Meet The Adele of Mumbai.
Mallika Mehta has traveled all over the world and worked with fellow musicians to create magic. She’s been titled the ‘Adele of Mumbai’ by fans and music critics alike. Her latest single, ‘Way Too Long’, is the latest milestone in a fantastic musical career that has nowhere to go but up.
We had a chat with Mallika Mehta to find out more about her journey to becoming a singer.
1. How did you get introduced into the world of music?
I have been singing ever since I remember. My mom used to play the keyboard when I was really little, about 4-5 years old and I’d listen to her play and pick up some lines and play them on my own. That’s when my parents realized that I had the ear for music and bought me my own keyboard. I used to sing alongside the keyboard soon after. I began participating in school and inter-school competitions for keyboard playing and I’d win at the state level. Throughout my school life, I sang. I absolutely loved it from the beginning, and about 2 or 3 years after I finished school, I had recorded my very first original single.
2. You released your first EP last year, called Evolve: The Story of Her. Tell us how and why that title came about.
Evolve has 4 tracks on it – ‘War Solo’, ‘Flame is Gone’, ‘Finally Free’ (Libre, Libre) and ‘War Solo (Reprise – Hindi Mix)’. The songs were all written by me at different stages in life. Each one is a different phase of a girl’s life that highlights how she falls in love and eventually emerges victorious out of it since it was always one-sided. I had released ‘War Solo’ (2016) and ‘Flame is Gone’ (2017) on YouTube but I was lookingat making them official releases since a while.
When I wrote ‘Finally Free’ (Libre, Libre), the plan was to release it as a single as well but when I sat down and heard the songs together I saw the connection instantly and thought of releasing as an EP as it told a clear story. I sat down to ideate, to find the perfect word that could summarize the 3 songs. I think I came up with the word ‘Evolution’ first but my mom suggested ‘Evolve’ and that stuck. It still felt a little incomplete and I wanted a tag line. That’s how I added ‘The Story of Her’, since all the songs formulated to tell a story, a story of her.
Evolve is the story of a girl next door, the story of a girl in love. It’s an EP which covers an array of emotions.
The first song, ‘War Solo’, is about a one-sided love story. It shows what she goes through when she is madly and deeply in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way about her and leaves her high and dry to fight this war solo.
The second song ‘Flame Is Gone’ is a declaration of her getting over the one she once felt for but something still holds her back, something still hurts. She doesn’t know why she can’t feel happy. She smiles, she laughs but yet doesn’t feel free. Although the flame is now gone she still feels uneasy and strained and this feeling begins to kill her from within and corrodes her happiness.
‘Finally Free’, the third song is all about her bouncing back stronger and feeling complacent. She realizes that she is still in love – but this time, with herself. Her smile becomes wholesome, and she begins to touch the sky. She evolves as a person and knows that she needs nobody but herself, and doesn’t need to mask her emotions anymore. Evolve is about a girl who is finally free after realizing that the flame is gone and her war solo now comes to an end.
Evolution is letting go of the past, embracing the present and looking
forward to the future with a positive mindset.
3. Describe your parents role in your journey to becoming a singer.
As cliché as it may sound, I am who I am only and only because of them. Right from the beginning, they saw I had a ear for music and without thinking twice my dad bought me this keyboard which was a rather big gift for a 6 or 7 year old. (P.S. – I still use that keyboard). I was that kid that would participate in every single music competition, which sounds nice but is a lot of work for parents as well, be it picking and dropping me for numerous practice sessions to even taking me for those competitions which would probably mean skipping a day of work since these locations were mostly far.
I still remember the day my parents and I were just sitting together talking and my dad says “We should have a concert”. Flabbergasted, I literally remember asking him “What are you talking about? Do you know how big a concert is?” I promise I thought it was a joke until it happened just a couple months later – when I had my first solo concert called “Rhythm”. My parents encourage me every day, they’re my number one support system and are the positive ones even if I have a dull day. My dad got me to record an original song in New York when I was just 19- that says it all.
4. How did Berklee shape you as a singer?
Berklee was life changing, not only from the singing perspective but also shaping me into a different person altogether. I had never studied music before I got there so all the knowledge that I had was only what I had learnt practically and by actually figuring it out while I did it. We were all meant to take 7-8 electives but I wanted to learn more and managed to take 13 electives. I learnt so much about my range, performance techniques, showcasing my talent the right way, different tones in my voice that I didn’t even know I had and learn so much about music in general.
We would sing there every day, in class and in the dorms because everyone breathed music.
When I got back home, my parents clearly saw the difference in my singing.
5. You’ve worked with Liz Lewis, a renowned vocal coach who’s trained notable celebrities like Rihanna, Demi Lovato, and Brittney Spears. What was the experience like?
The experience to work with Liz was unreal. She is the kind of coach who is so punctual and perfect. Wouldn’t waste a minute and wouldn’t let us waste a minute. I literally flew to LA specially to coach under her. We were scheduled to do 2 songs and as soon as we went through the first one she asked me to try the second song I had picked.
When I sang that she immediately suggested me to try the song ‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna. She said she was her coach when this song was being recorded and sung and thought it would fit my voice perfectly. I had heard the song a million times but had never sung it. But she taught me how to, and today that’s one of my favorite songs to sing at concerts and gigs.
6. Tell us about a particularly unforgettable performance of yours.
Every single performance big or small is so special to me but one that I can think of instantly is my performance at IIM Indore’s annual cultural fest “Atharv”. We were scheduled to sing on their ground where this gigantic stage was built but the rains ruined it all and we thought we may have to call it off. The team wonderfully transferred everything to their auditorium and I have never had a livelier and more amazing audience before.
When I got on stage after the opening act I realized how I couldn’t even hear myself since they were singing each line back with so much enthusiasm. I had made some multilingual mashups for them and even though they didn’t know what song came next, they managed to catch hold of it anyway and sing it back. They were dancing and so was I, it was like this mega midnight party. I have videos of it where you can see exactly what I mean. At the end of my performance I had a line of people wanting selfies and they all cheered my name for a long time, that is an irreplaceable feeling.
7. Name some artists you look up to.
Adele, Taylor Swift, RD Burman, Kishoreda, Ashaji, Shreya Ghoshal, Arijit Singh, Whitney Houston, Rihanna, and Bryan Adams.
8. Do you have any plans to collaborate with fellow singers? What would be your dream collaboration?
I do collaborate with other artists all the time and I’d definitely be open to some fun collaborations. Currently, I’m working on another fun project with a fellow artist, and I’m hoping to have it out in a few months. I tend to dream big and so I’d say sharing the stage with one of my idols would be the biggest dream collaboration, be it Adele, Taylor Swift or even Arijit Singh.
9. What is your personal favorite song of yours?
They’re all my babies and equally important to me but I love ‘Finally Free’ from Evolve because of the message it gives. It talks about being independent, about loving yourself and being enough. And I definitely love my newest single ‘Way Too Long’ and the way it turned out.
10. What do you think sets you apart from other artists?
I usually am known for the multilingual fun mashups I create and sing. I sing in 5 languages, them being Hindi, English, Gujarati, Punjabi and Spanish and often play around with them to create mashups. I’ve been titled as the Adele of Mumbai because I tend to hit high, strong, belty notes. Apart from that I believe the music and songs I write are extremely relatable since I write songs I feel and lyrics are extremely important to me.
11. You’ve recently released an English original single titled Way Too Long. What’s the song about, and what inspired you to write it?
I began writing and composing ‘Way Too Long’ in November 2019. It’s a song that I just felt and wrote in less than an hour. I initially began top lining the song. It’s a concept I learnt while I spent summer 2019 at NYU learning songwriting. I found some beats online which were meant for top lining and began writing on the track. The first phrase that came to me was “Way Too Long”. So I stuck with it and began ideating and noting down things that take way too long to be said or done.
In a few minutes, I had my first verse ready which spoke from the perspective of the other person. Just as I wrote that I knew that the second verse should be from my / the narrator’s perspective. Although it took me a while to have the bridge and the ending of the song, I wanted it to be perfect and have the exact vibe it has.
‘Way too long’ is a song that portrays the emotion of regret.
It describes the flaws as well as the regrets of two individuals that have feelings for each other and still take things for granted by not calling or expressing their feelings in time, by not being able to love and trust until after it’s too late. It highlights the fact that everything has a timeline and how certain things need to be said and done when the time is right. How things need to be acted upon and sentiments need to be acknowledged in time. People always realize what they’ve lost when it’s too late to revive things.
One of the strongest lines in the song talks about what actually hurts them the most is knowing that they will be okay, in spite of not being together which is just a bittersweet acceptance.
12. You’ve had a trailblazing career in music, from making a mark at the top schools like Harvard, Berklee, and NYU, to opening for top maestros like Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Kailash Kher. What’s your advice for those looking to make it big in music?
The one thing that I always say and will always say especially to people pursuing or wanting to pursue music is that do it, sing, play, write, perform because you LOVE it. Practice is key. Keep practicing until you can’t anymore because that’s the only way to achieve what you want. Your love and passion for it will be the reason behind you doing wonders in the field. You have to be a fanatic to achieve your goals and dreams. The best way to learn or better an art like music is to actually get on stage and perform, sing for your peers and get their honest viewpoint. Try getting gigs as hard as it may seem because what the stage can teach you, no one else can.
Try doing different things, keep learning, there is so much to learn in music both practically and theoretically. I’ve practiced for hours until my throat couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve heard songs on loop for hours together, played the same song and sung it over a million times.
But then that’s the kind of music fanatic I am and want to be.
Fascinated by Mallika’s voice? Check out her Instagram – @mallikamehtamusic , or her Twitter: @MallikaMehta3