to and choose from – from Average White Band to Sly & the Family Stone to Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Joan Jett. So, there were always different types of music and I think that when you have those influences, you start to create a sound and it becomes something that’s inbred in you. Your sound is gonna be the product of who you are and I think that’s what’s going on with me. I do music that feels good to my soul. We wanted to obviously keep it mainstream but at the same time, I still think it’s important for people to step outside the genres and challenge the industry. For me, it’s about the longevity of it. This is what I’m planning to do with the rest of my life and I enjoy it.
Mimi Soul: How are you stepping outside of the box with your music?
Malina: That’s a great question. I really like fashion so one way that I’m stepping out of the box is that I’m tapping into fashion. Alot of fashion places have radios and videos in their stores. I think they’re looking to do some type of cross promotion. So, we surely did that with Steve Madden which was really great. We’re trying to utilize every approach that we can that hasn’t been done.
Mimi Soul: How did you choose Diamonds & Guitars as the title of your album?
Malina: Oh, because I love fashion and I love diamonds. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. It’s really true; they’re my best friend (laughing). I included Guitars because I love to play and I really wanted to do something to help our young audience want to learn to play. I’m in love with my instrument and I just want other people to realize that it’s something fun.
Mimi Soul: I found a clip of an ad you did for Fender on YouTube. Could you tell us more about that?
Malina: Yes! What’s so cool about Fender is that they make some of the best guitars and I absolutely love them. In fact, I’m their first African-American, left-handed, upside down player ever. People always ask me how it’s possible for me to play upside down. I think it was from necessity because my father would give me a right handed guitar and I couldn’t play it that way. When he would leave the room, I would take it and flip it upside down. So, that became part of my signature. Fender was like “We’ve never seen anyone play our instrument like that.” So, we teamed up and I became a Fender endorsee. It’s cool.
Mimi Soul: Have you had any interesting experiences as a left-handed upside-down guitarist? It’s not every day that you find that combination.
Malina: You know, when you’re left-handed, normally you would play a left-handed guitar. But, there aren’t alot of left handed players. Now imagine if you go to a show or something and all of a sudden you want to get on stage and jam. Well, if no one has a left-handed guitar, you’re not jammin, you know what I mean? So, for a lefty to take a right-handed guitar and flip it upside down, it’s cool because I got invited to join Bootsy Collins, Sheila E. and George Clinton in honoring Malia Franklin and they were like “Come on up and jam with us”. So, I just grabbed the other guitar player’s axe and started jamming away. And you know, had I not been able to play it upside-down, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been up there jammin. So, many great things have come from it.
Mimi Soul: How did you manage to blend blues, rock, soul and r&b influences together to create your sound?
Malina: Thanks for asking that question. I’m going to say that it’s definitely my upbringing. When we heard music as children, we were able to just listen and explore without any kinds of restrictions. I also rely on my instinct. I do everything musically by what feels right.
I love to entertain people. I always want to bring the energy of people like Michael, Prince and James Brown as a singer, guitarist, songwriter and entertainer. I’m a person who puts all of that together and that’s truly what they would call an entertainer. I feel we are changing the industry and I’m coming with a new style and sound. My whole goal is to make it global and hopefully people will identify with it.
Mimi Soul: What advice would you give someone who’s looking to release their music independently?
Malina: I would say that they should look at it as a business. It’s not overnight and it’s gonna be hard work. But, you can put together the dream team of people that you want to work for you and you are really in control of your fate. If you work what you have on a daily basis, you’re going to really appreciate it and what’s even better is that you did it on your terms.
You should also play fair, even when people don’t play fair with you. And always reach up. By that, I mean when you start to go through a door, if it’s easy, then that means alot of people are going through it. When you start to go through doors that are smaller and narrower, that means you’re finally moving up because only a select few are actually getting through those doors. So, always reach up.
Mimi Soul: What do you have coming up this year?
Malina: I’m lining up tour dates and on April 1st I’ll be doing the Star Spangled Banner on guitar for the Cubs game. I’m excited about that. Everyone can sign up for my newsletter at my website to stay in the loop.
Thanks Malina! Her promotional video and links to Twitter, MySpace and Facebook are below and Diamonds & Guitars is available at Amazon.
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