Published: 04th August 2020
I want to perform on stage with Taylor Swift: Why you'll love Mallika Mehta's music and lyrics
Mallika Mehta's musical journey has been quite interesting — from Berklee to NYU, she was trained by experts and that shows. She tells us about her upbringing, what songs she likes to sing and more
Singer and songwriter Mallika Mehta sings in five languages — Hindi, English, Gujarati, Punjabi and Spanish. The 23-year-old, who has opened for industry maestros like Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Kailash Kher, recently released her single Way Too Long. Called the 'Adele from Mumbai', she is gradually making her mark in the music industry. We spoke to Mallika about her new single, her music training, nickname and her upcoming Hindi single, which we all are looking forward to.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Your latest single Way Too Long it's extremely soul-soothing. The song portrays a heartfelt message of confidence, independence and strength, drawn from affliction, and it comes pouring out in every word. Is that what you wanted your audience to feel while listening to it?
That is the kind of message that I wanted everyone to get. Apart from that, it's also how the song talks about regret and how you should work towards something when the time is right because a lot of times we just don't do what we feel we should be doing and it gets too late and there's no going back. Irrespective of that, we all make mistakes and the message that I really wanted to get out was that everything is going to be okay no matter what happens and there's going to be a new chapter.
You were featured in Rolling Stone for this. How does that feel?
It's a very big deal. I think Rolling Stone is a dream for every single musician and it's also known as the world's best music magazine. Ever since I was young, ever since I've been singing It's been a dream to be featured in Rolling Stone. And moreover, I feel when they feature you for your original, something that you've written, something that you've composed, it is a different feeling. It's still unbelievable and it puts you in cloud nine.
You do a lot of covers — be it old RD Burman songs or contemporary Bollywood tracks — what fascinates me is that you have a style of your own, there's kind of western influence as well. So tell us about your upbringing, your music scenario and what inspired you to become a musician.
I have been listening to RD Burman and Kishore Da's music ever since I was like three or four years old, entirely because of my parents. My dad really loves that music and he's always been playing, wherever we go. It has had such a big influence on me and my music and when you actually listen to RD Burman's music you'd realise that he did a lot of things out of the box, much more than most musicians have done till date. I think when you talk about the Western influence bit that comes into my music, that's because I have always sung a lot in English as well. It's something that I really enjoy and whatever training I have undergone has also been in western music. I love doing covers because they are beautiful songs. there are so many songs and not you yourself can write so many songs and I love doing mashups too. That's how I kind of do a little bit of everything.
Your music training happened far away from India. You studied at Harvard, at Berklee School of Music, at New York University, how has that shaped the kind of music you play and sing?
I think it makes you a different person makes you a much better musician. Each course that I did was an intensive course. I stay here in India, I went there for a couple of summers in the middle, while I was still in college. When I went to Berklee we had this intensive course where I did really well in performance techniques. I took different electives and I think most people would take like seven to eight electives as that was something manageable. But since I was going all the way to the US from here I wanted to do as much as I could and I took up 13 electives. It's one of the best experiences I've ever had and the kind of things that they taught us is something that I haven't heard of anywhere else and we had personal lessons. I went to NYU last summer where I learned a little bit of songwriting which is really nice because I released two songs right after that. They have shaped me into a better musician in every way not only singing but also, you know the ear for music and music in general as a whole.
You are known as the Adele of Mumbai. Is there an interesting story behind that coinage? How does it feel to be called that?
There is actually, so I'm going to take you a little back. When I was in school, I used to sing a lot of Adele so I got introduced to Rolling in the Deep. I fell in love as soon as I heard the song, it was so powerful and that's the kind of song I really enjoy singing. As I began singing, I got introduced to the rest of her songs. And then that was just one time when I would do a lot of it in like wherever I go, I would sing it and I think two things happened at the same time. I had uploaded a cover of Someone Like You by Adele and it was on YouTube and then this official Adele website that I didn't even know was there, they actually picked up my cover and posted it. It was a dream come true because Adele has been my idol and she's always going to be. And then also I released my very first single in 2016 and it's called War Solo and a US magazine had it printed saying, 'Mallika Mehta is the next Adele or new Adele from Mumbai' or something on those lines. It was exhilarating, but at the same time, I was scared because it's a huge title to live up to. She's one of the best singers in the world and the kind of songs she sings are very difficult. I think that's what gives me peace and happiness because getting that title at such an early age was something huge. I realise the actual importance of it now.
You have opened for big stars like Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and even for Kailash Kher earlier. Do you have like a dream musician that you want to open for after this or someone you have always wished you could open for or maybe even sing along with?
This is something I have always said, I tend to dream big even when I was three years old. I thought I would have my own concert and I did and so I guess I do dream big. I have a crazy long list of artists that I really appreciate and love but the first artist I would really want to sing with, share the same stage with would be Taylor Swift. It's like this teenage dream that is still there. Then obviously there's Adele and there's Arijit Singh and as I said, I could literally go on forever with my list.
You will be releasing another single soon. Before that tell us more about it — what is the song about and which language is it in?.
I'm the kind of person who can't sit still without a project in hand. It's been a problem since I was little so as I am close to releasing a song and as soon as that happens, I'm already sitting and writing a new song. We hadn't even released Way Too Long yet, I began writing a new song at the end of May. This song is actually going to be my very first Hindi single. I am very very excited about it. It is entirely written and composed by me and the music has just been produced. So I'm still working towards, the recording process and all of that, but we should hopefully have it out very soon.