Regarded as one of the notable singers of the industry, Armaan Malik has created a niche for himself in the romantic song genre. Having recently launched his first breakup song titled “Tootey Khaab”, Armaan is beginning to expand his career cannon with experimentation.
Born in a musical family, Armaan’s older brother Amaal Malik is also a composer and singer and collaborates with him time and again to deliver many popular hits. His father and uncle are both veterans of the music industry.
The 24-year-old spoke with Thestatesman.com about his latest single, his favourite composer and about the music industry in general.
How did the idea of the first breakup song come about?
Everyone thinks that I have had a breakup and that’s why I have done a breakup song, but that’s not the reason. I was observing a lot of my friends around me and how they are responding to relationships. How relationships are in today’s generation. It’s very fickle today. No one is really serious about their relationships. A lot of dating is happening through Whatsapp and Instagram.
In the video of “Tootey Khaab” also, the girl texts me and breaks up with me on the phone. And, that is not a cool thing to do. It’s better to go face to face and tell them. I know it takes a lot more effort and guts to do that. But, that’s to be done. These are a few little elements that I wanted to bring into the song that would make it more relatable to today’s generation because that’s what is currently happening all around us.
It doesn’t stem from what I have gone through but it’s from what I have observed from people around me.
Do you think a piece of music speaks most to the listeners when you have experienced a particular emotion?
A lot of people say that when you go through something and then you make a song on it, or a film, it becomes better. It has a personal feeling to it. As musicians and singers, apart from our personal feelings also… I am not saying I will never experience these feelings. At some point in my life, heartbreak will happen. But, I have seen it so much around me that I was like I need to capture this thing. It’s such a relevant thing today. Feelings just go magically away.
…. A chartbuster is not a chartbuster only because Armaan experienced love and that’s why the song has become a chartbuster. That’s not the reason. See, as singers, we have to sometimes fake emotions also. What do you see in actors? Actors are not what they portray on screen. They are portraying another character altogether. So, it’s not that actor’s reality is coming on-screen. He is portraying another person, he is, till a point, acting and he is faking it.
When I am singing a Bollywood song, it’s not my exact emotion. I am doing it for the script, for the concept of the song, for the film. But, I understand those feelings are real. What we are talking about is ‘love’ at the end of the day which I experienced through my friends’ experience. I get into the mood of the song and then sing it. Sometimes if I have to sing a sad song, I switch off the lights in my recording studio so that it gives me that mood of sadness and melancholy. That comes out in my recording.
There is such a boom in the entertainment industry, not just films but so much in music. Do you think the industry has become democratized in the wake of social media and independent music singles on YouTube for instance?
For a long time in the industry, people used to scout singers from reality shows. Today, I don’t think that’s the case. On social media, there is so much talent available, videos available to see of people that anyone can be discovered today and given a chance. The biggest example is Ranu Mondal, who became viral a few weeks back. Someone took a video of her, the video became viral and she got a chance to sing with Himesh Reshammiya. I mean social media and the whole digital scenario has changed the way the industry is working today.
Today, it is not a set number of people who are working. Everyone is adding their own flavour. If there is an Armaan Malik, there is also a Guru Randhawa, there is also a Badshah, adding their flavour.
At one point in time, there was only Rafi sahib (Mohammed Rafi), Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. Then, next came Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik and Kavita Krishnamurthy and those kinds of singers. There were still there, but then Sonu Nigam came, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal came. There were always these four singers; two big male singers and two big female singers and they used to dominate the industry. Today, there are various singers and this is coming from the fact that people want variety.
Today, the way you need to struggle to get work has changed. Today, you need to make a nice little video and put it on social media and if your talent speaks for itself; if it crosses those amount of views, likes and it catches people’s attention, then you might just get an opportunity out of anywhere. Today, I feel it’s become even more magical. Some magical moment happens on social media with you. Then, that changes your whole life.
At first, people used to really need to go meet people, say, “This is my work. I want you to consider me”. Even I have done that. I have gone to so many composers saying, “This is my demo CD, please hear it and if you like my voice, call me.”
I have seen a transition from there to people putting YouTube covers, videos on Instagram and people like that.
Today, the industry has become so big, but earlier it used to be closed. Today, social media is a ready platform. There is an Instagram and a YouTube waiting for you to upload a video which can then change your career and your life.
So, has it become easier in a way?
No, then again the tough part there is that whose video cuts through. There is a clutter. Every day, there are millions of videos uploaded. Now, how does your video stand out? That is upon you, how you create the video, how you sing the song. It’s on you then. There are certain other ways also that people promote songs. They ask celebrities to tweet it or whatever it is. But, that is not coming from a genuine place. When something comes from a genuine place, you’ll get to know. The problem there is not accessibility, the problem there is to be heard, to be recognized.
If I was just a singer who sings well and I did not have a following on social media, and if I put out a video it will not get that many views. It has to break through in some magical way and that happens with very few people.
Despite all this, I feel there is hard work, talent and also the luck factor that plays a very important role.
You have worked with many filmmakers and music directors. Anyone, in particular, you enjoyed working with the most.
I have worked a lot with Salim-Sulaiman, Amit Trivedi, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Amaal Malik. I have even worked with AR Rahman, It was one of my biggest dreams and it came true. I think the most fun that I have working is with Amaal Malik because we share a very candid relationship as we are brothers. We fight a lot also, but that chemistry between us shows through the songs. Whenever he and I come on a song, that song definitely becomes a big chartbuster, especially because of the chemistry we share.
The one song that you get most compliments for?
“Bol Do Na Zara” from the film Azhar.
There is a debate on the rise of mediocre talent in the industry has been voiced by many veterans from within the music industry. What are your views on that?
I agree with them. I feel today, a lot of mediocre talent has been given a lot of attention and importance. Real talent is being hidden. And, like how we just discussed, there are pros of social media, there are cons of social media. The cons are that some people who are not great singers or great musicians are also getting followers and stuff like that. And, that’s a very scary scenario for people who have been learning music since 10-15 years, who have put in the effort to learn classical music and western music. And, there are some people who have not learnt music and just have followers and are famous. But, they can’t sing live properly. So, I completely agree with people who have voiced that thing. I don’t know if you can do anything about it, because today, the power is with the public. If the public likes the person, that connect happens, then that person becomes famous. It’s on the public who they make ‘the star’.
But, where there is mediocrity also, there is some amazing talent out there as well.
Any thoughts on composing music…
I am not much of a film composer. I can’t see myself composing for films and stuff like that. I think my brother does amazing. For albums, I would love to, but not for Hindi. I think English and … I write a lot of songs in English.