Next Wave #1030: KiNG MALA

In Association With Vero True Social

From the heart of Los Angeles, KiNG MALA, a.k.a Areli Castro, is rising through the alt-pop ranks. Her latest single 'mercy' drips in eerie, glassy sounds, charming strings, resolving motifs and a rush of angelic harmonies that create a split of devil meets angel through the track. 'mercy' is a polite sonic introduction to both sides of the artist’s mind and past, speaking of the battle of being human and finding morality in the good and lessons in the bad.

Castro explains: “This song is about struggling with the darker parts of yourself. It's about the things that you do that scare you. There is power and fear in our shadow selves and I wanted this song to convey that. The "bad" version of me is closer to who I really am and wins in the end, and I don't think that's a bad thing… There's something empowering about accepting the scary parts of yourself and moving away from the fear of it.”

In the run-up to her previous release 'She Calls Me Daddy', her intimate behind the scenes approach led to a fast-growing, viral fame on TikTok, where she took followers along on her journey to releasing music, leaking snippets of her upcoming songs and ultimately letting them choose which track to drop next. Speaking of her experience on the social media platform, she shares, “It's been insane haha! I love TikTok so much, I feel like I can really be myself and share all the parts of me and this project that I have never been able to share before. I love that I can be really authentic and genuinely connect with people through a platform like TikTok and I think that's why people are connecting with my music more, cuz I'm connecting with them more than ever.”

KiNG MALA, roughly translating as King 'Bad Bitch' in Spanish, draws on the polarity of feminine and masculine traits, combining them in a witty, powerful way and showing the crossovers and irrelevance of social theories around gender and power. Oozing honesty and with a raw edge, the songwriter admits: “I try to write music that is so vulnerable it scares me. When I write lyrics that are so personal I almost don't want to release it, I know I've done it. Sonically, I just want a sound and production that encompasses the feeling of the lyrics and drives it home.”

Her music stands for the many, from her 2020 release 'Homebody' which touched on the anxious collective, to 'She Calls Me Daddy', a song about the social injustice of the LGBTQ+ community, the musician highlights relatable themes for the youth of today, allowing fans to connect to her on a deeper level. Castro shares: “For me, 'mercy' was a chance to show what this project can really be. It is the first release that I feel like has truly shown my vision for KiNG MALA and created the universe that I see these songs living in. I have never been so sure and excited about a song/video before and I can't wait to keep building on this world it has created.”

Often opting for a simple soundscape, her music pays sonic homage to each individual element of production. Focused around an alt-pop feeling, with classic pop sensibilities and doused in soul, her music is undeniably moreish and easy listening. Delivering some of her most authentic work to date, Castro’s natural unique flair burns brightly in 'mercy'. “I spent a long time wondering how I could make myself 'more unique' but honestly, when I finally let this project just reflect me as a person it started to stand out more than ever. Not because I'm 'special' or anything haha but because we are all an accumulation of our experiences and the things we love and we are all so unique.”

“When we let our art reflect us as people, it will never look like anyone else's. My producer and I constantly work on intertwining the music we grew up with and our own voices and the noise of our lives into our productions. I think it feels unique because it's us.”

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Words: Alexander Williams

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