Impact is a series that's dedicated to profiling raw talent that's about to turn dance music on its head. Next up: Mall Grab
Mall Grab came out of nowhere to become one of the most talked about artists of the past 12 months. His lo-fi jams have struck a chord with the emerging hazy house scene that has seen labels such as Lobster Theremin and 1080p rise to prominence, and his playful online presence has made him an engaging, if at times divisive, artist in a field of often sterile social media updates.
The 22 year-old, real name Jordon Alexander, hails from Newcastle in Australia’s New South Wales state. He first got into music through the records his parents would play by bands like The Cure, The Clash and Talking Heads, and he still counts David Byrne among his biggest musical influences, also noting that, “I think his sense of humour aligns with mine quite well too.” An interest in dance music flourished in his teenage years as the Ed Banger crew developed into a movement, and he became a self-confessed “total wannabe electro teen DJ.”
By the time his debut release landed in May last year his interest had shifted into dustier sounds, with a four-track EP of late-night, low-slung house titled ‘Feel U’ arriving through Canadian imprint Collect-Call. Despite it being the label’s first release from an unknown newcomer, the record was an instant hit, selling out its limited run of 250 copies and now shifting on Discogs for prices as high as £93.
Spurred on by the success, Mall Grab went into overdrive, minting a second label in 6 months with his ‘Alone’ EP, which marked the launch of Bristol-based imprint Shall Not Fade in early December, and also being tapped for a release by scene tastemakers 1080p.
Entering 2016 he’s shown no signs of slowing down. Further releases have come through Church, Hokkaido Dance Club and Unknown To The Unknown, the latter showcasing a harder-faced side to the producer. And last month he founded his own label Steel City Dance Discs with a 12” fronted with the Kanye West-sampling gospel house cut ‘Father’.
Meanwhile, under the radar, a slew of edits of classic hip hop and r’n’b tunes from the likes of Craig David and 50 Cent have surfaced, featuring prominently his exultantly fun sets that have made Mall Grab a must-see selector. Check out an exclusive mix and Q+A below.
You’ve released on a number of imprints based in Canada and the UK, which are arguably the epicentre countries of the hazy, lo-fi house scene that’s bubbling. How did it feel to get picked up by so many cool labels in such a short space of time?
It's a really great feeling. I'm so happy to be a part of a repertoire of talented artists. I think for the most part, successful musicians in the dance music scene are really supportive of one another, which is great.
It’s been a relentless release schedule so far. Are you going to keep this up?
I make a lot of music in my spare time, so it doesn't seem relentless to me. I'm constantly experimenting and trying new things, so I'm just trying to get stuff out so people can hear it and hoping they enjoy it. It's all so new to me still so I'm so grateful that I can make a living doing what I love and being able to travel and meet new people – It's so inspiring.
I've got a lot of stuff coming up that is in a similar vein to my old music but always with a new twist, I think. Besides what's already locked in, I'm working on an LP that is more 'musical' than dancefloor orientated. I'm really just constantly trying to become a better producer and learn as much as possible. I would really love to work with session musicians and more vocalists in the future to give it a bit more soul, if that makes sense. I've played bass on several tracks and remixes and I would love to learn more keys but I think working with musicians would get me to see that talent at its rawest.
The Max Graef band and Harvey Sutherland's Bermuda are two of my favourite acts at the moment. The imperfections of the live instrumentation are what give the music it's warmness and charm.