Maalavika Manoj is an independent pop/country singer-songwriter who goes by the moniker, ‘Mali’. She was born and raised in Chennai, but now lives in Mumbai. She has just released her debut EP titled, ‘Rush’, and has also lent her voice to several Tamil film soundtracks, working with the likes of AR Rahman, Anirudh Ravichander and Harris Jayaraj. She was the artist of the month on Apple Music and has performed in some of the most coveted venues across the country, as well as at music festivals such as NH7 Weekender. She now plans on taking her passion of writing honest pop music to the world.
Maalavika doesn’t consider herself successful at all yet but feels that she has come a long way from where she first began. In this industry, nothing succeeds like perseverance. It’s not easy to take the decision to be a singer-songwriter and stick with it for a long period of time because things can get hard. At the end of the day, you’re only as successful as you are established, so becoming ‘established’ takes a lot of patience and hard work.
A success-habit that Maalavika swears by is, to try and be better at every stage than she was before. This means, either improving on her songwriting, becoming a better live performer and/or practicing new things.
Maalavika’s journey began as she was growing up, She figured that she could be good at anything if she really put her mind to it and worked hard. But music was something she enjoyed and came so naturally to her, that she decided that she would be doing herself a disservice if she chose to do anything else as a career. Fortunately, Maalavika had family and friends who encouraged her at every stage, and so she took the decision to pursue music full-time a year ago.
In this journey of hers, Maalavika had her fair share of obstacles. When it came to choosing whether she wanted to take on a traditional career path after graduating from college, she had to think long and hard about whether she wanted to choose the comfort of a steady job, or sacrifice that for the love of art and the thrill of building a brand of her own, so she chose the latter. Financial security in this industry is still something that can prove to be an obstacle. You can be broke or make a lot of money at the drop of a hat, so unless you’re ready to rough it out for a while until things look up, it can be difficult. Maalavika too can’t say that she’s past this stage yet.
Maalavika feels that failure is a very harsh word, but there have been times when she has felt less than capable of what she can achieve. Music is as subjective as any other art form. Sometimes you have days where you wonder if you’re really cut out for this life and whether your art is worth making, and then some days you’re reminded by someone that a song you wrote got them through a difficult period, and that’s really what it all boils down to. On the days when you’re feeling defeated, its just really important to pick yourself up and keep doing what you’re doing, no matter how hard it can get. You can’t see something as a failure if you just look at it as a temporary impediment.
For Maalavika, her proudest moment in her singing-songwriting career up till now has been when AR Rahman told her that she has a natural gift as a singer and she should never squander it. Maalavika was over the moon, on hearing this.
Maalavika would’ve never been able to achieve all that she has, without her family. They have been the biggest support she’s had. Even though they aren’t musicians, they have always strived to understand her lifestyle and help her whenever she needed them. She is currently working towards releasing new music and finding ways to reach more people. She also really wants to work on her live set and make sure she can self-reliant and put on a memorable show no matter who the audience or what the venue is like.
ADVICE TO THE READERS:
Being an independent singer-songwriter isn’t about waking up one day and becoming a star. It is years of constant hard work and investment (of not only money but also time) that lead to being great. It’s also got a lot to do with how you balance your personal projects with your commercial projects. I like to think of this as an 80-20 rule. You should spend 80% of your time doing personal projects and work that best represents you as an artist, and the other 20% of your time on commercial work. Everyone’s got a balance that works for them and it’s just about finding that balance, no matter what you do. Lastly, like I mentioned earlier, hard work and patience is everything.