[Interview] The Malah


The Malah is one of those bands that will surprise your senses and surpass all expectations of who you may think they are. Their organic electro-grooves will get anyone moving their hips to their driving melodic beats and superb composition. Not to mention, this trio of talented musicians made up of Elliot Vaughn (Bass), Brandon Maynard (Guitar), and Seth Fankhauser (Drums) are veterans of not just the Suwannee, but touring the country for at least the past decade.

What does Purple Hatters Ball mean to you and can you contribute some of your success due to the support from the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park?

We feel very fortunate to be part of the Purple Hatters Ball family. Playing music is always a rewarding experience, but playing for an event such as this one is really special. Celebrating the life of Rachel Morningstar Hoffman, while also supporting the foundation that has worked to pass ‘Rachel’s Law‘ in Florida is always inspiring. We love seeing so much love and positivity in the face of tragedy at this event. More so, we’ve watched this festival grow from very humble beginnings to the beautiful spectacle we see now at Spirit of the Suwannee. No doubt, Spirit of the Suwannee, and the man with the plan, Paul Levine, played a huge role in our success as a band. I believe our first performance at the park was at Bear Creek Festival in 2007. Wow. Just realized we’ve been performing there for a decade now. We’ve played on every stage at the park and have had some of the most beautiful musical experiences of our lives there, both as performers and as music lovers. It’s been great to watch the growing success of the park as well. Spirit of the Suwannee has certainly become one of the most renowned festival venues in the country.


You three have been making music together since 2003. How did ya’ll meet and what’s helped sustain your musical relationship?

We all grew up together in Greenville, SC. Me [Elliot] and Seth were in Boy Scouts together as kids, and in High School Brandon and I [Elliot] studied Jazz at the Fine Arts Center. We started playing open mic nights at the local bar, where they would make us leave after we played because we were under 21. In 2003 after countless hours of basement jams we began performing original music as The Malah at small festivals and clubs in South Carolina. Sustaining a band for this long is no easy task and we’ve certainly had many bumps in the road. But I think it’s really just a love for music that brought us together in the first place and has kept us going ever since.


Tell us about the composition of your music and what all goes behind it and who does the majority of the production?

We’ve always had one main goal when it came to composition and we’ve always stayed true to it. Collaboration. We are not one of those bands that has a lead guy who writes all the music and the other members just play along. Since the very beginning we realized that collaboration is what created our own sound. We all have slightly different musical tastes and influences, so we each bring a different element to the table. That being said we really don’t have one particular method for writing and producing; songs can come about in different ways. Sometimes we write together on our instruments playing a song over and over until we work out the composition. Sometimes songs are written in the studio using electronic music production methods. Sometimes we send songs back and forth over the internet allowing each other to edit the material. Obviously, sometimes the original ideas and parts for a song may be written individually, but a song is never finished until we’ve all put our own touch to it.


How has your music changed and developed since “Voyage of Radiowaves” (2007) through your most recent album “Trias Part 1” (2014)?

We still love playing a lot of the songs from “Voyage of Radiowaves”, which is a great feeling because I’m sure a lot of bands out there would rather forget about their early material, but we’ve tried to stay true to it. We’ve learned a lot about audio production along the way so I think the sound quality of our releases has progressed with each album. Also, I think we gravitated a bit more towards a dance music sound as we started touring the festival circuit and playing late
night sets; you can hear this on our latest EP release Trias Part 1.

Can we expect a “Trias Part 2” or any album you’re working on currently?

Trias Part 2 EP and a new full length album are in the works. We started working on a fun project last year where we are bringing back some of our very early songs that never made it on an album. We are rewriting the compositions and bringing some forgotten gems back to life. No exact release date yet, but you may get to hear a couple of these at Purple Hatters.

Is there a favorite show or festival set that stands out the most to you guys?

Honestly, I could go on for hours about memorable performances. We’ve been very fortunate to play some amazing festivals and venues across the country with some of our favorite artists. I would have to say performing at Red Rocks Amphitheatre last year with our good friends Papadosio stands out the most. The energy you feel on that stage is indescribable. We are so honored to be a small part of the history of Red Rocks.


The Malah are no strangers to the Spirit of the Suwannee, or Purple Hatter’s Ball and they always bring a crushing set to the table, especially at the park. Be sure to keep a look-out for the unreleased schedule and when to catch these guys jam it out.


(Questions answered by Elliot Vaughn)

Taking place at the beautiful Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (SOSMP) in Live Oak, Florida June 2 -4, 2017, the three-day music festival benefits The Rachel Morningstar Foundation (a non-profit 501c3 organization) in honor of longtime SOSMP friend and music festival lover Rachel Morningstar Hoffman.

For guests that want to arrive early, PHB will host a Thursday Pre-Party on June 1 with Zach Deputy, Dubconscious, Bells and Robes, and Blackwater Grease. Tickets on sale now.

PHB 2017 will utilize three stages including the famed Amphitheater Stage, a Beach Stage located along the wild black water Suwannee River that is picturesque for daytime sets, and the Uncle Charles Porch Stage. The event also features live art, yoga, workshops and a silent auction, as well as a Charity Disc Golf Tournament hosted by Zach Deputy. Since Rachel was an aspiring chef, PHB will be adding a culinary component for 2017 featuring food from several top notch chefs that will be announced at a later date.

The most memorable moment of the weekend is when Rachel’s loving mother, Margie Weiss (aka Mama Margie), leads an emotional ceremony celebrating her daughter’s memory. Each year, they released 24 monarch butterflies – 23 to represent Rachel’s age when she was taken from this world and 1 for her spirit that lives on.


Tickets are on sale here. Tickets will include three days of music and primitive camping. VIP upgrades are available, as well as tickets for the Thursday Pre-Party. The park also offers guest comforts including a general store, a full-service restaurant, showers and water stations. SOSMP will be offering a specially priced packaged that includes a cabin for four and golf cart for the weekend. To join the wait list for cabins, golf cart rentals and RV hook-ups, please contact SOSMP at (386) 364-1683.

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