Brian: On DC Music Rocks, we're shining a spotlight on the great songs, artists, and incredible people behind the DC region's local music scene.
For Carolyn Malachi, tethering soul, blues, and jazz music to trap, Afrobeat, and house music is just one method of elevating the good vibes. She says, "On the path to understanding music is the intersection where we pause for conversation."
Carolyn: I said that?
Brian: You did, and it's such a good quote. This Grammy-nominated artist, Fulbright Awardee, and cryptocurrency enthusiast is also the creator of Grits and Garri podcast, and pulsing through each beat of Carolyn Malachi's electro-acoustic sound is the mantra, "Onward and upward." I came across Carolyn when I started, gosh, many years ... I think I saw you at the Funk Parade, like two years ago-
Carolyn: Hey, yeah. You were wearing a blue jacket.
Brian: And you were wearing a very ... Man, it was a shirt and I can't remember what it said but I Instagrammed it because it was so good and I'll have to find it. But anyway, I've been a Carolyn Malachi fan for a long time, so I just have a little personal fanboy moment when I get to say thank you for being here, this is so cool to have you.
Carolyn: Thanks for having me, this is a pleasure.
Brian: And so now, talk about you and the story, your connection to DC.
Carolyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brian: Talk about it.
Carolyn: Brooklyn born. Northeast, I'm a northeast girl.
Brian: Yeah? That's it.
Brian: And every since always been, have you ever like gone and come back, or-
Carolyn: Yeah, you know, I went to school in West Virginia, I lived in Baltimore after that, and I am enjoying being back home now.
Carolyn: It's magical.
Brian: And when you say enjoy being back home, how long have you been back home?
Carolyn: I've been back home for a few years. A few years, yeah, so it's definitely, when I came back in there were noticeable differences, but I think Washington has always been a city of diversity, it's been a city of change, and the culture here is just beautiful.
Brian: Definitely. There's so much culture going on, I mean, God there's so many ... Whatever you want, like in the music, for example, on this show we play all different kinds of music and whatever kinda music you want, we have it here in DC for you, it's kind of amazing.
Carolyn: This is true. This is true.
Brian: And so now your vibe, have you always been kind of like that smooth jazz and Afrobeat, and has your sound evolved over time? Has it always kinda ... Or did you find your niche in the beginning?
Carolyn: I think that the music that I've released is sort of indicative of like what my parents used to play for me on the car rides home from school, which is basically the Quiet Storm.
Brian: The Quiet Storm, keeping you soft and warm, oh yeah.
Carolyn: Ladies, ladies, ladies, like that vibe, right? But also I mean, I grew up with Pac in my ears, also Alanis Morissette, you know, Creed, just a bunch of different artists. Chuck Brown, you name it, Pat Metheney, Jaco Pastorious, like, Bob Marley. My great grandfather was John Malachi, who was a pianist that played for Sarah Vaughn, so. And Radiohead, I think one of my biggest musical influences is Thom Yorke.
Carolyn: So, now I'm in school and I'm working with a lot of like, music tech, so my production style is even evolving to include more of the sounds that I would like to incorporate.
Brian: Wow. That's wild.
Carolyn: So I'm really excited about what is being created.
Brian: And while we're talking about the past, tell us what's your earliest memory with music?
Carolyn: I'll tell you about my best memory with music. So I saw Pat Metheney at the Strathmore a few years ago.
Brian: And if they don't know who Pat Metheney is, how would you describe him?
Carolyn: If you don't know who Pat Metheney is ...
Brian: You need to get on Google.
Carolyn: Trippin'! So Pat is like a legendary jazz guitarist. So, I went to hear him at the Strathmore, my first time hearing him live, he had just released his album Orchestrion.
Carolyn: And he walked onstage, he played one note, and I was just crying. Just bawling, crying.
Carolyn: And so, my dad-
Brian: Crying ... For why?
Carolyn: I don't ... Well, this is what I'm getting to.
Brian: Okay, I totally forgot.
Carolyn: Before we had walked into the theater, I saw my dad in the audience. I was like, "What are you doing here?" He's like, "I'm coming to see Pat Metheney!" So I was like, "Okay." So there's intermission and we walk into the hallway and I was like, "Dad, I could not stop crying." And he was like, "Oh, that's because I used to play Pat Metheney's music when you were in your mother's womb. Used to put headphones on."
Brian: Oh yeah?
Carolyn: Yeah, so I guess that was me having ... Something was triggered.
Brian: There you go.
Carolyn: And I guess technically that is my first musical experience.
Brian: So to all those moms to be out there, you can put headphones on your stomach and play good music for your-
Carolyn: Yeah, play Carolyn Malachi for your baby to be.
Brian: You definitely should do that. If I had one on the way, I would do that.
Brian: For sure, because man it's just such smooth sound. 'Cause you heard one of the songs on this episode, but she's got such an amazing collection, so you've gotta check out more of Carolyn's discography because it's so good.
Carolyn: Thank you.
Brian: Now, take a break from that and tell us about you on the personal side. So outside of Carolyn Malachi the musician and the producer, what's life like for you?
Carolyn: You know, I love trading cryptocurrencies, it is such a fun, invigorating, depressing hobby.
Brian: And wait a minute, trading cryptocurrencies.
Carolyn: Yeah, like I'm super into that.
Brian: Pretend like I don't know what that means, what is that?
Carolyn: So, if you've heard of Bitcoin or if you've heard of blockchain technology, I'm like super into that. I don't think blockchain's gonna save the world, but I'm pretty sure it's gonna change the world, so I'm considered an early adopter I mean, on the record like I'm one of the first artists to have accepted Bitcoin for music. But now I spend a lot of time trying to get other musicians involved. Yeah.
Brian: Interesting. And what is the incentive to get another musician involved in Bitcoin?
Carolyn: Well I think the longterm view here is we could potentially use blockchain technology to speed up royalty payments to musicians, and to provide more accurate royalty payments to musicians. Like there are so many people who are left out because they're not properly credited or maybe they don't have access to PROs, which are performance rights organizations, and so part of getting people into that blockchain space is I think getting them to at least touch or have some experience with the most popular application of blockchain technology, which is Bitcoin.
Brian: Wow. There it is, ways to transform the world of musicians and transform the world as a whole with blockchain technology. And if you're not familiar with the stuff we're talking about, at least Google it so you kinda know what's going on, 'cause that's ... This is, if it hasn't already touched your life, it will be touching your life in some way, shape or form very quickly here, 'cause it's an amazing technology. Even if you don't apply it to currency, I do have to say it's a very, it's a wonderful concept.
Carolyn: Yeah, for basic recordkeeping.
Brian: Yup, all those databases where somebody deleted something, that goes away with blockchain. So, anyway. But back to you, so now ... We were talking about you outside of music and we got Bitcoin. Share something else. What else you got?
Carolyn: And which [inaudible 00:07:40] back to music right? I love my boo, he's amazing.
Brian: Your boo?
Carolyn: My boo.
Brian: Aw, there he is. Are we gonna shout out to him specifically?
Carolyn: Yeah, shoutout to Io.
Brian: Oh, Io, there it is. And now what about you, so, funniest moment that comes to mind performing?
Carolyn: Performing, so, man, I used to perform barefoot.
Carolyn: Yes. Until.
Carolyn: Well, and I don't wanna say until, this kind of was the thing that made me reconsider my choices, but I was playing, there was a show on the campus of Saint Elizabeth's and I think it was produced by public works, I think. So, somebody was really feeling the spirit, and we know we like that as musicians. Well they walked to the front of the stage, and they reached up and then they touched my feet, and it just felt really weird. And so I kinda ... I left it alone, I was like, "Okay." You know, they didn't just like tap my toes, they like, rested their hand on my feet.
Brian: Oh, that's amazing.
Carolyn: And so I had ... No, it's really not. So then I ...
Brian: You're right, it's not, you're right.
Carolyn: I like, I squatted a little bit but like in rhythm so it was like a rhythmic squat, and I like dusted their hand off of my toes, so then you know I'm kinda working the stage, going from side to side, and so I remember going to like the right side of the stage, and I turned around and this guy, the same toe toucher, had walked up the opposite side of the stage, and he was making a beeline toward me, and then security like, bum rushed him and got him off the stage. I was like, "I don't want anybody touching my feet onstage again, because apparently my feet are magical."
Brian: There it is.
Carolyn: So, yeah. Yeah.
Brian: Oh, that's so funny. You got a toe toucher and it changed your life, Carolyn.
Carolyn: That was, yeah. Yeah. But I still kick off my shoes from time to time. You gotta get in there.
Brian: I was gonna say, if that's your tendency you can't just let it go because somebody touched 'em, so yeah, you're right. They still come off at some point. I will go on record and say that she is currently wearing shoes, just for the record, right now, there are shoes on, so.
Carolyn: The toes are out, but the shoes are on.
Brian: You're right, they're open-toed sandals, so it's good. Now what about biggest success moment that comes to mind for you and your musical career so far?
Carolyn: I had a tour last year, it was with the Department of Defense.
Brian: To the troops?
Carolyn: Yup. All-women band, Middle East, five countries. Middle East and North Africa, and our last city on the tour was Cairo.
Carolyn: And we actually, when we landed we drove about a hour to see the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx, and so my band and I, we arrive, our host is with us, and she's like, "Would you all wanna climb the Great Pyramid?" And of course, I mean Cairo, of course! And it was, at that moment it was just really beautiful, I know two of the members of the band had never been on the continent of Africa before, so just seeing their tears and just watching them beam, that was amazing. But then we climbed this doggone pyramid, and let me tell you, if you have not climbed the Great Pyramid, and you think you want to do it, you need to like, do boot camp or something ...
Brian: Training, physical training.
Carolyn: ... Before, you need to train. Yes, 'cause it's not like when they built the pyramids they had central air, right? So, or stairs. So you're literally like, crawling up a slope that never ends, and when we go there, we got to the top, there was an empty tomb. That's it. And maybe like a couple hieroglyphics. We were so bummed.
Brian: Wow. That's a lot.
Carolyn: You know, I think I'm really proud of that moment because it sucked, but as a team we made it up there together and we made it out there together, and now whenever either of us has like a conflict in our lives we say, "You know, whatever happens, we climbed a Great Pyramid."
Brian: This is true. And that is-
Carolyn: We made it out.
Brian: ... That is a, man, biggest success moment. "We climbed a pyramid."
Carolyn: "We climbed a pyramid."
Brian: I love it.
Brian: And my favorite question, if you could offer one piece of advice, what would it be?
Carolyn: Never get your eyebrows waxed. Never. Never, don't do it. Don't do it.
Brian: Do you have a bad experience with this that you learned the hard way? Where is this coming from?
Carolyn: I think it's less about the eyebrow waxing and more about what it represents, right?
Carolyn: We pay people to hurt us.
Brian: Fair. I guess, man when you think about it in that context we do a lot of that as humans.
Carolyn: We do a lot of that, yeah.
Brian: That's true. Okay, so don't get your eyebrows waxed.
Carolyn: No eyebrow waxing.
Brian: No eyebrow waxing.
Carolyn: Tweeze 'em.
Brian: Oh. Which is still hurting, but it's yourself-
Brian: ... So that's okay. I love it. Oh my God. For those folks who wanna find out more about you and the amazing stuff you're doing, where do they go?
Carolyn: You know, there's always carolynmalachi.com, I am more often on the Twitter and the Instagram, so if you Tweet, you can Tweet me @carolyn_malachi, or Instagram it's just Carolyn Malachi.
Brian: There it is. And Malachi's M-A-L-A-C-H-I.
Carolyn: Yes it is.
Brian: That's Carolyn Malachi. And Carolyn with a Y.