Boy have I been looking forward to sending this multi-talented genius some questions. The best thing I can do at one given time is probably pat my head and rub my tummy. Oliver Malcolm manages to write, perform, direct, produce and make all of his own cover art from start to finish; creating music and visuals that stand to battle the mediocre.
His sheer intricacy intrigues me. How can a man of such age be so wildly creative? His music punches you in the gut, turns you over erratically, and then spits you back out on your feet wondering how you got there in the first place. Like films, I love a tune that genuinely takes me by surprise – Oliver could easily be the Tarintino of today’s sleepless generation.
Let’s get into the interview.
To begin. What does the intro to Helen say? One of my flat mates reckon it says ‘we ra shamalu’, and we’ve got a healthy competition going.
Yo! I have no clue what it says. So I’m sorry I can’t help in your competition. But if you want to hear the original sample clearer to decide for yourselves go listen – it’s called Hog Calling Blues by Charles Mingus. You’re gonna have to settle the debate for yourselves.
What gives you straight-up joy?
Being with my family, making music, listening to music.
What vision do you have for your music career?
I don’t really have a vision for my music career as such. I have a vision for my personal life and however music plays a part in that I’d say is more up to fate than it’s up to me. All I can do is make the best music I can, stay excited, and keep wanting to create and innovate.
Any New Zealand artists you’re a fan of?
I don’t really know any New Zealand artists currently, but if there’s anyone you’d recommend I’d love to check them out!
Your music videos are genuinely incredible. Can you talk through how you came up with those kinds of creatives?
Thank you! In the song ‘Switched Up’ I was portraying the idea of desolation and solace. So I wanted to translate this when it came to the video and I felt like a cold harsh environment like the snowy field depicted in the video really drove that home. The ‘Helen’ music video was originally intended to have a narrative through-line in it, but once I looked back through all the footage I decided to get creative with it and slice it up, chop it up, and remix the video in a way which created a new narrative. Going into it blindly and having it come out the way it did was a fun experience. I was quite happy with how it came out in the end.
What’s your usual day like?
I wake up, put on some music straight away, make myself some tea, have a bit of breakfast and then get to making music. And I pretty much make music all day. Then in the evening I like to paint and listen to more music before I go to sleep.
My favourite line written on your ‘Helen’ shirt was ‘We all evaporate so what are you scared of’. What’s the story behind this costume?
I wanted to step it up from the ‘Switched Up’ suit and I have other items of clothing which I’ve drawn on and spray painted on. I quite regularly do that when I get bored of a piece of clothing I have. I just start turning it into an art piece and people will say “hey that’s a cool new thing you’ve bought” and I’ll be like nah it’s the same thing as last week I just painted on it.
I first thought what colors Helen sounded like and it gave me more blacks and reds and yellows which are kind of my favourite colours anyway, so I just thought “if I write loads of words and sentences on a white suit that it would look kind of fire” and it turned out cool. So thank you for paying attention to it!
The Dark Knight! Amazing film and Heath Ledger is just- every single scene is captivating. Every single scene he’s in is just iconic. I don’t watch movies more than once; The Dark Knight I’ve probably seen… bruv… over 20- over 30 times. I even go on YouTube and just watch his scenes in the movie. Swear down I just go on and there’s compilations of just his scenes and every few months I’ll go watch those videos.
If we took a peek at your old school reports. What would they say?
They’d say “Oliver is a bright, intelligent boy… but he talks too much”
Is there an element of music-making you like the most?
No. I love it all.
If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
Hmm. I’d probably be studying history. I’d either be studying history or I’d be an actor.
Your 3 most recently played songs on Spotify?
– Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey
– 50 Cent – My Gun Go Off
– Kevin Rudolf – Let It Rock ft Lil Wayne
What’s been your most bizarre life experience?
This one time I was in Hollywood at night trying to find the apartment of this girl I’m gonna link with. It was 1am in the morning, I’m stood at the edge of this alley, and some guy is stood at the opposite end of the alley looking at me… and he started putting on black gloves! I knew something was up. I pull my phone out and he proceeds to try to rob me. I started running. I run like 20 meters or something and take a breath like “damn that was close” and I look behind me and he’s like 2 meters behind me sprinting! I start really bolting it. He chases me all the way up the street, I’m thinking in my head “what to do??” I’m running and there’s no cars around except this one small car stopped at a red light and I run up to it to try to get help and it’s a little old lady… I decide not to involve her and I’m running and finally I turn left into a pizza shop around the corner and lose him.
Who’s a couple of artists you’d love to work with?
I’d love to work with Dr. Dre & Kendrick Lamar.
Helen is my mum’s name. Not a question, just a statement. She’s added ‘Helen’ to her ‘morning chill’ playlist. She’s a vibe. Can we give her a shout out?
Shout out Helen! Thank you for adding the song Helen to your morning playlist! I hope it gives you a good start to your day.
Oliver has just released his new single The Machine which came out July 15. Check it out!