After appearing in March’s edition of Best New Artists following the release of his debut single “Switched Up,” Oliver Malcolm returns to showcase his eclectic style in the more brooding “Helen.” With its deep bassline and bluesy melodies alchemizing jazz and pop influences, he crafts an almost tangible atmosphere of melancholy as pleas to a woman echo throughout. Premiering today, the accompanying video—directed by Malcolm—paints a story fueled with emotion and colorful destruction.
While the world of Oliver Malcolm is only just beginning to take shape, the 20-year-old Swedish-born, London-raised artist is no stranger to the music industry. Before debuting as a solo artist, Oliver dabbled in DJing before moving onto producing under the moniker of Big Kidd. Attending beat battles at 16 and networking across the LA music scene, the Londoner found himself with production credits amongst the likes of MF DOOM, IDK, and Joey Bada$$. Craving more after watching numerous artists record in studios, Oliver decided it was time to take the step towards starting his solo career. “I feel like I was always supposed to be a fucking star man, I can’t lie.”
Now, armed with more singles set to go and an EP on its way, the multi-instrumentalist is preparing to take the world by storm with his versatile skill set and brazen charm. “I’ve got the whole world domination thing on plan,” he declares. Watch the premiere of the music video for “Helen” and read our Q&A below.
What kickstarted your interest in music?
The initial kickstart was when I was young. My grandma, she’s full of energy, she’d dance all the time listening to Michael Jackson and I think that just subconsciously ingrained the DNA of music. I grew up in sports, growing up in a more athletic family where art wasn’t really a thing. Like, the vibes were: I’m going to be a footballer like every other kid in England, you know? I was like fuck this man, this isn’t what I wanna do. I really got interested in music when I was 12 or 13. I remember seeing a friend of mine’s older brother DJing in a basement—so I got some DJ decks and learned to mix. After a few months of that, I turned to producing.
This led to some interesting placements with the likes of MF DOOM and Joey Bada$$ as a teenager. How did these collaborations come about?
I moved out to LA with my parents. When I was 16 out here, I was going to beat battles—almost like rap battles—and then I started making my way around the LA scene a little bit in terms of music and being able to produce for artists. I started going in the studio with artists, getting a couple of placements, couple records. It was just through me connecting with people, connecting with other producers out here in LA, sending beats out and getting in the studio. One day, fucking thank the Lord Jesus Christ himself, MF DOOM got on the track I’d produced.
Within three or four months of doing the artist shi*t I’m like yo, f*ck producing for other people, I can make the best songs in the world.
Talk me through your transition from producing for others as Big Kidd to creating your own music?
By the age of 17 or 18, I felt like I’d been in enough studios to know the ropes enough to be like, you know what, I think I can start doing my own artist shit. When I was 18, I tried singing for a couple months. Got a couple singing lessons with a singing teacher but she was trying to tell me how to sing, and I don’t like being told how to do shit. I stuck it out though, stubborn bastard that I am, and I went from having never sung a fucking note to being like, alright let me make a cool song here. So I made a song, and the first full song I ever made was also the first song I put out (“Switched Up”). Within three or four months of doing the artist shit I’m like yo, fuck producing for other people, I can make the best songs in the world. When I really get into something my imagination runs wild.
Making my own music just feels so much more rewarding artistically than producing for other people. I feel like I was supposed to be an artist for my whole life because I’ve got a fucking loud mouth. You know what’s funny, I’ve just created this little world in my head of how I see myself, and I’ve believed in it so much that it’s starting to come true. Like, I’ll just look in the mirror and go, ‘Ollie you’re a fucking rockstar man.’ Rather than me adjusting to the world, slowly I see the world morphing and adjusting to me. It’s all just a matter of perspective and, for me personally, it’s a good mindset to have.
Now that you’re fully in the reigns, producing and writing your own songs, is there a particular method to the way that you go about writing songs?
There’s one place we can all go if we tap into it deep enough: the place where everything exists and has forever existed. I think every song that’s going to be made has already been made, so it’s not about me making the song, it’s about me finding the song and bringing it back. Picture it like a dinosaur—the dinosaur‘s already there in the ground, and just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’m never creating a dinosaur, you can’t create a dinosaur. What it’s about is brushing away all of the nonsense and all of the distractions to just get to this pure source. Once you get there, it’s limitless. You’re not bound by any physical measurements.
If you felt it, it’s because I felt it when I made it. And, no offense to anyone else, but I’m never making music with the intention of giving a fuck about what anyone else will say about it. If it does what it does to me, then that’s the whole point right there, everything else is irrelevant. A lot of music is made with impure intentions. And that’s what I hear; I hear corruption. It saddens me.
What’s next for the world of Oliver Malcolm?
What’s next is just bare music. You’ve got to understand all of the world of Oliver Malcolm has meaning; I don’t do things meaninglessly, every song is linked to every song somehow. I see me being Willy Wonka and the world of Oliver Malcolm is the Chocolate Factory, and there are all these crazy different rooms. I promise you, if you really just listen and pay attention, it’ll be fun to be on this journey.