On the Record with Mala | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

On the Record with Mala

"I didn't want to make a Cuban album as such because that wouldn't be me."


Mark Lawrence, who goes by the stage name Mala, heads up the Deep Medi Musik label and is known as one of the early purveyors of the dubstep sound. But at heart, he's a humble father and serene artist. He spoke with City Paper about his most recent project, Mala in Cuba, which melds his South London dance-music roots with the vibrant sounds of Havana.

How did Mala in Cuba come to fruition?

It was kind of random, really. [British DJ and impresario] Gilles Peterson asked, would I be interested in a project that he's working on? I was doing [Red Bull Academy in London] at the time. And we just met up, literally, across the road, over a pint of Guinness. And he just said, "Do you wanna come to Cuba with me?" 

Gilles went out there a couple of years ago, worked with some artists, made an album and he wanted to go back and make another album but he wanted to do something that was different.

What was the concept behind it?

It ended up becoming the musicians playing traditional Cuban rhythms at the tempo that I like to make music. I didn't want to make a Cuban album as such because that wouldn't be me. And that's where I say it really is South London meeting Havana, because I went there with what I know and they gave me what they know. And somehow I managed to make a selection of tracks that I'm happy to share with people.