Content: Dance music listeners might remember DJ/producer Chris Malinchak from his 2013 hit, “So Good to Me,” a chill deep house-style jam from back in 2013 that served as a harbinger for the tropical house era of the late 2010s. Across the pond, it reached No. 2 on the U.K. singles chart and was one of the top-searched songs on Shazam that year.
Malinchak continued his streak, riding this wave of popularity with the disco-inflected “Stranger,” which garnered over a million views on YouTube, and top-25 U.K. hit “If U Got It.”
He made appearances at large-scale festivals like Coachella and Creamfields and become a regular at New York club Elsewhere and LA’s Sound. More recently, he collaborated with Kiesza on an EP titled Weird Kid, a project that helped the “Hideaway” singer return to songwriting following a traumatic brain injury in 2016.
The pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home measures turned the dance music world on its head. With far fewer gigs than this time last year, artists have spent more time in the studio – and many have turned to social media for DJ sets.
Malinchak is no exception, but he’s taken a different approach. Friday nights, he can be found on Instagram playing the piano, with no particular set in place, and broadcasts his heavy-lifting workouts, often done while listening to heavy metal.
Especially with a full-length album lined up for 2021, we had a chance to speak with Malinchak about his music and his unique approach for connecting with fans during this difficult time.
Lots of DJs and producers have been doing extra sets while in quarantine, but you’ve decided to perform on the piano. What gave you the idea to do a live set every Friday night?
I simply can’t remember not playing the piano. Playing takes me to a place I can’t put into words. It’s a place I like sharing with anyone that wants to go. It’s close and extra special to me and I think, I hope, it is for you, too. It’s just something I wanted to do. It felt right.
What’s your plan or structure for putting together each live set?
Truly, there is no plan! It is as unplanned as my sweet little desert princess’s occasional strolls off the staircase onto the top of the piano! Haha 🙂 Maybe you haven’t met Katie the cat yet? Kevin is her brother and is a little bit on the shy side. Just a little.
In terms of your own tracks, how does playing the piano fit into the production process?
There really isn’t a process…that term perhaps suggests a routine, a particular way of going about things. But there isn’t one. Certainly, the joy of imagining and writing and performing all in the same
instant is indescribable. Sometimes I’ll think of something that’s rather fully formed and sit down and just record all the parts. Another day, I’ll get some drums going and just let my hands fall where they will. Or maybe a word or a line….a bit of melody. Who knows! And that’s what makes it so great! You just never know! I really don’t know how I do any of this.
You have your first full-length debut album Night Work scheduled for 2021. What should listeners expect?
Expect the unexpected! A bit of this and that 🙂 Throughout 2020, I’ve been sharing just a few of the songs that will be on it. Vocal records. But not the EPs. They’re their own thing. They tell their own stories.
What was your process for writing and producing Night Work? How did it all come together?
I write and play ceaselessly. I’ve got so many songs. I think I thought it would be fun to create some measure of sense or order out of a particular couple of handfuls of these. I’m not sure really why the ones that are on it are on it. It just feels right. It’s as if I was just curious to see what songs I’d include in a body of work. It means something.
How did this process differ from Weird Kid, the EP recorded with Kiesza?
Well, hanging with someone and making a song is its own thing. And again, this is different every time. Each person is of course uniquely themselves, and each tune with a trusted ally has its own journey.
The construction, the assembling of Night Work has been guided by some unknown force. I want it to be something you want to listen to the whole way through.
Since 2012, you’ve released tracks with a deep house or disco sound. As a producer, how would you describe your own sound?
I’ve made so many songs and sounds, but perhaps the most widely known is “So Good To Me.” I’ve found myself using words that seem like contradictions to describe it.
Warm and cold, happy and sad. It saturates you. I think there’s a longing that compels you. I’ve heard it described as a prayer. I’ve been moved to tears performing it, and they aren’t tears of joy.
As a DJ, you’ve performed at both major festivals and clubs. Where has been your favorite place to perform to date?
Gigantic shows have their own cool thing to them, but my favorites are the cozy ones. I love them. It’s the connection. There was one in LA less than a week after putting up “So Good To Me.”
Early days with the touring. I took us out with it, and already they knew the words. I just felt this feeling…I can’t even tell you what it was. At that moment, there was nothing else in the world but us and the music.
You’re also known for your heavy-duty, Rocky-style workouts. What inspired you to start training in such a manner?
Haha, I like that 🙂 Is there any other way?? My dad is very heavily involved with martial arts and lifting. He always has been! And he’d bring me around to dojos and gyms when I was teeny tiny, and I just thought it was so cool.
Something about pushing my body beyond what’s rational plays a role that I can’t quite put a finger on. It’s so intense and you float, and you’re utterly at peace.
Whether sets on social media or in anticipation for your upcoming album, what plans do you have for the next few months ahead?
I’ll tell you what! It’s been a pleasure getting back into The Malinchak Show! That’s the weekly show I fired back up with Sirius/XM. So fun! Make new music, of course…always and forever…lift, eat, hang…you name it! All good stuff. So, I guess business as usual 🙂 Just doing what I do and loving every minute of it!