Natalie Yepez’s dream almost never came to fruition. A bad case of stage fright kept her downtown’s little secret for years. A chance meeting with Diplo while singing karaoke led to her becoming Mad Decent’s first lady and MadeMe’s new obsession.
We swapped emails with the “half Dominican, half pain in the ass” to see what Maluca Mala is all about.
MadeMe:When did you first fall in love with music? How does your dominican-ness come into play?
Maluca: I was born in love with music…straight out of the womb. Being Dominican is the base for everything I do…how I dance, how I love and how I make music. My culture is my core.
MadeMe: How and when did you overcome your stage fright?
Maluca: My boy TJ from the Bowery Riots asked me to sing back-up. At that point in my life, I had given up doing fashion and PR and went back to bartending, but I knew I had to just attempt doing this music thing. When TJ came along, this was my chance to get over my fear. I just kind of jumped into it. I wasn’t sure if I was going to really fit in because it was a Rock and Roll band, but surprisingly I did!
MadeMe: How did you hook up with Diplo?
Maluca: I met Wes at a bar I used to work at. Remember 205 on Rivington? I used to have sooo much fun working there!
MadeMe: I know Mala means bad, but what does Maluca mean? That ain’t Spanish, Honey.
Maluca: In some Spanish speaking countries Maluca means ugly brown woman. If you Google “Maluca”, an image of me and someone woman with wild hair in black face comes up it’s so crazy. In Brazil it means crazy women and I just found out that in Arabic it means queen. So Maluca Mala is a – Crazy Ugly Mean Black Queen…. Fucking AWESOME!
MadeMe: Growing up in the heights, I know all about “El Tigeraso.” I have to explain stuff to Erin all the time what stuff means in Spanish. What was the WORST pick up line you’ve ever hear in the heights?
Maluca: The worst is when they try to holler at you by grabbing on your hand or even going as far as pulling hair!
MadeMe: You have a GREAT sense of fashion. (I mean you did wear a MadeMe Moto which looked totally amazing, by the way.) How would you describe your style?
Maluca: I try not to take my style too seriously. In the El Tigeraso video, girls take their rollers out before they get to the club. I’m like, “nah fuck it”! I’m going to wear ‘em in the club because I can and I know I’ll still look fly. I really do try to have fun. I wear things because it feels good and not because it’s “in”.
ETA: for all those asking who this fierce bitch is, see the music video below.