I would love to sing for Varun Dhawan: Armaan Malik

Being the son of composer Daboo Malik and nephew of Anu Malik, one would think everything came easy for young singer Armaan Malik, who made his mark in Bollywood at just 16. However, the budding singer says he has strived hard to reach where he is today. Armaan is the youngest singer (at 19) to have won two GIMA Awards this year.

In an interview to Anindita Dev from Zee Media, Armaan opens up about his equation with Salman Khan, his career graph and upcoming projects.

From being a 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil' Champs' finalist to a GIMA award winner at 19, tell us about your musical journey so far?

It's been an amazing journey till now! I've become more mature as a singer and musician, and even more as an individual. After 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa', I got to sing for a lot of Bollywood films like 'Bhootnath', 'Taare Zameen Par', etc with the top composers of the industry like Vishal-Shekhar, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, Salim-Sulaiman, Amit Trivedi to name a few.

I passed out with 'Honours' from the prestigious Berklee College of Music, USA on a 100% scholarship. During my school years, I worked on some originals and covers and uploaded some of them on YouTube. Priyanka Chopra tweeted about my cover of "Just the Way You Are" and it started getting massive hits on it. This brought me on to the radar back again!

Universal Music Group signed me on for my Debut Album - ARMAAN which released in Feb 2014, after spotting some of my work.

I then took my album to Salman Khan to request him launch it. This meeting turned out to be a crucial point in my life. I got the opportunity to debut as a playback singer for Salman Bhai for 'Jai Ho'! Moreover, he also came to launch my debut album and that was the most memorable day of my life. The song 'Naina' from 'Khoobsurat' a duet with the amazing Sona Mohapatra was the second release in 2014. I closed the year with 'Auliya', a Sufi song in contemporary style, with Salim-Sulaiman for the movie 'Ungli'!

You and your brother Amaal Malik's careers were launched by Salman Khan. Would you say you were privileged or just lucky?

Well, I believe Amaal & I are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to debut in a Salman Khan starrer. It gave us the push we required to get our music recognised by the whole industry as well as all the fans out there!

Tell us a little more about your equation with Salman?

Well, he is like a big brother to me. I consider him to be my mentor and I always take his advice regarding any steps I take in my career, as I know he will guide me in the best possible way. But he is a hard task master and he wants all the people who work with him to put in double the hard-work that they would usually put. He pushes you to do more and beyond your capabilities. I think this very characteristic trait in him is the reason why I can actually dance well enough today!

How did 'Naina' ('Khoobsurat') and 'Auliya' ('Ungli') happen?

'Naina'- actually came to me as a surprise. I was a part of the song-making process as my brother Amaal had composed the track. I played guitars and lent my rough vocals for it.

The track was completed in under 48 hours since the music release was just two days away and everything had to be done at a lightening speed. The vocals I'd lent for the track were retained as Shashanka and Rhea found them apt for leading man Fawad Khan. So, we recorded, got it mixed and mastered, and even performed an acoustic version at the music launch in a span of two days.

'Auliya' again was just a result of a casual jam session I was having with Salim-Sulaiman at their studio. I sang the scratch and recorded it not knowing whether my voice was going be there and then on my birthday July 22nd, Salim sir wished me saying that 'Auliya' was a gift for me and that my voice was the final voice.

Given your music lineage, did anything apart from music attract you or was it always this?

Music was all that I wanted to do right from the very beginning. At a very young age I knew I was good at singing and that my parents too had discovered this talent of mine. So subsequently, I joined music classes and embarked upon my musical journey.

Even though music will be my first and only love, I do have a special place in my heart for food. Hence, I would love to open up a café or a restaurant in the future.

When did you start singing professionally?

Hailing from a musical family, you are bound to be in a musical atmosphere 24x7, and that is exactly how I have grown up.

At a young age our parents realised my liking for music and encouraged me and my brother to take it up as a career. I started taking Hindustani classical lessons when I was six years old. I honed my singing chops and consequently started designing for advertisements and jingles professionally when I was eight years old.

You have had private albums released as well. Do you think the market for solo albums is understated?

In India, the popularity of solo albums goes through phases. For e.g. - the period when Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Baba Saigal, Mohit Chauhan, Lesle Lewis and K.K came out with their Indie songs and albums, they were being promoted and were treated equal to movie albums.

But in the early 2000s the non-film/album industry went into a slump.

But then in early 2012-2013 we saw the rise of artistes like Yo Yo Honey Singh, Baadshah etc. who rose from the Indie scene with solo albums and then became Big in Bollywood.

Looking at the present scenario, I think it's the perfect time to release single music videos as they are more profitable than complete albums. But I'm really glad that despite our country not having the "album CD-purchasing culture", my debut album ARMAAN sold almost 4000 physical copies.

I guess, the independent album industry is headed for brighter days!

You've worked with Salim Sulaiman and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Which music director would you like to work with again and again?

Salim-Sulaiman have always been my favourite. It's just an absolute pleasure working with them and there's always something new you get to learn just by sitting in their studio and absorbing all that's happening around you.

Being the son of Daboo Malik, and nephew of Anu Malik do you feel you are under too much pressure? Do you take professional advice from your father Daboo Malik?

I think pressure exists in a situation only when you are unsure of your talent and people are expecting a lot from you due to your lineage. In my case, of course people had a lot of expectations, but that didn't pressurise me because I'm pretty confident about my musicality and my talent.

When it comes to advice, I always consult my father regarding everything as he has seen the industry inside out and he is the best person to guide me.

You just won a GIMA award for Best Music Debut. Do awards matter to you?

Well, at the end of the day any artiste loves being recognised for their work or contribution... so yes, awards do matter. But I believe that my being nominated alongside such talented artistes was a victory in itself! The awards were just cherries on the cake.

Any singer who inspires you ?

Sonu Nigam, hands down. I have always been his biggest fan!

Any Bollywood actor that you would love to lend your voice to?

Varun Dhawan

Your future projects in Bollywood?

I am doing playback singing for a couple of upcoming releases like 'Mastizaade', 'Ghayal Returns', 'Calendar Girls' to name a few. Also I'm working on a few soon to be released singles and collaboration tracks!

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