Malina Moye is a lefty who slings an upside-down Strat. That, combined with her stinging chops, invites obvious comparisons to Jimi Hendrix, but Moye is a true original. That much is evident from Rock & Roll Baby, her new album featuring a distinctive fusion of chicken-shack R&B, hip-hop, blues, funk, rock and roll, psychedelia and neo-soul, all of it buoyed by her effervescent vocal and songwriting prowess.
Moye likes to think of the diverse elements of her music as puzzle pieces that she’s picked up as she’s gathered experience. She has appeared at scores of festivals around the globe and made stateside pit stops that have seen her performing the national anthem at a Vikings/Cowboys game, jamming with bass legend Bootsy Collins at NAMM, and trading licks with Robert Johnson’s running partner “Honeyboy” Edwards. She’s also the first left-handed female Fender endorsee, and she’s even modeled for Victoria’s Secret.
“Putting together the pieces of who I am as an artist started when my daddy first handed me a guitar,” she says. “It was a Melody Maker, but when I picked up his Stratocaster, I knew I’d found the instrument that could complete my voice. We lived in Ohio, where modern funk came from with Parliament-Funkadelic and the Ohio Players. So that’s right down in my soul, too.”
As a teen, Moye was playing clubs with her musical family and absorbing influences that included P-Funk’s Catfish Collins and “Fast” Eddie Hazel, monster lefty bender Albert King, and, of course, Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Nolen. All of that is reflected in Rock & Roll Baby, the follow up to Moye’s 2009 debut, Diamonds & Guitars. Her daredevil playing—colored by rippling wah, singing sustain and an opulent midrange-fattened tone—is framed by songs that veer from carefully tailored pop-chart fodder like “Are You the One” to the aptly titled “K-yotic,” a stomp-and-sizzle jam with Bootsy Collins himself adding bass and vocal counterpoint.
But for Moye, the biggest joy is playing live, which inspires her globetrotting. “I love the energy onstage,” she explains. “It’s about the moment. It’s about being strong and being yourself. People feel your energy and strength and give 10 times as much right back. I will go anywhere to play.”
GUITARS Fender American Standard Stratocasters with left-handed bodies and right-handed headstocks, strung conventionally and fitted with active DiMarzio True Velvet and Virtual Vintage Blues pickups
AMP Fender Hot Rod DeVille 212
EFFECTS Boss Blues Driver, Metal Zone and various Boss delays, Dunlop Cry Baby
STRINGS Dean Markley .09- and .08-gauge sets