Daily Discovery: MALIA Covers the Chronology of Heartbreak on ‘What’s After I Love You?’

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

A broken heart can make you question who you are and how you’re showing up in the world. In the aftermath of a breakup, MALIA began questioning everything about herself, then documented the chapters of her relationship, and its eventual fallout, on What’s After ‘I Love You?’ (Black Sea Music).

“You begin to examine each dark corner that may have been swept over in the past, all the way to the root of the limiting beliefs that may have been planted decades ago or more,” MALIA tells American Songwriter. “For me, this pain was unlike anything I’ve ever felt and I found myself at rock bottom. My first reaction was to clamor to get the feelings back that I was clinging so hard to out of fear, but sitting with that pain instead of pushing it away or attempting to change the situation was the best thing I could have done.”

On What’s After ‘I Love You?’ MALIA reveals the breakup in chronological order, in eight songs, from its inception to the breaks and its ultimate end with the opening jazzed up calm before the storms on “Falling Fast (Interlude I)” and bookended by a more solemn “Interlude 3″ later in the story. The opener “More Than Love” prods the question what’s after I love you. Written before MALIA’s heartbreak, “More Than Love” explores how honest communication can make love prevail and cuts through vulnerability and facing fears on “Currency.”

“Once I was able to regain some sense of composure, making music was my only outlet,” shares MALIA. “My heart, mind, body, and spirit were calling out for me to create, perhaps as a sense of closure I felt I was lacking.” 

Chronically the lifeline of her former relationship, on the more exposed “Only One” is where MALIA finds beauty in pain through the revelation of unrequited love, singing Guess I love way too hard / Did I make this up / Am I the one / The only one in love. “I think most humans want love and to experience a mutual partnership,” says MALIA. “No one is owed love by their partner but what a beautiful thing for someone to want to choose you.”   

After a denser interlude, the soulful “Undone” circles around breaking down and rebuilding. “When everything has changed, lovers become strangers again and you fall to the sunken place, you can’t really find words to communicate anymore because the change in dynamic is just too painful,” says MALIA. “Somehow in that sunken place, you find a way to pull yourself back up and remember not to close your heart to love just because it hurts. Like the lotus flower that grows beautifully out of the mud, the gritty dirty shadow work is often the best healer.”

For MALIA, who just released the album Unpolished in 2021, What’s After I Love You? is another moving piece for the Los Angeles artist, who already gained more than 10 million streams since her 2017 debut EP Late Bloomer and Ripe. In 2021, MALIA was also the only artist asked by Alicia Keys to cover a song around the 20th anniversary of Keys’ debut Songs In A Minor.

“This is the most vulnerable I’ve ever been in my writing and it makes me feel so exposed to share but also empowered because the growth I experienced through this intense pain created the best version of me yet,” says MALIA of the new EP. “Sharing these songs with the world forces me to continue to remain open and live from a place of love over fear. I hope my story reminds people that moments of darkness however painful, actually hold our hand and help us elevate.”

Check out the exclusive premiere of MALIA’s video for “More Than Love” below.

Photo: Dilipa / Tell All Your Friends PR

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