There are many ways you could describe DMZ co-founder, Deep Medi boss and all-round legendary guy Mark ‘Mala‘ Lawrence. The embodiment of dubstep in its finest form? Yep. One of the greatest producers bass music has ever seen? Yep. We could go on. And on. There are many accolades we could use – but at the end of the day they’re just words that aren’t needed. Mala’s music does the talking so we don’t have to…
“Obviously, in the music itself you have certain dark sounds. They are not dark in the sense of “evil” or “menacing”, but they are serious. I think that’s where you find the meditation, because – although it’s obviously designed for a big sound system, it’s one of the types of music you can listen to on different levels. But I think you can take it or leave it.”
For most of us, the story started with Digital Mystikz.
Mala co-founded the now revered imprint in 2004 with Loefah and Coki, after cutting his teeth on releases under the same name on South London’s dubstep label Big Apple Records (the first imprint to release what would become known as ‘dubstep’). As Mala once said in an interview with Red Bull Music Academy: “It wasn’t really until 2002 that I decided to buy some studio monitors, to take music seriously”.
Alongside the music, the producers/ label collective were responsible for bringing the sound to the mainstream’s attention with the events. We’ve not had a DMZ in London for a few years now, but if the most recent one was anything to go by, the hunger for seeing Mala, Loefah and Coki together under one roof is as big as it ever was.
While we’ve come to call this genre dubstep, mainly for lack of a better term, Mala (and the rest of the Mystikz) suggest we should do otherwise:
“As a producer or a listener you’re not confined to certain limitations in your mind, and now dubstep has seem to have become something, it seems that we’ve come to the sense that if it does not tick this box or that box it’s not dubstep. I don’t really know what dubstep is, so for me it’s just that I’ll keep doing what I’m doing regardless of anyone else.”
It’s this last statement that defines Mala’s range of productions.
Although committed to the 140-ish tempo, his music ranges from the dub-inspired (see Anti-War Dub or Alicia) to the dark but energetic, melancholic space sounds (Eyez or Blue Notez) to the adventurously experimental (Curfew).
“I suppose I could go further into the spirituality thing, but I think people should take what they want from the music. If people – whatever they may believe in or not believe in – feel about it in a certain way – as long as it’s positive, that’s what it’s about for me! That’s why I say meditate, because when it comes to our dance, that’s what I want people to do. I want it to be a positive meditation. I’m not into no madness, man!”
While the roots of the Mala sound lie in jungle, they mix with everything else you’d experience during a multicultural London upbringing. It’s this melting pot that results in what Mala calls a “London Dub”. It’s a culmination of roots and cultures, experiences and lifetimes created by a number of producers – but it wouldn’t have happened in the way it did without this south London producer.
Call it what you want, but neither we nor dubstep would be here today without Mala and his music.
Click to DOWNLOAD (74MB)
- Johnny Clark vs Mala – Sinners [Ringo Recordings, 2009]
- Mala (Digital Mystikz) – Education [DMZ, 2010]
- Mala – Miracles [Deep Medi, 2008]
- Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry vs Digital Mystikz – Like The Way You Should (Mala remix) [On-U Sound, 2011]
- Mala – Left Leg Out [DMZ, 2006]
- Mala (Digital Mystikz) – City Cycle [Tectonic, 2010]
- Mala (Digital Mystikz) – Eyez [DMZ, 2010]
- Mala – Changuito [Brownswood, 2012]
- Mala (Digital Mystikz) – Explorer [Monkeytown Records, 2010]
- Mala (Digital Mystikz) – Return II space [DMZ, 2010]
- Mala (Digital Mystikz) – Anti War Dub [DMZ, 2006]
Many thanks to Mr. Mt for putting #5 together
Quotes included from a 2006 Zoopersound interview here
Big love to Dubbacle for his help in putting this article together
30 minutes of Bass education #6 will follow in two weeks – find the previous mixes here.