Carl Marsh speaks to multilingual Indian pop sensation Armaan Malik, who has, quite literally, tens of millions of fans, a new single that just dropped, and a hankering to capture a few more global markets it would appear.
I know you release songs in multiple languages – 10 at the last count! – and with your English efforts in mind, recent romantic number You is very different to Echo, last year’s collaboration with KSHMR and Eric Nam. Latest single, the Hindi-language Nakhrey Nakhrey, is more like Echo in style. Where do you see yourself going in the future, genre-wise?
Armaan Malik: I actually love doing everything that I can as a musician – I love dabbling in different things. I sing in multiple languages and across genres. It’s just the artist that I am.
Romantic songs are something I’m known for back home, in Bollywood and India, so that’s something people really look forward to from me – the love songs and ballads. But personally, I love doing everything that I can; I don’t like restricting myself as an artist, it’s wherever my heart takes me as a musician.
Armaan Malik: I was in LA for writing sessions, and I’d met KSHMR – he also has Indian roots. We jammed a few ideas, and he was like, “I have this cool demo of Echo, would you mind cutting it?” I was like, “For sure, man. I’ll just lay my vocals down and let’s see where it goes.” That was that, and then I came back to India.
After I’d released a couple of other singles, I was searching for more songs to do; I had the demo of Echo on my phone, and I hit up KSHMR. He said, “We need to complete it – we need a second verse.” I was like, “Yeah, we can get another vocalist on board to do the second verse.”
Somebody had tweeted at Eric Nam asking him which Indian singers he liked. He named me, then we had this conversation on Twitter, and very soon after we got connected – our teams got connected. We were already discussing collaboration ideas – I never thought of Echo as a collaboration with Eric, but when I was listening to the song, I was like, “maybe I should send it to Eric and see what he thinks.” He responded by saying that he loved it. And “Let’s do it”.
A bit of a gamble for all three of you though, maybe, with you and Eric coming from different music scenes?
Armaan Malik: Once we’d finished the track, it was cool to just sit on it and realise that these three Asian artists from different parts of the world were coming together. Obviously, when they make their own music, they’re doing different styles of music – but when they came together, it was a mixture of pop meets EDM, with that whole dance vibe to it. Yet it had a little bit of something of our own musicality in it, which I really love.
It was a struggle to release it because we were in the middle of a pandemic. Eric was in South Korea, and I was in India. KSHMR was in LA. So just making all of that work across timezones was a huge task. But we made it happen, and I’m really proud of it.
And it was a worldwide success! But how was Echo received in your homeland of India, where you’ve most often sung in one of multiple native languages?
Armaan Malik: It was received really well because people here listen to a lot of my Indian music, and they also listen to K-pop now – obviously, the growth of K-pop has been phenomenal in the last few years. And for EDM, too, as KSHMR has a huge fan following here as well. I’ve done a couple of concerts now, post-lockdown, and literally, the audience sings the chorus back to me. I don’t even need to sing it!
I’ve had many people come up to me and say, “I’ve been working out to your track, man, it’s a total energy booster!” Stuff like that. It does feel good for me – having done Bollywood for so many years, venturing out to do something so different, and actually in very uncharted territory for an Indian artist.
I’m gaining a lot of different listeners from my usual music ones, and that’s what I wanted to do. I have a listener base in my Indian music scene, but I wanted to attract more and more listeners worldwide, and just explode outside of India. Echo has initiated that for me, and I hope to do more and more such cross-cultural collaborations and put myself and my music out there.
Armaan Malik’s Nakhrey Nakhrey is out now via Warner Music India. Info: Twitter
words CARL MARSH
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