Interview: Pianist Malika

24 Nov 2011

She's bringing sweet music to Dubai!

Breaking into the music industry is never easy, especially if you want to maintain artistic control. Classical-fusion pianist Malika has turned down record label deals in order to fulfil her musical ambitions in her own way.

The eldest of three girls, 26-year-old Malika Omar grew up in South Africa before moving to Dubai four years ago to feel “closer to her roots.” Her ancestral heritage stems from the Middle East and heavily influences her compositions.

Despite having no musicians in her immediate family – her father is a medical professional and her mother worked as a nuclear-medicine radiographer – Malika began the piano at age nine after having visualised herself at just three-years-old up on a stage on a grand piano.

Malika trained at the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College of Music, both in London and in South Africa’s UNISA, and thanks to her father’s love for Richard Clayderman’s contemporary style of playing, she was inspired to create her own style – fusing melodies from different parts of the world or genres and composing her own pieces.

Despite receiving interest from a number of music labels, Malika decided to make her own way in the difficult music world. She said, “I decided not to sign to a label to allow for artistic freedom and also to make me more confident as a businesswoman. I funded all the production of my debut album Monsoon Dew and the new album Sand Star.” Both albums are available at Virgin stores and from iTunes.

While allowing more artistic freedom, this route also means Malika has a full-time job managing her brand. She said, “I spend all my time handling all the business admin, PR and marketing of both albums as well as composing new pieces and working on projects beneficial to charitable causes.”

Malika dreams of starting a charity one day, believing that if we all give back to those less fortunate, the world will become a more tolerant and loving place.

Malika is also beginning to get recognised for her work, although remains completely modest about her achievements. She explained, “I’m honoured to be one of the featured artists in a documentary film: Nokia Inside Music: Arabic Fusion, that was screened as an official competition in the Gulf Film Festival 2011. I’m also very humbled to be a brand ambassador for Dubai-based fashion brand Meher & Riddhima.”

Malika ends the interview with a positive message, saying she hopes to inspire others. She said, “I hope to inspire young people to believe in themselves and go after their dreams.”

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Top 5 Places

1. The Dubai Mall
 I’m a bookworm, a shopaholic and a movie-nut so my favourite hangout is The Dubai Mall.

2. The Fridge
My management agency hosts the most awesome seasonal concerts and I try and attend every one!

3. Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi
For great food at any of their restaurants. I love the decor of the hotel too!

4. JBR Beach
It’s beautiful at sunset and a wonderful way to unwind after a gig or shoot.

I find going to art galleries very relaxing and there are numerous amazing places to see stunning pieces of art.