curtains: in conversation with king mala

Ileana Lozano


Many Latinas grow up hearing the phrase calladita te ves más bonita. This phrase translates from Spanish to you’re prettier when you’re quiet. You don’t want to tell that to Areli Castro, better known as KiNG Mala. This LA-based artist isn’t afraid to spill what’s on her mind and what weighs in her heart. Her songs explore a sultry edge reminiscent of Billie Eillish and a kitten-like Katy Perry sound. This shouldn’t be a coincidence since the artist has worked with John Greenham who has mastered songs for Billie Eillish, Sam Smith, Katy Perry, and Banks. With themes like social anxiety, not wanting to be at the party, and inappropriate relationships, she’s an artist to look out for.


In KiNG MALA's debut EP Gemini, the songstress explores love, heartbreak and transformation. Her latest single Funeral is a dark tune exploring a relationship where the power lay with her partner. The song is profound and haunting, with poetic lyrics and a captivating production.


In this conversation with KiNG MALA, we talk about the artist’s relationship with death, how it inspires her, and how she wants to be remembered.


Push Up Daisies: What has your relationship with death always been like, and how do you view it now?


KiNG MALA: Growing up, my relationship with death was definitely based in fear. I was a very anxious child and I always imagined that the end of the world or a horrible fire or some other random disaster was right around the corner. Now I feel like I am a bit more at peace with the idea of death, it doesn’t scare me so much as it's a reminder to do as much as I can while I can. That feeling that I’m running out of time and need to do as much as I can has been constant my whole life.


Push Up Daisies: Are you spiritual or religious? How do you think your ideals affect your perception of death?


KiNG MALA: I’m not religious at all, and I’m not really spiritual but I do believe in the power of energy. I think the universe is made up of energy and we are just little bits of that energy living out our lives as humans until we die, and then our energy returns to the universe to be used as something else. Kind of like a river that runs through all of us, and we just return to that river at the end. Because of this I’m a really big fan of manifesting and the power of our thoughts and stuff like that. This gives me a lot of peace when it comes to the idea of death. Makes it less about “getting into heaven or hell” or something like that, and more about returning to the source.


Push Up Daises: As a creative, how does the thought or fear of death inspire you? Does it ever drive you to create more?


KiNG MALA: The thought of death is a really big motivator for me. I think that the idea that my time is finite makes me want to create and connect with as many people as much as I can.


Push Up Daises: How would you like to be remembered?


KiNG MALA: I would just like to be remembered for being kind and funny and making people feel good. I also want people to think about me and remember that even when I struggled, I was always honest and vulnerable.

Push Up Daises: What are you most proud of in your life?


KiNG MALA: I'm really proud of everything I’ve been able to do while also struggling with mental illness. Even when I felt like the world was ending, and like I didn’t deserve the good things in life, I still pushed through and continued to try and create my dream life. Any material success or notoriety in the slightest is a plus, but knowing I didn't let my brain stop me is what I am the most proud of.


Push Up Daises: How does the thought of death affect your everyday life?


KiNG MALA: Probably in the most basic, instinctual way honestly. I drive safely, workout, eat healthy, practice gratitude and make the most of my day trying to have as much time in this life and do as much as I can with it.


Push Up Daises: In what ways can it be healthy to contemplate death?


KiNG MALA: I think using it as a reminder that if you want to do something, do it now. There is no guarantee that you will be here tomorrow or that if you work crazy hard right now, you will get to enjoy life eventually. It's so cheesy, but use death as a reminder to live now because you never know when it's gonna be over.


Push Up Daises: Have you ever seen a film revolving around death, that left its mark on you?


KiNG MALA: I think about the movie Enter The Void by Gaspar Noe a lot. It's this story of a man dying and traveling through the void of death while also tripping on DMT. That movie is so interesting. It really puts into perspective that death is just another experience that we will eventually go through and that we should just focus on living while we’re alive and worry about death when we’re dead.


Push Up Daises: Is there something that you would be willing to die for? What would this be?


KiNG MALA: I would die for my siblings and my parents. Also probably for my friends. I don’t know if any experience is worth dying for, but I would die for the people I love if they needed me to.


Push Up Daises: What are your ideal and worst ways to die?


KiNG MALA: Oof. Probably the classics like drowning or being buried alive are the worst I can think of. And as for the ideal ways to die, I would probably go for something quick like a brain aneurysm.