Classically trained musicians are often the first to spout their criticisms toward the rise of EDM, and the increasingly popular laptop DJ’s of today. But take five minutes to chat with a virtuoso like 26-year-old house DJ Chris Malinchak, and I guarantee that those feelings will swiftly begin to dissipate.
Best known for his 2013 hit So Good to Me, the DJ and Producer’s talents don’t stop at his Macbook Pro. He vividly remembers learning how to play the piano, which he began studying at the ripe old age of two. “When I was in kindergarten, I would literally get up at midnight and play for hours,” Malinchak says. “I couldn’t get enough of it.” Recently, even major European and US tours haven’t stopped the hungry artist from finding time with a keyboard. “Right now, I’m enjoying messing with a Chopin Polonaise and a piece by Rachmaninoff, which are pretty heavy duty pieces of music on their own,” Malinchak says, chuckling at his own use of “messing with” when referring to some of the greatest Pianists of all time.
With a red hoodie pulled over his head, the handsome and wide-eyed Malinchak shifts excitedly from side to side in his chair in anticipation of his headlining performance on the Soundcloud Stage during the eighth annual Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival. And it’s appropriate that he would play this namesake, considering he just released his newest hit single, Happiness, via that medium. “I was driving back from Pennsylvania when I had a very weird feeling on the highway, and I think it must have been the meteor,” Malinchak says. “I hadn’t put [the single] out yet, but when I got home at three or four AM, I chopped the vocals, I rewrote part of it, and then the next morning I just put it up on Soundcloud. It felt so natural, and I was excited about it.”
Happiness, which features British singer/songwriter MNEK, possesses a lilting, melancholy quality that incorporates soulful elements that culminate in a sound that’s almost timeless. It’s not surprising that his music feels like something from another time, because in many ways, Malinchak himself seems to have come from another era, or perhaps another world completely. “It’s weird; people say [my music] makes them feel nostalgic,” Malinchak says. “I go through records and I literally say out loud, ‘this must have been such a cool time to go to clubs’, like you’ll hear something form ’78 or ’92, and [the sounds] are so fucking cool.” Malinchak’s unique sound has attracted the attention of numerous other house artists, Pete Tong among which, who has featured Malinchak’s singles as part of his BBC Radio 1 Essential mixes on multiple occasions. “He is an absolutely fucking genuine dude, with a love and a passion,” Malinchak says with a wide smile on his face that’s both authentic and infectious.
Now that Malinchak’s tour has come to a close, he says it’s time to get back to work. “I was home for two days, and I’m excited because there’s new stuff coming,” Malinchak says, gently reaching for my arm. When I ask him of his interests outside of writing and performing live, he doesn’t miss a beat. “There is no distinction to be drawn when it comes to what I like doing; It’s the same no matter what: write, hang out, lift, play, lift and hang out,” Malinchak says. “I’ll be writing, [then] I’ll go do 100 pull-ups, then I’ll come back, meet up with whoever and hang out. That’s literally just what I like to do.”
Check out Happiness below: