Who is Malka Red and who are the four queens? What was your inspiration for having a narrative-based rap persona?
Malka means “Queen” in Hebrew, so “Malka Red” sort of means “Red Queen.” In Through the Looking Glass, the Red Queen grabs Alice’s hand and says “Around here, you’ve got to run to stay in place.” Or something along those lines. This idea’s been used by evolutionary biologists to describe why organisms need to keep evolving — just to keep up. It’s the “Red Queen Hypothesis.” This is what life feels like a lot of the time — running in place just to keep up — and it’s what the four queens of Malka Red experience, too.
You still with me?
Malka Red is my rap persona — it’s the name of this central spirit that inhabits four different characters: Dr. Betty Buckets, Analysa, Panther, and the Red Queen. They all exist far in the future. Betty is an inventor — she invents a few different methods of time travel. Analysa is her guide. The Red Queen is the tyrannical monarch of the vruesls, an alien species on a faraway planet Noitulove, and Panther is a vruesl shape-shifter who throws illegal parties on Noitulove. If you come to one of my shows, you’re at one of these illegal parties.
When I started making music, I didn’t have this through-line of the 4 queens, but I always felt like something was missing — and it was the story! During my last year at Brown, I created a one-woman rap musical that started to tell the Red Queen’s story, and I’ve been developing it ever since. Now, the characters and the story help me find inspiration and structure for my songs.
Tell us about the response that Boy Booty has gotten, and what that’s been like for you.
Boy Booty was my first music video. I made the track as a satirical response to the innumerable songs about women’s bodies, and it later got picked up by the gay community as a sort of anthem — and so, I do a lot of performances now at gay clubs and events. In fact, I’ve performed at gay clubs all over the world. I performed at Gay Days Orlando (which was so insane and fun — it’s this week of events, shows, and parties at a hotel, and I was one of maybe four women in the whole place), Tigerheat in L.A., Trumps Lisboa in Lisbon, and El Marra in Marrakech. The gay community has welcomed me with open and loving arms — it’s been wonderful!
I did my own PR for Boy Booty, which was… intense. After I released the music video, I emailed bloggers and journalists and tweeted at hundreds of celebrities who I thought might be interested. Matthew Lush tweeted about it, which was huge.
and Jackie Cruz from Orange is the New Black also tweeted about it! And then, it got written up in Queerty, BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and some German press.
What’s your favorite part about performing? Which show has been your favorite and why?
The most incredible feeling in the world is when the crowd starts singing along. That happened at my show in L.A. — there were probably 1,000 or so people in the audience, and they picked up on my song “Yes Bitch” right away — it was amazing! That was definitely one of my favorite shows for that reason — I can really tell when the crowd is feeling my music. Even though it was a club, it felt like a concert — the sound system was state of the art; I’ve never heard my music played so loud — I could feel the bass in my bones.
Are you open to collaboration opportunities?
YES! I love collaboration. It’s amazing to see what comes of a mesh of ideas and minds.
What’s next for Malka Red?
I’m releasing a music video for my track “Red Queen” this Halloween — 10/31/17. And I’ll be releasing a music video for my song “Yes Bitch” hopefully later this year (it’s in post-production now — I’m so excited about it!). I’ll be booking more shows for the fall in New York City — keep an eye out on my website! And, of course, I’m always working on more music.