Armaan Malik – India’s biggest star joins FAULT Magazine for an exclusive cover shoot.

Armaan Malik X FAULT Magazine

Armaan Malik

Photography: Mohit Varu
Styling: Pratiksha Jain

Words: Miles Holder

Despite his young age, through hard work and endless dedication to his craft, Armaan Malik has risen to become one of India’s most successful artists. However, the music industry is a global machine, and Malik’s fanbase is stretched far beyond the borders of India thanks to his continued focus on performing in varied languages and genres across the globe.

Armaan Malik’s most recent single ‘How Many’ is a testament to how diverse his musical range is. Released in late November, the track has already garnered 6 million views and continues to climb. We caught up with Malik for our brand new cover shoot and interview to discuss his influences, inspiration and as always, his FAULT.

Is ‘How Many’ inspired by a real-life relationship?

Armaan Malik: A musician whose work I really admire once told me – “Keep your eyes and ears open. You never know where your next song might come from”. And I’ve kept this advice close to my heart ever since.  ‘How Many’ is inspired by relationships I’ve seen around me and not from personal experience. Sometimes I observe an emotion around me and connect to it even though I may not have felt it myself, and I love the experience of making a song that I know many will find relatable.

Coming from a family with historical ties to Bollywood music, was choosing to write songs in English a daunting decision?

Armaan Malik: It was definitely daunting. When you grow up in a family that’s entrenched in Bollywood music, it’s tough to break away from that and just do your own thing. But I’m really glad I have supportive parents who have never discouraged me from pursuing English music. All they insisted on was that I study it well and gain an in-depth knowledge about it, which is what pushed me to do a short course in Pop/R&B vocals at Berklee College of Music in the summer of 2011. It was there that I first developed the skills to write songs in English. 

What would you say is the biggest difference between the US and the Indian music industry?

Armaan Malik: I think the biggest difference is in the style of working and the creative flow of a song. Usually in India, the composer makes a melody, then they get the lyricist to pen words to that melody, followed by the producer who then cooks up the beat and develops the soundscape for the track. Whereas in the US, from what I have experienced in my writing sessions, everyone from the songwriter to the producer, all are in one room and fleshing out the song together. The processes of writing the melody, lyrics, and constructing the beat all happen simultaneously. 

Armaan Malik

After your breakthrough into western charts and awards, many people are now going into your non-English catalogue and discovering even more of your music – were you surprised by this reaction?

Armaan Malik: Part of me did believe this would happen because I would expect a listener to naturally dig deep into an artist’s catalog once that artist has piqued their interest. But I’m so chuffed to see it happen and that people from all over the world are listening and vibing to my music irrespective of the language it’s in.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of your musical journey so far?

Armaan Malik: The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my journey so far has been to juggle my artistic identity between my Indian projects and my English music. To be able to navigate both these industries and make sure that listeners and fans on both sides are happy, that’s a real toughie! 

I’ve been managing well so far given that we’re still working remotely, but when touring begins again it’s definitely going to be challenging. I’ve still not made up my mind whether I am going to do independent English and Hindi shows, or I’ll be mixing my content across all my concerts.

Despite your young age, you’ve earned many accolades in your career. Is it difficult to cope with the pressure placed on you?

Armaan Malik: I think the pressure is good, it keeps you going. I’ve never been a complacent artist, so constantly having this pressure keeps me on my toes and makes me work harder every day.

Armaan Malik

What’s something you’re working on right now?

Armaan Malik: I’m currently working on a couple of Hindi and regional singles, a few exciting international collaborations, and preparing my live set for when I start gigging again!

What is your biggest fear as it pertains to your art?

Armaan Malik: 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 create the music you’ve always been known to create, but somewhere there’s always some part of your art that stays within because it may be too different to your usual work, and there’s that fear of it being rejected by the public.

What is your FAULT?

Armaan Malik: It’s so funny you ask me that, ever since I was in school, I’ve always known to be a ‘Fault Finder’! Be it in me, my work, or even anyone else’s, I tend to always focus on what’s wrong or what’s faulty that can be rectified. I’m overly critical, so I guess you can say that fault-finding is my biggest fault!