Saturday April 8, 2017
By: Habiba Elhady
Singer and songwriter Malak Ghanem released her debut album, Circus, in the winter of 2016. She has also released, since then, six live video performances. Her latest video of her original Rule the World, recorded with Ottawa initiative Shot in the Dark, has received over 90,000 views in Canada, the U.S., Egypt and the Emirates, from current and new listeners.
The talented singer-songwriter believes that the voice is an important instrument for the singer, and she certainly possesses a powerful and beautiful one, thanks to the voice lessons she started in Egypt at the age of 11. She also started piano lessons at the age of 7 and was a member of the piano school choir. For her school’s talent show, she sang Kelly Clarkson’s Addicted, and mesmerized the audience by her performance. It was her first solo performance and she knew then that’s what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. “Music is my passion and I wanted it to be my career. I believe that if you love something very much, then you have to really work hard to make it your job. The self-motivation will come naturally when you love what we do.” She said.
Born in the U.S. and grew up in Egypt, Ghanem moved to Canada when she was 16-years old to pursue a career in singing. She attended Carlton University to study music performance and song writing. “It’s scary leaving the place you’ve called home your whole life and starting from scratch all over again, I remember the first few months were especially difficult, mainly because I missed my family so much.” She said
Growing up in Egypt enhanced her talent. Malak is the only musician in her family, but not the only artist. Her father was a visual artist. Her brother is a photographer. And her great grandfather was a poet. Growing up surrounded by their talents, enhanced her own, as they were her driving force to improve.
Malak has deep interest in people and she observes them closely. As a song writer, their stories inspire most of the songs she writes. “I personalize their stories. I put myself in their shoes and try to imagine how I would feel in certain situations. I write and compose the songs from their perspective, as if I give them a voice.” Her songs are influenced by her culture diversity. She wasn’t aware of it at the beginning until people pointed out that they “hear the Egyptian influence’ in her songs.”
Even though with her knowledge of Arabic and Egyptian music, she hasn’t written any songs in Arabic yet. But the incredible support she received from Egypt has inspired her to connect and collaborate with Egyptian musicians to “make something happen.”
Malak is gradually transitioning to singing as a full-time career, and she’s grateful for that. “I think it’s what I wanted to do from the very beginning and I have been working hard to make it happen.” She said.
Singing is a challenging career, and Malak faces many challenges on the job, especially when it comes to health issues. “As a singer, if I get sick, I can’t do my job properly, and in Canada, winter is the worst time to get sick.” She spends her winters recording and performing in bar gigs to keep her “performance practice in good shape.” She comes back to life in the spring, and enjoys performing in music festivals taking place in the spring, summer and fall. She dreams of touring Europe with her music, especially Germany, England, France and Iceland.
Of the many music genres, Malak’s preferable music is pop, “I hope I don’t get shunned for saying that,” she said. She performs more contemporary pop and have a deep appreciation for the production value of pop music. She describes her music as electronic pop with some orchestral elements, “I refer to it as “Dream Pop” sometimes.”
She also studies sonic trends to understand how popular sound has developed over the years. “It’s fascinating to analyze how certain artists have adapted their own sound to stay relevant with the constantly changing trends, while still staying true to their music. For example, there is a huge difference in sound between Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’ in 1984 and ‘Rebel Heart’, released just a couple of years ago,” she explained.
She attributes a lot of her success to her producer, Dean Watson, who with his help and guidance she produced her album Circus, and they are already working together to produce her upcoming album. “Since meeting him he has been a major supporter of me and my music.” She said.
Malak is focusing now on making original songs not only covering. She spends most of her time either writing songs or singing, and when she’s doing either, she watches Netflix. As hard as she is working to print her name in Canada, she is open to whatever the future holds for her. She will follow her musical career wherever it takes her, even if it means she would return back to Egypt.