Ashlynn Malia Interview: Discovering the Unique World of Dark Pop

In this interview, we delve into the mind Ashlynn Malia who embraces the ethereal, drawing inspiration from personal experiences to create music that transcends boundaries. From the poetic lyrics to the mesmerizing visuals, Ashlynn Malia takes us on a journey through her ethereal pop era. As we sat down for our talk we explored the depths of her debut album MALIA which is full of emotion, self-discovery, and the complexities of modern relationships. 

Hello Ashlynn. I was honoured to listen to your album before this interview and love the whole dark pop vibe, it’s really unique. Are you excited for the release? 

Thank you. I’ve been working on this music for about a year and it’s just I think the project that I’m proudest of so far in my life, so I’m extremely excited for it to be out. 

Yes, I can imagine. There’s like a whole new generation of singers and songwriters who are very vulnerable with their lyrics and everything. And I would say you are a part of it, for example your storytelling is very special in your songs. How did you build up the confidence to share those personal stories of yours? 

Well, I kind of feel like if I am writing and making music I have to be as honest as it can, or else I don’t really like this song, or it doesn’t really do anything for me.  I also treat music as a form of therapy. So I’m also just doing myself a disservice by not being honest and vulnerable when I’m making songs. I guess getting the confidence to release them is a bit of a different story. And I think that the way I go about releasing music is if this is deeply personal to me there’s probably some truth in it that another person listening can see in themselves. Hopefully it’s so that’s somebody else can feel less alone and feel like they’re not the only person who is going through like a certain situation.  

Portait of Ashlynn Malia in the grungy mystical aesthetic of her album MALIA.

Yeah, I think that’s beautiful and that there really was a connection while listening to your album. I heard you’re a huge Lorde fan, like her music is a big inspiration for you. Making a choice on your favourite album of hers is probably impossible, so I’m just going to ask which album reflects your mood at the moment? 

Big big Lorde fan! And Melodrama, definitely. I think Melodrama is also my favourite album. I’m not afraid to say it. I thought Solar Power was awesome. I know that was a controversial one. I know that a lot of people were like not a fan of it, but I think if they just didn’t understand. They expected her to just do the same thing over again, she’s not going to do that. I think it was authentic, it was good. 

I agree with that, and I love all of them, but same Melodrama just hits different. 

It does and like how old are you? 

Oh I’m 22. 

Yeah, same. So it’s just like that’s just what we’re going through. It’s like an album for your 20s. What’s your favourite song? 

Right now, I’d say Hard Feelings/Loveless, is like on repeat. But there’s too many good ones, no skips. What’s yours? 

Oh so good dude! I really like Supercut. And look Liability is like forever my favourite, but yeah, I’ve been in a Supercut phase. 

Yeah, I love it. When I listen to an album, I’m always like most excited for the 1st and for the last song because it just sets the mood. I was wondering why did you choose Avalanche as the interlude and Dying to Miss Out On as the closing track?  

Great question. I personally related the avalanche to grief. And to just like the kind of like insane, heavy, intense feelings that kind of just hits you once a heartbreak happens, or once something in your life ends. Avalanche felt like a song predicting the storm and then the rest of the album is the storm in like all its different like aspects. I wouldn’t say that there’s like necessarily one specific story to this album but as far as an emotional journey goes, I think it like it introduces the roller coaster quite nicely. And then Dying to miss Out is the song that kind of started me on the pop journey because I’ve been making music for a while. I was doing a lot of R&B and then I kind of went into like indie but I realised ohh I love writing like this ethereal pop. So it’s kind of like the first song that started me on that journey, I guess ending with it is just kind of like going back to where everything originated from. 

Yeah. Oh, I love that. And especially the spoken word on Avalanche. I think it’s so nice. It really grabbed my attention and I was like, wait, I need to know more what’s going on. 

Thank you. Yeah, that was like the last thing we added to the entire album. I knew I wanted a spoken word, but like, I didn’t know what to say. And so I like came to my session with like a bunch of poems that I had written and then I was reading them through. I thought all these poems are shit and I don’t want to put these on the album. I write poetry for myself, but it felt like it can’t be out in the world yet. But I wrote a letter that would never get sent to anybody and I ended up reading pieces of that letter. 

I never would have expected it to be the last addition to the whole album because it sets the tone for the whole project so well. You already put out some music videos for the LP and also in the past. There’s like a really artistic approach and unique aesthetic in the visuals, do you come up with the ideas yourself or what is the process like? 

I come up with all the concepts myself or have so far, because usually when I’m writing a song, I start to kind of see a story happening or visual happening. It happened with the song Nobody Else, like we were in the production process of it and I just saw so clearly this grungy underground scene. I saw this kind of raw, intense, sensual romance between two people. And just them in a crowd of noise almost. That’s kind of where I started with that, and I knew a couple of scenes that I wanted. I did come up with the original idea and then I took it upon myself to try and pull all the pieces and friends together to make sure that it did that idea justice. My friends did an incredible job at helping me make my visions come to life. I am really proud of it and happy to build this “Ashlynn Malia Cinematic Universe”.  

It turnes out so nicely! So, for the track list like is there a reason to the order of songs? The album is a lot about self-expression and like finding yourself and stepping into the person you are right now but there’s also some older songs on it if I’m correct. How did you put it all together? 

I guess I chose it based off the style it was and all of them seemed to have this very ethereal pop quality. We started the project with the song Feels So Good being already written, I actually wrote that song when I was 16 and I had never known what kind of project to put it in. Dying To Miss Out and Villain were also songs I had already written. I was just like let’s make a pop project and me and my 2 producers took a road trip to Joshua Tree in California. We stayed there with the intention of just adding on to the pop project to see what we could make. We stayed for two nights and made Avalanche, Midas and Cool Girl during our stay. A couple months into like working on this album, I just decided to kind of start releasing it because I hadn’t released music in a while, and I really wanted to get people excited about the ethereal pop project. I tried to create a little universe for this album to sit in before it all comes out. And I just intend to expand upon that in the following years. 

That’s so nice. As I read the term ethereal pop era for the first time I wanted to know more, I was so drawn to it. 

Thank you I appreciate that. “Ethereal” is definitely like my favourite word ever and I’m very drawn to things that feel ethereal, sound ethereal, look ethereal, so it just kind of makes sense for me that when I’m making music, I want to have that quality in it. I want it to feel a little bit like mystical almost. 

I can really sense that in the music, how cool that you dedicated a whole album to it. You said the project was very personal and almost like therapy. Was it really healing to relieve those experiences of your life in the songs, or can it sometimes feel draining?  

Sometimes it’s draining but I think it would be draining whether I made art out of it or not. Because like you can only run away from like pain for so long or like a tough situation for so long before, it just kind of like finds you again. If it’s inevitable that I’m going to have to work through that pain, I’d rather have something beautiful to show for it by the end. And usually that’s in the form of a song, so I don’t really mind being drained because it’s still a healing process in its entirety. 

If you’re not making music like what else do you like to do to wind down and heal if it’s getting very stressful and chaotic in your life?  

I love going outside. I I love a good tree, I really do. So I live in Los Angeles, and lately my new favourite thing to do is like drive through the canyons in Los Angeles because they’re just gorgeous and green and beautiful. And there’s just so many lookout points, we can just overlook the whole city and just feel a little bit more removed from it. I love writing, and even if I didn’t write songs I would be writing regardless. I journal every day and that is very important for my sanity. I also love dancing and like I had an injury last year, so I couldn’t dance as much. Now I’ve started to move my body again. It’s another great form of self-expression that feels very different from music and I feel like I need both of them in my life. I love to read as well. 

Right, you’ve been a professional dancer before. How do you think it benefits your stage presence and being a musician in general? 

Being comfortable with movement and also being able to feel music throughout my entire body, I feel like makes performing a better experience for me and for the person watching. I think storytelling and being just fully committed to your performance is something I learned through dance and something I try to transfer into my writing and into my performances. I want to figure out how to incorporate contemporary or modern dance in music. I think dance is going to be a huge part of my live performance and visuals I create for my music. Even in the studio like if a song isn’t making me want to move my body, or if I’m not feeling a song in my body then it’s not quite there yet. I don’t want it as a reflection of me because it isn’t moving me enough and I use my body to kind of like, sense that. I definitely learned that through dance. 

How cool to have your own sensor on when a project feels ready and authentic to you. That is a great combination of your two passions. 

Oh, absolutely. Dancers are so in touch with their bodies it’s crazy. And I feel like it just goes beyond like a mental thing. It gets me out of my head and just into this space of like, I just want to make something that is in tune with the energy that I’m like emitting right now. It’s a very big part of the creative process. 

There’s a lot of great lyrics on the album for sure, and a lot of them stuck with me, but especially on “Cool Girl” there are amazing lyrics. Like, I love the songwriting on it and you really gave everyone an anthem that’s frustrated with the whole dating scene.  

Oh, I am so fed up with the dating world. It’s so annoying dude. The dating world is bad in LA, it is bad everywhere. Like I have not found one single place where it is going great for me. But yeah, I also really like the song Cool Girl. I performed it live the other day and was like screaming the second half of it, and it felt so cathartic. Dude, it was so nice to just Like get all that frustration on stage. I just want to do that every night until I’m just like this calm, peaceful person again.  

I would have loved to see that performance. Do you also have a favourite song lyric wise or a specific lyric that you are really proud of? 

I think the song that is coming to my mind right now because of its lyrics is Villain. It’s the end of that chorus that says, “I throw myself right on your knife and I call you the villain.” Yeah, I like that one because I felt self-aware. You know, I felt like I wasn’t deluding myself in that one, which felt nice. It was grounding. I know this always results in me getting hurt and I keep going back. Why? Thankfully I don’t keep doing that because I wrote that song and I was like hm I’m also the problem. So that was that was helpful. 

Yeah, well, that song really hit me as well. Like the duality in the lyrics is so cool. Lastly, how are you going to celebrate the release. Anything planned? 

Uhm no there’s nothing solid planned yet. I’m probably going to do a lot of just like interacting with my listeners online, just thanking them for listening and getting excited with them. But part of me also wants to, like, fall off the grid for a week and just like, sit in a cabin by a river. I just really want to be off my phone, but I’ll find a time and a place for that you know. Maybe not release week. 

That sounds like a good idea at some point. Just a little retreat from everything. Thank you it was awesome to get some more insights from you and congratulations to your debut album coming out soon. 

Today Ashlynn Malias debut album MALIA is finally out.  I had the privilege of unravelling the layers of creativity and vulnerability that define this rising star in the dark pop scene. As I conclude this enchanting conversation with Ashlynn Malia, I find myself enriched by her candid revelations and a glimpse into the ethereal world she crafts through her music. From the deeply personal spoken word in “Avalanche” to the frustration-laden anthems like “Cool Girl,” Ashlynn Malia invites us to join her on a transformative journey through the highs and lows of existence.  

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