Unpolished Melodies: Nala's Exploration of Indie and Punk

Aug 2, 2023

B. I. Empey

3 min read

“The through line with my music production does it have indie-dance elements, indie-alternative elements, and punk elements, does it have acid, does it have a new wave vibe to it?”

So says rising North American tech house producer Nala when describing her core sonic aesthetic to Gray Area. Amongst those elements which constitute the bass line of her sound, she also recognizes that her current output is a stepping stone to a larger artistic evolution.

“Right now, where I'm at in my journey is I have eight more years at a minimum of learning before I'm killing it and know everything. But it's great to be acknowledged for each milestone in the same way.”

She also tells Gray Area that she views the LA punk scene as fertile ground for collaboration. “I have been doing my outreach to punk rock bands that are LA-based and trying to convince them to let me remix their songs. I’m trying to curate the vibe of it.”

Accordingly, she references Adult Blonde, an east LA punk band that recently released their first album. “It intentionally sounds like it's mixed gritty, almost as if it's like early No Doubt, or early Sublime, or early Blink 182,” she says. “It’s not hyper-produced, not polished, but the melodies are strong. They’re fun, and it’s a good vibe.”

Also of note is east LA-based, Ukrainian-born indie rocker Aspen Forest. “I don't know how his brain operates!” Nala gushes. “He has the most flawlessly produced indie-rock and not that much coverage. So, it'd be fun to start bringing them into my world, to be able to play around with more live rock stems and stuff like that.”

As far as her tastes in punk music, “I lean slightly more pop,” she says. “I fucking love Blink 182, but I also love E.S.G.and Bikini Kill — a little bit more of a California edge. I also love the New York sound. So, I'm trying to bridge [those sounds]. [Take] the New York sound and bring it back a little bit — more house and techno versus more disco.”

Those well-manicured tastes have manifested in recent experiments that have borne audial fruit for Nala’s growing listener base. “I made a Blind Melon remix (of their song) ‘No Rain’. It’s unofficial, but something I’ve been playing for fun,” she tells Gray Area.

“I have a song with the Dandy Warhols and Debbie Harry (of Blondie) called ‘IWNSLY’, and then an EP with Catz ‘n Dogz where I channel Riot Grrrl energy.” 

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