Live bands and footwork music are not necessarily what you’d call synonymous. There is usually more of the production component in footwork, musically, than anything else. A group of recent grads from Berklee College of Music in Boston are successfully challenging these perceived limitations. The group, called Mallow, now based out of NYC, appears intent on taking their vision for the genre to the moon and back.
Footwork was originally a Chicago invention dating back to the 1980s. It’s become exponentially more popular in the past decade, with much more of a global reach. Seeing artists from Boston coming out with creative iterations of footwork only verify this genre’s growth and reach. Footwork, as a dance, involves, well, rhythmic footwork at high speed. Musically, however, the instrumentation and production behind it can take on any number of forms. As the genre grows, hopefully we’ll see more acts like Mallow continue to push the envelope. Check out our feature interview with them, plus their video for “Spaceshp Koupe” below.
[CM]: How did you guys – college students in Boston – come into the footwork scene?
[Ian]: Our MPC player Clark was the first person to ever show me footwork. I didn’t get it initially. I remember he showed me DJ Nate’s “Someday”, and I simply just didn’t understand why it was considered good. Fast forward to 2015. I was on the road with Betty Who, and I really needed some new music to listen to. I put on DJ Rashad’s “Japan 20 Min Workout” on the tour bus and, after a couple minutes, I knew it was gonna be a main inspiration for me.
I have to also give credit to Matt Duane. He was on the road with us (Betty Who), as our Front of House/Tour Manager. He was already deep into footwork and worked with Machine Drum. He made me aware of Teklife and a bunch of other footwork DJs. At the end of the day, I love footwork music because it’s battle music. Some long, nuanced build up is nice but I’m trying to not get there, but to be there. It is unapologetically raw, aggressive, and it pulls no punches.
[CM]: What was the (collective) transition to New York like following graduation?
[Ian]: I didn’t start this group until recently, so we didn’t collectively move to New York as a band. However I think I can speak for all of us, and say that it’s truly an amazing place for music.
[CM]: Your group has more than just a couple of members. How long did it take to get everyone on the same page regarding footwork?
[Ian]: Everyone in the band has been a collaborator, teacher, and friend long before we ever existed as a group. I already knew they were monster players. It didn’t take long for everyone to ‘get it’, but it’s a process, you know? I plan on taking it a lot further than this.
[CM]: Do you hope to inspire more more competition in your genre?
[Ian]: Sure. It’s not consciously on my mind, but it would definitely be exciting to see other musicians being influenced by us. After all healthy competition is a great thing, just step in the circle.
As the genre grows, hopefully we’ll continue to see new acts like Mallow push the envelope on whichever genres they choose to lend their talents to. Check out their SoundCloud for more innovative sounds.
Connect with Mallow