Interview: Maloon TheBoom
People often talk about breaking the shackles of modern popular rap to create thoughtful and evocative music. However, this isn’t really true in most cases. Independent artists don’t need to break free from modern pop rap, it just simply isn’t a factor that influences them.
People often talk about breaking the shackles of modern popular rap to create thoughtful and evocative independent music. However, this isn’t really true in most cases. Independent artists don’t need to break free from modern pop rap, it just simply isn’t a factor that influences them. They don’t care what others think and they aren’t in it for the money and fame. They are in it because of a love of hip hop as an art form and vehicle of self expression.
Swiss producer Maloon TheBoom is precisely such a musician. He is a free spirited thinker and hip hop lover who uses hip hop to spread positive thoughts and vibrations. Recently he has made a significant impact on the indie hip hop scene as a co-founder of Boyoom Connective with Melodiesinfonie, and also for his work with breakout Namibian rap group Black Vulcanite and UK emcee Jay Prince. We took some time to catch up with Maloon and talk about his recent trip to Africa, future plans, the Boyoom Connective, and his general outlook on music.
Where did you get the name from?
The name was just a random thing. I always changed my name on Facebook, and then one time I couldn’t change it anymore, and at that point it was Maloon TheBoom. So people started calling me that, and I figured let’s just keep it. People got used to it and would call me on the street, whattup Maloon, whattup TheBoom. I’m not good at inventing names, so I just kept it. It also maybe expresses my part of being in the spotlight; TheBoom, you know what I mean? But I don’t like to be in the spotlight normally. I like to make beats in the background, produce the shit and put it out. Maloon TheBoom, is just me being out there, it’s not somebody different, but it’s a different type of representing me.
What do you use to make music?
I started off actually with a laptop, when I was 15 or 16, now I’m 20. I just came home one night, and started playing around on my laptop with Fruity Loops. Now I have a bigger setup: I have 2 synths, different keyboards, MPD 24, SP 404… and I still work with Fruity Loops actually. I think FL has a very easy way to work, I don’t have to think about what I have to press or where to put things, I can just flow the sounds directly from my head. For mixing and mastering I go to other programs, but for making beats I like FL because it is easy and simple; just idea then beat. In the end it doesn’t matter what you work with, as long as you know how to use it!
So you just got back from Africa, where did you go in Africa?
I went to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. That is where the Black Vulcanite crew is at. There are three members; AliThatDude, Mark Question, and OKIN. I lived at Mark’s place in Windhoek, and we went to Cape Town, South Africa straight away, two days after I arrived. Then I stayed in Cape Town for two weeks, we had gigs, they were signed by a South African Label called Rude World. It was hectic, I was just producing and we were having photo shoots, video shoots, it was crazy. It was like partying and working all the time for two weeks straight. And then we came back to Namibia and it was very hot there, so we just had to slow down. It was like up to 45 degrees during the day. Fuck man, you just get up, and spend all day sweating, it was very hot for me as a Swiss. So we were chillin’ most of the time and making music jams.
How did you get in touch with Black Vulcanite?
A friend of mine lived in Namibia for a year, and always went back there. He was rapping over my beats back in the day, when we were like 17. So when he was down there he heard about Mark (Question) and he wanted to connect with him and record something. Then Mark heard my beats through him, and he wanted to meet me. Julian, my friend, asked me if I could send some beats, so I sent some down. And that is when “I Hope They Write” was made. I just sent beats down, they recorded something on one of the beats. Really low budget, unmixed, unmastered, everything hah. But cool to connect like that. And then somehow I said I’d love to go to Africa, and they said we’d love to have you, so we said let’s just do it. It was actually quite an adventure. I mean I didn’t really know them, through Skype of course, and was depending on them, but it worked out very well. We became friends for life and it was an awesome, awesome time there.
So what is the rest of the hip hop sound like in Africa? Are they making a similar sound as in the western world?
The thing is, you gotta imagine that Namibia and South Africa are very similar to Europe, I mean, they call Capetown the Europe of Africa. I came down there and expected less western influence actually, but the bars and the clubs there, and the music they listen to is actually the same. Of course you have a totally different influence; the background is completely different. Namibia is a very young country though, it’s been an independent country since just 1990. The spirit of revolution and all this is much more there, the music means more down there. Here it’s just entertainment, down there people believe in this shit, Black Vulcanite isn’t just a group down there, it’s like a movement. Their lyrics are about showing pride in being Africans and encourages the empowerment of all African youth, regardless of the colour of their skin. They speak about topics which everyday people can relate to, and they’re one of the only conscious groups down there.
I think that’s what makes them successful, they have a lot of followers all over the world. We have our label Boyoom Connective in Switzerland. Down there they complained that they don’t have any producers. I went to Cape Town and everybody wanted my beats, like there were a lot of rappers and singers I connected with that wanted to get with me. Some of them were just saying like; we have 3 producers in Cape Town and everything sounds the same.
At the same time you experience certain things that are completely different. I saw shows where people where rapping in Xhosa, with clicking sounds. There was a girl rapping in Xhosa, and of course I didn’t understand a word, but she had a crazy flow and an amazing stage presence and power. They have the influence of many different backgrounds, different languages, and many things are very different; but in the end it is also very similar as well. The scene is just much bigger, you have many more hip hop cats down there. Zurich is very into the Berlin techno minimal club music. Most of the people doing music here are doing the club music thing.
Down there in Africa, you go in normal stores and you hear Talib Kweli in just any normal store where you buy food. It’s just more people listening to hip hop, so there’s more people also listening to the kind of music I do and the beat scene. B.LEWIS for example, is huge in Cape Town. And here almost nobody knows B.LEWIS. There, they actually play it all the time, B.LEWIS and other beat scene releases. That’s the difference between the scene there and in Europe, they live the music more, it means more and they live it more.
That’s interesting about B.LEWIS being very popular there. That reminds me of the recent Sugar Man documentary about Rodriguez.
Yeah that was a big thing, everybody told me like 10,000 times. They showed me, “Sugar Man, wont you hurry…“. Did you know he had more sales than The Beatles and Rolling Stones in South Africa? I mean that’s crazy!
Yeah, and he was a total failure in America!
Well, it was part of the Apartheid struggle you know. People really identified with him. I think that’s really the difference. People connect music with life. It means being part of something. When you listen to the lyrics of Black Vulcanite, they want to say something, and it’s important what they say. And much more importantly, people are listening! I really enjoyed being there. I could say it was one of the best times of my life. I had so many good experiences with people. I can’t really explain it, but people are much more open. You can connect with people and get to know people . In the club, you can just go up to anybody and just talk to them, a normal conversation that isn’t always about hitting on somebody or trying to get a girl (of course they do that as well), it’s cool to see.
They call it ubuntu. I think the word in English is humility. That is much more important there. The relationship between human beings is much more important. There is an African proverb saying; “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to get far, go together”, and I think people really live that way down there. They help each other out, they have much more to struggle about, but they are actually happier there. That’s what really impressed me you know. I felt at home there.
So how did Boyoom Connective get started?
Well, the moment Kevin (Melodiesinfonie) and I met was at a concert we both played about 2 or 3 years ago, and then after the concert I went backstage and just wanted to chill for a second. Kevin was on the stairs making beats with his SP and his headphones, so I approached him and just asked “can I listen?”, and then we started to show each other beats. Then we didn’t see each other for a while but then he performed again at a place where I was as well, so I went back and saw what he does, and somehow we connected and had the same vision to do something and to be self-made and not have to change for anybody you know?
As soon as a label comes, there are conditions, and I don’t like that, I want to make music. I’d rather make music and not earn anything than have to make music. I’d rather stay a nobody and just be able to do music my whole life because I love to do it, rather than getting some label and have to change because suddenly its your job and you have to earn with it. I’m a bit afraid of this point actually, you know. Suddenly you have to make money with music and then you start working under pressure and trying to do something… it’s where the game changes, and I don’t want to get to this point actually. When I feel like doing a beat, if it’s a good one I put it out, if it’s not, it’s all good.
That’s why we connected. And we believe in our music as well, so we pushed each other quite a lot. We influenced each other a lot as well in very small things, like he always used to have the same BPM, and then we made a beat and it was already on this BPM so I said “no lets try something else”, or the way he records drums over the SP, I started doing this as well, and we just really influenced each other a lot doing music together. I mean, we had a totally different way of making beats. He came from the SP, and I came from the laptop. The way I sample was a completely different process to the way he sampled, and when you get to learn the other way, there are many options which open up. Like “Aha, this way I can do it like that”. So I think we grew a lot from just meeting each other and getting together, and with this connection we just felt, “let’s do it”. We were both ambitious and willing to put a lot of work into it, and so here we are!
And how did Wodoo Wolcan come into that?
He’s actually here right now, can you see him making beats? [turns around laptop to show Wodoo in the background with headphones on, making beats] We’ve been friends since we were like 3 or 4 years old or something. So he’s one of the people I’ve known the longest. I started making beats, and I wanted him to do it as well, ’cause back in the day we were always jamming together; I played the guitar and he played the drums. He started half a year to a year later than me, and I showed him how to get into it. He has a different way of doing stuff, because he also plays the drums like Kevin, so you have the other approach to the drums compared to someone who doesn’t really play the drums.
You notice these things; the influence is very important to what beats you make, even the music you used to listen to when you were small, influenced me a lot. Of course we wanted him on Boyoom, and asked him if he could do something. I don’t know how many beats he has on his computer, probably up to 3.000 or something. We have a lot of material that isn’t out there. So we just also wanted to push each other to put it out and just start this shit.
What’s Boyoom Connective’s philosophy?
It’s about the love. Spread love is in our logo. It’s an important part of the music. Through the music we want to spread love, it’s nothing else for us. We don’t have a business plan or anything. I guess we want to create a face for Swiss beat making internationally. Like Swiss beatmakers and Boyoom Connective, that is like a direct comparison. That all the good Swiss beatmakers are on our label. Like one family. We have plans for vinyl and tapes, next year, or this year. But I’m not gonna say too much (laughs).
What can we expect coming up from you musically?
Next I will be travelling to India and Sri Lanka for a few months, so I will take a bit of a break. I will be making an African impressions EP, I don’t have the name yet though, which will come sometime after I return from India. Also, when I come back I will be working with a female singer I met in South Africa, which is a new thing for me to work with a vocalist like that. It’s cool for me to try new things out, like new chords and new harmonies with a singer. It’s a totally new thing for me. And of course I will keep it up with the beats, Soundcloud releases and stuff.