Singer Armaan Malik, who is celebrating the success of his recent English track “How Many”, spoke to indianexpress.com about the song, MTV EMA 2020 win, his dreams and the kind of music he wants to be known for.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Making of the new Armaan Malik
Honestly, I’ve been manifesting this for a very long time. But the actual work that went into putting these songs out and creating this whole new journey for me has been on for almost two and a half years.
Until Control’s release, no one knew that I was going to make a move like this. It took me six to seven years to establish myself as an Indian singer. So, it is going to take time for me to establish myself on a global level.
On his international debut
It’s a big universe of music out there. When you’re in the international space, you’re competing with artistes from almost every country in the world. It’s a daunting place to be, but I am really glad that I am able to do this. It wouldn’t have been easy without fans’ support.
The first step has been taken. Now, the more I keep putting out music, the more I will cement my place in the international music scene. It will take time. It’s not something that happens overnight. It is a tough journey. What I have achieved so far is like a ripple in the ocean.
On MTV Europe Music Awards 2020 win
I feel like it’s a step forward in my journey. I was nervous if my fans will accept my new avatar but the kind of success “Control”, “Next 2 Me” and even “How Many” has achieved, it sure has given me strength. The EMA 2020 win has made me believe that I am on the right path.
The Grammy dream
Any musician from any part of the world always dreams to win a Grammy. I also dream of it. So, I sure want to bring home a Grammy just like how AR Rahman sir won an Oscar. I think it is there on my radar and I’m gonna work hard towards it.
On his English songs
As as an artiste, I’ve always wanted to do independent pop singles. With “Control”, “Next 2 Me” and “How Many”, I’m getting to express myself in a much better way. The true Armaan Malik inside of me is coming out through these songs. I’m also glad that I’m making sure to incorporate a few Indian elements in the songs.
On finding the right sound
You pick any artistes in the West, you can recognize them through their music. It’s very important to get the DNA of your music right. And it takes time, obviously. I’m glad that I took some time in developing the kind of sound I wanted for my English song. Doing an English single for the sake of it is not the way I want to go about my journey. I want to do it for the rest of my life, along with my Bollywood songs.
So, the more songs I release, the more I am understanding myself and what people are liking in my music.
The idea of reinvention
Since I was a 10-year-old kid, I’ve always wanted to do things which don’t make me complacent. That’s where my idea of reinvention comes from.
I am not someone who wants to be comfortable in one box. I want to create my own world and do my own thing. I consider myself an Indian singer. So, I need to embrace all the cultures that are there in our country. It’s not only Hindi music that our country listens to. And the testament to that is my song “Butta Bomma”, which blew up the internet a few months back. So many of my friends who listen to Hindi and English music came up to me and said, ‘Bro, I love that song. I don’t understand one word, but I love it.’ That is the power of music. I think Butta Bomma’s success actually reinstated the faith that music knows no language.
I’ve always been searching for new things that challenge me. I want to be remembered as someone who is comfortable in taking risks.
Becoming a pop star from India
I’ve always noticed that no one from India represents the country on the global stage. Yes, we have a lot of Indian musicians who are recognized globally, but there is no pop star from India who is competing with top artistes in the global arena. So, I wanted to be the one to take India to the international level. I think that is the reason that I took this step of making English pop music. I wanted to open up some kind of a pathway.
There’s a lot of talent in our country, but they don’t know where to go and how to make things happen. In India, a lot of us believe that if we don’t get a big break in Bollywood, nothing is going to happen to our career. I want to change that perspective.
Advice from father Dabboo Malik
My father told me to focus on building a fan base and discography as a playback singer in India and then chase dreams. I think that advice really helped me because if I was starting from scratch today, it would be very tough. Today, I’m starting as Armaan Malik from India in the English music scene, which makes a huge difference. If I was starting as a nobody, it would be very tough for me.
So, I think the 15-year-old Armaan inside me is really happy today because the dream I saw back then, I am seeing it shaping up. It makes me so happy that my fans are supporting my foray into western music.
Independent music in India
It is growing, but it is not as big as it should be. I think 2020 has done a lot of good to the independent music scene. In the last 8-9 months, around 200 singles have come out. I am glad that it happened but hope it is not just a trend.
Need for an Indian music industry
I think the focus for all artistes, including me, in India should be to make a music industry of our own. Right now, we are basically part of the Bollywood film industry. We really want to create a parallel industry of just music, which is independent of movies. Like how it used to happen back in the days with Shaan, Euphoria, Silk Route and so on. All these amazing artistes had freedom (to create music). Back then, there was a parallel industry, which was supported by the labels. But then the decline happened. Now again, I’m seeing that independent music is coming back. I just hope that it doesn’t get overshadowed when cinemas open and film music starts releasing. I don’t want independent music to get lost and die.
The Armaan kind of music
I’ve been known as a romantic singer in India. But that is because after my first romantic hit, I was offered similar songs. But that does not define me as an artiste. A lot of people think ‘oh, you’re a romantic singer.’ That’s one facet of me. “Control”, “Next 2 Me” and “How Many” are that part of me which was not tapped before. So, I thought I should bring it out to the world if people aren’t approaching me for such kind of music. So, I think the music that is going to come out in the near future is going to be stuff that you never heard from me or never expected from me, but I always knew I could do. You will hear a new Armaan Malik with every new release.
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