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Musician with a message

Today we find ourselves bobbing our heads to the music of Rihanna and Coldplay. But tomorrow, it might just as well be to that of Maalavika Manoj — a young, independent Chennai-based singer-songwriter. A second year student of Loyola College, and only 19 years old, this young musician has already lent her voice for movies such as 3, Kaleeyugam and Haridas.

However, unlike many other talented singers, she’s not satisfied just lending her voice to playback… Here’s what this musician-entrepreneur has to say about music and more!

How did this love affair with music begin?

I’ve been listening to a lot of music ever since I was a baby. Though my parents weren’t musicians themselves, they used to play a lot of 1970’s and 1980’s style music to me, even though I was just a little kid! The cool part is that my dad, unlike most parents of his generation, used to listen to a lot of electronic music from the early 1990’s (the decade in which is when I was born) and I grew up listening to a lot of that as well.

When I was five, they decided to enrol me in a whole lot of classes ranging from swimming and Bharatnatyam to piano and drawing classes. After a few years, I dropped all other classes and stuck with piano, which I learned till I was 17. Somewhere along the way I decided to try playing the guitar as well, because at that point it felt really “cool”.

So, how did song-writing come in?

I began to song-write when I was around 13 years old, but I wrote my first “official” song, one that I was truly satisfied with, only when I was 16. That song was really special to me as it was an apology to my mother after an argument we had that morning. It involved a lot of emotion, and it was the first time I was really happy with something I had written.

I like the fact that my music talk about specific phases of my life — when I have felt a particular way about something. I think one of my most memorable moments is when a girl came up to me after one of my shows, almost in tears, and told me that she really connected with the lyrics of one of my songs. As a songwriter, and a new one at that, knowing that someone else understands what you felt is humbling and inspiring.

Who are your musical influences?

I have a whole lot of random influences ranging from Skrillex to Hillsong and from A.R. Rahman to Alanis Morissette, but my real inspiration to write music comes from situations or feelings that really strike a chord deep inside me and more or less compel me to write a song.

You were a speaker at the recent TedxYouth Chennai conference, and you had a message. Tell us about that.

The theme of my speech, and the message that I’m here to promote, was that music is going to, and should be able to, keep changing.

I talked about my own experiences as an independent artist in Chennai, and how hard it is to be able to market such music in my hometown. Nowadays, however, because of a need to sell, music has been designed to suit a generalised audience, and more artists are “commercialising” music. It doesn’t represent deep emotions, and their own messages anymore.

My message to artists, in Chennai especially, is to look beyond just marketing and performing their music to the local audiences. We need to start focusing on a bigger market. Our city needs to open up more opportunities for performances and young musicians to exhibit their skills, because the truth is that we’re talented, and we’re here to stay!


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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 3:03:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/musician-with-a-message/article4241215.ece

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