Clash meets the Indian star tackling the globe...

Armaan Malik might be a new name to many of the Clash audience, but that doesn't mean he's 'new' per se.

Already a colossal star in his native India, he chalked up a stunning array of hits while still in his teens, working within the colossal Bollywood industry.

But he wants to embark on a new journey. Armaan Malik has just released his debut English language single, and 'Control' is a brilliantly effective pop song.

There are shades of Bieber's imperial run in that guitar line, while the absorbing electronic production is worthy of those Calvin Harris hits.

Bringing something new to the table, Armaan Malik absorbs fresh ideas while remaining utterly true to himself and his heritage.

Clash got on the phone to the singer as he prepares to kick off his latest journey...

Feels like the whole world is on lockdown! How have you been spending your time?

Well, I’ve been doing a lot of interviews, a lot of phone calls and emails. Everything has been happening, it’s quite non-stop.

‘Control’ is out now, what do you remember about writing it?

I think around five months back I made a trip to LA, a writing trip, and I was writing the song with a couple of friends of mine. The track was produced by Wayne Wilkins, who is actually from the UK. He’s done amazing stuff with Beyonce, Leona Lewis in the past. It was amazing working with him. He is of Indian descent, and that’s cool as well, it was interesting!

We got into the studio and we finished up the song in a day – the demo was ready, about 80% done. The song we released is only a little bit further on than the demo. It was pretty much ready within that one day. It all came together really quickly. It was a fabulous team.

I played the bass guitar for the very first time on one of my songs – I always play the guitar, but Wayne handed me the bass and said: go freak out! So I did. The main groove was played by me.

Is that unusual for you to work that quickly?

For me, my work flow is very fluid. I come up with ideas very spontaneously. I think my time is spent on melodies, because I feel that is the most important process. For me, songwriting comes very easily. Melodies especially. I’m very good at making melodies. I need some help with lyrics, which my co-writers help me with.

I like making melodies. Melodies are something that I love creating. I’m pretty hands-on when it comes to my music, I love being involved in every part of the process and being there in the song. Rather than just singing the song, y’know?

Your list of achievements is genuinely formidable – 15 hit songs by the age of 22…

Yes. That’s correct.

And you joined The Voice in India as a judge, too.

I have, yes! It’s amazing this whole work for me, all the stuff that I’ve done in India, has already given me so much experience. I mean, this new journey that I’m doing isn’t really unknown to me, because I’ve done this before, but it’s a new world, with new people. But it’s essentially the same thing – I’ve toured, done concerts, been a contestant on a reality, and I’ve been a judge on a reality show.

I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum in a very short time!

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It must be a real privilege to judge these young hopefuls.

Honestly, I really related to all the contestants because I’ve been in their position 10 years back. I knew exactly what was going on in their heads. I was trying to tell them that the show isn’t the be-all and end-all of things. The real journey starts after the show. That’s what happened with me.

How do you keep your focus?

I think it’s my parents and my upbringing. Ever since I was four years old I’ve been singing. I enrolled myself in classes when I was five. My journey has been non-stop ever since I was nine or 10. I participated on a reality show, and once I got eliminated from that I started singing for ads and jingles, and did voiceovers for a lot of movies, I even worked on Slumdog Millionaire.

And then after that I went and did a lot of Bollywood songs as a child singer. That’s how my journey kick-started. My focus was very clear – I always knew what I wanted to do. What’s beautiful is that my trajectory has brought me to a point where I’m embarking on a global journey, which I’ve always wanted to do.

It’s been my dream ever since I was 15, 16 when I returned from Berklee College of Music. I studied for my pop and R&B vocal, and I came back inspired to write my own music, and I wanted to release my own stuff in English. But at that point, my Dad sat me down and said India is a Bollywood-centred country, so we needed to focus on my own country first. Once we had that, we could then go and do something I had dreamt of.

It was valuable advice, on that front. I was sad at that point, but I think it benefited me because doing Bollywood and Indian music made me who I am today, and it’s the reason I am talking to you. For me, that’s a huge deal.

I think people in the West under-estimate the sheer scale of Bollywood as an industry.

They can. And for me, I had already connected with fans in the Indian diaspora across the world. But for me, I wanted to make everyone else listen to that music! Because Indians are championing me, but I want India to be recognised globally on a much larger scale.

With the success of K-POP it seems that the West is opening out a little. Do you feel like this is a key moment for Indian music internationally, then?

I definitely believe so! With latin music, with Korean music, and all those different cultures coming on to the scene, I feel like the world isn’t so huge, it’s becoming a smaller place, and everyone is getting to know each other even more. And with music being so accessible over digital mediums I think anyone from anywhere can make a really nice song and reach out to audiences. It’s out in the open.

You just need that one good opportunity and shot to catapult yourself out there. So this journey is something I’m really excited about, because this hasn’t happened for India before. An Indian mainstream artist hasn’t gone and done something on a global scale like this, so for me I am really excited because I feel I am not only representing me and my music, but also my country.

Do you have anyone you’d absolutely love to work with?

I really love three artists: Charlie Puth, Zedd, and John Bellion. I think he’s amazing. Being in the studio with these guys would be an amazing experience. Charlie is one of my favourite musicians. And I also love Anne-Marie.

Charlie Puth is just a complete musician. He’s so versatile. I aspire to be like that. So he definitely inspires me a lot.

Finally, what does the year ahead have in store for you?

We’ve already made quite a few songs. After ‘Control’ we’ll have quite a few follow up singles, so a lot of new music will be out there for my fans, and all these new listeners, too. 

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'Control' is out now.

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