Armaan Malik on his debut English track: The idea was to make it sound global
Armaan Malik's debut English track earns yet another title, nominated at the MTV Europe Music Awards with five other Indian numbers
In the months that preceded the release of Control, Armaan Malik, having then connected with mid-day for a separate property, spoke ebulliently of his forthcoming debut English single. That this wasn't merely yet another Indian artiste dabbling in western music was made evident after the unveiling of the March release, which caught Indian fans by surprise owing to its production value.
It was tough to sieve the factors that distinguished it from an international production. If there were any, Malik says, they were intentionally introduced. "We added a few Indian elements to establish my heritage, but the sound was definitely international. We didn't want anyone to hear it and say this has been made by an Indian. The idea was to make it sound global, not even American. We sprinkled elements that would make people sit up and take notice, and call this a quality product. I'm not going to deny that I loved proving those people wrong who believed that such a production couldn't come out of India. I have always wanted to quash that notion. I wanted everyone to know that India has fabulous talent hasn't been given a chance," he says of the track that made it to the Billboard charts, earned him a space on a Times Square billboard, and now, a nomination in the Indian category of the upcoming MTV Europe Music Awards, which will air on Voot Select. Malik's co-nominees include Kaam Bhari, Divine, Prabh Deep, and SIRI with Sez on the Beat.
Malik's vocals in the three minute long track offers sufficient food for thought – for a singer who has rendered desi chartbusters like Bol do na zara, and Chale aana, it could have been a tough job to mask his Indian accent without workshops that redefined it. Malik says there were none. "This is how I sing in English. Often, having been called into the studio to sing a Bollywood song with English words, I am told to make my English sound like 'Indian English'. And I can't do that. I can't Indianise my western singing." He traces the cultivation of the skills in question to his childhood, when he was influenced by friends who abundantly consumed western music. But, unlike them, Malik didn't restrict himself to being a listener. He would often conduct solo karaoke sessions in an attempt to sing the song precisely how it was originally rendered.
This tendency, he says, was the crux of his training in western music, which was only enhanced when he educated himself at the Berkeley College of Music. "This common space where people from across the globe would come together to share their passion for music, was special. I've never experienced anything like that in India.
We don't have an academy where such training is imparted. On the streets, people would simply plug in their guitars and start jamming. I recall joining a bunch of artistes on the streets too. They were from Spain and Russia, and this was an amalgamation of people from [so many countries]. That's when I knew that I did not want to practice only one kind of music. That is why my discography includes songs sung in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, English, and hopefully there will Arabic and Spanish numbers too. I want to explore as many languages as I can."
The culture of inclusion extends into the studios as well, he says, asserting that the two years that he spent in Los Angeles creating Control exposed him to a work culture that he hopes can be introduced in India. "Here, things are impersonal because people work individually, come in, do their work, and leave. There, anyone and everyone who can contribute to a song is welcome to do so. A person sitting in a corner, and arriving at an idea for the hook line, will also be credited for it. Roles of writers and composers are not demarcated, and everyone is simply a creator of the song. Experiments are encouraged. For instance, I have never been a bass guitarist, but after being egged on by my producer, I played it in Control. Not many people know about that," says the singer, who has worked on the forthcoming Saina Nehwal biopic, and has upcoming singles in Hindi and English.
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