Malcolm Abdilla aka Deepfunk was born and raised on the small island of Malta. He cites his first real interest in music way back to when he was the tender age of twelve. His rise to his current recognition status has been a steady one based on some very solid productions. Malcolm released his first EP back in 2007 on Superbia Recordings named “Process” follow by his second release on the same label only a few months later, “Spirits”. In early 2010 Malcolm joined Silence Through Music to release a number of original tracks and remixes alongside artists such as Way Out West, Charlie May, Guy J, Chris Fortier, Quivver, Luis Junior and Robert Babicz. This was a springboard from Malcolm who has since released music on labels such as Bedrock, microCastle, Sudbeat, Hope and Wide Angle Recordings. He has also collaborated with the likes of Kassey Voorn, Van Did and Guy Mantzur.
Malcolm has played in many countries across the globe including Argentina, Japan, The Netherlands, Belgium, USA and Greece and has shared the stage with the likes of James Holden, Guy J, John Digweed, Dave Seaman, Henry Saiz and Fairmont. In late 2012 Malcolm launched his own record label, Sixtysevensuns, as a platform to release his own music and other artists that are of interest to him. Since it’s inception the label has already released music by the likes of Ina Becker, Guy Mantzur, Sahar Z and of course Deepfunk himself.
With an ever-expanding career and zest for pushing electronic music forward, Deepfunk is definitely one to watch, especially with a very impressive artist album about to land.
Hi Malcolm. Many thanks for taking the time to speak to me today. How are you at present and how is life in sunny Malta?
Hello, thanks for inviting me to complete this interview. I can tell you how life is in an air-conditioned studio and it’s lovely. I can’t really stand the heat here during this time of year. This is like my hibernating time. At the moment I’m very busy working on releasing the album and getting everything setup well to ensure people enjoy it too, as it means a lot to me.
Your home country is not really renowned for its electronic music. How did you get into music and has your home country been an influence?
I think yes, the early days in Malta have been of influence to me. At the age I started listening to electronic I don’t think I even had internet, just had an Amiga for games haha. There was a local radio station where on Saturdays they played techno music for an hour and I used to record them onto tapes. Then I started buying lots of albums too.
Can you tell us about the music scene in Malta?
Actually when i was growing up it was much better than now… Yes we have more international DJ’s coming over now and some beautiful clubs, but before there was passion. I remember buying tickets for an event 3 months prior and just waited for that event eagerly! Now we have 3 events a week and i think music lost its true meaning. It became more of a trend to be a DJ or make events than making events to bring like-minded people together to enjoy a night of good music.
When I got into going out it was either techno or trance, then house music, and progressive house came after. Now we have cheesy mainstream music and shitty tech house dominating the scene.
When did you first become interested in electronic music?
I was 12, had an older friend who had a Plastikman album… And the rest they say is history.
Having listened to many of your music productions it is clear you are a very talented musician. Did you have a strong musical background as a child?
Emmm. No, Actually i never studied any music theory, i just play instruments by ear.
For those of our readers that are not familiar with your sound can you please describe it and what you aim to bring to the listener?
If I had to describe the music, I’d just say hypnotic and melodic electronic space music or something… made by a human!
I don’t really think about what I should do before, like, if I say I’m gonna make a “hands in the air” track, I guarantee that till it’s finished it would have turned into the darkest and saddest tune. What I can do is hope the listener gets the same head trip as I did while making it.
You have released music on some impressive labels such as Bedrock, microCastle, Sudbeat, Beachcoma and Wide Angle Recordings. Which do you feel has been your most impressive release to date and why?
All the releases I had on the mentioned labels all have something which I consider special to myself, but if I had to choose, my favorite would be the Beachcoma release. I’m also very happy to be part of a lovely family there.
When you are producing a new track or working on a new remix do you have a process you follow or do you treat each project very differently?
On original stuff, No, never. My mood affects the way I work. I might start from writing a synth piece or sometimes start reworking an unfinished track that I’ve worked on the year before or something. Every project has its own way, mood and feelings to go with it.
On remixes I usually start by playing around with a couple of sounds from the original track.. Then just take it from there.
A friend of mine Lee Ager (Soulfire) visited your studio a couple of years back and was very impressed. Can you tell us about your studio setup and some of your favourite gadgets?
I don’t think there is anything the same way as when Lee came there. I get bored using the same setup for a long time. The studio is always changing and evolving, what I know now, I didn’t know a year ago and there are things to learn every second.
I’ve recently refurbished and I think I’ll be happy with the latest setup for a bit…
So, just to give a bit of detail, I have one large display in the middle where I have the arrangement section on Logic, two smaller ones on the sides, with mixer section and plugins respectively, midi keyboard and control surface which I can adjust all the main controls like channel volumes, EQ, panning, and other plugins like compressors, reverb etc. That’s the centre section.
On my right I have a section dedicated for iPad, a few midi keyboards sending on different midi channels to control various apps simultaneously. All my synths are also on this side, all going through a mixer, with external effects going through a couple of guitar pedals, then to soundcard where I have an output for a couple of old recording devices.
On my left is where I’ll be setting up my live setup. And I have a few acoustic guitars and small instruments. My favorite piece at the moment is surely my iPad.
Do you prefer hardware or software in the studio?
As you can see from my studio, I like a combination of digital and analogue. Having best of both worlds. Being software or hardware, I still like to have hands on control instead of doing stuff with the mouse though.
Your record label has already seen a number of impressive releases. Can you tell us why you decided to create your own label and why it was named Sixtysevensuns?
I wanted a place where I could do only stuff I wanted to do, where I could feel free to work, without guides or dead lines. Now it’s going well and I think it was time to take the next step and start releasing other artist’s music, we have a couple of great releases coming soon.
I’m fascinated with space and love to read or watch documentaries about otherworldly stuff. Who knows, maybe new life will be discovered around the sixty seventh sun. I also think that music and space go together very well. Have you ever listened to an early Tangerine Dream live concert and just looked at the stars? You’ll be amazed where your thoughts take you… I think that’s where the name came from.
The new release due out on your label is by a synth-electro pop act called Yews. How did you come across this artist and why did you decided to sign her work?
I first heard her by accident on soundcloud, found out she was Maltese and just contacted her. She is a very talented artist, her voice is different in the most perfect way. The release got some amazing feedback in reviews and from artists. Expect a ‘remixes version’ of the EP later in the year.
Let’s talk about your upcoming album. I was very fortunate to hear the full about a few weeks back and reviewed it for the website. I was very impressed. Can you tell us what you tried to achieve with the album?
I never actually thought about which direction I wanna take it but as I started to write more stuff, I got into the mood and it all just came together. Now I can say I’m happy with the outcome and hope it will bring nice feelings to the listener.
Did you intentionally set out to produce an album or was it something that evolved over time?
The moment I finished the instrumental version of ‘Strangers’, I knew it was the start of a long project. The vocals from Yews came after, I think half way through the album. And for this I think it is one of the main tracks in the album.
When I first became aware of your productions they were very progressive sounding, but recently you seem to be a lot slower and more electronic. Is this a conscious decision, and if so, why?
I think it’s just part of the evolution of sound, I like to let feelings and emotions control what I do, when you think about changing your sound, it will be something forced and for me it doesn’t sound natural. The nicest part of making music is that after a long time you can see from where it started to where it’s getting. That’s the whole trip. I like to look at music as a living organism which changes and evolves reflecting to my personal life and stages that I’m going through.
You are due to host a night named after your label, Sixtysevensuns, and you will be playing alongside Fairmont. How did the night come about, and do you have anything special planned?
It’s been a while since I did my own event in Malta, so I think now was a good time to make a label night. I want to build like a small community of people who understand the music and who are willing to explore intelligent electronic music. Fairmont is a good friend and an artist I really look up to, so it was ideal to get him to play at the first Sixtysevensuns label night.
Which was your most impressive gig over the past twelve months and why?
I’ve had a few nice ones like Chicago and Tokyo, but I think my favorite has to be at the Sindor Party in Cordoba. It feels like playing at home.
Finally, is there anything else you can tell us about that you have planned for 2014/15?
So first will be the album release, pre-Orders are already available (the link is below), CD will ship in July and digital release will be in September. I got a few remixes lined up. I’m constantly working on new stuff too so you’ll be seeing a lot more original music this year. Later on this year I’ll be touring as well. We’re working on closing a few more dates for the album tour.
01. Dawad – 10.15 (Gran Cavaliere Remix)
02. I dream of you (Lee Jones Remix)
03. Low Manuel – Apartment
04. King Britt – Things take Time
05. Robert babicz – Duba (Klartraum Remix)
06. Feyser – Illusionist
07. Tomi Chair – The Begining
08. Sigward – Drama in Twilight Town
09. Hunter Game – Canyons
10. Avatism – Bitter Reminiscence Feat Clockwork (Fairmont Remix)
11. Deepfunk – Obscure Intelligence
12. Brunch – Eggs Benedict