Interview and Photos by Yising Kao
Growing up in Hawaii and Las Vegas and now living in Los Angeles, Malia Civetz graduated from USC’s Thornton School of Music and released her first single, “Champagne Clouds,” in 2017. Since then, she has released more soulful singles such as “Heart Broke” and “Broke Boy.” She has played multiple shows and toured with R&B artist JoJo, growing a large and dedicated audience. With her powerful vocals, confidence, and a bit of sassiness, Warner Records artist Malia Civetz recently released her debut EP, The Flip!
Listen to The Flip! https://maliacivetz.lnk.to/TheFlip
Congrats on releasing your new EP, The Flip, and signing with Warner Records! What inspired the theme of your EP? Did you plan it out before making the album or did it come all together during the recording process?
Thank you! It had always been something that I lived by in a way. When I make music, I think of a concept and from my own perspective, it’s generally a flip of whatever that concept is. So, songs like “Broke Boy,” you would think that it would be a negative song but I was like, “Lets put a positive twist on “Broke Boy” and give the broke boy some love,” and with songs like “The High,” you would assume it’s a happy song but it’s like “I don't know if love is worth the come down from the high,” so it’s that kind of theme pretty much throughout the whole EP. And it kind of came together as we were writing the songs and I was driving one day, and I was thinking of how all of the songs could interweave and that title just popped into my head.
Your single “Broke Boy” is featured in the Unpregnant movie, which is awesome! What drew you to working with the film?
They actually reached out to me because they wanted to use “Broke Boy” and I was so incredibly excited especially given the subject matter of the movie and that it deals with women’s rights and women’s healthcare ‘cause all of that is really important to me, so I was honestly just honored that they asked me to be a part of it.
Yung Baby Tate is featured on your song “Love Thing” – how did this collaboration come about?
We knew we wanted a female rapper on the song, so we were looking through a bunch of different people and I have to give credit to my A&R, Sarah, who introduced me to Yung Baby Tate’s music and after I started listening through her stuff, I just fell in love and thought she was the dopest. So we sent it off to her and she sent a verse back and we were like, “Great, that’s the one!” She’s absolutely incredible and all of the harmonize that she added just really made the song for me.
Yeah, you guys sound perfect together!
Thank you we really had fun with it.
Your song “Disrespectful” and the lyric video for it have some 80s pop vibes that give off a really energetic dance beat! What was the inspiration behind this production process?
Honestly, it was one of those things where we were in the room and Alesso was like “Yo, what do we think of an 80s vibe?” And so, I was like, “Ok!” He started messing around with the production and then it landed where it was and the music and the lyrics kind of happened separately from the production. We went back and forth, and we thought about topics and I had just recently had an experience like that, so I drew on the feeling of being hit on by somebody who’s taken.
You collaborate with a lot of other songwriters such as Jacob Kasher Hindlin, Nathan Fertig, and more. What’s your collaborative songwriting process like and how is it working with a variety of songwriters compared to just working with one person?
I'm a really collaborative person and also a very social person so I like having more people in the room. I think 4 or 5 is the max I’ve ever done but I think there's a really sweet spot between having 3 or 4 people to collaborate with.
I was watching your YouTube videos and I love how you always give the songwriters you work with credit because I haven’t seen a lot of artists do that.
It’s really important to me to give songwriters credit because without them, there is no music industry. They create the songs that fuel record labels and artists, so I think it’s really important to give them the credit that they deserve. I credit Ross Golan for just fighting for the rights of songwriters. So, I want to do everything I can to follow in his footsteps and continue to fight for the rights of the incredible musicians who make this industry possible.
Your live performances are always incredible, and I love how confident you are on stage! What do you do to prepare for a show and what’s your favorite part of performing?
To prepare for a show, I make sure that every time I have a show, I do some cardio at some point during the day just to get my body moving. I drink a ton of water the day before and the day of. And then, I mean obviously, I love makeup so getting ready is a favorite part for me. But there's something about the moment right before you get on stage. ‘Cause I'm always still a little nervous just because I want to be good, you know. I’ll be in the wings and like the first couple of songs where you get into the groove of what you're doing, I think it’s a really special moment because it feels new every time.
Since you’ve graduated from USC’s Popular Music program, what are some things you’ve learned from the program or college in general that helped you grow as an artist?
I think work ethic is huge especially in the Pop program because you're so busy all the time and everybody is encouraged to do their work for class but then form your own band and work in your own groups, and there are solo artists and all that. So, you really learn time management ‘cause there's so much going on. I think one of my favorite things that I learned from USC was when Smoky Robinson came to our Forum class and we all got to ask him questions. One of my favorite answers was when he said, “No matter where you are in the industry or whatever point you get to, there's nobody who ever gets better than a human being,” like we’re all human beings so make sure to treat each other as such. Coming from somebody who is so successful, I think that was really beautiful and he’s seen it all, so I always keep that with me.
Since releasing your first single, “Champagne Clouds,” how has your journey been with finding your style and what creative direction you wanted to follow?
It’s been a journey of just kind of throwing stuff at the wall and creating pretty much everything because I like writing everything. It was a ton of music making. I have probably 200 songs in my Dropbox where I was like, “Ok, let’s see what happens here!” And we kind of found a sound that was a Pop/Soul/Vintage vibe that I really, really enjoy and it feels authentic to me. Because I love writing all kinds of music and so I’m happy that I do get to write for other artists as well. But it’s nice to find that niche where you feel like you belong.
You definitely have a unique brand and it’s really cool to see!
That means a lot, thank you!
Rapid Fire Questions
Last album you listened to?
American Idiot by Green Day.
Favorite song to perform?
It’s a song that’s of now, unreleased, called Sugar daddy and it’s just cheeky and fun and really fun to dance to, and me and my drummer go ham when we play it.
I love hearing that live!
It’s one of my favorites and all of my friends’ favorites. We joke that it’s my “Come to Brazil” because every time I release new music there will always be somebody in the comments who’s like, “Where’s ‘Sugar Daddy?’”
I try to go to all the “boujie” coffee shops around here like Alfred and Intelligentsia, but I'm a cold brew girl. I used to do cold brew with almond milk but now I think I'm just cold brew straight.
Favorite hobby other than making music?
I really love cooking and baking; I’ve been making hummus. Spending time with friends isn't a hobby but I have really dope friends so it’s kind of can be!
One place you want to travel to?
There’s so many places I want to travel to but I’m part Irish and basically a mutt of Europe, so I really want to go to Ireland because it’s so green and pretty, and who doesn’t love castles?