Interview: ‘The Man Behind Mally’

Mixtape Madness

By Mixtape Madness

Mixtape Madness

12 Feb 2021

When many hear the name House of Pharaohs, they think of the entity consisting of Sam Wise, Blaze, Bandanna, Kevin Taylor, AJ and Danny Stern. The faces of the collective who regularly bring those super dynamic records and memorable high-energy live shows (before times got a little bit weird). But House of Pharaohs is not just the group, it is the collective including those behind the scenes such as Glo, the in-house manager, and the creative heads made up of Terry and Mally. Now Mally, an original House of Pharaohs member, who is a creative on paper, is actually a really flipping sick rapper, too.

Following the release of his ‘Storm’ project in 2020, Mally’s overall streaming numbers have soared, with his Spotify amassing over 600,000 plays and over 76,000 on Apple. With 2021 well underway, Mally returns with brand-new body of work ‘Arkade’ – drawing on his introspective creativity that takes nothing as inspiration. Ahead of the release of ‘Arkade’, finding Mally’s enigmatic personality intriguing, we got the conversations flowing and well, now it’s for your eyes.

Before you read on, a piece of gold that came from our chat was the quote “You’re only as good as your last fight”, a famous saying from UFC and he uses it in relation to work ethic and quality. Now you just know the levels of the new tape ‘Arkade’.  

‘Arkade’ is the epitome of conceptualisation and deeper thinking. From the initial moment of hearing the name, I had my own interpretation as to why it was named this. At first, I was a tiny bit off the scent, but not far off. Elements of Mally’s rationale soon connected the dots for me. Mally explains “It’s a play on two separate words, rolled into one. ‘Ark’ is a representation of ‘Archangel’ so being saved, and being helped, but also getting looked after”. In addition to that point, he leads on to align with more connotations stemming from ‘Ark’. “There’s Noah’s Ark too. It was a safe haven that anyone could come to, no matter shape, size, skin colour, this is a place for all to come to. It’s something similar to what Travis Scott did with ‘Astroworld’. Then the ‘arcade’ aspect of the project title is more synonymous with gaming. But not like an arcade game. The aspect I’ve taken from it is levelling, the journey. There’s different levels, different sounds, different things to see as you go from stage to stage”.

Music is such an elaborate world. There’s freedom of thought, authentic expression and keys to worlds beyond our own. Some artists find comfort in seeking out new genres, hunting for emotional connections, looking for influence, bringing new fusions and sounds to their work. The common question that interviewers will ask, and to be honest slightly annoys me, but I go against my morals here, so yes I’m guilty, forgive me – ‘What genres are you inspired by?’. I learnt a lesson here, stick to your codes. Mally goes on “I’m not really inspired by music”. You see what I mean? He adds “I just do stuff, if that makes sense? I know some people’s creativity and energy comes from somewhere else, but mine doesn’t. It just comes from me wanting to do stuff. So, I make what I personally listen to. I listen to every type of music. The catalogue I listen to is ridiculous, people wouldn’t even realise if they were to correlate it to the music I make. Even then, they’re only seeing the music I’m making, not the music I make. Because there’s so many untapped areas that I’m yet to delve into.”

2021 will be the year of Mally’s ascension, I’m sure of that. His plan is to keep grinding and work towards everything that he wants to do, with no limitations. “I don’t like to put myself in one creative bubble, I like to do multiple things.” Later in the conversation he outlines the specifics of “working with bigger brands, doing cross-collabs” and “instead of working for companies, working with them instead, to achieve a goal”.

I know we hear this all the time about 2020 being the toughest year that a lot of our generation have had to live through, but there’s been more time than ever to reflect on the sacrifices made by everyone. One of them for a lot of artists is the inability to be mobile and absorb daily life and freedom into their creative process. He proceeds with his recount of this time, and how he stayed reflective and creative, “Looking at the world and looking at everyone struggle in the same way, it made me want to be better, I have my family. I’ve always been a loner, I don’t go out, so I’m used to this kind of set-up anyway. But it’s key to stay optimistic and level-headed. It helped me stay above water.”

From his brief back catalogue of music, ‘Narcs’ from the 2020 ‘Storm’ project is the one record that really stands out to Mally, which in reality is not what he had envisioned when he first released it. Artists will always remember pivotal tracks in their journey, creations that surpass their expectations, that mean something more than a tape padder, Mally jokes “Narcs, I hated it when I first made it, but Narcs definitely stands out as it brought the most attention”.

You can always learn a lot from lyrical structures and content, well I think so anyway. I’m definitely one of those people that can find inspiration within metaphors, and words of wisdom within narratives, whether they are similar to my life or extremely far removed from the truth. If you look closely and openly, there’s something to take from whatever you listen to. It could be lyrical structures, it may come in the form of melodies, or then still drum patterns. That being said, I wanted to know what Mally’s stand-out set of lyrics from the ‘Arkade’ EP were? “My brother, from the new tape there’s too many, I can’t even.” You know those ones, where something that says so little also says quite a lot? This is one of those moments.

As somebody who is confident of his process, with successful musician friends, something within me wanted to know if House of Pharaohs had any input on his music. “Funnily enough, I actually haven’t got around to showing them yet – not for any particular reason, I just haven’t… it’s not really my style. Everyone kind of does their own thing musically when it comes to being an independent artist away from the group.  Although I have shown it to a few friends, who I ask for an opinion from. You know what I mean? I can’t just be the only opinion to my music, because I don’t make it for myself to listen to”. He then leads into a wider discussion on validation and how artistic authenticity is vital. “If you continuously seek validation, you might put yourself in a position where you are always second guessing yourself, instead of actively making decisions on your own. Of course, you always need help, but at the end of the day it’s your life. You came out the womb alone, unless you’re a twin, and even in that instance, your lives are both independent. You have to learn how to be independent, so you need to learn to trust your judgement. Although it’s good to have people’s opinions, people weren’t there when you first went into the studio. People are only there to see your end product, not what you were making or how you were feeling in that time.” This is the mindset that many creatives aspire to have, but struggle to fully live by it, due to the sensitivity of producing something with personality and heart. I’m sure if you are reading this and can relate, you will appreciate that hearing too many opinions can end up being unproductive. I guess you can take this ethos into anything.

This interview was definitely one of the most stripped back, honest and authentic I’ve done to date. Thank you Mally. There’s something for everyone in here. The new tape has just landed, so that’s what I’m probably listening to when you’re reading this. ‘Arkade’. Run it up.

Words by Josh Clubbe | Listen to ‘Arkade’ below.