At 25, Armaan Malik has proven himself a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. The singer-songwriter skyrocketed to fame in 2015 with hit songs like Tumhe Apna Banane Ka and Bol Do Na Zara. Since then, he has dominated charts and taken home multiple awards for several chartbusters like Main Rahoon Ya Na Rahoon, Chale Aana, Pehla Pyaar and Butta Bomma among others. Last year, the singer also broke chart records with his first official English-language single Control which released under renowned American record label Arista Records. Currently, the singer is ruling YouTube with his latest song Echo, which has nearly scored 6 million views (and counting) on the online video platform. For Echo, Armaan has collaborated with Korean-American singer-songwriter Eric Nam and Indian-American DJ Niles Hollowell-Dhar, better known by his stage name KSHMR. Armaan describes Echo as “the first K-pop meets I-pop" song.
The singer opened up about what led to this dynamic association, his views on the growing influence of Korean pop music in India, and why EXO’s Chen would be his dream K-pop collaboration.
What pushed you on to this new adventure?
‘Echo’ was incepted when I met KSHMR in Los Angeles right before the onset of the global pandemic and the release of my first English single. He played me some unreleased material including ‘Echo’, when I heard the idea it just stuck, and I recorded my demo verse at his studio itself. Around mid-2020, Eric and I had this little interaction on Twitter that sparked off an internet friendship and our teams got connected as well to discuss a potential collaboration. The track we all gravitated most towards was ‘Echo’ and we spent the next few months making it sound like it does right now.
What was it like to collaborate with K-pop star Eric Nam and KSHMR?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Niles. My love for his production goes right back to the time when he was part of the duo ‘The Cataracs’. His work over the years as KSHMR has truly been ground-breaking and sonically unique. The way he seamlessly blends Indian sounds with electronic sounds is just unbelievable!
Even though Eric and I have never met each other in person, there is an unexplained connection with him. Our internet friendship actually started out by complimenting each other’s work on Twitter. There is a genuine mutual admiration and appreciation for each other’s music and artistry. Beyond music, I really appreciate how vocal he is regarding the issues pertaining to Asians, that’s immensely commendable. It feels amazing to create a magnificent song with such talented artists like KSHMR and Eric!
K-pop has become a global phenomenon with BTS literally running the music world right now. What was the one thing that attracted you to K-pop?
I cannot pinpoint one particular thing that attracted me to K-Pop because it is not just a genre of music, it is much more; it is a universe in itself. From intricate storylines in videos with impeccable choreography to their lyricism and everything in between, K-Pop truly is unique!
Do you feel that the growing influence of Korean pop music in our home country can pose a threat to Indian artists?
I don’t think so at all. In my opinion, it benefits the Indian artists to have more learning and opportunities to broaden their horizons. Like I said above, K-Pop isn’t a genre of music, so, there’s so much to grasp and expand our creative palettes.
Of late, several young international musicians like Billie Eilish, Lana Del Rey, BTS among others have redefined the definition of pop music by being emotionally honest, relatable, and very vulnerable through their music. Do you feel that people’s perception of pop music is finally changing for the better? What would you say about the current state of pop music in India?
Delivering relatable music isn’t a recent phenomenon for any artist. Of course, with changing times, the relatability in terms of emotional quotient and themes change since all of it is subjective from artist to artist. Talking about the state of pop music in India, I believe we are moving in the right direction when it comes to the type of content since we are seeing more experiential material, never-before-heard collaborations, and more importantly an identity that’s separate from Bollywood.
What impact would you like to make on the international music scene through your songs?
With my international music, I want to be able to pave the way for the next generation of Indian musicians and artists to follow their dreams and make being ‘globally successful’ a reality.
We are #ECHO-ing world wide! From Times Square to LA to Seoul and India. Thanks for the love and support @youtubemusic!!! #NamNation #Armaanians @ArmaanMalik22 @KSHMRmusic #LikeAnEcho pic.twitter.com/tmNhsfVHT4— Eric Nam (에릭남) (@ericnamofficial) May 21, 2021
With the kind of response ‘Echo’ has been receiving, are you looking forward to doing more such collaborations?
We waited 8 months for the release and to be very honest, I am most happy about it being out because at one point this project was close to being shelved. The love that’s been pouring in from #Armaanians, #NamNation, and KSHMR’s dance music community, it’s just unfathomable! I do have some more collaborations brewing in the studio but can’t reveal more details yet!
Your dream K-Pop collaboration…
I would love to collaborate with EXO and hopefully a sentimental duet with EXO’s Chen. He’s one of my favourite K-Pop vocalists.