We had the good fortune of connecting with Malik Waqqas Awan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Malik Waqqas, do you have a budget? How do you make lifestyle and spending decisions?
I wish I was a baller…..but like your average person, I got bills to pay. My main source of income, currently, is a 9-5 like most people, and my necessities come first; and with both of my parents being “retired”, it comes down to my big brother and I to take care of the household. Now, I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m taking care of the family, because that credit goes to him – mainly because I don’t make as much as he does, otherwise I’d make sure it was at least an even split. However, I try to help as much as I can, so about 70% of my income goes straight to the house. Now, I could easily be selfish and move out, but thankfully that’s not how I was raised. Anyways, you can see my budget isn’t the best off the jump, so it greatly affects my personal finances and lifestyle and spending decisions. Therefore, I constantly have to second-guess myself when spending money on “wants” as opposed to “needs”. One of the biggest ways this affects my business as an independent artist is promo – which we can argue is probably the most important expense in my career. With social media running the world now, it’s tough to decipher whether or not promotion you’re about to pay for is going to hold value, so I really have to pick-and-choose as opposed to dumping money behind it, and letting nature take its course. In addition to promo, having a tight budget also hurts the amount of music videos I can produce and how often I can get in the studio. However, you have to adapt, right? And luckily, these two problems have “easy” solutions. With phone cameras being just as good as professional ones now, I’ve decided on sticking to run-and-gun type videos for songs that don’t need a super cinematic video, and often find myself churning out music from my home-studio setup in my bedroom; now the only problem is finding someone to hold the camera for me. At the end of the day though, I’m working towards increasing that budget, as all of us should.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have known that I wanted to be an entertainer for as long as I remember – that includes rapping/singing, acting, dancing, stand-up, you name it. As most of those require classes and a lot of upfront money, I wasn’t really able to pursue anything as a child growing up in a lower middle-class family, where necessities held a priority, and took up most of the spending. In addition, coming from a conservative, Muslim, Pakistani family, the arts were always seen as a taboo, and my expectations were to become a doctor, or lawyer, or business man, etc. Therefore, my career as a musician didn’t really begin until I graduated high school in 2013, and finally got my first job after applying everywhere I could from the age of 15. Once I had steady income, I used some of my savings to purchase a recording “starter kit” from Amazon, and went from there. However, I was working and going to school full-time, so at least a month or two passed before I’d release my first track, a remix to Drake’s “Pound Cake”, on my SoundCloud. After I received positive feedback from that, I started attending YouTube University to better my craft, and finally started releasing music on major DSPs in 2017, and am where I am now; It definitely hasn’t been easy, but nothing worth it ever is. At the end of the day, you have to find a balance, focus on enjoying the journey rather than the destination, and believe in yourself, and I think those are what have made the challenge worth it – not necessarily easier, but worth it. Along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to open for major artists from Young Thug to Warren G, and those have definitely been some of my most exciting moments. However, what I’m most “proud” of is being able to be a voice for my community. I get countless Desi people reaching out to me letting me know that I make them proud to be Pakistani, Indian, Bengali, etc, and that really warms my heart. At the end of the day, my brand is about being yourself, doing what you love, and spreading love, and I am glad that message resonates.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Maann, this question is about to let me know just how boring I really am lol. Umm it really depends – I’m more of a “go with the flow” type of person and would just let the week play out going based off what my friend’s in the mood for. If I had to choose though, I think one of the days would definitely consist of hopping on a scooter and just cruising through the beautiful city of L.A. We’d find places to stop, places to eat, all that along the way. One of my personal favorite things to do is hit the studio in NOHO, so we’d definitely be up in there for a 12hr session if I had one planned. In addition to that, a lot of people I know like smoking hookah, so I’m sure Habibi’s, Cafe O, or Nubia would be somewhere in the itinerary. Also, as everyone knows, you can’t come to L.A. and not go to a beach, so a bike ride would be in the plans as well. And if we’re talking normal life (no quarantine), museums, the Griffith Observatory, concerts, malls, all of that would be something to look into. Lastly, my Mom’s cooking is great, so we’d have to chill at the crib for a little. There’s just so much to do, and I think that’s why I let the wind carry me in the way it blows – sometimes things don’t go as planned, and the unplanned events are usually the best times.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to start by giving a shoutout to my big brother, Shahbaz. I am very Blessed to have him as a role model, mentor, all the above. He’s always taught me to never give up and find the light in every situation, and is easily one of the most selfless and caring persons I know. In addition, I just want to shoutout my family in general. I don’t think I’d ask for it any different, and am super thankful for being brought up in such a tight-knit and loving household. Besides that, shouts go out to my non-blood family (you know who you are), and the sidewalk for keeping me off the streets – lol jk, it really didn’t, but that’s a different story aha. Lastly, I think one of the biggest shoutouts goes out to my supporters (and haters). Being an artist, it all comes down to the people rockin’ with you, and you guys are the ones that let us do what we love for a living. I say this now, and always will: the only fans I have are in the ceiling; unless you call yourself a fan, you’ll always be considered family to me – my A1s. But wait, there’s more! This shoutout wouldn’t be complete without one for VoyageLA. I think I speak for everyone when I say we appreciate everything Y’all do with the constant support; much love.