A few years ago, Evan Sinton emerged from New Zealand’s Got Talent in third place, thanks to his soulful acoustic sets and singer-songwriter vibes. After he disappeared from the music scene, up-and-coming electro-pop artist MAALA began making waves, drawing the attention of music critics and fans alike.

When MAALA, previously masked and unnamed, revealed himself to be none other than Evan Sinton, it’s safe to say that it was a surprise to many. Shortly after the release of MAALA’s first full-length album Composure, we got a chance to ask him about how it felt to reshape his identity, what the response to his music has been like, and his performance experiences.

Now that your image has changed so drastically since you competed in New Zealand’s Got Talent, do you experience pressure to release a certain type of music? Do you ever find yourself writing acoustic music but feeling unable to release it?

Not so much. I think the acoustic music was a reflection of the kind of stuff I was listening to. My taste in music was changing and I felt a little restricted by the genre. The electronic music I started writing became more of a natural progression.  

Have you noticed that people react differently to you and your music, now that you’ve entered a different genre?

My music definitely lives in a different world now: sonically there’s a lot more energy and so I’ve noticed that in the crowd’s reaction. I like the change of pace – it keeps things fresh and exciting for both the audience and I.

ow do you feel about music critics often drawing parallels between you, Lorde, and Broods?

To be honest, I haven’t felt that comparison nearly as strongly as I think people suggest. I mean, I understand it, but I’m really more focused on finding my own path. Either way, I have a lot of respect for them – I guess I’m flattered and I’ll graciously accept the parallel.

How has the performance experience changed for you as you’ve switched from acoustic guitar to electronic decks – is it any more or less intimate?

They’re both intimate in their own way. Acoustically, there was something a little more spontaneous about the performance, which I guess made it feel more personal. But the MAALA stuff has been far more centred around melody and writing tracks people can sing along to – it’s more deliberate. It’s a super intimate feeling, hearing people singing along to the songs.

You’ve started playing more and more international shows, which is a testament to how widely-enjoyed your music is becoming. Is there a “pinch me” moment that’s stood out for you while touring?

I played Live at Leeds this year and I filled out the room. Gosh – that was incredible. Playing on the other side of the world and hearing people sing back the songs was a really special moment.

Is there an emotion or theme that underpins your new album, Composure?

It’s really only been on reflection now that I’ve worked out what the hell it was I was trying to say. It’s a rollercoaster of anxiety and romance. This body of work to me was about finding my composure; about finding a way to work through all of that. 

Are you excited to be playing at MTV Beats & Eats in Australia later this month?

Of course! I hope it’s super sunny. Hopefully I’ll be able to go a lil’ wild to Steve Aoki.