Manchester-based Mali Hayes is a fast-rising neo-soul artist who already knows exactly where she’d headed.
Her sound whips up hip-hop, alt R&B and jazz into a forward-thinking new minimal soul template, which is like little else out there.
Born to a producer mother and singer father, things first got serious for Mali back in 2016, when she joined Gilles Peterson and Brownswood Studios’ Future Bubblers talent discovery programme.
Since then, she’s received Help Musicians UK backing, performed alongside Bubblers’ equals Elsa Hewitt and Lewis Ashley, and recently opened for Tokio Myers and Will Heard.
We spend 30 seconds with her has she gears up for slots at the upcoming Great Escape, Soundwave and Outlook festivals…
What was the first song you developed an obsession for?
Apparently it was Shit, Damn, Motherfucker by D’Angelo, so my mum tells me. I always used to ask for it to be played in the car! It’s still one of my favourites now! (Any D’Angelo song is my favourite to be totally honest!)
What’s the first gig you went to?
The first ever gig I went to see was the Spice Girls with my mum – I’m super excited and slightly embarrassed to admit that I’m kinda excited if they do this reunion that’s being talked about! (guilty pleasure)
What’s the first instrument you ever got hold of?
My nan Nini taught me to play piano from a young age. She was a classical pianist. I’d go to her’s multiple times a week for lessons and she’d always make the best ever chocolate cake for afterwards!
What is your worst musical habit?
My worst musical habit has to be not finishing songs. I have so many unfinished lyrics and ideas that just get left behind because I get excited about something new.
What’s the best piece of musical advice you’ve ever been given?
I can’t think of one piece of advice that’s really stuck with me if I’m honest. I think I’ve learnt more from music itself – to just be authentic. I can’t try to be anything else that what I am, nor can my music be anything different to what just comes out!
Where do you discover new music?
I discover a lot of new music via NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts! I love them – it’s on my bucket list of things to do!
What’s your favourite venue?
It has to be the Jazz Cafe in London. I’ve seen a handful of great gigs there, absolute legendary artists and bands have played there and when I had the opportunity to play there, it was such an honour and a special moment I’ll always remember!
Who is your current favourite band/artist?
This is the hardest question to ever ask a musician/music lover! I go through so many phases of listening to the same artist over and over and it’ll change within a week or so. So currently I’m going to say Mac Ayers!
What inspirations outside of music impact your songwriting?
Absolutely everything! I know that’s very general, but anything I go through or encounter can impact what I write about. I think that’s the beauty of music making is it can be about carrots if you wanted it to, but you could be clever about it and no one would know!
What track of yours best represents your sound?
I think my single Hate On Me best represents who I am as an artist. The sound created is what I love and what I would choose to listen to. The subject also just came straight from the heart – so it can’t help but represent who I am!
What’s next for you?
Lots and lots of writing and gigs! Over the next few months I’ll be supporting Jamila Woods, Elli Ingram, playing The Great Escape Festival and others to be announced which I’m SO excited about!