Say Hello to Malibu
a.k.a. An interview with the reclusive French ambient artist ahead of her first American tour.
In a time when many artists feel compelled to loudly clamor for attention, Malibu (a.k.a. Barbara Braccini) is someone who generally prefers to keep a low profile. Shy, humble and deliberate in her craft, she has only a handful of releases to her name—the most recent being 2019’s One Life EP and its subsequent remix EP—but her ethereal, reverb-soaked creations (not to mention her angelic vocal manipulations) still feel uniquely powerful, even in the context of an increasingly crowded ambient sphere. It’s no wonder that artists such as Oliver Coates, Dark0 and Placid Angles (a.k.a. John Beltran) have enlisted Malibu for collaborations, nor it surprising that tastemaker labels like PAN, YEAR001, UNO NYC and Geographic North have released her work.
Over the past several years, she’s quietly built an impressive resume, and if one also considers her output as DJ Lostboi—a more playful (and far more prolific) side project largely focused on dreamy re-edits of pop, EDM and hip-hop—and her popular monthly NTS radio show, United in Flames, a case certainly could be made that this French artist is one of electronic music’s brightest talents.
However, instead of capitalizing on whatever hype and critical acclaim has been thrown her way, Malibu has largely kept to herself. Living in the Southwest of France, she rarely plays shows—and has spoken frequently about her dislike of playing live—and doesn’t often talk to the press either. (And when she does chat with journalists, the fact that she’s more likely to cite the influence of artists like Deadmau5 and Eric Prydz than the icons of the ambient canon undoubtedly leaves some purists scratching their heads.)
Curious to find out more about Malibu, her music and what makes her tick, I asked if she’d be up for doing an interview, and happened to catch her in New York, where she’s currently getting ready to support Julianna Barwick on her upcoming American tour. The dates kick off next week, and represent not just Malibu’s first American tour, but her first real tour of any kind. Before she hits the road, we had a long talk about her complicated relationship with live performance, and ultimately touched upon a variety of topics, including her early struggles with music (and the conservatory in particular), her technical set-up and how she feels about her own voice. She also broke down the differences between her work as Malibu and DJ Lostboi, explained how EDM and pop factor (and don’t) into her work and even gave a little preview of what new music she has on the way.