Over an early evening cappuccino in the lounge deep underneath the Music Hall of Williamsburg, I sat down to chat with Chris Malinchak.
Chris was back in his hometown last weekend to play a set as part of the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival and to put a wrap on his recent tour of Europe and the US. He shared with us some insights on how he makes music, the importance of the little things, and about why he likes to wear hoodies all the time.
You're back in your hometown of Brooklyn after touring around for a bit. Is this a homecoming of sorts and a nice way to wrap it? And how was the tour?
It's so nice! It’s great being back in Brooklyn. It feels so appropriate being back here for the final shows of this tour. I seems like I've been everywhere on this tour! I’ve been all over Europe, done the west coast and I’ve done shows around here too. I drove down to Washington DC for a show and earlier today I got back from doing a show in Chicago.
But seriously the tour has been awesome. It’s been such a pleasure doing these shows. As much as the tour has been great, it’s also awesome to get back home as well. I’m excited to be back and to get back to writing. Writing music is what I love and what I find harder to do while I’m on tour.
Speaking of Brooklyn, how did growing up here influence your music today?
This whole area has a certain edge and it’s just so cool. When you grow up here, you hear things and you get to constantly experience the energy here. Also there’s so much stuff you can find around here that you can’t get anywhere else. Over the years I’ve collected this massive stash of vinyl records. I’m sure you don’t get access to such rare and wonderful stuff unless you grow up and spend most of your time here.
What are you like on tour? Any creature comforts from home? Do you hate the "living out of a suitcase" thing?
Yeah, the suitcase thing. It’s not so bad. I actually really love touring. As this tour wraps, I find that I’m already excited for the next one.
But you know what, now that I think about it, I do carry a favorite pillow with me that I like while I’m on tour. As long as I can get good food and a place to do pull ups, I’m generally pretty happy. Those sound like little things but they count a lot.
Let’s talk about your latest track, "Happiness." You just released one version about a month ago and then a very different original version just a few days ago. What’s your motivation for giving us the two versions to the same track?
It’s a funny thing. Not that long ago, I was driving somewhere. I can’t remember where, maybe back from Pennsylvania and I thought about happiness. And in kind of an instant, I felt differently about the song. It was dark out and I felt sort of melancholy, rather than happy. So I took that moment and I used it. I rushed back home and starting working on it. Then finally at 3 in the morning or something crazy like that, and a new variation of the track was done.
That’s cool because they are really two different pieces of music.
It’s true! They couldn't be any more different! The other day I went back through some of my old hard drives. I hit play on the original version of “Happiness” and thought, why don’t I just share this? Maybe someone will find it interesting or might want to know where the original inspiration for the track came from. So the next day, I put it up on Soundcloud.
But really there was absolutely no strategy with the two releases. Sometimes I just finish a song and don’t know what I want to do with it. Usually I can’t wait to share my stuff and I want to get it out there for fans to hear, and as soon as possible.
If I can give you some of my own perspective on your work, when I think about tracks like "Happiness" and "So Good To Me," one of the underlying themes from both of these tracks is emotion. I’m wondering then, and you touched on this earlier, is emotion a filter through which you make your music?
It’s an interesting observation. I feel a lot of joy in life but I’m human and I get sad feelings sometimes too. I feel a certain way and my music is often a reflection of how I feel at any given moment. Whether it’s happy or sad or something else, it’s just me living in the moment and not being afraid to feel what I do. I think that may be the component of what you’re talking about.
I’m sure that the more music you push onto SoundCloud, the louder the calls get for you to release an album. Is that the plan, to release an album in the future?
I have this need to want to share my stuff straight away. Get it out there immediately. I just can’t help it! For me music making is all about the sharing. And so there’s a certain way I have to go about the sharing. I’m thinking that there'll be a block of songs out of me in the next 12 months. What that looks like yet, I don’t know.
Shifting gears a touch, what’s downtime for you Chris? What do you do when you’re not making music?
This is downtime! I mean I love this kind of stuff! But seriously downtime is usually a mix of just spending time and hanging out. I also lift, eat, and always music. It’s a constant juggle of all of those things.
If there’s any work with this, it’s the plane travel. I’m just not big on it. Fitting in the seat, being in the air, I just can’t wait to get there and get right back off again.
It’s a cold night in New York tonight and I see you’re covering your head with your hoodie. I’ve seen you do this before in photos with your hoodie over your head. Is that a thing for you, hoodies?
Look at me all self-conscious now you've pointed it out! [laughs] Yeah, it’s cold tonight. And it’s only going to get colder! But really, I like hoodies and just find them comfortable. And probably I’m trying to hide the fact that I really need a haircut at this point too!
I think I have a thousand white t-shirts and a thousand pairs of jeans. Okay not that many but often I just stick to the same clothes I know. Do you ever do that? Go buy a sweater or something and never wear it? I do. I always come back to hoodies for some reason.
Thanks for chatting with Indie Shuffle, Chris. Best of luck for your set tonight!
No, thank you! I’m glad you’re excited for it too. I can’t wait!