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Quirks & Queries: Maalavika Manoj

Tell us about your songwriting process 
I usually start with a seed idea which could come from anywhere – sometimes it’s a phrase or a word I thought sounded good or even just a melody on the keys or a progression on the guitar. I then think about what’s really been on my mind in recent times and try and relate that to what I’d like to write about. Sometimes the words flow out. Sometimes it takes some deep diving.
What are some of the key factors one should keep in mind while writing a song?
I think people tend to get too carried away with structures and making ‘hooks’. Sometimes you could sing a melody just once or play just one note in the right place and that could say so much more than repeating the same line of word like 8 times. There’s also no rule that each line should rhyme exactly with the previous one or that each line should stand alone. You could even hint at a rhyme several times within a line or even keep things super abstract right through. I think the most important thing is to unlearn everything you think you know and just let the song lead you where it wants to go
How do you keep learning to get better at what you’re doing?
I keep tying new things. I’ve learned that constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is where all the learning happens. I take on challenges like learning to play a whole set of songs on the keyboard to accompany friends of mine for their shows or even write with other artists (something I’m not yet fully comfortable doing).
You’re also a brilliant singer. Do you think it makes a whole lot of difference when you are both a singer and a songwriter? What are the perks or doing both?
Why, thank you! I think the two are quite independent of each other. You could be good at one and not the other, but I think being able to see a song from the inception of an idea right to the delivery is a beautiful process that I’m grateful to be able to do. I also write melodies knowing what register my voice would sound good on and perform them knowing exactly what emotion caused me to write those words in the first place.
What challenges did you face when you started out?
I was around 17 when I started doing music professionally. At the time people never took a 17 year old school kid(that too, a girl) too seriously. I had to fight to prove I had ideas and that I knew what I wanted for my music. I’d been severely underpaid for my work, as it is with all artists when they start out and gotten to see people’s true colours in a work environment but I put that all down to valuable experience.
How do you pick themes for your songs? Is there something that resonates with your personality?
I usually go with what I’m currently feeling in that moment. More often than not the songs I write reflect what’s really on my mind during those few weeks or days. I sometimes write to get closure and those songs tend to have more pathos and are more mellow but that doesn’t really define my personality.
Tell us about your upcoming projects 
I’ve got a song called Mango Showers that I’m looking forward to releasing soon.
Rapid fire
1. Favorite stage you’ve performed in
The Wembley Arena(SSE arena)
2. Artist you’d love to collaborate with
Phoebe Bridgers
3. Music festival you’d like to play at
4. A song that plays on repeat in your music playlist
Marry Me, Archie – Alvvays
5. If there is something you could change about the way you write music, what would it be?
To push the boundaries a little further
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