When you think of musicians collaborating to create new musical sounds, you probably imagine them playing together in a fancy studio or even a grungy garage.
But post-pandemic reality turned that dream upside down and saw singers and music producers walk to a different tune.
Ask Indian pop and Bollywood singer Armaan Malik, who recently teamed up with Korean pop singer Eric Nam and music producer KSHMR to create their song âEchoâ. The talented trio have never been in the same room together, but they are confident âEchoâ will transcend those bumps.
âNobody really expected that an Indian pop singer, a K-Pop singer and an EDM artist would collaborate together. This is the first time, but I hope it won’t be the lastâ¦ We realized this collaboration on three continents, âsaid Malik in an interview with Gulf News.
While Malik has done his part in Mumbai, Eric has made his way to South Korea and KSHMR has been working hard from Los Angeles.
âI haven’t even met Eric and we only met on our laptop screen like you and I are doing the interview now. But I did meet KSHMR once when I was in LA! And I have to tell you that technology has definitely played a huge role in our collaboration. The world has become a much smaller place and we have been able to connect better than ever, âsaid Malik.
While brainstorming and jamming in the traditional sense did not give birth to ‘Echo’, they are confident that it produced a strong musical output. The pandemic has taught them to upset the traditional rules of songwriting and embrace technology.
âBeing in the same room with your other artists is definitely an important part of our songwriting process because we tend to feed off each otherâ¦ But now we’ve learned with ‘Echo’ that all of us, artists, we just need to be on the same page Everyone should feel heard, âsaid Malik.
Despite collaborating with two other artists with two different musical styles, Malik says he felt completely in tune with these two talents.
âThe three of us merged into one songâ¦ We followed our instincts and our sounds, and that’s the beauty of ‘Echo’. Even though we didn’t do it in person, I don’t think we missed anything. We connected with each other even though we didn’t meet, âsaid Malik.
Malik, who has always been an avid K-Pop enthusiast, also believes their union will give music lovers around the world something to celebrate. Much like the way the K-Pop phenomenon has swept the world, he hopes “Echo” will usher in an “I-pop.” [Indian-pop] meets the K-Pop wave ‘.
âI think I just made up this new I-pop phrase! I was on a flight to Dubai when I stumbled upon a K-Pop group called Shinhwaâ¦ I was bored on that flight and thought about listening to some new music. I just ran into them. And I loved their music and from there my love for K-Pop just grew fonder and fonder. I started to dig into their videos which are just amazing. Their industry is all about music, glossy music videos and pure art, âsaid Malik.
This singer, who has incredible influence and credibility as a Bollywood reading talent, has always been fascinated by what makes K-Pop such a global phenomenon.
âK-Pop is not just about singing. It’s about your whole personality – it’s about the way you behave, probably a bit of dancing and how you look or how you danceâ¦ In India, a lot of people still haven’t come out of the Bollywood bubble. âMalik said.
His last sentence is a complaint voiced by several Indian musicians. The West has an army of idolized and canonized pop icons, but Indians are still hooked on idolizing actors and actresses in dazzling musicals that synchronize the songs of these singers.
The stars are always the bride, while the playback singers are usually relegated to playing the bridesmaids who blend into the background. They often exist to play supporting roles to glamorous actors in movies that have at least half a dozen songs.
âEveryone is so wrapped up in this bubble, but over the last couple of years I’ve seen a bit of indie pop and singles come out. We are slowly moving towards this movement that K-Pop had a few years agoâ¦ Our Indian music market is bubbling with a lot of underground artistsâ¦ India may be the next big market. There is so much talent in our country that no one even knows, âsaid Malik.
His observation of Bollywood dominating the entertainment scene is not unfair. When Malik, 25, told his colleagues about the collaboration, many asked him why he was retiring from the lucrative Bollywood music scene. He has sung over 150 songs and has over 50 million subscribers on his social media platforms. But his decision to make music with other artists – regardless of a movie franchise – was viewed with a mixture of admiration and skepticism.
Often, turning your back on Bollywood is seen as detrimental to any established singer.
âBut I think it’s a big step for me as an Indian artist. This is my first international collaboration and I am happy that Eric, KHMR and I were able to work together. I like their music. I have been a huge fan of KSHMR since he was part of The Cataracs. He had quite a few huge hits like ‘Like A G6’. And Eric Nam is a brilliant artist. Imagine three Asian artists getting together! Said Malik,
A song that fights Asian hatred:
The three even answered the call to release their song Echo in May, a month that celebrates AAPI. [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders] community globally. Their song is symbolic in many ways.
âWe are delighted because the whole month of May is devoted to Asians and their culture. Our song will compensate for the hatred that is going through the world right now and will highlight our Asian stories, our contributions to the community and what we have been through, âsaid Malik.
If this young singer – with an army of fans who called themselves âArmaaniansâ – had what he wanted, he would celebrate Asians and their rich history and cultural heritage every month of the year.
âI have the impression that Asian artists have not had their due! And as Asian artists, we have to defend this movementâ¦ Look at our collaboration. We made this song happen on three continents, âsaid Malik.
Musical scene after the pandemic:
Malik, who also contracted COVID-19 and battled the disease courageously, believes that 2021 will go down in music history as a âbizarre yearâ fueled by uncertainty, tragedy and loss.
“It was a very horrible time in India … It was [COVID-19] has not disappeared and it is a long process. Being able to do a song in the middle of a pandemic where children cannot meet their deceased parents or vice versa has been very difficult. I was doing creative stuff with a feeling of heaviness. I used to wake up in the morning wondering if I could ever rewrite a piece of music or if I would be happy to do it. It was a confusing time in our livesâ¦ But I managed to make healthy music during that time! I have such respect for creatives.
Malik, who wants to be the first unrestricted Indian pop idol in Bollywood, claims he’s a man on a mission. He never wants to be complacent or just sing romantic Hindi songs for actors his whole life.
“I want to bring Indian musicians to the world … I have never been able to admire another pop star from our own country because we never had one. So I always dreamed of being the idol. from another Indian artist growing up in this country. I would love to see Indians make the billboard charts, receive the Grammys, receive all the accolades western artists have received. I think it’s time to India to shine and I will do my best to make it happen.
“I want to bring Indian musicians to the world … I have never been able to admire another pop star from our own country because we never had one. So I always dreamed of being the idol. from another Indian artist growing up in this country. I would love to see Indians be on the billboard charts, receive the Grammys, receive all the accolades that western artists have received. I think it’s about time that India is shining and I will do my best to make it happen. “
– Singer Armaan Malik
“I call her Priyanka di [sister]. I had quite a few conversations about this with her and she shared some tips with me like what I should do. She told me that it was a process and that it would not happen overnight. You have to work on it, âsaid Armaan Malik, explaining how Chopra’s trip to the West helped him tackle this territory.
– Singer Armaan Malik takes inspiration from Priyanka Chopra Jonas to rule the world