By: ASJAD NAZIR
PUTTING your own spin on a hit song is one of the hardest things to do in music, but exciting new artist Malavika rose to the challenge with stunning release Don’t Let Go.
Born in India and now based in Los Angeles, the talented singer-songwriter has given the 1990s classic by iconic girl group En Vogue her own unique touch.
Having been connected to singing, dancing and music from a young age, she has combined diverse influences with her carefree energy and built on the momentum generated by her superb debut single Sugarcoat. With a plan to become a global artist, create music that goes beyond borders and bring people together, she has made herself one to watch.
Eastern Eye caught up with Malavika to talk about music, her new song, future hopes, inspirations, and fearless approach.
What first connected you to music?
I grew up listening to great music at home, from Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston to Queen, Tracy Chapman, Jay Z, 50 Cent and AR Rahman. Music is a significant part of our culture back home (India) and I was just naturally drawn to it. The records themselves, groove and music videos were a big part of it, and the choreography too.
Which of your songs would you say are closest to your heart?
That’s a tough one because it changes as I write more and more. There are a lot of upcoming releases I’ve been holding on to, and I’m really looking forward to them this year. Home is a song I wrote recently that I love and is very close to me. It’s a personal track talking about how I miss home, and that even though I’m living far away and continuing to evolve creatively, I’m still rooted in the culture that made me who I am, and for that I’m forever grateful.
Why did you decide to do your own version of Don’t Let Go?
I’ve always admired artists who have been able to take a song and make it their own, and wanted to do one myself. The chords and melodies of that song made me feel something every single time I played it. I originally just wanted to post an acoustic version of it on social media with Arianna Powell on guitar, but when I heard her play those chords, I just wanted to flesh it out more and make it our own thing.
What do you most love about it?
I love the melodies, lyrics, the emotion in it, and the beauty in the chords themselves. Like I said, it makes me feel something every time I hear it and sing it.
Who are you hoping will connect with this song?
I want it to resonate with people who reminisce about music from back in the day, and those who seek something new and different in r’n’b today.
What is your music master plan?
Global domination. I want to continue to release more records, go on tour, do more music videos, and collaborate with dope creatives. All of it. This is just the beginning.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Drake, Rosalia and AR Rahman are some of the artists who I would love to collaborate with.
Who is your own music hero?
Michael Jackson and Beyoncé are two of my music heroes. I just love that their records and performances are so undeniable. They take you on a journey. I love the dynamic range in their live shows, from the clothes and choreography to the arrangements and notes they sing. It’s magical every time.
If you could master something new in music, what would it be?
Building a musical bridge to connect different cultures.
What do you think inspires you as a songwriter?
Conversations, new experiences, past experiences, almost every emotion I feel sparks something in me. I have so many ideas –some are fleshed out and some are still in my voice notes on my phone constantly being recorded. You just never know when inspiration strikes – I could be on the metro or in an Uber, at a cafe, at home or out in a club or a bar – so I always record them.
Tell us something that not many people know about you?
I’m a crime show junkie. I really wanted to do criminal law for quite a long time and even got the books and did the prep in order to apply to law school.
What inspires your unique look?
I love discovering new designers. It’s unbelievable how many talented souls are constantly coming up with dope designs from all over the world. It’s an ever-evolving process and I love taking risks.
You come across as fearless, but are you like that in real life?
I am a fearless learner. A little fear can be a motor but can also make you get stuck. So, it really is about conquering it, whatever that may be, and being a fearless learner. There is a Babe Ruth [icnonic baseball player] quote I love and strongly believe in, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”.
Finally, what does music mean to you?
Music is everything to me. It’s the one thing that will continue to exist and help us stay connected no matter where we are in the world, in time or if there’s a pandemic or whatever else we’re experiencing. It’s so beautiful that language isn’t a barrier to experience all the emotions we do when we listen to it.