Malina Moye: The Diamonds And Guitars Of A World Renowned Rock Star!
Photo By: Isaiah Mays
With a powerhouse name globally etched into the culture of Funk-Rock, Malina Moye has been engraving her-storical changes in a masculine driven genre. Her presence shines like a rare jewel worth all the accolades. I met Malina in Philadelphia as she inducted Sister Rosetta Tharpe on the Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk Of Fame. Her humble spirit was just as extraordinary as her artistry. When Malina Moye’s album Bad as I Wanna Be landed #1 on the Billboard charts I felt the shift of a new portal widening for Black women in Rock.
Samantha Hollins: Where are you from and how did that atmosphere shape your sound that is now world renowned?
Malina Moye: I was born in Ohio and raised in Minneapolis. I think having the Funk side from Ohio and marrying it to Minneapolis, which is the Rock side, definitely had a lot to do with my palate. My parents are musicians and music was always an education to me…learning about artists, breaking down songs. The best way to describe it would be like a teacher giving a student an assignment and discussing what you learned. That was everyday conversation in my household.
Samantha Hollins: I first learned about you when your “K-yotic” music video featuring Bootsy Collins was circulating online. How did that collaboration come to life?
Malina Moye: I wrote the song based on life getting a little crazy at the time. And then while touring around Europe, running in some of the same circles, I ran into Bootsy several times and we all became friends. I then approached him about the record and voila: you have K-YOTIC!
Samantha Hollins: When you learned that you were going to be the first female to join the Jimi Hendrix “Experience Hendrix Tour” what went through you mind? What was is like the moment you stepped on the stage and began to rock out?
Malina Moye: I didn’t know that at first. I was just excited to play with a lot of my guitar heroes and I had a ball! I learned so much from each of those players. The first night I was so nervous. All the guys came to the side of the stage to watch me. I think that was the initiation (lol). It was exciting and I am so grateful to Janie Hendrix for the experience.
Samantha Hollins: The second time I saw you was on the Arsenio Hall Show rockin’ with the house band. It was so profound to witness a melanated woman on T.V. playing the electric guitar (something a lot of us didn’t get to see growing up). What type of response did you get after that moment?
Malina Moye: Thank you, I appreciate that. It was great. It also reminded me how much we still need to evolve and continue to see ourselves in different spaces. I always say representation allows us to see what’s possible. It’s so important. I’m sure there have been many others trying but society makes it difficult to attain certain levels of exposure. In the light of 2020, I’m starting to feel hope. I think a lot more people of color will occupy spaces they’ve been fighting for.
Photo By: Josh Schultz
Samantha Hollins: When did the guitar call you? As a lefty guitarist did you ever get flack for playing in an unorthodox manner?
Malina Moye: I started playing the guitar at nine. My dad handed me a right-handed guitar like a right-handed person would play it. I didn’t like it, so when he left the room, I took the guitar, flipped it upside down and started playing it that way. I loved it ever since. Yes, other guitarists are totally confused or just in shock that someone plays that way…& then I help them discover Albert King, Eric Gales, and some guy called Paul McCartney—all playing the same way. I’m blessed that it works for me, so I just keep trying to get better than I was yesterday.
Samantha Hollins: When was the first time you fell in love with Rock’n’Roll?
Malina Moye: I’d say early in my life. Probably witnessing my parents play in their band. I love the energy of it! I love any artist who needs no permission to be themselves and to me that’s at the heart of true Rock & Roll. My mom has that energy, so I was exposed to it and in love with it at around five years old. My mom recalls that I would go to the mic and sing with the band.
Samantha Hollins: Tell my Culture Rock Griot readers about your family band and what made you go solo?
Malina Moye: That was my education as an artist. We explored all types of music. It was a family band with my two brothers and my parents. We played all over the country and then ventured internationally. It definitely made me who I am today as an artist. Going solo…I just wanted to discover Malina Moye as an individual artist.
Samantha Hollins: Who or what inspires you? Did meeting Prince early in life shift anything for your pursuit of music?
Malina Moye: I’m so inspired by everything. Life inspires me. I like to look at myself as a vessel that’s always open. Meeting Prince early in my life definitely made me think I could make something happen in music. I remember thinking, ‘hey if Prince thinks I’m cool, then I know I can make something happen’. I remember saying, ‘Mr. Prince after all this I think I can go out and be somebody. Thank you’. He said very shyly as he shook my hand, “I look forward to watching it Malina”.
Photo By: Smooch 1 RT
Samantha Hollins: You are often named as the best female or one of the best female guitarists on many lists. I love seeing your name on the “best of” lists regardless of gender. How do those labels make you feel?
Malina Moye: Thank you for celebrating me, as I celebrate you as well. You’re amazing! I’m glad to simply be thought of, first off. I guess it’s human nature that people like to label things. I’m just happy to be on any list (lol). I for one will be glad when we are all on one list because there are a lot of us out here raising the bar and bringing different things to the instrument. As a female who’s doing something that doesn’t showcase a lot of women represented in the media that way, that becomes a talking point but, a lot of us are finally breaking through to that next level and it helps us all. The good news is there are more women now than ever before playing the guitar, which is cool, But regardless of gender and race the goal is to be a good guitarist; period. I only hope I can represent myself in a way that makes it better for the next woman or player coming in.
Samantha Hollins: What is a day in the life of Malina Moye outside of the spotlight?
Malina Moye: I’m pretty simple. It depends on the day, as I also started venturing in films now as well. I’m up then I answer emails, have breakfast, go for a run, and see what’s on the agenda for the day. No matter what, I always take an hour to walk around the neighborhood to just think and marvel in the wonders of life. And say ‘hi’ to my neighbors.
Samantha Hollins: What was the key moment that motivated you to start your own record label?
Malina Moye: Realizing that I am a different artist. I don’t fit into a specific mold or genre. I’m a Black woman who plays electric guitar and my music is a gumbo of Funk, Rock and Soul.
Samantha Hollins: As an ARTivist I love that you are using your super Shero powers to uplift others. Can you tell me about your foundation?
Malina Moye: Thank you! I can say the same about you! The foundation is called Drive Hope and our mission is to fuel the passion of underserved youth and empower those who possess the desire, yet lack the resources or access, to discover life and career opportunities in their community and throughout the world.
Samantha Hollins: Any new projects that we can start getting excited about?
Malina Moye: I’m excited about my new album which will have a 2021 release. Also, I have a few movie projects and a TV series in development. The future is looking good. Thank you for sharing my story and doing such thorough research. Stay safe! Xo
Samantha Hollins: You are very welcome. You have a very important story that will inspire generations of girls with guitars, heels and business.
To stay plugged into Malina Moye’s music and brand go to https://malinamoye.com/.
If you enjoyed this article, interviews and reviews feel free to contribute to our SuSu Connection. Funds will go towards building this Culture Rock Griot site and community/non-profit organizations.