I’m a true supporter of the ‘good-vibes-only’ gang – In conversation with ICONYK

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ICONYK (a.k.a Nikhil Malik), Mumbai/LA based pop-rap producer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ, released his debut track ‘Fallin’ in May this year. ‘Fallin’ got featured in Spotify’s major international playlists including “New Music Friday Canada”, “Bangers”, “Fresh Sounds: Poptronix”, “Bridge To Bombay”, Treadmill Pop”, “Now Playing: Pop”, “Summer Love” and “Dance-pop Hits”. With his upcoming album “The Girlfriend Experience” around the corner, we got in touch with Nikhil to explore his musical journey, his debut release and more!

Q.1 Where are you from? What do your parents do? Are they into music too?

I’m from everywhere. I was born in New Delhi, moved to Toronto when I was 15 and now finally shuffling between Mumbai and Los Angeles. Both my parents are doctors. My dad casually plays the flute and my mom learned Kathak for 12 years.

Q.2 Tell us about your childhood. How did you get involved in making music?

My childhood was mostly full of video-games and music. My grandfather bought me a small ‘casio’ keyboard when I was about 8 and I used to jam with my dad on old Bollywood tracks. I discovered “making” music with my brother when I was 14. We were just trying to experiment with recording some guitars on our old Windows computer. At first, I started to record songs about the girls I was crushing on. Jump to 3 years later, I and my brother recorded and produced my band’s album in our bedroom that ended up selling more than 5,000 physical copies.

Q.3 How did your debut release come about?

A friend narrated me a really freaky “true” story about a killer who hides under people’s bed for days before assassinating them. I got so intrigued by it that I wanted to write a song about it.  What followed then was me getting stuck in what I like to call a producer’s “sunken-place”. In other words, I started writing this song in January 2018 and the song was stuck in ‘production-hell’ for almost a year and a half simply because I wanted to find the right musical balance and was constantly exploring new soundscapes. On my most recent visit to LA, I played this unfinished idea to my brother (@djupsidedown) who really helped me shape the song and remove all the unwanted stuff to give it the sound it really deserved.

Q.4 What is your music all about?

Man, I could go all philosophical on you right now and talk about saving the world, climate change, social issues etc, I know all those problems exist and they are very much real, but the truth is I like to make music that everyone can enjoy and listen to, on repeat. I’m a true supporter of the ‘good-vibes-only’ gang.

Q.5 What is your music making process like?

For me, drums are the last thing I like to put on my tracks, a very unpopular opinion too. I’m a melody guy and I love immersing the track in beautiful layers and chords, maybe because I’ve played the guitar long enough to realize that if anything sounds good on the acoustic guitar, it ends up sounding great in whatever arrangement you can think for it.

Q.6 Which are your favourite lyricists/writers/philosophers?

My favorite philosophers are Osho & Khalil Gibran. In the rap game, lyric-wise, I would choose Kendrick over Kanye. In the Indie scene, Prabh Deep wins hands down for me!

Q.7 What is pop music according to you?

I’ve worked on a lot of albums with a variety of bands, for films, for advertisements only to realize that I’m not actively trying to write pop music, I just like to make what I like listening to. Usually, when you make something new, you tend to listen to it a few times, get really excited about it and then eventually get bored. I pick up stuff that sticks with me even after that initial one week. I think people like to make pop music, I like to make music ‘pop’.

Q.8 What do you think about the society we live in these days?

I feel there are too many opinions already. I like to exist in a space where I’m working every day to make the best version of myself and that I feel is the best way to bring about change. I’m also super lucky and happy to be involved with any artists who want to actively bring about change through their musical and artistic expression.

Q.9 Which Indian bands/artists do you admire?

My favorite Indian band is “The Circus”. Lots of great artists out there but I would love to use this opportunity to admire two great managers behind some wonderful array of artists, Dhruv Singh/Pagal Haina Records, and Mo Joshi/Azadi Records. I think they’ve done some wonderful things for their artists and I really respect their resolute.

Hear ICONYK’s debut single here :