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interview

Malaika Astorga

Co-Founder Also Cool Mag

Mexican-Canadian visual artist, graphic designer, writer, editor, video producer & event coordinator. Malaika co-founded Also Cool Mag, working to provide community and support for artists both in Montreal, and internationally.

Malaika Astorga

Where are you based?

I’m currently based in Montreal, Canada.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I’m a visual artist and writer, and the co-founder of Also Cool Mag. Also Cool is an art and music online magazine, event series and show on N10.as radio. My 9-5 usually involves content creation and copywriting, and my freelance work is often illustration, design, editorial writing, and PR.

What are you listening to?

I listen to a lot of Japanese disco from the late 70s to early 80s (very specific, I know). Junko Yagami’s Communication album has been on repeat lately.

How do you discover new music?

I rely primarily on my Spotify algorithm, YouTube’s recommended videos, and friends’ recommendations for new music. I like asking friends in different music scenes what they’re listening to, or to make me a playlist so that I don’t get stuck in a Spotify echo chamber of the same 20 bands. I also ask artists and creatives to create playlists for Also Cool once a month or so, and that exposes me to a lot of new music. Otherwise, I listen to N10.as radio, read Bitchfork, another Montreal music blog, and Canvas & Cassette, an NYC-based art and music mag.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

I listen via Spotify and YouTube most of the time when I’m at home or out doing errands because of the continuous flow of music. Otherwise, I listen to vinyl, and despite not owning a cassette player, still buy cassettes. It’s a small way to support artists without breaking the bank, and often comes with a digital download link as well. The last time I listened to a CD was in a friend’s van that only played CDs and cassettes. I don’t have a preference of analog versus digital, but I will say that most of my favourite niche music is very hard to find online.

“I don’t have a preference of analog versus digital, but I will say that most of my favourite niche music is very hard to find online. “

Where do you do most of your music listening?

If I’m home, there’s a 90% chance that there’s music playing. As long as I don’t have to be talking to another person, I probably have my headphones in, listening to music. (I’m an introvert, if you couldn’t tell haha) At home I have a speaker in my kitchen, and a record player in my living room/office.

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

I definitely check out premieres when I see them on my feed, usually discovered via Instagram and Facebook, but I also receive a lot of press kits in my email to consider for coverage on Also Cool or the other publications I contribute to. A lot of my friends are musicians or work in the industry, so we often trade pre-releases, final masters, etc for feedback.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

I definitely get a lot of links in emails, but if anything, I get turned off by the press kit’s design if it’s too annoying/flashy haha. That, and poorly written bios claiming that they’re the next new hot band that will blow my mind. The music should speak for itself. Despite that, I try to give everything a listen. 

I rarely use iTunes anymore, and only use SoundCloud to listen to friends’ DJ mixes, so I don’t really notice the ads. I do get frustrated with how Spotify and YouTube algorithms can be repetitive, but I try to actively change those up by engaging with a wide range of genres and styles. I also have been discovering a lot of music that I wouldn’t otherwise listen to via TikTok, which is pretty wild, but I’m enjoying it.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

I make a lot of playlists on Spotify and YouTube, and often go back to my Shazaam saves. I definitely have a hard time finding music two weeks after discovering it (if I haven’t saved it properly), but I’ll dig through my texts and saved music until I find my way back to it.

Byta – send & receive digital audio

With Byta you are in control of your music. Streams or downloads arrive in the 
format that your collaborators need, metadata keeps everything organized and files 
are always secure.

Explore our plans

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

Definitely! If I find a new song that I’m obsessed with I’ll send it around my network to share my discovery, and to get different opinions on it.

Anything you want to “promote”?

Backxwash has been my favourite artist for almost a year now, and she’s really blown up with her latest record “God Has Nothing To With This Leave Him Out Of It”, securing a Polaris Prize shortlist nomination. Switching genres completely, Yoo Doo Right put out a split with Japanese psych legends Acid Mothers Temple called “Speed Guru.” Otherwise I would say that Pelada, Moon King, Strange Froots, and Born at Midnite are worth checking out right now.

"I like asking friends in different music scenes what they’re listening to, or to make me a playlist so that I don’t get stuck in a Spotify echo chamber of the same 20 bands."

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