Days of flying under the radar are over for this music maker, writes Siena Yates.

Some musicians love the limelight, others reject it completely. Maala is trying to find a middle ground.

His name has been slowly but surely seeping into New Zealand's music scene for the past few years, after his appearance on New Zealand's Got Talent began drawing a fanbase back in 2012.

His debut EP was released late last year, after a single premiere on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 radio show. He went on to appear at the Auckland City Limits festival at the beginning of this year, and he's already following up with his first album..

But until now, he's purposefully flown under the radar while his songs such as Touch and Kind of Love have infiltrated the airwaves.


The truth is, Maala - whose real name is Evan Sinton - doesn't do well with the attention. He's quiet, stuck in his head, more inclined to be a wallflower. But that's changing now.

The 21-year-old is officially making music full-time, and when he says "full-time", he means it.

He's been out of touch for the past couple of months "losing [his] mind" in the studio, working all day, every day on the new album.

"It's funny, people look for this other side of Maala, this interesting thing. But I literally just do music around the clock. If I'm not in the studio, I'm at home putting ideas together and stuff - I don't have a hobby, really. That is what I do and it's all I think about," he says.

Now the album's done, Sinton is trying to be more active on social media and "engage more", and is also trying to be more present in his music videos.

"It's a different thing to me. I'm used to closing myself off a bit. But it's fun, I'm learning how to get better at it, I think," he says.

And especially with the video for new hit single Kind of Love, he felt he had to be a "bit more present and confident", because the track itself is "so f***ing confident".

"I wanted to show that, but I'm not naturally that guy. So yeah, it's weird, but I like being pushed a little bit out of my comfort zone. I don't think I'll ever be that guy, though."


If you listen to Sinton's music or watch him perform live, you'd never know.

His sound is already recognisable as his, his lyrics simple but honest - but even that requires forcing himself to get out of his head.

He makes the music first and fits the lyrics around it later - "It's kind of just loose thought processes that I don't particularly understand yet.

"I like just putting it all down and then thinking about it afterwards as to what it means. Like, I haven't even really had a lot of romance over the six months, but when I listen back to the songs I'm like, 'oh shit, what's going on Evan? You've got all this drama and this angst', but it's sort of an afterthought," he says.

"I'm quite blind going into it, I don't like over-analysing things and throwing metaphors over everything ... I couldn't over-think it too much because I'm the guy who would do that and then you wouldn't see an album for 10 years."

Which is why he's a huge fan of working to a deadline - "I have to discipline myself ... tell myself to shut the f*** up, otherwise it just goes around in circles."

But he's managed to get through it all and the resulting Composure is a moody, sexy, alt-pop offering which builds on and aims to change up the Maala sound.

It will be released on Friday, July 29, to be followed by solo shows in Auckland and Wellington next month.

But that's not it, because he's still writing and already working on a second album because, well, he's still Evan Sinton.

"If I take time off, I'll slow down and that won't be good," he says. "I can't sit still."

Low down


Maala's debut album, Composure


Releases tomorrow

On tour:

San Francisco Bath House, Wellington, August 11; Studio, Auckland, August 12.