Since winning Flash Entertainment’s Emerging Talent Competition last November, 17-year-old Hasan Malik has been perfecting his soul and RnB sound from underground shows to the big stage. We chat with the humble teen to find out what he’s been up to since the win and how he balances school with music
So how has the last six months treated you?
After the competition, I had the opportunity to perform at the Coldplay and Rihanna concerts at The Village, a really nice venue outside du Arena. It’s great to experience playing to small crowds. Olly Murs was huge: that was a much bigger stage.
What did the competition teach you as a musician?
When you’re [planning] your show, to envisage what you want it to look and sound like and work towards that; not to settle for just playing on stage but really striving to make it the best show. The fact that the [competition] culminates with a prize at du Arena is great because it allows you to develop your live performance, which is really important in this day and age.
How do you envisage your show?
I look at artists like Stevie Wonder and Sting – they’ve got the band, backing vocalists, a whole show. I’m experimenting with being on and off the piano as well. I look at my show as being very intense, emotional, powerful.
The competition brought a lot of musicians out of the woodwork. Were you surprised at the amount of talent?
It’s incredible the amount of talent there is in the whole Middle East and UAE. You don’t just see it in competitions, you see it in the underground live music venues like Jazz@PizzaExpress; there’s an amazing wealth of talent that’s just been tapped into in the last few years.
And the scene here is still young…
Yeah and I think we have to realise that. It’s easy to be impatient when you look at LA or New York, but those places have taken years to get to where they are today. We’re such a young scene, it’s going to take time. But the people now are the pioneers and are pushing what’s eventually going to take off.
What about you – what’s next?
This summer I’m hopefully going to LA to record my debut release. I love to write music so I’m going to record a blueprint for what I want my album to sound like when I do create one. It’s sort of like an EP, six to eight songs of my own. I want my shows in about six months to be completely original music.
How are you juggling all this with school?
Education is incredibly important to me. I tend to write or record in the evening, and I do my homework in the early morning before school. I go to Dubai College and am really proud to be Deputy Head Boy there too.
Balancing music with school is certainly not easy and has taken time to learn.
The late-night drives to and from Abu Dhabi are not the easiest after a school day but the feeling of performing on stage and the thrill of sharing the performances I work so hard on make every long night absolutely worth it.
What advice do you have for people who want to enter the competition this year?
I think the biggest thing as an artist is to look in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘Am I ready?’. It’s a huge opportunity and you don’t want to just dive in. If you still haven’t developed your live show, maybe give it more time. If you’re already performing and you’ve got that momentum, then go for it. They’ll help you create the best artist and show that you can.