Deceptive Maalavika

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  • Published 26.07.13

She is 19 and she has found a mentor of sorts in A.R. Rahman, who had posted her song Deceptive on his Facebook page. Before leaving for Paris (to complete her BBA degree) next month, Maalavika Manoj (friends call her Mali) dropped in at Someplace Else at The Park last week to promote her debut album, which is also called Deceptive. The Chennai-based singer spoke to t2

How did the album (Deceptive) come about?

I was with a band (Bass-in-Bridge) for a year and our plan was to make an album. Since the band didn’t work out, I thought I would make it on my own. I also had this dream of working with some big musicians. There are some big names (Anton Pukshansky, who mixed Santana’s album Supernatural, and Gino Banks) on these six songs. It’s a simple album; an outcome of simple teenage thoughts. About a year ago A.R. Rahman found a recording of Deceptive (the song) on the Internet and shared it on his Facebook page. I had written the song even before we had the band. Unfortunately, the band was not together. So, I went ahead and recorded the album. It took me 15 months to finish Deceptive. I had to do it while pursuing college (BBA student at Loyola College in Chennai).

Why have you titled the album Deceptive?

When I was growing up, I met a lot of people, who I thought were friends, who actually ended up letting me down. Then there were people who I thought were failing me, but they ended up helping me. Things aren’t as they seem. The song is really about that. It was a realisation kind of phase. I was actually 16 when I wrote the song. It was not about a particular situation.

Unlike most artistes, you grew up listening to electronic acts like Skrillex...

I am blessed with the fact that my parents have exposed me to a lot of different kinds of music. And those influences played in my head. My mom was a very big Abba, Carpenters and Beatles fan. My dad started following electronic music in the early 1990s. That’s not something you really find dads doing. So, I grew up listening to electronic and retro. Then there was the 1990s –– Savage Garden, Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys. In between, my grandparents insisted I learn Carnatic music and then I was interested in Western classical.

What are you listening to now?

In the last few years I have been listening to a lot of singer-songwriters like Alanis (Morissette), John Mayer, Sara Bareilles, even Bob Dylan… more for the lyrics than tunes. I want to listen to what goes into a song rather than just a tune. Even with the simplest of tunes you can capture one’s attention.

How do you go about writing songs?

Usually my songs are inspired by melancholy. One of my weaknesses or strengths is over-thinking. I think it’s the same for a lot of people who write. When I start over-thinking, my best form of closure is writing it down. Once I write it all down, I feel I have expressed myself… literally crying to your friend when you are sad. If you listen to any of my songs, you would know what I was genuinely feeling.

What about the film music industry?

A friend of mine, Anirudh (Ravichander), the guy who composed Why This Kolaveri Di, scored the music for the Tamil film 3. There is another song in the movie called Come on girls; I sang in that. It was a small but a nice way to make my debut in the film music space.

Being young, do you like the music of Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez?

Some say it’s very hard to sustain oneself after achieving a lot at a young age. And then there are people who make it in their 40s, like Susan Boyle. Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez have been spotted at the right time. I prefer Miley over Rihanna because Rihanna’s music is overproduced and pretentious.