A music lover since her childhood, Mumbai girl Mallika Mehta, is the talk of the town these days. She doesn’t only write her songs but can sing in five languages – Hindi, English, Gujarati, Punjabi & Spanish. Trained for music and songwriting from Berklee College of Music and NYU respectively, this singer has opened for the likes of Kailash Kher and Shankar Ehsaan Loy. We managed to catch up with Mallika Mehta and talk about her journey so far. Here’s the excerpt from the conversation.
1. How did your musical journey start? Was it a passion since childhood or did you explore it recently?
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. Then I began participating in school and interschool competitions for keyboard playing and I’d win at the state level. I sang throughout my school life, 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. So, Mallika Mehta, you are known as the Adele of Mumbai. Any interesting story behind that?
So, I heard about Adele and her music when I was in 9th grade. I loved the fact that she sounded so powerful and she hit those high belt notes so perfectly. Her songs matched my style of singing and I’ve been idolizing her ever since. I sing and enjoy singing a lot of Adele and I remember uploading a cover of her song ‘Someone Like You’ on my YouTube channel a few years ago. That cover got picked up and was posted on the official music website of Adele’s covers. That was huge for me. I am a singer-songwriter and I wrote and released my first single ‘War Solo’ in 2016. I was interviewed by WeLab Magazine, which is a music magazine in the USA. When I read the article post I saw how they had printed “The next Adele from Mumbai – Mallika Mehta” and I think that stuck.
3. The decision of taking up music as a career, was it daunting?
I was just talking about this exact thing with my parents a few days ago. The fact that we never really had that discussion of what I wanted to take up as a career. I kept singing and exploring music and my parents kept pushing me and supporting me throughout. I began recording in a studio when I was 18 and I had my first concert when I was 19 but we did all that because of my love and passion for music. So, to answer your question it hasn’t been daunting for me because I do what I love and that’s the reason why I do it.
4. You have got your training from some of the prestigious institutes in the world. How was your experience during these trainings?
I’ve been trained at Berklee College of Music, Boston for my vocals and at NYU for songwriting. Apart from that, I’ve also been trained at Harvard University for marketing.
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. Similarly, at NYU I learnt so much about songwriting and I’ve been using that knowledge in the songs I write today.
5. You opened for Kailash Kher and Shankar Ehsaan Loy. How was the experience?
Kailash Kher and Shankar Ehsaan Loy are Bollywood maestros and I idolize their music. To be opening for them has been a surreal experience. To be singing in front of artists of their caliber in their own concert is just a beautiful experience, something I keep reliving a million times over in my head.
6. Your first English single War Solo also came in the same year. Would you say 2016 was the turning point in the career of Mallika Mehta?
Yes definitely, 2016 brought a lot. I had my first concert ‘Rhythm’ I also opened for Kailash Kher, went to Berklee and released War Solo. It was a combination of all the things I wanted and needed in order to be an artist, i.e. performance, education and original music.
7. You are on the verge of releasing your first Hindi Single. What are some of the challenges you face when moving to a different language? Do you feel the need to study the nuances of the language before you write a song?
Yes, ‘Kahan Hai Tu’ my very first Hindi single releases on September 3rd and I am super thrilled. Well, I did not really face a challenge since I have been speaking in Hindi since I was like 6. I’ve always wanted to write in Hindi though and I never thought I’d be writing and releasing my original Hindi single this soon but here it is. I am so excited about this, the song came through so fast, the writing, composing, production everything. I wrote it in just 20 mins, I guess that’s because I felt it so deeply.
8. Who are some of the role models you look up to in the industry?
Adele, Taylor Swift, RD Burman, Kishoreda, Ashaji, Shreya Ghoshal, Arijit Singh, Whitney Houston, Rihanna, Bryan Adams, honestly the list can go on.
9. So, Mallika Mehta you are a Mumbai girl. Can you share some of your favourite spots in the city (restaurant, shopping spots, hangout spot, etc)?
Ahh yes of course. Marine drive or as its fondly called the “Queens Necklace” is one of my best places to go to for drives and to just chill with friends. I absolutely love Mumbai food and street food for sure, the Khau Gali at Zaveri bazaar, sevpuri and pav bhaji, the pani puri at Snowmans, the South Indian food at Mysore café and Madras café and of course all the restaurants like Umame, Bombay Bronx, Farmers café, Copper Chimney, the list is crazy long. I’m a shopaholic and if I were out shopping you’d either find me at Palladium at Lower Parel or getting the cutesy stuff from Colaba causeway.
- Current Fav song/songs: Bekhayali, The 1 -Taylor Swift
- Fav Indian Music Artist: Arijit Singh, Kishor da
- A song that usually uplifts your mood: Summer of 69
- If your life was a song, it would be: Unstoppable – Sia
- A song you would like to dedicate to Mumbai?: in the literal sense “I will always love you” but I guess all the super fun dance songs would fit in so perfectly with Mumbai’s vibe so maybe something like ‘Ban Than Chali’