It's 11:30pm, and Maluca has just finished her set at The Fader's One Step Beyond Party at the Natural History Museum. If you think there would be any signs that the New York native was tired after a dynamic set, you'd be sorely mistaken. Known for her uniquely fast musical delivery, the Bronx cumbia songstress is a ball of energy, talking quickly about everything from jobs cutting limes to where her music is headed.

With a nod on the recent URB: 25 NOW! Artists to Watch list, Maluca is one to keep on your radar through the rest of the year and into 2010. So what's the gal have to say about her past year and rise to the top? Read on!

SB: Maluca! How are you?

MM: I'm good. Oh my god, I love your earrings!

SB: [laughs] Aw thanks! But we're not here to talk about me. Let's chat you! Were you around music growing up?

MM: Well, yeah, like I came from a really musical family. They weren't all necessarily musicians, but there was ALWAYS music in the house. When you're cleaning, in the shower, or when you're cooking. My dad actually ended up working for Best Promotions which is a music marketing company, so I remember being 7 years old and having a birthday party, and it was punk! Or at least what we though punk was!

SB: [laughs] How so?

MM: Probably cause he worked with Delicious Vinyl and that was what we were used to hearing. Then when my mother remarried, my stepfather was much into mambo and rumba and a lot of world music. I was exposed to a lot.

SB: Did you, or do you still, play any instruments?

MM: [laughs] Ok, so I would like, sing in bathrooms of restaurants, and my mother would be like "Get OUT of there muchacha!" But then I started with, you know, piano, and I think there was a flute, and then the conga. I always had my hand on something. If it wasn't a drum, it might've been a pot. And then later on when I was in college, I was actually in a group for a hot minute called the Commie Mamis. We were like the political r-and-b rap group.

SB: Music with a message?

MM: [laughs] Exactly! We were like "He's gonna get you...the system's gonna get you!"

SB: [laughs] I NEED to hear those recordings! Well how did you go from that style and sound to now, being picked up by Mad Decent?

MM: It was so random! I was working at a karaoke bar, and I was actually really shy and I didn't show anybody my music for such a long time. And my friends would be like "Yo, Maluca, you gotta do this! We're sending your stuff to Mad Decent." One day, I got inspired by Gang Gang Dance, and I thought, "Oh my god, they are fucking amazing!" So I was actually at the bar, paid my tab, went home and literally made this mambo rock beat. So we sent it over and they were like "You are so fucking weird!"

SB: [laughs] I'd take that a compliment!

MM: Right?! So they were like "Give us more!" And so then I did El Tigeraso. It was just for fun, nothing serious. I had actually never finished a song from beginning to end before. And I remember, one night when I was working at the bar, chopping lemons and limes, and someone from MD was like "Yo, do you want to perform at Fader? And by the way, we want to sign you and El Tigeraso." And all I could think was "I'm cutting LIMES, what do you want me to say? I'm doing my job!"

SB: [laughs] At that point, I think you have to say, just put down the fruit!

MM: [laughs] It was so cute, so I was like, fine! So we go to Fader, and I'm like "I need a conga, I need whistles, etc..." And my friend was like, are you crazy? This is your first show and you're already making these demands? And I thought, I am NOT just going to go out there with a DJ, that's not me and it's never been me. I love live instruments and dancing, so if I was going to do it, I had to do it right.

SB: Well you definitely have a unique sound and performance style, but what would you classify your style as?

MM: Oh, tropical punk. And punk meaning just, on the outside. Not particularly punk rock, but it's weird. Sometimes people are like "Um, we don't get's not real", and I say "Well, ok, look at all the people who follow me, THEY think it's real, and you just missing out!"

SB: Precisely! So what happens next for you now? You;ve got all of ONE song out there, which caught so much fire, but when we can expect more music?

MM: Well the next song I'm going to put out is called Posers. And it's a track I did with Nguzunguzu, and they're from LA. So we're just trying to finish that up...speaking of which, there's my dad. [calls out] Hey Dad...come say hi!

SB: Say hi, Dad!

DAD: Hi dad!

ALL: [laughs]

MM: My dad inspires me and gives a lot of advice with my music. Like who I should work with and all that.

SB: So what does dad think about what you've got going on now?

DAD: I think it's awesome. Her live performances actually sound a lot better than anything else. Big Bad Bangs...THAT'S the hit.

SB: Oh really? When can we hear that one?

MM: It should be soon actually! We're just finshing up mastering it and it'll be ready before the end of the year. I think once the new year hits, I'm going to come out with a couple more new songs.

SB: Awesome! And will you continue doing more live shows to support the new material coming out?

MM: Yeah! I'm going to Australia in a week or so. Then I'll come back home for a bit before going out to LA to do a few shows out there. I like LA...they show me so much love. I actually just got done doing a ton of shows during CMJ. I performed at Santos and a ton of other places. And what's cool with that is, someone called me the "Dora the Explorer" of music, because I expose so many different people to this new and weird, eclectic sound. People will be like, "I don't know what a merengue is, but I like it!" And all these new people just get into it. I think my stuff goes well beyond the Latin community or the urban community. It's very universal. I reference hip-hop, and drum and bass,'s just all accessible.

SB: From what I've heard so far, it definitely is. I can't wait to hear more new stuff from you! And thanks so much for taking the time to talk!

You can watch a video of Maluca performing Culebra here, from her recent trip to the Dominican Republic. Also, the official video for El Tigeraso will be out soon, and you can be sure we'll have it as soon as it's available.

mp3: Maluca - El Tigeraso (Nguzunguzu Remix)