Of his own admission, Mali Baden-Powell was just « a young un mashing the place up » when Bradley Zero helped birth his Rhythm Section party and label way back in 2011. It must’ve had a profound effect on him, as Mali (better known as Z Lovecraft) just joined an all-star lineup for Rhythm Section’s 6th birthday celebration. Z Lovecraft has been an instrumental figure within the local Peckham scene for the better half of the last decade, pulling duties for both Rhythm Section as well as local shop and label fav, YAM. A hardware buff with a love for the fertile ground where cosmic energy, buoyant knocks, and a downright yearning to boogie all meet in the middle, Z Lovecraft has spent the last few years releasing tracks and remixes, with his first proper EP out earlier this year on No Bad Days and an immersive live jam occupying a slot on YAM’s recent label compilation. With the world seemingly at Lovecraft’s funky fingertips, we reached out to spend some time learning a bit more about what makes Mali tick:
So, let’s set the record straight; we hear you’re a jack of all trades, but what exactly do you do for Rhythm Section/YAM/et al?
Sadly there isn’t a simple answer… my self imposed title with Rhythm Section is ‘Creative Producer’ but I’m essentially Bradley Zero’s sidekick and a carriage of the train that is Rhythm Section. Customer service, promoter, studio engineer, events manager, production assistant, playlist curator, in-house designer and DJ that’s me. It’s a multi-disciplinary way of life and I wouldn’t have it any other way as I have little to no attention span. For YAM I’m merely a customer assistant, but now the physical shop is sadly closing we will see what happens…
What has it been like helping usher Peckham into the (inter)national spotlight?
Strange to be honest, as being a Londoner I always thought Peckham was a bit of a shithole growing up and still kind of is. However, it’s one of those places that has changed a huge amount in terms of cultural output so me being a minuscule part of that transformation has been decent but ultimately I have helped give it cultural value that essentially causes gentrification. An annoying inevitability with the current socio-economic climate. A lot of people complain about this in interviews which does come across as ironic but I don’t think you can ignore how London/UK is run by the financially interested.
It seems your experience in the local Peckham scene was very natural; how do you feel about that process, as well as the power being part of a thriving community plays in your journey
Yes it has been very natural and I have quite literally grown up as the community has broadened and established international recognition. The community aspect is tricky for me to weigh up as I haven’t got anything to compare it too but by all accounts is crucial to the success of any creative enterprises. It’s not something you buy, you have to build it over time.
Your most recent project for NBD was described as floaty yet punchy—are there any particular inspirations that come to mind when striking such a delicate balance in your compositions?
Ah that’s the motto of such behind Hollick’s desired aesthetic! Not specifically mine. I think musically it’s all about combining different elements from genres and putting your own production twist on it, that’s what inspires me when I’m making music. Whether it’s banging grungey hip hop beats from Lord Finesse, inspired synth work by Dauwd, complex arrangement from Lars Bartkuhn, etc. I also am a delay effect obsessive and don’t shy away from chord sequences. I could go on… but essentially I want to meet in the middle of my in broad influences which means my music ends up jazzy-breaks-synth-dub which for lack of a better term is known as ‘lounge’ or ‘PS1 menu music’ depending on your musical generation.
Word is you’re a bit of a junkie when it comes to analog gear; do you care to share some of your favourite pieces with us that may have ended up in your work?
I’m a gear junkie and I do like analog gear but ironically the music I have made that has been released is generally the product of rinsing shit cheap gear that idiots on gearslutz think have no musical value. I.e. Roland jv 1080, korg Electribe, shit jack of all trades guitar effects (Zoom 505). A good deal of my sound does come from analog delay/phaser effects though. My favourite analog pedal at the moment is Boss PH-2 Super Phaser. It stuns.
How was RS’s 6th birthday party? Any tunes you recall as standouts that we can use to imagine the vibe?
Very good, probably the most drunk I have gotten in 2017 which is always a good sign for a birthday party. Stand out for me was Tenderlonious playing live (as a four piece band) rather than any specific tunes. Just listen to his phenomenal output this year (leading 22a arkestra, ruby rushton, the Dennis ayler project) to give some of the vibe. He has skills to pay the bills, and has a sick live band.
With 2018, are there any interesting things in the works for the Z Lovecraft project?
New EP in the works, hopefully other releases and ultimately murking the Rhythm Section studio making lounge anthems. That’s about it. Probably some eclectic DJ sets thrown in for good measure too.
Are there any cities/countries that you’re dying to play?
Amsterdam! I love coffee shops, art and soulful dance music but for some reason have never been. And it’s an hour from London.
What’s your favorite soup, and why isn’t it split pea?
It’s tomato. Tomato is a soup one can make without good stock whereas split pea is whack unless you boiled 18 chickens the night before.
Interview : Dan
Picture : Daniel Adhami