The subtle art of a breakup song

Maalavika Manoj fondly known by her fans as Mali tells us 2023 has been a year filled with ‘firsts’.
The subtle art of a breakup song

Maalavika Manoj fondly known by her fans as Mali tells us 2023 has been a year filled with ‘firsts’. She performed at the first ever Lollapalooza festival in India earlier this year, played on the opening night of the much-awaited Nita Ambani Cultural Centre and most recently showed CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, how to tune a guitar using an iPhone app. We catch up with the popular indie artiste who released her latest single Walk Away on World Music Day. Music apart, this conversation covers everything from breakups to haircuts to cats. Excerpts from a seriously fun interview:

Walk Away is a breakup song. How are you doing Mali?

I’m honestly fine. The song was written a long time ago and it’s actually about my best friend’s breakup. It was a painful and long process and I suggested that she try writing about it to cope with the closure of it, or else I would. And the rest is history. 

The lyrics are beautiful and so relatable. Talk to us about the pain, the art and the space in between.

I think there is a kintsugi element with music making. You act as a sort of transistor between a negative world and a positive one or the other way around. You can really interpret any experience you have the way you want to when you write a song. 

You have a new look — a snazzy bob. Is this part of your creative process as well in a way — new look, new energy, new ideas...

Change is always welcome. And a new haircut makes you feel like a new version of yourself. Or an old one you forgot existed. 

2023 is only half way through and you’ve already had some huge wins. 

Yes, 2023 has been off to a great start. There have been a lot of firsts and so many exciting projects that I have explored outside my comfort zone. But I think my favourite moment of the year, so far, would be meeting Tim Cook when he came to launch the Apple store in Mumbai. I had to present to him all the Apple tools and products I use as part of my creative process. I remember he was most taken aback when he found out that you could tune your guitar by using an app on the iPhone. Then I played him a song. And when I was done, he shook my hand and he said: ‘Don’t forget us on your way to the top’. And I don’t know why he said that, but he did and it was so sweet. 

What have you been working on lately?

Writing, as usual. Trying to double down on releasing music more frequently for the most part. Reorganising my live act has also been a parallel process I’ve been diving into more.

Cats seem to make their way into a lot of your photo albums, and multiple felines, not the same one. Do you have a kitty?

Cats are the best. Period. Yes, I had a cat that has now been absorbed into my parents’ home. His name is Dali and he has the cutest moustache. My life doesn’t currently allow for a pet but I can’t wait for the day I can adopt a cat again.

Is there an album lined up for this year?

I think it will be a while before I do another album. I will be focusing on singles in the near future.

Walk Away is streaming on all music platforms.

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The New Indian Express