First impression of Chaquis Maliq, one would interpret her to be soft in her energy, a go with the flow type artist who has a “everything is everything” mentality. Contrary to what most people think about any soul artist, she is not tiptoeing around a down town city putting daisies or sunflowers in the hands of hard nosed business associates and police officers. This girl is on fire and working hard and wielding her passion for her career like a sword through the obstacles she faces. I had the pleasure of interviewing Chaquis and sharing her perspective on her career as an artist; all of which she is notably transparent about. For those new to her music and existence, her loyal fans know all too well the mishaps that go along with her touring through her blog post (which I especially love). My favorite of the videos took place during a performance in which she was giving her heart and soul, her voice can draw a large crowd. Then the camera man/woman did something unconventional and veered into the “fourth wall”, the audience, which had been scarce in number. As a marketing consultant this would have raised a red flag, but her authenticity and originality makes it so much more real and does the opposite of what “throwing an illusion” tries to create. Her honesty, her fight, makes her a true genuine artist. I began by asking Chaquis about her influences and she opened her world to MusicExistence.com
ME: What influenced you to become a music artist and how long have you been performing?
Chaquis Maliq: I’ve practiced being a performing artist my entire life. But I didn’t become an artist until I became an adult. I’ve been performing nonstop for 2 years straight with my guitar. Prior to the guitar, I didn’t really perform as much and was still working a 9 to 5.
ME: How would you define your genre “eccentric Soul” by name and sound?
Chaquis Maliq: It’s soulful but unconventional. I don’t limit my style of composition to one signature boxed sound, like the majority.
ME: Was recording your first album difficult; how long did it take you?
Chaquis Maliq: My very first album or project was “The Demonstration Vol. 1.” I recorded it in my basement. I got the equipment and taught myself how to loop samples. I mean, not knowing what I know now, it wasn’t difficult (laughs.) But, it got difficult on my second project, “Veracity”, because it was supposed to be all live instrumentation and it didn’t work out. So, I put it out in pre-production state, which I produced/composed. Then for “Harmonies of Me” it got even harder. Because now, I am playing ‘Mr. Maliq’ while learning and recording all at once. But I love learning, so I can’t complain about the process for these 3 projects, but improve myself for the following projects
ME: Do you often get comparisons to Indie. Arie, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and
how do you deal with it?
Chaquis Maliq: I often get compared to those three awesome women, so It’s not a bad thing. I love it more when I am not compared. I know my music doesn’t sound like them, but society believes they cannot operate without comparing and contrasting even if there is no relation in sound. But they will buy music from 5 artists that sound exactly the same (laughs.) I digress. But it’s the truth. I am a bowl of musical soup, so one day I may remind you of music you only hear in samples, one day I may sound like I live only for butterflies, or my favorite compliment “You are Stephanie Mills with a guitar.” The best compliments come from people who have seen me perform live. I mean, I sing blues, jazz, soul, alternative, urban folk; etc. That makes me Chaquis Maliq. But, if India.Arie is the only artist most want to compare me to, then that just lets me know they don’t listen to enough music.
ME: When did you decide to take your act on the road?
Chaquis Maliq: I started touring in 2012 and then it expanded in 2013, once I got invited to play in music festivals out of state. I did my first show in December 2011, after playing for like 6 months. Then in March 2012 I started this concert series for myself called “Acoustic Dining” at Local Restaurant Called, Chef Macs. I was never into open mics. I just decided to make my own path. It works because I never doubted myself. Of course it get’s rough, but I don’t let bumps in the road keep me from getting to my destination.
ME: How do you find the courage to do what you do?
Chaquis Maliq: I am blessed with this thing called “self motivation” and “this is what I want to do, so I’m gonna do it” syndrome. I don’t wait for anyone to do things for me, because it will never get done. The moment someone tells me “You Can’t,” that is the moment when I create a way to do it. If you fear taking risks, then you will be come stagnant. I was born to be mobile. I even moved around too much in my mother’s womb. She said, I would not just be still or just kick… I would be moving all over the place. I suffered the consequences of getting the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck during birth and flat-lined. I’m here now, so I am fulfilling my purpose through the gifts I was blessed with, and sharing it with the world.
ME: Who are some of your musical inspirations?
Chaquis Maliq: Well this changes from time to time (laughs). Right now, I’m inspired by Sis. Rosetta Tharpe, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Ruthie Foster, Otis Redding, and Marvin Gaye; just to name a few. I couldn’t tell you where all of my musical influences comes from. I listen to so many different genres, randomly.
ME: Are you a self taught guitarist?
Chaquis Maliq: Yes, I tried taking lessons, it was almost a lost cause. ( laughs) I just wanted to play my own music (my whole life). I pretty much went to learn how to hold the guitar and discipline myself to do it on my own.
ME: You call yourself the “1 Woman Band” Do you play any other instruments? If so, what
Chaquis Maliq: I started out on piano as a kid. The 1 Woman Band consists of me playing the cajon, guitar, foot tambourine, while singing all at once. This makes me the 1 Woman Band and not a looper.
ME: Is your family as musical as you? Are they supportive of your career?
Chaquis Maliq: Both sides of my family are musically inclined. From my grandparents on down to my generation, everyone
either sings or plays at least 2 instruments at church. My family loves that I am living a musical life and
doing what most are scared to do.
ME: What advice would you give to indie artist looking to take their career from recording to touring?
Chaquis Maliq: I’m not an expert on recording, but it’s become rather easy these days to record with a MAC, iPad, and PC from home studios. But still making sure you get your music mixed and mastered properly, so that it is ear friendly, speaker friendly, and formated for radio. Touring is all about going to the fans you already have in an area. So, it’s important to interact with your fans online and find out where your audience is.
Chaquis Maliq: Funny that you would even say “normal life.” I don’t keep many friends, but I have a few. And yes, they are artists. I have done the relationship thing and I have no problem balancing. The problem with associates, is that they believe that they are your friends, but are really people who want to say, “ I knew her before …. or I knew her when…” and secretly lives vicariously through you. It’s the truth. The same issue can occur in a relationship. My experiences have been that the person envies my ambitions, my determination, the nonstop of excelling in my gifts, and the drive of my passion. So, therefore I let no one hold me back. I’m a driver not a rider. I’m a sprinter that attracts joggers who can’t seem to keep up. I think on my own and control my musical ventures. And this is how my life keeps it’s balance. Keeping the poison out of my circle of peace.
ME: Tell me about the best and worst experience you’ve had while touring.
Chaquis Maliq: I don’t believe that I can define that experience. They all seem to start out bad for the most part, and I’m always trying to figure out why. And then in the end, everything always turns out great. It’s all about patience and understanding how life works. As you mentioned in the last question, “balance.” These experiences balance out every time and I have learned that TIMING is key. The waiting in the midst of chaos beyond your control,becomes the miracle that you need. Whether you asked for it or not.
ME: Chaquis, thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you for MusicExistence! It’s been a pleasure… I know you are going to go extremely far in your career.
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