by Sam Vegar

Mali Mali: Lets Sleeping Dogs Lie

by Sam Vegar

Mali Mali: Lets Sleeping Dogs Lie

Auckland singer-songwriter Mali Mali aka Ben Tolich released his second album ‘As a Dog Dreams’ in early April 2016, balancing between folk, with an occasional pinch of pop. “In an age when people protect themselves or present an ego in their absence, this sounds courageous,” Graham Reid wrote in his review. NZM’s Sam Vegar quizzes Tolich about the release and about what’s next for him.

After previously having recorded with Mark Myers at Big Sister Studio, why did you choose to record ‘As A Dog Dreams’ alone?

I knew I wanted a different sound with this album. Something more home-made. I thought I could either get a producer to do that or I could just try and make it myself. I ended up sending my final mixes to Mark to get him to fix anything but he was really surprised with how it sounded and was very encouraging. He didn’t really touch the mixes apart from adding some real drums to a couple of tracks.

Working through the process alone versus working with a producer, what do you find works better for you?

I’m always open to input from people I respect but I’m kind of surprised it’s taken me this long to record myself. I was always scared that I’d ruin the songs somehow but now that I’ve done it I can’t imagine doing it any other way. I’ve always been a control freak when it comes to my art and so it makes sense that I’d love being responsible for each brush stroke. The most difficult part of this process was the mastering for me because it was the one thing I couldn’t adjust when ever I wanted to. William Bowden did an amazing job though and was so happy to help and adjust things as I wanted.

Compared to your last album, did the different recording process influence any change to your music and style?

I’m a very visual person and when I write songs I almost instantly get the whole composition in my head. I had written these songs before recording anything so the main difference was that it allowed me to see the songs fully realised as to how I imagined. When you work with a busy producer there can be time constraints and sometimes you aren’t able to put everything you want on the table.

What has made you decide to release the album on vinyl?

Each song is a snapshot of a pretty real period in my life. Things I was going through personally up until finishing this album was something that I wanted to celebrate. It’s hard to predict how an album is going to be received or even heard so I wanted to make a physical record to remind myself of what has been done despite it’s success. Also vinyl’s are pretty sweet.

Where are you headed now after the album is released on vinyl?

I’m about to embark on my first ever living room tour around NZ. I’m very excited to play these songs in such a raw environment. Other than that just promoting the new album and I’m ready to start recording the next batch of songs. They seem to be flowing at the moment. If you’d like to have Ben, his guitars and synths in your living room / loft / studio he’d love to hear from you. Not only will you be the first in the country to get your hands on ‘As A Dog Dreams’ on vinyl but you’ll get to experience Mali Mali’s quirky, emotional and attention drawing solo act. If you’re keen to host Mali Mali at your place during his tour, send an email to