Armaan Malik: ‘BTS opened the floodgates worldwide for Asian artists’

Singer Armaan Malik has hit the bull’s eye again with the success of his latest song ‘Echo’, which was released in May and has racked up over 13 million views on YouTube. Recently indianexpress.com sat down for an exclusive chat with Armaan to talk about his dream of exploring international music, working with KPop singer Eric Nam and much more.

‘Echo’ is your fourth international single and fourth consecutive hit.

‘Echo’ is my first international collaboration with incredible artists such as KPop Singer/Songwriter Eric Nam and renowned DJ/Music Producer KSHMR.

‘Echo’ came about when I met KSHMR in Los Angeles just before the start of the global pandemic and the release of my first English single. He played some unreleased material, including ‘Echo’, it just stuck, and I recorded my demo in his studio itself. Around mid-2020 Eric and I had this little interaction on Twitter that led to an internet friendship and our teams got together to discuss a potential collaboration. The song we all gravitated to the most was ‘Echo’. we spent the next few months making it sound like it does now.

Armaan Malik with KPop Singer/Songwriter Eric Nam and DJ/Music Producer KSHMR. (Photo: PR handout)

But is there also a fear of failure with the success and the hits?

Every time you try something new or venture into unfamiliar territory, there is always that lingering fear of the unknown. It was quite disheartening to re-introduce myself and start my musical journey from scratch in this new big world of global pop. A lot of people here in India thought I was taking the biggest risk of my career. But I think the biggest fear I have as an artist is not being able to express my true self.

Everyone expects you to be a certain way and make the music you were always known for, but as an artist there is always a part of your art that is too different from your usual work, which risks being rejected by your fans .

A lot of people think that I can only sing love songs and ballads, and that I can’t do justice to the other genres. While I love being popular, I hate being typecast because I know I’m so much more. However, I also believe in the fact that you don’t open all your cards at once. I’m still young. I would like the world to know me better and differently as time goes by. I want to continue to surprise them with my musical abilities.

What is your process of writing a song?

I don’t have a set process that I follow while writing a song. Many of my ideas flow naturally and instinctively. Every language, every genre has a different vibe. However, I must add that I am more melodic. I have a natural tendency to come up with a tune first and then focus on the lyrics and theme of the song.

Korean music is taking over the world, especially the BTS. Do you love their music?

Yes, I really like their music and I’m happy to see their huge success! They really opened the floodgates for Asian artists around the world and I really respect them for doing that.

What do you think is the biggest challenge in making music in India?

From where I am at the moment I am very hopeful about the artists from India in general as we have a huge potential to cross over and make our mark on the global entertainment. We just have to dig a little further to find these hidden gems. With the arrival of global streaming giants such as Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music and Amazon Music in recent years, many of our artists are getting heard worldwide. Due to this enormous exposure, the soundscape here is constantly changing. Many artists do not limit themselves to just Bollywood projects and are actively involved in non-film music. This has led to the creation of a separate parallel music industry that is not part of the Bollywood universe, making Indie musicians widely heard and recognized. The digital space has become very useful in promoting new music and artists. For all emerging artists, I think it’s really important to use these platforms effectively because it’s definitely a place where they can be discovered and get a big break. The possibilities are endless!

You and Amaal have worked together on many projects. How has your music sensitivity changed over the years?

As clich√© as it may sound, ‘change is the only constant’, we both grew as emotional beings and then as artists. Some of my biggest songs that have given me an identity in this industry are with my brother and I’m very proud of it. We keep experimenting with different sounds, genres, styles, techniques and whatnot. I’ve come up with some great projects with him and they’re unlike anything you’ve heard from us.

I spoke to Amaal Mallik a few days ago and he spoke about the importance of cooperation and the necessity of the hour. Do you agree? And which of the international artists would you like to collaborate with?

Collaborations are important to push creative boundaries, make a cultural impact, introduce your music to an untapped audience and most importantly, learn something new. Not only in the field of music, but also in other fields. For example, when I worked with Eric on “Echo,” I learned so much about the K-pop space and how they plan their releases throughout the year. Similarly, Niles told me the impact of his time in India on his music and life. (About collaboration) I would like to collaborate with artists like Charlie Puth and DJ/producer, Zedd and Lauv to name a few.

When we last spoke, you said that the international space is a bit intimidating, also because there is so much competition. Have your thoughts changed now that you’re out with the fourth single?

Things are definitely different from the time I released ‘Control’ to ‘Echo’ because I learned so much about the markets, the audience, the music and myself, so I’m better prepared to be out there. In my opinion, the most important thing we need to change is the way Indians and Asians are generally perceived abroad. The love and support I have received from just a few English songs out there gives me tremendous hope and courage to pave the way for the next generation of musicians and artists to follow their dreams and be ‘successful worldwide’.

Do the number of views on multiple platforms determine a hit or miss for you as an artist? How do you view the number of game music industry?

I’d be honestly lying if I said numbers don’t matter since this is the digital space and it’s one of the ways to measure the performance of a song. But that said, numbers shouldn’t be the only parameter to judge an artist’s success or failure, there are also qualitative aspects to consider. There are some great Indian artists who may not reach huge numbers but still have a significant cultural impact on the music scene.

Have you already planned what’s next?

I have many exciting projects in the pipeline, a mix of English collaborations, Hindi singles, regional songs and Bollywood songs.

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