We are thrilled to announce the release of “Vibe,” the latest EP from Malek Ales. Malek’s artistic journey with our label has been a remarkable one, marked by growth, exploration, and a shared passion for pushing boundaries.
Throughout our nearly five-year collaboration, Malek has consistently impressed us with his exceptional performances and unwavering dedication to his craft. From his groundbreaking debut album, “Photon,” to his remixes and riveting sets on Plazma Podcast, he has firmly established himself as a force to be reckoned with, both within our label and the wider techno realm. Malek’s integrity and unwavering dedication have firmly cemented his position as a cherished resident artist at Plazma, and we couldn’t be prouder to have him as an integral part of our label’s family.
In August 2022, during the release of his groundbreaking “Photon” EP, we had the privilege of sitting down with Malek Ales to delve deep into his personal story. We uncovered his humble beginnings in music production, the exhilaration of his first DJ debut, and the intricacies of his technical setup for both live performances and studio work.
Now, as we embark on a profound exploration of Malek Ales’ artistic path, we invite you to join us on a voyage through his creative process, philosophical insights, and the meticulous craftsmanship that went into the creation of his newest “Vibe” EP. So, without further ado, let the journey begin!
How do you approach the production process in the studio? What type of sound do you aim for in your music?
When I’m in the studio, I avoid dwelling on the intended audience or purpose of the track. Instead, I focus on simple guidelines such as whether it should have a more song-like quality or be geared towards the dance floor. I aim for a loopy, minimalistic, dark, and repetitive sound that still carries energy for the dance floor. I simply jam and make sketches to see where it takes me. Later on, I give some structure to the loops and delve into technical aspects of the sound.
I love my tracks to be playable and layered, usable in different ways for various scenarios. If someone enjoys only the low end, that’s perfectly fine, and they are free to use just that. This is why I enjoy producing track-type arrangements, as they align with how I play with my Model 1, utilizing parts of tracks and layering them in different sections to create something special.
Can you elaborate on whether the approach you took for the Vibe EP aligns with your typical creative process? Additionally, did you have any specific intentions or goals in mind while crafting these tracks?
My approach with the Vibe EP was similar. As I usually do, I tried to build around a hook or a lead element and then follow the energy by adding and subtracting elements throughout the duration of the track. Nothing too extravagant, just the usual process a producer goes through.
The main goal behind the Vibe EP was to maintain repetitiveness with the elements I used, aiming to achieve a sense of hypnosis. I avoided complicating things with big breaks or build-ups, staying focused on the main instruments and building around them in a minimalistic fashion.
I experimented with effects like different reverbs and their parameters such as decays or pre-delays, as well as delays. These foundational elements allowed me to delve deep without the need for fancy effects. While breaks still occur, they are controlled and in context, serving to manipulate energy and create tension and release.
The Vibe EP isn’t a concept release; it serves as a tool to evoke different moods like tension, relaxation, fluidity, and darkness.
How do you craft and manage arrangements in your music production process?
In terms of arrangements, I strive to maintain high energy throughout the entirety of each track while still providing some structure. In the future, I plan to strip down the arrangements even further and shorten the duration. In the current fast-paced times we live in, there is no room for slow build-ups anymore. Everything needs to hit straight to the point. This type of music allows me to save valuable studio time while still enjoying the process of creating music and performing live, which I find incredibly important.
What equipment and techniques do you use to enhance the sound quality of your tracks?
All tracks are enriched with preamps like Neve or Api, often multiple times, early in the production process. Once I’m satisfied with the sound of individual tracks, they get summed using the Model 1 for an extra touch of analog warmth.
My goal is to produce music that resonates with the dance floor, while also ensuring that listeners can appreciate the tracks whether they’re driving in their cars or enjoying them at home with headphones.
Based on what you’ve previously mentioned, would it be accurate to say that your focus in production is not primarily on storytelling, but rather on the physical experience and energy of the music? We’re interested to hear your insights and thoughts on the role of storytelling in Minimal/Techno music.
While it’s always nice to have a story attached to the music you’re creating, allowing people to connect with it on a deeper level, it’s not always the case. Sometimes, I find myself simply jamming and having fun with the sounds, whether they come from machines or the computer, and it takes me on a journey that becomes a story in itself.
However, there are instances when I do have a specific feeling or mood in mind for a track, especially when I want it to fit within a particular time frame in a mix. These considerations are present, but I try not to let them interfere too much with the creative process. For me, it’s challenging to make intentional music by saying, “Okay, I’m writing a hit now.” That kind of approach doesn’t work—at least not for me—as it creates unnecessary pressure.
In the end, it boils down to simple factors: Do I like what I’m hearing from the speakers? Does it ignite something within me? Can I envision living with that track for the rest of my life? If not, I’m willing to start the creative process all over again.
Techno music can create transformative and immersive experiences for both the artist and the audience. From a philosophical perspective, how do you view the role of music in expanding consciousness or facilitating personal growth and introspection?
My vision has always been to create something entirely new, fresh, and original. I aim to create a musical experience that leaves people on the dance floor in a state of awe, wondering, “What just happened?” I want them to leave the party feeling immensely happy and excited, just as I did when I first started attending parties 20 years ago. Essentially, I strive to recreate those same feelings and emotions I experienced, allowing others to share in the profound impact that music had on me.
From a broader perspective, I believe techno music has the potential to evoke profound emotions and states of consciousness. It can serve as a catalyst for personal growth and introspection, opening up new realms of understanding and self-discovery.
Many DJs and producers find inspiration in unconventional sources or non-musical elements. Is there anything outside the realm of music that has significantly influenced your creative process or artistic vision?
For me, there’s a deep-seated need to express myself artistically through music, almost on a spiritual level. On the other hand, I’m also a passionate sports enthusiast, and I find that physical expression is equally important. That’s where martial arts and football come into play for me.
When it comes to inspiration, I don’t require much external stimulation, and there isn’t a specific conscious influence that stands out above others. It’s not necessarily other artists’ music that inspires me the most, and it doesn’t have to be limited to techno. Lately, I’ve discovered that trap music provides a super chill vibe that acts as a counterbalance to the energetic nature of techno, and I find it resonates with me on a different level.
So basically, the combination of my artistic expression through music and my physical outlet through sports creates a dynamic and balanced source of inspiration for my creative process and artistic vision.
How do you navigate the balance between artistic expression and meeting the demands of the industry, such as staying relevant or satisfying audience expectations? How do you maintain your artistic integrity while still adapting to the ever-changing techno landscape?
In the past, I used to struggle with this balance between my artistic needs and industry standards. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to embrace it and understand its significance. I always strive to stay at the forefront of the game by adapting quickly, which is crucial in today’s fast-paced industry.
I draw inspiration from pioneers like Richie Hawtin, who has undergone multiple transformations and managed to stay relevant for longer than his fans have been around. This mindset of longevity has been ingrained in me since my first release on Beatport back in 2011, and it constantly drives me.
There’s nothing wrong with striving to stay relevant and adjusting to the current scene, as long as you infuse your music with your own unique essence. In fact, I believe it’s the way to go. It’s essential to adapt on all levels, not just musically, and I don’t see any conflict in doing so.
Reinventing myself as an artist has become a personal challenge that extends beyond music. It has influenced my growth as a person, a father, and more. I believe that once you halt the progress and growth in any aspect of life, you begin to decline. Therefore, I see maintaining artistic integrity and evolving as an artist as an ongoing journey of personal and professional development.
How do you perceive the role of techno music in promoting connection and community, both within and beyond the dancefloor, as it transcends boundaries and nurtures a collective sense of unity?
Techno music plays a vital role in fostering connection and community, not only within the confines of the dancefloor but also beyond it.
As long as we remain respectful to one another and actively nurture our scene, the potential for magic and positive impact, both on the dancefloor and in our lives, is boundless.
The techno industry has experienced significant growth and changes over the years. From your perspective, how has the industry evolved, and what are some positive or negative aspects you’ve observed throughout your journey as an artist?
Techno music is an ever-evolving force that continues to expand and grow. As time passes, new generations of music enthusiasts join the scene while older ravers retire, creating a natural cycle of change.
In the midst of this constant transformation, my vision remains clear, and I have no intentions of fading away anytime soon. After being a part of the scene for so long, I feel that now is the time for me to shine and make my mark. I strive to embrace every moment and derive as much joy as possible from my journey as an artist.
Amidst the excitement and energy, my focus remains on personal and artistic development. I have set my sights on long-term goals, seeking to continuously refine my craft and explore new avenues of creativity.
Lastly, can you share any insights into your future plans or projects? Are there any specific directions or new approaches you are excited to explore in your upcoming music? What are your aspirations and objectives as a DJ, looking ahead?
In terms of releases, I aim to create around 10-15 tracks per year that I feel are ready for release. However, this number is flexible and subject to change. Generally, I find that having 2-3 releases per year is a good balance. Additionally, I have noticed a trend towards single releases, which I believe can be beneficial to focus on in the future.
In terms of my music, I am looking to delve deeper into a more playable-focused, stripped-down, and minimalistic techno sound. This is a direction I am particularly drawn to because I thoroughly enjoy performing. I envision my future sound to be slightly darker and more intense, exploring edgier and grittier elements.
In addition to producing music, my objective is to perform as much as possible, traveling and playing gigs all over the world. Connecting with audiences and sharing my music live is an experience that I deeply cherish.
As for upcoming releases, my EP titled “Vibe” just released on Plazma Records. It features four powerful tracks that I’m excited to share with my listeners. Furthermore, on June 23rd, I have another release on Eclipse Recording, featuring two deep and immersive techno tracks. Looking ahead to July, I have a three-track release on Trapez, showcasing my evolving style. Additionally, I have a VA (Various Artists) release planned for the summer on AXTX, a minimal-focused label.
With a busy and exciting couple of months ahead, I am fully committed to my craft and eager to explore new avenues of sound and performance.