Five Questions With Malaika

Toronto, ON-based artist Malaika has released her second independent single, “Tears”, a beautiful and heartfelt expression about protecting those around you who suffer from depression. As an artist, Malaika is dedicated to incorporating her Afro-Caribbean culture into everything she does. That being said, in most African communities the topics of depression and suicide are extremely taboo. She made the conscious decision to sing both in Swahili and English, as an attempt to reach Swahili speakers in her community, as well as those around the diaspora to normalize what is currently deemed as ‘uncomfortable’ discussions surrounding mental health.

“When the people you love are struggling, you can often feel their emotions and energy,” says Malaika. “It’s always important to let those people know that you can feel it too and that you are there to support them no matter the circumstance.”

“Tears” follows her debut single, “Story”, which was released in April of last year, and can be streamed HERE.

Check out “Tears” below, and find out more about Malaika via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello everyone! My name is Malaika Khadijaa and I’m an 18-year-old artist based in Toronto. I started my musical journey playing piano and guitar from a young age and continued in school by joining the choir and band. I started professionally pursuing music about 3 years ago and in that short time, I’ve learned so much about the industry. In 2019, a few friends and I founded LUMINARY, which is an organization dedicated to supporting emerging talent. As an organization we provide performance opportunities, facilitate workshops, host panel discussions, and promote music education. In addition to all of that, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching music to young children and have secured work as a background vocalist. Currently, I am working as a music editor for a small magazine which has been an amazing opportunity for my personal and professional growth and development. Overall, I love all things music and try to incorporate it into my everyday life.

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.

I often find it hard to define my music style because I’m currently on a huge growth spurt artistically. This constant growth has encouraged a lot of experimentation in my style; I currently have 3 songs out and each one is completely different from the other. One thing that does remain consistent in my music is the incorporation of my culture. My Afro-Caribbean roots inspire and drive a lot of my creativity, so I make it a point to incorporate it into my music. I’ve started to mix African melodies and language into my modern-day indie and R&B vibe, producing a unique sound I categorize as Afro-Indie. My writing style has also evolved over the years. I usually just sit in my bed with a pad of paper and my guitar or keyboard, but recently I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with producers and other artists which has been a new and fun learning experience.

How have you been keeping creative during the Pandemic?

I am privileged enough to say that covid really boosted my creativity. Pre-Covid, I was constantly on the move and barely made time for my own art. I’ve written some of my best songs during this pandemic and was able to develop an upcoming project. I have also taken this time as an opportunity to learn. I’m constantly reading, watching videos, and listening to music to improve my skills as a musician. I’ve also explored other creative mediums like photography and jewelry making. With all that being said, it can be very difficult to stay motivated as the pandemic is hitting the music industry so hard. But until we’re allowed to safely gather, my friends and I have found ways to stay connected with things like virtual writing sessions, virtual hangouts and zoom parties. Being virtually surrounded and supported by my loved ones and friends has kept me grounded and motivated throughout it all.

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

I released my song “Breakdown” back in January as part of a compilation album with the Sister Sound System. It’s currently my most experimental and obscure song. Between the complexity of the beat and its eerie ambiance, it took me a long time to write. It’s definitely a good song if you’re looking for a deep and intense listening experience, and is available on all streaming platforms!

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

There will always be a special place in my heart for Toronto artists. I am always listening and supporting local Toronto artists; there are too many to mention! The ones I currently have on rotation are Sakako, Nicole Chambers, Meagan De Lima, No tourists, and Divine Lightbody.

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