The jazz drummer's first solo effort is a free-flowing masterclass that taps into its wealth of influence, history, and its promise as a self-contained body of work.
It's release day for Malick Koly's Feel Bad Fest — a 6-track experience characterized for its soul, joyous tone, and musical excellence. Son to Awa Sangho and Souleymane Koly, Malick Koly's musical pedigree is rich and helped build a foundation that culminates on this EP, which finds him on lead vocals for the first time. Feel Bad Fest features an array of talent, from Vernon Reid to jazz legend Ron Carter and Steve Jordan (Rolling Stones, the SNL and Late Night with David Letterman bands), helping expand an already boundless composition.
Stream the moving video for the EP's title track below and read through a brief Q&A with mastermind Malick Koly to gain a deeper understanding of his inner workings.
“Feel Bad Fest” is here and expands upon the wealth of experience under your belt, the heart that goes invested into your craft, and of course, your respective musical catalog. With each album or EP cycle being representative of a musician’s state of mind at the time, where does “Feel Bad Fest” find you?
Malick: “Feel Bad Fest” finds me at the close of a rather personal chapter, which just so happens to be the opening chapter of my solo musical career, so it’s a window into the past from the outside perspective whilst being in some forward motion into who I’m shaping to be.
Is there perhaps a sense of realization that you get from releasing your solo material after having been part of a wealth of other projects? One could say it’s an act of reflection.
Totally, reflection, but also patience in development, at 25 with a lot of different experiences it’s interesting to see how those unexpectedly shaped me. Lots of buzzing around what most expectations were. But those can be overrated, our experiences can be very intimate and the delivery of the reflection that comes from said experiences comes out differently. And with this EP this is how it came about!
With the EP featuring Vernon Reid and Ron Carter, in addition to being executively produced by Steve Jordan, what role did camaraderie play in its development?
Mentorship lead the way, camaraderie & collaboration arose within, during the process, in a very special way because with such powerhouses & experienced musicians it can be intimidating, but in seeking these specific mentors and collaborators, I knew they would add whilst being of support, and their desire to enhance one’s ideas and being of service to a concept was truly inspiring and a teachable moment as far as musicianship and even artistry!
The video for the EP’s title track captures the joyous nature of it all, serving as the ideal visual representation for what you achieve on “Feel Bad Fest”. Where did you look to take the creative direction for the video upon approaching the project?
Well the joyous grey area is deceptive, it’s colorful, but not necessarily joyous which I’m glad because it makes the feeling bad something to ponder about, darkness isn’t always synonymous with sadness, just like color isn’t necessarily joyful. The creative direction of FBF actually comes from a reoccurring anxiety nightmare I used to have as a child. My parents being artist demanded a lot of travels on their part and around those times I’d see myself falling out of the car as they made their way to the airport. And so FBF came from that but serves as closure for my younger self as to things in life were gonna be okay. And it’s a message from myself to day to my younger self.
Was the EP’s creative development freeing or was there perhaps a greater pressure to operate under your own, self-contained terms? Compositionally speaking, it’s truly boundless.
It was definitely freeing! Free from expectations, freeing compositionally and most importantly lyrically, playing drums and being a sideman is formative, and most certainly musically career defining in many ways, but to write your own words and delivering them yourself under your songs, that is live changing, a while level of freedom! And then performing it on both drums and vox, I think it’s changed my life. And yes the body of work does indeed feel boundless!
In a world where genre categorization is inherent in listeners, how important is it for you as musician to stray from genre confines and operate under loose conventions?
Very, I think experiencing my band "Feel Bad Fest" (yes the band was named after the EP lol) challenges that! We have a vast catalog already and being able to jump from one place to another spreading a message on any given day in any given mood or in even a different language than English makes it about the journey more than the confines. So we are unconventional in nature!
Feel Bad Fest is available now (Order).