Oliver Malcolm Has Found His Voice

From producing for the likes of Tinashe and MF DOOM to teaching himself how to sing for his debut EP, Oliver Malcolm is on a mission to take his music as far as it can go.

“I can’t remember a time before I was actually obsessed with music or when I loved music,” Oliver Malcolm says. At just 21-years old, the Swedish-born, London-raised musician has been producing for nearly a decade, from working out beats as a 13-year-old to producing for acts like Tinashe and Joey Bada$$. But Malcolm has quickly found his voice as a solo artist, and a steady slew of singles has now culminated with the release of his debut EP, Are You Living in the Real World. 

Photo credit: Kay Ibrahim

Taking inspiration from musicians like Eminem, Dr. Dre, and 50 Cent when he was still in grade school, Malcolm turned to production just a few years later, starting to work out hip-hop beats when he was 13. At 16, he started to branch out in what he was listening to, as well as what he was creating. “Early on was just hip-hop, and Michael Jackson, and then it turned into Jimmy Hendrix, and then rock n’ roll, and country, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, and then reggae, and it goes on and on and on. Now there are so many different types of music I can see myself combining and messing around with.” The sense of experimentation is apparent on his EP, with tracks like “The Jungle,” featuring an Indian flute looping over-energetic percussion, “Outside,” an acoustic guitar-driven song showing his softer side, and his hit single “Skywalker,” displaying his penchant for pop.

“It’s music that I was hearing in my head for the longest time,” Malcolm says about the decision to release music under his name. The EP is the first collection of his own material, which introduces him not just as a producer but as a singer too. “When I was producing I was working with so many other artists, trying to get this feeling across, but the feeling was such a personal thing for me, it only made sense for me to do everything on it. To sing, and communicate verbally as well as sonically on a track.”

Even though Are You Living in the Real World is only just now releasing, Malcolm is eager to get more new music out. “It’s nice to have an introduction,” he says of the EP. “It’s a first chapter, but it’s a big fucking book. I’m already further along, but each part is crucial to the story.” From the ages of 13 to 20, all Malcolm did was make music, but in the last year he slowed down in terms of creating, and instead began to look inwards. “I’ve been learning things outside of music, which I feel like are very important progressive steps in myself,” he says, impatient to take his self-discovery into the studio. “I understand more about myself, who I am, what I want to say,  what I don’t want to say, what I like, what I don’t like, what makes me tic, why I do what I do…why I even care about [music]. All these questions are ones I’ve been answering over this past year.”

With this newfound approach, Malcolm is on the verge of discovering a new realm of music-making and, concurrently, a stronger understanding of himself. “Even my reasoning now for the creation of music has changed, and made it so much more exciting, and so much more valuable,” he explains. “Before, I wanted to do the artist thing to show people I’m sick, I’m fire. But then life happens, you get humbled, you get knocked down, you come back, and it gave me a different perspective.” At such a young age, Malcolm has already formed a deep relationship with music. Now it’s finally beginning to take shape both in his voice and his identity, and he’s ready to take that as far as it can go. “Between me and music, we help each other grow. We help each other out.”

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