For Adam Lovelady and Josh Rodriguez, who make up two-thirds of the electronic experimental outfit Mallevs — along with Jen Deveroux, known for producing dynamic special events — there is no grand or ultimate band goal. Instead, they get their excitement on the regular by making new music that they hope not only is enjoyed by those who discover it but serves as catalyst for other musicians and creators. They like the idea of helping to broaden and fortify the music scene.
Lovelady and Rodriguez have been making music together for a few years now, and Mallevs came together when Sleep Money, another of their projects, was having some down time. "It was in 2012," Rodriguez says. "Our bass player wanted to go back to school, so we stopped playing shows. Adam and I wanted to keep going, but we weren't sure what we wanted to do."
"We just knew we wanted to do something," says Lovelady. "We started getting more into synth music and getting inspired by a lot of different styles of music. We took some of the vibes we created in Sleep Money and went in a totally different way with it. It was around that time when we started thinking about having a female vocalist, and it all kind of went from there.
"We aren't just inspired by music but also elements of other things we like— movie soundtracks for one — and often times just the vibes that come from different things," he says. The name itself (pronounced mal-E-us), is taken from Malleus Maleficarum, meaning hammer of the witches, a 15th-century text on the prosecution of witches.
With two synths and a drum machine, Lovelady and Rodriguez put together tracks that encompass a blend of defined sounds. Layered and distinct, a lot of Mallevs' tracks feature backdrops rich with the intensity and drive of first-wave post-punk, along with elements of noise, dance, psychedelia, and hypnotic grooves. Despite being deeply layered, the songs often have a minimalist air about them, letting the listener weave through the different textures at play. Deveroux's voice is sweet but has an edge that keeps the sound gritty and haunting without crossing a bridge into ghost-like. On "Grave," Deveroux's vocals are reminiscent of the darker moments on Lydia Lunch's renowned 13:13.
The members of Mallevs love the trance spot that is found in a lot of electronic music — that space that locks you in and engages you even as you're aware of everything else that's happening in the music.
One person locked in is James Fella, owner of local label Gilgongo Records. He is in the process of releasing the band's self-titled tape, originally released on the Ascetic House label, on vinyl this month. A special pre-order got buyers a limited-edition seven-inch lathe.
"I think what struck me most about the tape," Fella says, "was how timeless it felt. I remember telling one of them how, in the most positive of ways possible, I wouldn't have been able to tell at what point in the past 35 years it was recorded. What Adam and Josh are doing is such a perfect amalgamation of things that I love: It is mechanical and rhythmic but also dreary and beautiful. And Jen's vocals are a style that I obsess on. If I was a woman, or had the voice for it, I would love to have a project where I got to sing like that."
The band says that adding Deveroux to the mix was easy. Rodriguez had a good feeling about her singing ability just from what he calls her "easy talking voice," and his guestimate was right on the money. They liked that her newness to singing in a band came along with unpredictable perspectives and insights. "We would give her ideas or tell her about styles we like," says Adam. "And not having any preconceived ideas, she put her own spins and twists on things, and that was really cool."