It was an absolute pleasure to begin 2019 interviewing singer songwriter Maalavika Manoj. The artist is slowly becoming a fan favourite performing in the biggest events across India. Her influences include The Carpenters, Fleetwood Mac and Alanis Morissette while also performing as a playback singer for Tamil films such as Harris Jayaraj’s ‘Iru Mugan’ (2016) and Anirudh Ravichander’s ‘Vivegam’ (2017). She also appears on Ravichander’s Valentine’s Day single ‘Onnume Aagala’.

Musicmandir - Hey Mali, tell us a little about yourself and your Introduction to music.
Mali - My parents weren’t musicians but they introduced me to a lot of good music when I was growing up. They knew I had an inclination to music when I used to be able to identify a song from the opening strains as a toddler. So they signed me up for piano lessons when I was five and with the little money they had saved up at the time they bought me a piano when I was six and that gave me impetus to spend time with it and understand music in my own little way.  
Musicmandir - As a singer / performer, you sing, play guitar, play the keyboard. What comes to you most freely and are you trained or self taught? 
Mali - Singing is definitely the most natural of the three and keys comes second.
That said, I’ve actually written most of my songs on the guitar. I taught myself the guitar and barely remember a time when I didn’t sing.
Musicmandir - Do you prefer playing festivals/concerts or small living room kind indoor venues. And why?
Mali - Each kind of venue has its own unique charm. I enjoy festival and bigger stage shows with the band because it ends up being a lot of fun and I can focus a little more on performing and singing and less on playing. But I love indoor venues for solo or duo sets because the experience (for both artist and listener) is a lot more raw and personal.

Musicmandir - If we sneaked into your playlist right now, what artists would we find? Also please tell us 5 Indian artists you love listening to.
Mali - At the top of the list right now is Temples, Beck, Radiohead and John Farnham. Among Indian artists (besides Tejas and Short Round who I already work with), Thermal and a Quarter, Dhruv Viswanath, Komorebi, Blackstratblues and Easy Wanderlings.
Musicmandir - Anything cooking for 2019?
Mali - Yes, possibly going to start working on another EP or a full length album this year. I’ve already got some material written for it.
Musicmandir - Any advice for someone mucking around in their bedroom wanting to be like you?
Mali - Let yourself be heard. You might just be surprised at the response.