Starting at the age of just 12, R&B crooner Malachiae Warren began his singing career through YouTube and school talent shows before moving on to recording at 14. Coming from a family with an extensive musical background provides its advantages, and the now 20 year-old talent is currently taking huge strides in leaving his mark on his home city of Atlanta, bringing fresh life into a scene that so craves the new talent. Warren - better known as Chiae - continues to develop his skills in writing, producing, and singing with his creative partner, Jasper Cameron, and released his major label debut EP, Heard U Was In My City, via Universal's Motown Records on March 25.
We met up with Chiae to discuss his background, beginnings, and the new EP.
TRANSVERSO: Tell us about Heard U Was In My City.
WARREN: [The single] “Minute Made” is a new sound from me, coming all the way from my first single “Thank Yo Momma (feat. Migos)” that came out a few years earlier. For this record, you know, a bad seed came through town and didn’t know what she wanted, so this new music is just a way to express that feeling from me personally.
What's the story?
The way it went was this girl - an ex girl of mine - would come and kick it with me in Atlanta, but she wanted more out of the relationship than I wanted to give at the time. She ended up coming back to the city, but she didn’t call me when she did. So my mind was racing, thinking, “Who’s she with, who’s she talking to?” That sort of thing. I just felt that regret kicking in. So the EP takes little pictures, moments, and feelings from that time in my life, and I just made what I was feeling.
How has coming from Atlanta and being a product of that culture and vibrancy affected your music?
First and foremost, I love Atlanta. I was born and raised here, so of course I have to always represent. It’s just a great place to be, especially in the entertainment field. You meet a ton of like minds down here; it’s just really easy to connect to people. The only downside is that there’s just a ton of competition to face, but when you find your sound and you stand out, that’s what people pay attention to. That’s what people will gravitate to. You just have to find yourself and run with it.
From whom do you pull inspiration?
Gotta shout out to Atlanta, so Monica, Ludacris, Usher, and people of that nature. But I listen to a lot of other stuff too. I’m a big hip hop fan, so I got a lot of love for Future and Drake - even the greats like Jay Z and Tupac. I get a little bit of influence from every genre.
Have you considered working with other artists similar in style like The Weeknd or Travis Scott?
Yeah, absolutely. Right now though, I’m focusing on finding myself and my sound - the thing that will make me unique and stand out. But I would love to branch out and work with other artists that have the same vision as I do for their music.
You mix a lot of different styles in unorthodox ways, like inserting an almost '80s hair metal / anthemic sounding guitar into hip hop. How and why do you experiment with these different generations and cultures?
That’s crazy that you noticed that. I’m just into music, man. I really just do what I feel and put in what sounds right, no matter what I’m doing. I’m not here to follow trends or fit into standards, that’s just not me. I put passion into anything I do. We bring live bass players into the studio to bring that extra feel into the sound, bringing the old school back to the new stuff, that kind of thing.
Since I’m so young, I look at my generation, and I see how easily influenced we are. So I try to strike a balance that can find all of those different listeners. And that’s not to say that I won’t do the turn up songs, I just feel like you have to have that balance. I might do those types of songs, but I’m going to keep doing songs about love, songs that make people feel good in general. You’ve gotta have fun, but you’ve gotta have the downtime too. It’s a balance. If you turn up for too long, you’re gonna crash after a little while.
You’re only 20 years old. How does it feel being such a young artist at this level in the music industry?
It feels great, man. I just count my blessings and just do my best to remember why I’m here and who got me here. It’s just another way to prove to people my age that dreams do come true, so never listen to that negativity in your life. Keep on moving forward.
What brought you to music in the first place?
[It’s] crazy, man, because I was doing a whole lot before music. I was acting a little bit, actually. But this whole thing started with me doing some comedy sketches on YouTube. I’d add some singing at the end there, just a little snippet of a song, not anything serious, just to maybe show some viewers that I could sing. When I woke up the next day, the comments were just going crazy. Girls were going crazy over it, so I thought why not, and started singing more. I actually played my school’s talent show and the same thing happened, girls went crazy over it. That’s what made me want to pursue music a little more from then.
You've also gone on to start a brand called LoveLife.
It’s just something that we do to present a message— loving life, loving your music, loving yourself. We need more positivity in this generation, in this genre, everyone’s gotta love their life, you know, go forth and don’t be afraid to follow your passion. It’s nobody else’s life, and nothing’s holding you back, so go chase it.
So what's next?
We’re really just focusing on this EP that I just put out and the focus of that release, “Minute Made.” I’ve just been running around Atlanta, getting my name out and talking to the clubs and the DJ’s, all of those guys, just grinding it out. I really wanna see my fans up close and personal, so I will definitely be hitting the road in the next few months. Right now I’m just working on getting my name out down home, but when I hit the road, I’m gonna be hitting those cities hard.