EXCL: Armaan Malik and OAFF on how two musical worlds met for their new single 'Tabaahi'

"It seemed like two long lost brothers finally reunited," said Armaan about his first meet with OAFF
(L-R) Armaan Malik, OAFF
(L-R) Armaan Malik, OAFF

One sings in sync, the other flows free. One rules melody, the other rules pop. One is known for romantic Bollywood hits, the other for his atmospheric electronica. So you can't really blame us if we say we didn't see a collaboration between these two coming.

We are talking about singer Armaan Malik and music producer OAFF. Last month, the music mavericks collaborated on the new single Tabaahi. A peppy track that blends chill-pop with atmospheric synth, Tabaahi sees the coming together of two different musical worlds. Curious to know what went behind the song that effortlessly merges Armaan's mainstream musical sensibility with OAFF's genre-defying instrumentation, we sat with the musicians for a quick conversation. Here is how it went:

What is Tabaahi all about and what inspired you to create it?

Tabaahi is a song about the coming together of two people and the feeling of sukoon (peace) one experiences when they are with the person they love most compared to how everything feels like absolute tabaahi (destruction) when they are not in their company. The thought of creating a fun and groovy track about love inspired us to create this song and it feels amazing to see the response that the song has been getting so far.   

How did the collaboration come through?

Armaan: Collaborating with new and different artistes across genres has always been exciting for me. My collaboration with OAFF came about very naturally when both of us were roped in by MTV for their project with McDonald’s India. I am glad to have met such a talented artiste like him. Musically, we clicked the very first time we met. I look forward to making more music with him soon. 

When did you guys first meet?

Armaan: OAFF and I met for the first time at a session for working on this song. We instantly resonated with each other's sense of musicality and had great fun while working on the song. It seemed like two long lost brothers finally reunited. The energy in the room was really easy and warm and that is what matters in collabs like these.

OAFF: I had heard Armaan's songs and admired his discography as an artiste, but this song was the first time I got a chance to meet him. He is delightful to be around and working with him was such a beautiful experience.

While Armaan Malik is more known for romantic Bollywood numbers, OAFF is known for Dance/Electronica – very different genres of music. While making this song, did you two discover any similarity in your approach to music?

Armaan: Definitely! We both enjoy experimenting with different sounds and languages in our music. ‘Tabaahi’ has brought out a different side to my musicality, which I had never known before.

OAFF: I was often pleasantly surprised during the making of this song about how in sync Armaan and I were. Although we may come from different musical backgrounds, our shared belief to create music that transcends boundaries brought us to making this track together.

They say we learn from our differences with people. What is the best thing you two have learnt from each other during this collaboration?

Armaan: There’s a certain easy-going and laid back approach to the vocals when it comes to an OAFF track and I have never sung like that before. I had to unlearn a few techniques while singing Tabaahi, which is why you hear a very different Armaan in it. This process taught me that singing doesn't always have to be stuck up and perfect –  imperfections add beauty and character. 

OAFF: From Armaan, I learnt about being free when performing, letting loose on stage. And of course his melodic sense is brilliant. 

Kabeer (OAFF), you aim to bridge the gap between atmospheric electronica and accessible, feel-good pop. This song certainly feels an extension to that. Do you think the more mainstream music scene in India is growing into this genre now?

Atmospheric pop (a bridge between atmospheric electronica and feel-good pop) is just a term I made to explain the kind of music I make. The mainstream and indie world are merging and slowly there are a lot of new and interesting artistes from each side who are collaborating with each other, which is great. 

Armaan, what can we expect from you next?

From Hindi to English pop, I'm working on a bunch of independent projects this year while managing playback projects in multiple languages. I hate being type casted as an artiste. May '23 was just a taste of what you will get to hear from me later this year.  My goal is to surprise my listeners with unique collaborations and experiment with my musicality. There’s so much more to Armaan Malik than you’ve heard or experienced until now. 

Tabaahi is now streaming on all major music platforms. 

Email: prattusa@newindianexpress.com
Twitter: @MallikPrattusa

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