Interview by CA Marshall
Well we certainly feel that after reading this interview for our February 2016 Artist of the Month (AOM) Winner's Malaya that this is truly an ethical band who deserves not only a win but a definite place in our AOM Alumni. The fact that they worked as hard as they did to earn the votes from loyal friends and fans in the 11th hour of this competition speaks volumes of their determination, teamwork and positivity in spreading good cheer and good vibes to their top rival Kaylin Roberson (who held top place for most of the competition). In fact, only 5 votes apart in winning, it was so nice to see Malaya recognizing the dual accomplishment and then chose to share the win. Hats off to such a classy move!
Here is our intimate interview with the band about this win, their future goals, and thoughts on being our February 2016 AOM winners:
SMC - Hello Malaya! We would first off like to congratulate you on this epic win for the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) February 2016 Artist of the Month (AOM)! Can you tell us a little bit about your thoughts on this win?
MALAYA - Thank you, oh my gosh Thank You Starlight Music Chronicles!! Well it was an extremely close win, so for that we are truly thankful to everyone who supported us and kept going even after voting closed, lol. We are completely stoked for the opportunities to come following the win. We are very glad we are able to share the spotlight with Kaylin considering she too broke the voting record within the contest! It'll be cool getting to meet such an inspiring person, going thru everything she has and coming out stronger. We hope to inspire people along our journey as well.
SMC - We know that the voting throughout the competition and number were very tight between Malaya and Kaylin for the duration of this competition. How do you feel about your supporters in comparison to your competitions supporters for Kaylin Roberson?
Malaya - I think we answered above, lol all of that Love was and will be all-around!
SMC - So tell us in your words about your musical timeline, how the band came together and who plays which instruments?
MALAYA - Adam Irizarry (guitar) and Robin Lynn (vocals) just came out of working with another group when we found Daniel Reitmeyer (drums) on Craigslist. We immediately began writing and preparing to record, which we did just a few months later. Along the lines we met Daniel O'Neil who auditioned and filled the 2nd guitar position during recording. We shortly after met Clayton Prather (bass) who was in the drum line at USF. Before long, Malaya, recorded its first album, The Pieces That Make Us. Getting a local artist and fan to paint the album cover. After a couple years Daniel O'Neil parted ways from the band leaving it a quartet. Not long after Clayton would be graduating college and off to graduate school, so we began the search of another bass player. A friend informed me he knew someone who played guitar, and wanted to audition. Daniel MarcAntonio came to audition, and during this he mentioned that he had more experience playing bass then guitar. A couple weeks he sealed the deal and Malaya was officially ready to hit the road! We then began touring in THE GREEN LANTERN thru small portions in the East Coast, then next to the Mid East. During last spring we recorded our most recent EP, called "Pop Fiction", and set off on our most recent tour up the East Coast, and back down thru the Middle Eastern US.
SMC - What is the family support systems like for the band?
MALAYA - All of our family members have been really supportive, always offering a place to stay, free food and showers, and of course LAUNDRY! Which is big when you pack the way Robin does! They have been extremely helpful keeping us comfortable on the road.
SMC - How do you feel about your accomplishments at this time?
MALAYA - We are really proud of ourselves for sticking with it, and not giving up when things get bumpy. We all work full-time jobs by day and follow our dreams to be Rock Stars by night! I, Robin, had a pretty tough couple of years battling reflux, and I couldn't have done it without the support of the band. I feel that most people would have given up on me by now but they stuck by me and I couldn't be more thankful! So any progress we make feels extremely rewarding to share it.
SMC - Can you tell us about one of the most satisfying moments in your music careers to date?
MALAYA - We have had the opportunity to open for some pretty big artists, and we've gotten to play a few big venues. But really meeting Jeff our Manager at Frisc² Productions, has been a blessing, he has made such a difference in the band so far like giving us hope and helping get onto this competition in the first place. Now we get to travel internationally, which is something we are all SOO STOKED TO DO!
SMC - Where would you like to go with your career - meaning: What is important for you to personally accomplish as a band?
MALAYA - We would love to support ourselves comfortably playing music, as well as inspiring other people at the same time. It would feel like a solid win being able to do that and help our families out.
SMC - We love the camaraderie for the dual win for this month's competition. Can you tell us your thoughts about your decision to share first place?
MALAYA - It started with Jeff, our Manager, and us celebrating at 2 am!! We looked at the computer and it really hit, when we realized by just how close of a win we had! SMC announced that both artists broke the record of most votes during the contest. So we discussed how much that blows accomplishing then "losing" by such a small amount. We all agreed we should see if it was possible to share the spot. We felt she deserved it just as much as we did!
SMC - In the history of our AOM competition there have never been any two artists/bands that were actually only as little as five votes apart when the clock struck midnight. Were you or your family awake to see what was happening all the way to the end?
MALAYA - We all had work the next morning, and to say the least we are all pretty competitive. So the week prior to our win, we were talking about how we can get more votes. So we posted to our facebook pages, and sent out personal messages to friends and family! As we were getting down to the wire Robin told Jeff "Oh, we're gonna do this!!"(all for one). So we gave it our best effort and the day before and the day of, we sat on our computers and started personally messaging people all over facebook. Needless to say we went bug-eyed messaging people 'til we won!
SMC - Does the band have any associations with charities and if so, what is the level of involvement?
MALAYA - We work at schools for kids with special needs, so we're associated with the events that the school has held, playing at it and such.
SMC - We often hear how music has saved many people whether they are a fan or an Artist. How has music helped the band grow as a collective?
MALAYA - At the beginning we started out as your typical musician, "I wanna write music for me". As time passed, playing for our fans and new followers, we realized how much we wanted to play for people, and to give them music that they want to listen to. We wanted to entertain, relate, and be role models for friends and fans! To inspire not only the people dreaming and but to show them it’s never too late to follow your heart.
SMC - Who among your music peer group do you admire?
MALAYA - We feel that Malaya is not just a band. We come with the whole package (family, friends, fans for being there for us always and truly getting our backs), they are who we deeply admire!
SMC - If you could do a collaboration with your dream Artist(s), who would that be?
MALAYA - Wow, that's tough haha. Hmm, there's Yellowcard, Stevie Wonder, A day to Rememeber, Led Zepplin, Paramore, Randy Rhoads, PVRIS, Michael Jackson, Zakk Wylde (just off the top of our heads).
SMC - What does the next six months look like for career plans?
MALAYA - Hopefully onward and upward, that's the plan anyhow! We see ourselves doing a couple more tours, music fests, a music video, and well getting to see California, and Canada for the first time ever!!
SMC- What have been some of the challenges you have faced in the industry and how did you overcome them?
MALAYA - Unfortunately, as a band starting off, you don't get to play at the best venues. You don't always get a hard working Manager, or a decent Booking Agent. So having to do all of that yourself is pretty exhausting. We booked 3 solid, 3 week tours ourselves, then paid $150 in tolls at one time (CRAZY)! But you start to learn as time goes on, what's good and what's not. People are always trying to get you to "pay-to-play", but that's a NO, so we studied more ways to gain better shows. Then we worked really hard to keep going and going.
SMC - What has been your most flattering 'fan' moment to date?
MALAYA - At a few of our more recent shows, we've had people coming up, taking our picture, asking for autographs, and really just being excited to meet us. As well as walking around Citrus Park Mall, and people being like, "Hey, are you in a band?" Then we're like yea, 'Malaya'. And they go "OMG, we've been to your show, you guys are awesome!" I later went home and cried myself to sleep with joy! Kinda kidding, lol but seriously it's really humbling to have people like what you’re doing!
SMC - Are there any venues the band loves to perform at?
MALAYA - The State Theater in St Pete is a pretty awesome venue, it’s a big venue for smaller acts to really gain experience and a chance to prove themselves. Plus, the people that help run it, J and Patty are totally sweet!
SMC - Where has the band performed to date?
MALAYA - Well that's a list! Cities played: Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Panama City, Gainesville, S and N Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Philly, NY, Cincinnati, Nashville, Memphis, Michigan, Chicago, Little Rock, all over Texas, New Orleans and more.
SMC - Any interesting stories about live performances?
MALAYA - Well we like creating memes out of the funny pictures from our shows. At the "Warped Tour" someone took a horrible photo of us looking like we were on the brink of death. It was hot as can be, we were in this dome like thing with no fans or anything. All the equipment was like spewing fire, and we were in the middle of recording so we were staying up late all week, and tired. On top of all that, we drank 5 hour energy drinks like "cracking us out" for a hot minute and as we're lugging our stuff for a mile. But it was still SO MUCH FUN! lol
SMC - Rumor has it you are going to be attending the Starlight Music Concert in June for Morgan's Mission (www.morgansmission,ca) what are your thoughts on MM?
MALAYA - It hits close to home, being bullied as a child, and luckily having people to lean on and help me thru it. The old saying words don't hurt definitely implied to the literal sense, because unfortunately they do. But growing up into adulthood, and working with young adults with special needs gives us a chance to help others get thru the hard times and teaches them to stand up for themselves and for others. We want to be influential and hopefully we're being role models for others not to Bully as well.
SMC - In correlation to the last question, can you tell us what it means to support organizations that deal with something as serious as Teen Suicide Awareness?
MALAYA - Your teens are a hard time in your life, especially during these times. Your hormones and anxiety seems at an all time high. Your mind and body is ever-changing, and you're still trying to figure out who you are and who you want to be. So to have the chance to show them that there are loving and caring people there for them to help along the way is very rewarding. Life is really important, you only get one, so don't waste it!
SMC - Final question and we always like to ask this of all of our Artists because each answer is so diverse: if you could give advice to anyone starting a career in the music industry, what would that be?
MALAYA - Well first thing I'd say, if you’re in it, you're in it for the long haul! It’s going to be an uphill battle, don't dream and forget to live though. Practice A LOT, because there is no such thing as perfect. Stay modest and stay true to yourself, friends, and family. Watch what you sign!!! Get a lawyer before signing a contract, there are too many problems that can happen along the way. Also, even if you're playing some rinky dink venue, have them sign an electronic contract regarding payments. And last but not least, "If you think you can, you will, if you think you can’t, you won’t".
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