Fishermen. Jazz. Insomnia. They don’t have much in common. But you would be surprised as to how the most unlikely elements can come together during the roller coaster ride of making an album. “See the album cover?” Maalavika Manoj aka Mali points to the CD she hands over to this reporter. There she is, a pretty vision on a beach, seated daintily on a white garden bench, toes dipping in white foam, with waves in the background... But she interjects, “We were wandering around ECR at 6 am looking for a place to shoot, and every good spot we found had a fisherman taking a dump!” When the shot was taken, it turns out it was a fisherman holding the reflectors for better lighting. The 19-year-old says with a laugh, “It’s been crazy...” What was planned as a simple four-month production process, ended up taking 15 months, she admits. And with the release of her solo debut titled, Deceptive finally in sight (June 16), Mali admits sleepless nights have become something of a norm these days. And people say musicians are lazy!
With six songs and 25 of the biggest names accompanying her vocals – think Ghatam Karthik, Gino Banks, Keba Jeramiah, Karthik Iyer and the like – one can chance a guess that this indie artist has put together a range of genres as well. “There’s electronic-jazz, blues, soft pop,” Mali tells us. Certainly a long stretch from where she began in the city’s western music circuit with the band Bass-in Bridge. And the best part? She’s done it all on her own – no record label, no music agency, not even a manager. “I didn’t want to go with a label because I thought that might put me in a box,” the youngster explains wisely. Also, she adds, “I wanted to be answerable to myself at the end of the day.”
Composed over a period of three years, perhaps the tune dearest to her on the album is No Place Like Home.
“I wrote that one when I was 16,” she recalls. It had been raining heavily, and the then schoolgoer had just fought with her mom, “and then threatened to leave home,” she continues. Sitting at her living room piano, this was the first time she realised that she could compose music. Of course, her mother loved it, and nobody left home that day.
So what comes next after the album? “France,” Mali responds promptly. “I’m still in college,” she reminds this reporter. “It’s a part of my BBA course, so I’ll be studying there for almost a year.” However, she quickly clarifies, “I doubt there will be a lull in my music.” She says with a smile, “My guitar’s going along with me...”
(Deceptive will be launched at Chipstead, Taj Coromandel on June 16.)