"This pandemic has been, and still is, a giant roller coaster for me. In all aspects of my life, there have been major ups and downs."
Capitalizing on extra time during the pandemic and tapping into some deep emotions, 18-year-old Toronto based singer-songwriter Malaika Khadijaa has been keeping busy; recently releasing her newest single, ‘Tears’, which weaves beautiful harmonies with a delicate touch and quiet strength. In addition to her music, Malaika is a photographer and co-founder of Luminary, an organization “dedicated to supporting and connecting emerging artists through love and light”.
As a musician, her inspiration is drawn mostly from her east African and Caribbean background. She harmonizes like an angel and her indie-R&B, with a sprinkle of African melodies, have the power to make your heart shine a little brighter.
We caught up with Malaika to discuss her inspirations, projects, creativity in the pandemic, and her advice for other young artists.
How/when did you decide to pursue music?
MK: I've always taken music lessons and joined choirs when I was younger but, I started pursuing music about 3 years ago! My first real experience as an artist was when I participated in Honey Jam, which is a development program for young female artists in Canada. That was the first time I was able to get on a big stage and engage with people through music. That experience really pushed me to pursue music and ever since then I've been able to experience so much through music.
You co-founded an arts organization named Luminary in 2019 to support emerging young artists, which is incredible! Tell me more about Luminary: what was the inspiration, what have some of the successes been?
MK: Luminary was born simply through the passion of young artists wanting to create space and opportunities for other young artists who might be facing the same challenges entering the music industry. We are a team of young female artists who have truly been able to accomplish so much in such a short time. In the past 2 years, we have been able to facilitate workshops, curate festivals, and host panels. We have collaborated and featured about 30 artists as part of several live shows and events. We are a grow ing team and have so much more to accomplish, it's safe to say we are looking forward to what the future holds.
How has the pandemic affected your creativity?
MK: This pandemic has been (and still is) a giant roller coaster for me. In all aspects of my life, there have been major ups and downs. During the beginning of the pandemic, my creativity was at an all-time high because I had so much time to write and explore different creative outlets. As most good things come to an end, I was beginning to experience intense burnout. I've gone through this cycle a few times during this time, but I'm slowly learning how to manage it. Despite this, I'm grateful for the art I have been able to create.
What motivates you?
MK: My friends have really pushed me and kept me motivated! Although we're not able to gather, we've been able to still keep in close contact through online platforms. We've had mental-health check-ins, song writing sessions and so much more. Keeping good people and good energy around me has truly kept me motivated.
What advice would you give to a young person who wants to pursue a career in the arts?
MK: My biggest piece of advice would be to keep good people around you. In this industry, it can be easy to be taken advantage of or fall into empty promises. That being said, if you surround yourself with people who have your best interest in mind, it will take you very far.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’re excited to be working on?
MK: I am releasing an ep this year which is super exciting. It has been a long process but I'm glad that it has all come together and I am so excited to share it with the world later this year.