Malia Civetz is the rising singer and songwriter that you definitely need on your radar.
Signed to Warner Records, Malia is a confident performer who is determined to push boundaries with her punchy music, fierce lyrics and powerhouse vocals. She has already caught the attention of both Taylor Swift and Ryan Seacrest with her single ‘Champagne Clouds’, and even got to support JoJo on her Leaks, Covers and Mixtapes tour last year.
You’ll soon be hearing a lot more from Malia as today, she releases her brand new single ‘Broke Boy’. The perfect anthem for anyone in love, the track is an ode to living your best life with your partner regardless of either person’s financial status.
We hopped on the phone with Malia ahead of the release of ‘Broke Boy’ to discuss her new single, the importance of carrying an empowering message through music, touring with JoJo and a whole lot more.
Your new single ‘Broke Boy’ is about to drop. How are you feeling ahead of the release?
I actually couldn’t be more excited. I feel like this song shows a different side to me that people haven’t seen yet, and it feels more like a look at the entirety of my personality rather than just being a small aspect of it.
It’s a really self-empowering bop, can you tell us the inspiration behind the song and how it came about?
We were in the studio and the producer started playing that piano part, and it was just magic. We had these melodies come out and the lyrics just fell into place. When we started running with it, we thought about how the broke boys don’t have their own anthem. It’s not as if I have a lot of money either but it’s about finding that person you can have fun with no matter what. Whether date night is at In-N-Out or you go to a museum for free, it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you’re with that person having a great time.
There are some really sassy lyrics in the song, do you have a particular favourite?
If I’m gonna be honest, probably the lyrics to the second verse because they’re cheeky and there’s a little bit of innuendo there “he took me on a trip with just the tip of his tongue”. You can take that in a number of ways. A part of what I’m trying to do with my artist project is to be able to talk about sex in a way which doesn’t scare people. It can be such a shameful topic to some and I’ve found that if you bring humour to something then it’s a lot easier to talk about. It’s not something which should be scary. If we talk about it in a way which is slightly humorous then it at least opens the door to conversation and being communicative about a serious topic which is important.
You’re a very positive person when it comes to body image, sex and your self. Is it important for you that your music also carries this kind of message?
It’s really important for me to assure people that they’re beautiful just as they are, whether that’s your body type, skin colour, that they’re accepted no matter who they love, and all of that. It’s important to me, and you can see it in the [‘Broke Boys’] music video, it’s a world of acceptance where there’s a person of every skin colour, and body type together having an amazing time. That’s what I dream that the world can be, and as those are themes in my music it was important to reflect them in the visual and really stress the fact that we can all get along.
You’ve also filmed a music video for ‘Broke Boy’ which looks like it was so much fun! How was the experience for you?
It was literally the best day of my life! The whole day was so much fun. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always loved playing with makeup and dressing up and I got to do that all day whilst working with incredible hair and makeup and incredible stylists. I also love vintage cars so getting to ride in that comfy red chair on the top of a vintage Cadillac as we’re driving down the streets of LA with people just looking at us like “what is going on?” was so much fun. I also got to be surrounded by models so it was a great day.
You’ve released music independently in the past however, you’re now signed to Warner Records alongside a stellar roster. How would you say that your music has evolved over the years?
I think it’s become more broadly myself, which is an interesting way to look at things. With ‘Champagne Clouds’ it was definitely an aspect of my personality and has that celebratory vibe within the lyrics. With ‘Broke Boy’, I think that celebratory vibe continues in the music and in the way that I sing the songs so it becomes a different audio experience versus just lyrical.
How did you first become interested in music?
This is a long one! When I was a kid, I lived in Hawaii and my parents were in the hotel business. For a while we actually lived in a hotel and I was always just a chill little kid so they would bring me to their client dinners and then to all of their events as I would just sit there quietly, eat my food or chat with the adults. Everywhere in Hawaii, especially in the hotels, there’s always live music. Hula dancers, live bands, everything, so for as long as I can remember I’ve always been mesmerised by them and would ask my parents to lift me out of my highchair so I could waddle up to the hula dancers. There’s pictures of me watching them and just trying to do what they were doing!
My parents were always fascinated by that because they had other client friends who had children my age who wouldn’t be caught dead doing any of that. I would be like “come dance with me!” and they’d be like “no, that’s embarrassing” so I would say “okay, bye, doing it myself then!” They just couldn’t care less but ever since I was really little I was just mesmerised by music in all forms. We’d go to this open air jazz club where literally it was like four walls and no roof, and my friends when I was a child would be falling asleep as they were tired and bored, whilst I was begging to stay and watch the show. I knew that I loved it but I started singing when I was about five in church, then I joined performance groups and went to performing arts school which led to USC and doing the popular music program. It evolved really naturally, it was a really special time.
Who were your musical inspirations growing up?
There’s so many! I grew up with different music because of my parents. My mom loved everything Motown, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan. My dad was more into the Beach Boys, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and music from the Hawaiian renaissance in the 70’s because he did sound and lights for a lot of artists back then. I grew up listening to a lot of foreign music, and I also spent a lot of time with my grandparents who listened to Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra. We later moved to Vegas which continued my love for them. A little bit of everybody, I really can’t pick just one as each artist has impacted on me in the way that I write songs and tell stories, and the way I sing them.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your time in the music industry so far?
I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learnt is to trust my instincts and speak up when I have an idea. It’s easy to get lost when everyone thinks something is a great idea and decide to move forward with it, and when you’re young you sometimes just agree and go along with it. I think I’ve reached a really good balance between listening to people and not listening to people, and to fight to make sure that I’m saying what I want to say and in the way that I want to say it. I’m really fortunate to have a team who really listen. I know that’s rare in the music industry to have people who are on my side that if I have a concern, they say “cool, let’s talk about it” rather than “okay, but we’re moving forward with this anyway”.
It’s good to know that you’ve got a supportive network around you. You’ve been publicly championed by the likes of Ryan Seacrest and Taylor Swift because of your track ‘Champagne Clouds’. How does it feel to have the support of such established and well respected people?
It’s kinda crazy and I really have to pinch myself when it comes to moments like that. I grew up listening to Taylor Swift’s ‘Fifteen’ and I was like, oh my gosh it sounds as if this girl has taken a dive into my brain and wrote about all my feelings. She’s an incredible pop star and songwriter in general, so to have someone whose songwriting you respect so much come out and support you is really really special. Same with Ryan Seacrest, I watched American Idol for so long. Being a singer and being interested in music, especially in my generation, and to have people like that support you is crazy. Even though it was a while ago I still have to remind myself how special it is.
Something like that will always stay with you and I guess it pushes you to always keep going!
It really does. It helps keep me going on days where I’m not so sure. I’m generally pretty sure of myself but it’s nice to know that there are people who believe in you. At the end of the day, when you make music it’s just yourself and a couple of people in a room creating something out of thin air. Unlike other professions, there’s no right answer. You don’t know if it’s good. With math, everything is set to a right or wrong answer but with music it’s like, “well I like this, so I hope that others like it too.” When someone who is so established and has been in the industry for so long say they like it and encourage others to like it too, it’s validation. You feel like you’re doing something right in what is a very unsure business.
Alongside being a singer, you’re a well-versed songwriter. What’s your creative process like when it comes to songwriting? Do you have a particular formula or does it differ each time?
It depends on my mood and what I’m feeling on the day. Sometimes I walk into a writing session with my good friends and I basically just verbal vomit about something that happened to me for twenty minutes. They’ll say “well there’s about seven songs in there, which one do you want to write?”, and we’ll narrow it down. Other days I could be reading a book and I’ll have an idea for a title or a couple of lines and we take it from there. Sometimes I’ll walk into a room and someone’s already made the track and it will inspire me to find lyrics to fit into the melody. It’s really varied, there’s no template as to how I write songs.
On the subject of collaborators, who would you like to work with when it comes to your songwriting or performing?
As far as performing goes, Bruno Mars for sure. Him and Justin Timberlake! In the beginning when I walked into sessions without much music I always used to say I wanted to be a lady Bruno/Justin, and we ran with that. Those two would be huge for me. From a songwriting perspective, there’s so many. Savan Kotecha, who does a lot of work with Ariana Grande, is one. There are so many incredible writers in this business who are established and so many new writers who are just as good. When people send me sessions I try to say yes to everything because you never know what you’re going to get with somebody new.
You went on tour with JoJo last year – what did you enjoy the most about being on the road?
There were so many incredible moments. When I was in USC, I was in their popular music program and you got in as a singer or musician. In the beginning of your freshman year you got placed in a band, and some of the people who I became friends with just so happened to be the most talented musicians I know, that are now working musicians in LA. What was really cool was that I got my friends, who I have been playing with for years, on tour with me. It was so special getting to do that with them, knowing that they were professional musicians who were going to do their job and that they were my friends who I’ve known for so long. And it’s not as if I brought them on tour because we were friends who had played together since we were young, I was bringing them along because they’re the best musicians I know. It was a very special experience, and also just opening for JoJo – she is one of the best vocalists of our generation. To get to watch her every night was just a masterclass in how to sing. She’s incredible and the grace and kindness she showed to her fans was so inspiring. For any new artist, she’s such a beautiful person to look up to in this industry.
Do you have any plans for your own shows in the near future?
We will! Right now we’re working on getting dates set up for the future, maybe the summer.
What are your hopes for the rest of 2020?
There will be more music, absolutely. Hopes are a tour, more music, and then to see where each of those things take me. The music industry is very uncertain – you can do one thing and something else will come along, and then your path is totally different to what it was a couple of months prior.
Thank you to Malia Civetz for her time! ‘Broke Boy’ is available to download and stream now.