From deep hatred to undying love | Stalko

We speak to one of Malta’s favourite folk-pop acts, Stalko ahead of the release of their long-awaited full-length album, Grandiloquence, at The Orpheum Theatre, Gzira on Novemeber 25.

Stalko are: Chris Cini, Tim Ellis and Mike Stivala. Photo by Denise Scicluna.
Stalko are: Chris Cini, Tim Ellis and Mike Stivala. Photo by Denise Scicluna.

The album has been in the works for over two years. Why has it taken so long?

We never set any deadlines for ourselves to finish the album until recently. In fact, in summer we decided to spend time rewriting our songs to allow us to do more intimate acoustic gigs, and put the recording on hold. Now the time feels kind of right, although you never really know...

What does the title refer to? Is it indicative of the kind of music we can expect from it?

Back in 2009 when we were choosing our band name, Tim stumbled upon an old dictionary of disused English words entitled 'The Grandiloquent Dictionary', where the word 'stalko' is defined ('an impecunious idler pretending to be a gentleman'). Apart from being a nod to that dictionary, it is a fitting word to describe the way our songs have been created in the studio, especially in contrast to our mostly minimal set up when performing live (although this minimal set up has been thrown out of the window for the launch, since we're going to be appropriately grand)

Stalko's music is a mix of several genres... what would you say are some of your key influences, and what kind of atmosphere do you aim to create with your music?

It's always very difficult to pinpoint our influences. Musically we all have really varied tastes and likings, although there are a number of meeting points. Additionally, what you listen to does not necessarily reflect itself in the music you make. Influences are also not restricted to music, we're not very one-dimensional in that respect. Influences are taken with a pinch of salt, but somehow they probably all surface every now and then. Maybe the listeners of our album will surprise us by pinpointing some influences we've never even thought of ourselves!

How would you say you work as an overall unit?

Our feelings toward each other vary from deep hatred to undying love. Since only three of us write the songs, it's easier to come to a decision over musical disputes: the old two vs one. No casting votes allowed. If you must have a serious answer, then we can safely tell you that we all contribute from initial stages right to the final near-insignificant note. However, in the deep recesses of our brain, each one of us thinks that he is the sole creative driving force behind Stalko.

Your previous output was accompanied by a striking video [for your song In A Hurry] - can we expect something similar to come out of this album too? Do you think the visual component is crucial to a band in this day and age?

Judging by the response to the video alone, it is critical to help a song gain popularity. We've got plans for more visual wonders but nothing's taken shape yet. We prepared to focus on the album. One step at a time.

Your music mixes in both Maltese and English - how do you go about 'choosing' which language to use for song-writing?

Tough one. We write mostly in English but sometimes a song just sounds better in Maltese. Let's say we're just the product of bilingual Malta and leave it at that, shall we?

How do you feel about the album now that it's done, and are you looking forward to unleashing it onto the world (well, the island), come November 25?

We're extremely pleased that the album is ready, and the launch is shaping up nicely. At first it seemed like we were taking on an insurmountable task, but as the date draws closer, we're feeling more and more prepared to host this evening at the delightful Orpheum theatre.

For more information and ticket booking, click here.