Meet the ‘All in One’ Malini Banerjee

Her voice is soul stirring, her style is energetic and her music is fresh, like this season’s strawberry! Yes, that’s how I love to define this young and bold singing diva. She is on her way to impress the world with her talent. Her magical voice and music blends beautifully with various organic and electronic elements. Her versatility has no boundaries as for her language can’t stop her from singing so she has very well sang in Indian classical (Hindi&Bangla) and English western music. Believe me she is slaying it like a pro!!   

I have always seen you in many avatars. You are a singer, writer, composer, and a multilingual that loves to sing in Bangla, Hindi and English. You seem to be a Pandora box of talent. So, singing was always a true calling or it happened just by chance?

If by calling, you mean profession then I’d have to say that it took its own time to happen. But, music has always been a part of my life from a very young age. I started singing at school events from the age of 3-4, and began training in Hindustani classical music when I was in grade 4. My mother is a fabulous singer and she inculcated in me a love for music from a very young age. I must also thank her for her genes because without those I’d just be another person. 

You have just released your new song ‘Baiyaan’ as an independent music artist. It is a very powerful song, which you have written, composed and sung with traditional Indian vocals and dope electronic arrangement. You look so graceful and magical in the video, is this a ‘Dream come true moment’? And has the feeling sunk in?

Malini in her new song ‘Baiyaan’

It is an exceptionally proud feeling to create anything original- be it music, food, art or any such. Every creation is special to its creator. Imagine asking a parent to choose one child over another! Having said that, Baiyaan holds a very special place in my heart. I’m extremely proud to have written and composed a classical composition. Nobody seems to be doing it anymore- certainly not independently, and most definitely no female artiste. I don’t wish to be restricted by gender, age, language- which explains why I keep mixing up my work in every language I know. 

You are a very versatile singer, you can be seen singing as a Vocalist with a band called ‘Mixed Signals’ in English pop and also in Hindi and Bangla Vocals. So, what is Music for you and how do you make it sound so easier in any language?

Like I said above, I don’t wish to be limited. Music cannot be boxed. It is actually limitless- language is just another piece of the puzzle. Don’t we enjoy dancing to Despacito? It’s in Spanish. Don’t we play Volate at every party? It’s in Italian. Language is just a minor detail when it comes to communicating through music. It should never restrict an artiste. 

India has become a cauldron of a steaming, brewing independent music scene – lot of bands, and artistes are emerging from every part of the country, and are ready to experiment with music and genres. But still there is a void. So, do you think India still needs to grow as a stage for Independent Artists? Was it challenging to carve a niche for you in this creative sector?

Malini on Vocals!

To be very honest, the independent music industry in India is still not an organised sector. It’s split up by region, language, genre etc. Punjab has a great market for independently produced music. But, the same cannot be said for any other region. There are Bengali artistes who produce a lot of independent music, but people listen to them only because they have either appeared on some popular reality show or have already sung some hit film song. This film industry validation is something I really can’t seem to wrap my head around. Everything cannot be centred around films! But, because they are, independently produced music hardly ever makes a mark. If you notice, I say independent music not indie. In India, we tend to brand any non-film music as indie, and automatically assume it’s going to be offbeat, unusual, lyrically quirky, mostly in English, and perhaps avant garde. I have a huge problem with this. Independent music can be as mainstream and commercial as film music. Remember the nineties when Indipop ruled the scene? THAT is what India needs- a musical renaissance. Not big labels getting film playback singers to collaborate and market it as independent music. 

Do you agree that optimizing Social Media platforms, apps and numerous other platforms helps an artist in reaching out to the wider audience?

Oh, absolutely. How else is Shirley Setia such a big name? But, please don’t ask me how, because I don’t seem to understand the workings of this. If I did, I’m pretty sure my music would be a lot more popular than it is. I belong to the generation and school of thought that only knows how to hustle and fight the good fight! 

Today, there are hundreds of Women who would aspire to be like you. What message you would give them on this Women’s Day?

I hope those women aspire to be the best versions of themselves. There is no greater success than that. We have only one life, and not nearly enough time to do all that we want to. I hope everybody realises that and lives every day hustling, chasing dreams, and being the goddamned best they can be! When you look at the mirror, you should be hella proud of the woman in it. 

This year, Women’s Day theme is #BalanceForBetter. How do you see that ‘Balance’ coming in India’s Patriarchal society? Or you think it has come to some extent?

There will be no balance in society unless women reach a sense of balance within. Misogyny is so deeply ingrained in us that even though we might feel we are equal to men, our minds believe otherwise. Women have to learn to love themselves, and put themselves before others. Unless they realise their own worth, society won’t. You know, we care a bit much about society. Perhaps, for a change, we shouldn’t give a damn. This year, maybe, we should be selfish, look within, and focus only on ourselves. Achieve a balance of- mind/body, work/play, family/career etc. And, this balance will come about if, and only if, we start choosing ourselves over others. Starting today!

You can listen to her latest track here

As told to

Richa Sharma

Editor offdhook
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