Dwijiri Basumatary: You will be dropping your new song “Bling & Pictures” this Friday.
How long did it take you to make this song and is there a personal story behind it?

Mallika Mehta: I wrote “Bling & Pictures” with two of my classmates while I was
attending a songwriting program at NYU in 2019. We wrote this song as an assignment
and it was written in just a couple hours.

This song was also selected for us to perform at the final showcase. Since all three of
us are artists, we resonated immensely with the theme and lyrics, and the life of an artist in general. And we tried to pen down lyrics that meant something to each one of us.

DB: How has the pandemic affected your lifestyle and career as a singer?

MM: As a performer, I am someone who loves singing to a live audience and
connecting with real faces. Performing for a screen isn’t for me. Stage performances are what give me an adrenaline rush which obviously stopped because of the pandemic. But as a songwriter, the pandemic and the free time it brought along increased my creativity and productivity immensely. To be able to release five original songs in two years is big and I would have never imagined that possibility otherwise.

DB: You have been championed as the “Adele of Mumbai”. How do you feel about this

MM: I feel incredibly proud. Adele is not only one of my favourite artists of all time but is also an extremely talented musician. To be called the “Adele of Mumbai” is an
enormous title and also equally big to live up to.

DB: Which artists or singers inspire your work? Does your music get inspiration from
movies, books and fashion as well?

MM: As a songwriter, I have always been inspired by the way Taylor Swift encapsulates
her feelings into her songs. She tells so much of her story with just a few words and a
perfect melody to justify and enhance it. Sia is another artist whose work inspires me. I
tend to write on topics that I connect with and I feel my audience would connect with.
But I do hope to take inspiration from various different platforms and elements as I carry on with my musical journey.

DB: Are there any themes which you find yourself singing about more than other
topics? And why is that so?

MM: Yes, most definitely. When it comes to singing, I love performing powerful
numbers. But I really enjoy writing songs based on love, emotions as well as
heartbreak. I watched an interview where Taylor Swift mentioned how she loves writing on the same topics as well, since people resonate with such songs the most.
Heartbreak songs are also incredibly fun to write. I have received so many messages
from my fans after a release saying that they felt every lyric and that it helped them
heal. That itself makes me want to write more songs covering these topics.

DB: What’s your favourite song that you have ever sung? Which song are you the
proudest of?

MM: It is so hard to pick from one of my own originals but I absolutely love singing
Finally Free (Libre, Libre)” The song is part of my debut EP, ‘Evolve: The Story of Her
I think I am most proud of “Keh Bhi De”. I love how well the melody fits the lyrics.

DB: Do you make a conscious decision to sing songs in the pop and soul genres or is
that just how it came about? Do you see yourself experimenting with different genres
like rock or club music?

MM: To me music is mostly about how I feel about the song i.e., the vibe, the lyrics, the
melody. I don’t consciously pick a genre while singing or making music, I think it just
comes about that way in the process.

Most of my originals fall under the “Pop” genre. But I’ve certainly wanted to work with
different genres. In fact, one of my songs “Way Too Long” falls under the rock genre and my upcoming release “Bling & Pictures” will be a Hip-Hop & Rap song.

DB: You have been interviewed on Radio One, FM Rainbow and Radio Nasha. Those
are dream slots for up-and-coming indie artists. How did it come about?

MM: My first ever radio interview took place when I released my debut single “War Solo” back in 2016. I was just 19 at the time and was ecstatic to be live on international radio. After “War Solo” I knew I wanted to put out more original music, and have released around seven songs till date. Being interviewed by all these amazing radio stations is definitely a great feeling.

DB: Tell us about your time at the NYU songwriting program in the United States. What convinced you to join it? Do you feel it was worth it?

MM: I attended a songwriting program in 2019 at New York University. I was one of the
fortunate forty who were selected for this program, across the globe. I have previously
attended courses in Music and Marketing at Berklee, Harvard & Kelloggs but I also
wanted to learn more about songwriting. It’s one of the best programs for songwriting so there wasn’t much convincing required. I wrote about twelve songs with fellow
songwriters while I was there. The knowledge and the experience is something I’d never trade. My upcoming single is a song I wrote at NYU as well.

DB: In our country, there has been this notion that any career besides science, law or a
government post is unstable and therefore, to be avoided. Did you grow up with this
belief as well? Were you ever bothered by it?

MM: Absolutely not. Neither have I ever been told, heard or believed in something like
that. I believe that every career, no matter what kind, holds and should hold equal
importance. It honestly never even came to my mind, let alone bother me. I am
fortunate to have extremely supportive family and friends. I find myself lucky to be a
singer-songwriter and honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

DB: What has been the toughest challenge in your profession as a singer?

MM: For an indie artist, the hardest step is to actually get their music heard, be it an
original or even a cover. I think that’s been a challenge but what I have learnt with time
is that when you start rolling out good music and content and work hard towards
connecting with people and marketing, it eventually finds its way.

DB: Every city has its own form of underground culture and music scene. So how would you describe your own home city i.e. the Mumbai music scene?

MM: I believe every Mumbaikar would agree with me on this one. Mumbai is the most
accepting city when it comes to different cultures, music, genres. The Mumbai music
scene is a culmination of various languages, genres and themes. We vibe to it all from
Ed Sheeran, to Adele, to Avicii, to Kishoreda, and the most typical tapori Bollywood
music. Well those who know, know.

DB: The Indian independent music scene is still at its infant stage in spite of countless
talented singers and musicians in our country. Somehow, the film soundtrack continues to dominate the industry. English language music is even more tricky to promote and sell than Indian languages like Punjabi and Assamese. What do you think needs to be done for our Indian indie music scene, especially English language music scene, to bloom and be on the global level?

MM: Indian languages definitely tend to receive a little more love and support as
compared to English music. But the rise of Indian English music is very evident and
rapid. In the last three years, I have seen so many new opportunities for English music
and it’s safe to say that these platforms did not exist a couple years ago but the effort is
being made. I think the only thing that needs to be done is to keep bringing new
opportunities to feature English music in order to support artists, be it through play
listing, radio segments, air time, etc.

DB: Which singers, bands or producers would you love to collaborate with in the future?

MM: I have said this before and I’d say it again, this girl dreams big. Dreams are
supposed to be big. Given the opportunity, I would want to collaborate with Taylor Swift, Adele, Bryan Adams, Amit Trivedi, Arijit Singh, Jubin Nautiyal, Darshan Raval and the list could go on.

I’d love to work with an equally long list of brands, to name a few- Spotify, Apple,
Gaana, Bose, Mac, Starbucks, etc.

DB: Will we see an EP or album from you in the near future?

MM: Ahh, I am working on a few singles at the moment but yes, I’d love to put out an
EP as soon as I have an idea or theme in mind. I like my songs connected or to have
something in common if I am putting them under an EP. ‘Evolve’, my debut EP, too is a
story put together through three songs.

DB: What are the next milestones that you are aiming to achieve?

MM: I want to write and release more music for sure, covering different themes, genres and languages. I also want to perform at some of the biggest music festivals as soon as live performances start again. Mallika Mehta’s new single ‘Bling & Pictures’ is now available on all major music platforms.

Also read: Girish And The Chronicles signs with Italian label Frontiers Music

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