Larry Maluma

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Larry Maluma

It’s been a long journey from Zambia to Australia for Larry Maluma, and finally after ten years his eleventh album, Ndakondwa (I’m Happy), is hitting the shelves. Since coming to Australia in 1985, Maluma has had the opportunity to work with the likes of Paul Kelly, Diesel and Nicky Bomba to highlight but just a few collaborations. In the lead up to the release of Ndakondwa, Maluma speaks animatedly about this set of tracks.
“We are releasing this album finally which is very exciting, and I think I mentioned in my press that it got lost along the way. It got wiped accidentally and I almost forgot about it. Luckily I got my engineer Robin Mai to make a copy of it when we were working on my eighth album in the original session [and] years later I discovered them whilst I was recovering with a broken arm from falling off a scooter, sitting around with nothing to do. I put on the disc of rough mixes and was surprised by what I found. It’s been a while to put together but it is something that I am really very proud of and hope that all my listeners will agree.”
Over the years Maluma has produced most of his own music and after getting all the demos together heads to a producer to get a second opinion. With the help of Robin Mai, who has produced the majority of John Butler’s records, Maluma has created a fantastic set of reggae tunes. “Robin’s got a very good ear and is one of the most acclaimed producers and engineers in Australia, as I am sure you are aware. It is great to work through different ideas with him and I hope to continue to work with him in the future.”
With some money in his pocket and a desire to make it as a musician, Maluma headed out to Australia in the mid-eighties to hit the big time. Easier accessibility to recording studios and musical instruments meant that it was a positive experience for Maluma ever since he touched down. “In Zambia there was no real big studios like in Australia and the closest music shop to my house was three- to four-hundred kilometres from my house. Everyone was looking to head overseas and record and sign to a label if they could.
“I came here to enhance my career and it’s been a long ride, and although I’ve had not much support from anyone, my journey has been a very liberating experience and one that I wouldn’t swap for anything in the world.”
Having worked with the majority of the Melbourne and Australian music scene, Maluma feels very lucky to have such an amazing band of musicians around him. “To name drop just a little, I’ve worked with Diesel, Vika and Linda Bull and Nicky Bomba, and the thing that is great about these musicians is that they bring something special to the table.
“The way that my music works is that I record all the parts mainly in my studio and then send them to the musicians to learn. It makes it a lot easier when we head into the studio to lay the songs down.”
It’s been a charmed career for Maluma thus far and with 11 albums and no signs of stopping just yet, be sure to check him out around the traps when you can.
RELEASE: Ndakondwa (I’m Happy) is out now via Safari Music
By Tex Miller