We had the good fortune of connecting with Mballa a.k.a. M8alla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mballa a.k.a. M8alla, why did you pursue a creative career?
I wish I knew the answer to this question. The truth is that the artist space is the only place I’ve ever felt that I belonged. I couldn’t focus long enough to care about my school work or my 9-5, but somehow existing in the art space has always felt easy — particularly when you’re not looking for validation from it.
I enjoyed being a music fan, I enjoyed creating it, and I never felt out of place. And even when I felt bored, I always knew it was temporary. I always knew it was just a blockage created by some other thing going on in my life at the time and I would always come right back.
Music is the one relationship in my life that always finds a way to nurse me, no matter what stage of life I’m at.
So when I chose to pursue an artistic career, it’s because I knew I’d always find new ways and areas to fall in love with it again. It’s the one thing I’ll never stop coming back to.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Like most artists, my songs originally came about as a way to process trauma. I would talk about all the different types of heartbreaks I’d experienced. I talked about my father becoming a political prisoner after years as an ambassador to the US, about my abandonment issues and stressful relationships that created, the different ways I’d been disillusioned by love and sex and ultimately I think it was my honesty and authenticity that made a place for me in the music world. By virtue of being myself I was able to meet a lot of people and that propelled me forward. But more than anything staying a learner is what keeps me competitive. I’m always open to learning more about new ways to execute — whether that’s marketing strategies, songwriting, or other. My mind is always open to change. I’m different from others in that my art is a culmination of my very unique experiences. I’m bilingual, so I sing about my life experiences in English and in French. And my experiences themselves are so unique that it makes for a host of different content.
I’m most excited about a new project I just dropped called, “Don’t Save me for Later”. I got tired of people not prioritizing me and this is project that screams, “I want to be heard. And I will be.” It’s the most experimental I’ve ever gotten with my music and I’m really grateful to the producer, Jerm Scorsese, for offering his talents to it. It’s me just playing with sound and with another facet of my identity. It’s me showing my grit in a way I’ve never done before. Jerm definitely brought the best out of me. I’m rapping and I’m singing. It’s just a whole new futuristic world that I’m exploring and I can’t wait for people to hear it.
I just want the world to know that I’m multifaceted and musically ambidextrous. I write, I produce (vocals), and I’m a communications strategist. All of these factors are what is contributing to my success and I’m really proud of that.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well I just got to LA so I’m still discovering everything it has to offer. I live in Korea Town so I’d take them to Paris Baguette to grab some breakfast pastries, then one of my favorite restaurants right around the corner for lunch. I can’t quite remember what it’s called. Then we’d spend the day reading at El Matador beach because I’m absolutely obsessed with that beach. Those rocks are so beautiful and it’s just so peaceful there. For dinner we’d hit The Nice Guy. I just love the pasta. Then we might do drinks on Harriet’s rooftop and hit Erica Coulter’s The Basement event for some good music. Last but not least — we’d close out with Tacos. Honestly I would probably spend half the time trying out different taco spots. I’m surprised i haven’t turned into a taco yet. I love tacos.
A couple things I haven’t seen yet that I’d want to visit, The LA County Museum of art and the Geffen. My friend told me about some place called Eddie’s Book Store. So I’d check that out too.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Man. The first person that comes to mind is my oldest brother. He introduced me to music but also to the business of making music. Any time I’ve felt the road getting bumpy, a quick call from him to restructure my perspective helps assuage the turbulence. He’s my greatest supporter and easily the best mentor I’ve had thus far. I’m so blessed to have had him in my life and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have made the connections I have without him because I’d be a completely different person. Because of him I see things differently and therefore I write things differently.
I’m also a strong believer in the idea of positive reinforcement. I continuously improve because he’s always feeding me with infinite support.
And since we’re talking about support, I need to shout out another person — Shermar . He’s an amazing artist himself who dabbles in artist development. He came in at a time where I’d lost complete hope in myself and he fed my spirit and helped me find my self-confidence. And for that I’ll always feel like I owe him. Cause I was down bad.
White backdrop pictures by: Christopher Charles Gold pictures by: Johnathan Robertson Sunglass picture by: Alec Lomami