‘I DJ’ed for J Milla at the Giiyong Festival in front of 4,000 people! I’m seventeen, two years ago I had no idea what I was going to do. Music and a bit of help has changed my life.’ That’s the story of Mali Nakalevu, a young producer and DJ from the inner-west of Sydney.

 Mali reading a record label

In October 2023 Mali DJ’ed for First Nations rapper Kootsie Don at Parramatta Lanes Festival. The success of that performance led to the invitation from J Milla, a venerable First Nations rapper from Darwin, to support him at the Giiyong Festival. 


Her fifteen-year-old self couldn’t possibly imagine how far she’s come in this short time, we had a chat to find out where it all began. 


Starting your career in music production at seventeen years old is mighty impressive, how did you first get into this?

I think I always knew I wanted to do something creative, but around 15 I knew for sure that music was it for me. I started going to Glebe Youth Service* after school and was introduced to their music production program called ‘The Platform’. I loved the staff there; they were really supportive of me in my teenage years. 

I just love music… it’s always been around me. Once I started this program I knew I wanted to make music, this is something I’d be happy doing every day for a job. I started attending Glebe Youth Service every Wednesday for the ‘Open Studio’ program as well. The program became such a positive outlet for me and I started helping the younger kids in finding their feet with it too.


Since starting these programs you’ve transitioned from student to mentor, how did this come about? 

I was offered the opportunity to mentor, there were a few kids that weren’t feeling the passion for it and I figured why not grow my own skills while teaching others? 

It’s an open studio every week, another producer and I set up and the kids come in to the Youth Centre. The youngest is around 11 and the oldest is up to 15. If they want to learn something they can, if they want to just sit and watch that’s fine too. There’s no set curriculum that we follow, we just go with whatever people in the room want to see and learn. We teach them how to make beats, show them the software and help them write raps or sing. Then we set them up on a mic and show first-hand what we do as music producers.

In the studio running these workshops and recording sessions, the ATH-M50x headphones and AT4050 and AT4040 microphones give me the quality required for great outcomes and end results for everyone!

 AT4050 and AT4040

AT4050 Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone & AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

What do you love the most about producing music? 

The creative diversity of it, it’s one of those experiences where your process can take you in so many different directions, every little sound counts. My brain is driven by making feel-good music and designing something that other people can enjoy. (And creating something that I like too!) I make a lot of hip-hop and R&B, I don’t dive too deep into the trap scene that’s trending at the moment.

I now work at Nakama Arts* Studio a couple days a week and also doing an internship with an independent label called Trackwork*, with the producer Utility. This has helped me build up my skills on a professional level, and I just take everything I’ve learnt back home and work on my own music. It’s not work when you love it.


Outside of the studio you’ve also been DJ’ing on stage, what’s it like performing live?

Creating music is obviously something I really enjoy and getting to share that with a whole crowd is just mad. You’re just seeing the crowd’s reaction, the whole room just sharing the same energy. As a producer you’re always trying to recreate that same feeling you get when you’re up on that stage.

This year I’ve got a few more DJing set ups that I’m excited about, any opportunity to do this is amazing. There’s a few local artists I’ve got ideas in the works with and some set dates… I can’t reveal too much yet but keep an eye out for it.




* Mali’s incredible story is a testament to her determination and passion for creating music, we also want to highlight the organisations and programs that helped her get to where she is today. 


Glebe Youth Service: a not-for-profit charity that provides a safe space and creative opportunities for teens, one of those opportunities being the music studio. 


Nakama Arts: an Australian independent music and arts initiative, resourced and funded by audio products distributor Technical Audio Group. The organisation is managed by Chris Hamer-Smith. Nakama Arts helped equip Glebe Youth Service with audio products for the music studio, as well as formulating the programs: ‘The Platform’ facilitated by Utility, ‘Open Studio’ sessions in collaboration with Heaps Decent with mentors Lorenz Prichard and Tom Elliott, and ‘The Blend’ with mentor DJ Krystel Diola. 


Trackwork: a Sydney based record label and platform releasing projects executive produced by Utility, a prominent Hip-Hop producer.




Follow Mali

Instagram – @mali.nakalevu


Photograher - LAD STREET