By Maura Marcellino
To close out Women’s History Month this year at Alchemical Records, I wanted to write about someone who I believe is truly making her mark and making the music industry a better place. I had the pleasure to talk to Malerie Gamblin (Mal), the lead singer of a pop-punk band from the DMV, Keep Your Secrets. She is someone who works at the university I attend and has played shows with some of my friends. It is so amazing how connected the local music scene is.
Growing up, Mal always wanted to be in the music industry, but did not know it was something that she could do. Before the pandemic started, Mal messaged her friend from college, Matt, to maybe try being in a pop-punk band since he was in a couple other bands like metal bands. After wanting more things to do, Matt messaged her to start a pop-punk band. Pop-punk is the only band Mal ever wanted to be in. An early influence of hers is The Wonder Years, while a current influence to her is Meet Me @ the Altar. Many people may make fun of a grown adult still listening to the same stuff they listened to in middle school, but as Mal says, “If it’s good, it’s good!”
Every band/artist has their own creative processes. Mal will make some sort of indie sad girl song on her acoustic guitar, send it to Matt to amp it up. Sometimes Matt already has a part and then Mal would add some lyrics and melody. All four of the current band members, Mal, Matt, Ken, and Jaisu, are all writing their next EP for the summer. Everybody is providing input and coming together to bring creations from their own influences. At times, it can be like a mini therapy session, especially between Ken and Mal. Before shows, the band mates like to hang out and chill. She thinks of her bandmates like her brothers. She also enjoys hanging out with the other acts they play on stage with!
To attend concerts, Mal prefers places with a pit, but not a stadium or too intimate of a venue. In fact, she recently went to see The Wonder Years with her friends, but she wanted to be able to crowd surf and get up close. For playing, smaller and intimate venues are a great match to play. I had the privilege to see Keep Your Secrets with fellow DMV bands, Unity for the Outcasts and Kings of the Wild Things at The Pocket in Washington, D.C. in November of 2021. The atmosphere was welcoming and energetic. All three bands were similar enough and drew similar crowds, which caused fans of one band to become a fan of the others. There was moshing, cover songs with twists, originals, and high energy all around. I recommend seeing them live if you ever get the chance. The local DMV music scene is a great community to be a part of. So many artists find out they have mutual friends, recommend venues and artists to play with, and uplift each other.
As a black woman fronting a band with all members of color, it is important to play with other punk artists of color. She can feel like her whole authentic self. One of her favorite shows is when she played with the Punk Prince of Anarchy, Breezy Supreme.
Keep Your Secrets gained traction with their pop-punk cover of Billie Eilish’s Therefore I Am. They have released a few other covers since then, Usually, to decide what to cover, they listen for something to move around to. To end 2021, they released a cover and a music video of Lost in the Citadel by Lil Nas X. This song was not even one of the popular one’s off of Lil Nas X’s album, but the band heard it and had to put their spin on it.
To me, the perfect soundtrack makes for a great movie or show. I love asking people about music, especially what kinds of movies and shows artists see their music on. Keep Your Secrets songs could be featured in early 2000’s comedy movies like American Pie and Dude, Where’s My Car? and shows like one of Mal’s favorite shows, Malcolm in the Middle, or (one of my favorite shows) Degrassi: The Next Generation, season seven to be specific. That season was full of alternative party scene music.
Balancing different jobs, music, and life involves a lot of multitasking for her.
She loves to bake and cook.
Her go-to karaoke songs include “Surrender” by Cheap Trick and “Ain’t it Fun” by Paramore.
Wants listeners to feel safe and welcome, especially in a predominantly white cis male genre.
Loves to listen to music on CD and vinyl.
Three Keep Your Secrets songs for new listeners:
“23” (my personal favorite)
“Forget Me When You’re Gone”
“Therefore I Am” ( covering Billie Eilish)
I cannot wait to listen to their new music this summer, but until then you can check out their music anywhere you stream music.
Join the Alchemical Records Street Team to promote these and other live music and music community events to receive cool perks from artists performing throughout the region.
Maura Marcellino is studying business and environmental sustainability at George Mason University. When she is not studying, Maura enjoys listening to music and spending time with friends and family.
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