As all Inside Pulse readers know, over the last year there is no one that Murtz Jaffer wanted to interview more than Sanjaya Malakar. I immediately became a ‘Fanjaya’ when I saw the talented singer take the stage for the first time on American Idol. I loved the way he stayed strong despite the criticism he received from media outlets around the world. I was jealous of the ponyhawk. As soon as I learned that the American Idols Live! tour would be making a stop in Toronto, I insisted on interviewing Mr. Malakar. After months and months of waiting, I now can present my favorite interview of all-time.
Murtz Jaffer: It is a pleasure to meet you. There is no question that I am your biggest fan and I requested specifically to talk to you when you arrived in Toronto for Media Day. Can you tell me what the Idol experience has been like for you?
Sanjaya Malakar: It’s been amazing. It’s very very exhausting, kind of overwhelming but definitely a lot of fun. I mean it all happens so fast that you don’t really have a lot of time to sit down and think about what’s happening.
MJ: That was actually my next question. Did you know about this whole ‘Sanjaya, Sanjaya, Sanjaya’ thing? Did you know about it when it was happening?
SM: I had an idea that it was happening, but I didn’t know to the extent while I was on the show and then once I got off the show, it was kind of like ‘wow, wow.’
MJ: One of the things that I heard was that you were amazing during the audition stage. Judges loved you, everybody loved you. But as soon as you moved into the Top 10, that’s when the controversy started about ‘Sanjaya, Sanjaya, Sanjaya.’ Do you think that there was a change in you from the audition stage to the Top 10?
SM: Definitely. The audition, I was definitely very naÃ¯ve about everything that I was going into. I was very amateur ’cause I am an amateur musician. This was my opportunity to learn about the music industry and to learn about how I can develop myself to being comfortable. So like during the auditions, and the Hollywood week, and the Top 24, I was still trying to find myself because I didn’t really know. I mean I am 17, I am still a kid. I don’t know who I am.
MJ: You still seemed like you knew how to play to the camera. When you came out with the mohawk, you obviously knew what you were doing.
SM: Oh yeah.
MJ: What was the reason behind the mohawk?
SM: I just wanted to have fun, honestly. My mom was actually very scared that people wouldn’t take me seriously outside. And I could totally see how that could be a possibility but I didn’t really… my goal wasn’t to make people take me seriously. My goal was to have people understand who I am as a person because I mean, they are going to vote for you… not necessarily… so I mean that’s me. I am crazy. I am going to go out there with seven ponytails on my head and shake it around and stuff.
MJ: You never seemed to be affected by any of the criticism. I think that’s what stood out to me the most. All this stuff is happening. The judges are saying, like Simon came right out and said that ‘you should go home this week, you should go home this week.’ It never broke you. How did you manage to keep up such a strong spirit?
SM: I felt confident in myself. I felt like I am here for a reason. I am not just accidentally in the Top 10. I just took the criticism and either learned from it or let it go.
MJ: I think the quote of the season was when you said “Welcome To The Universe of Sanjaya” to Ryan Seacrest. I am looking at it and I was like ‘I can’t tell if he is just making it up on the spot or if he’s like the most brilliant strategist that I have ever seen. Everything was so tactical. You came out with the Mohawk, you came out the next week with ‘Welcome To The Universe of Sanjaya.’ How much of it was planned and how much of it did you do on the spot?
SM: Most of it was on the spot. The “Universe of Sanjaya” was actually from what Simon said. He said, “you’re in your own universe” so I was like “hey, welcome to my universe.” I just try to go out there and have fun. I mean that’s the most important thing. If you’re in this kind of situation, you’re not going to be in this kind of situation again so make the best of it and if you let all the negativity get to you, you’re going to miss all the positive parts of it.
MJ: What is the “Universe of Sanjaya?”
SM: It’s really, really, weird. (Laughs).
MJ: A lot of hula-ing?
SM: Really bad hula-ing! A lot of music always playing. It’s very random. Very very random. Slightly ADD, but that’s cool.
MJ: That’s the name of Blake’s album.
SM: Yeah, very true. It’s totally comfortable. Just comfortable with yourself. Comfortable with everything that’s around you. Just not letting negative things phase you basically.
MJ: I was talking to Debra Byrd yesterday, and she told me a great story about how you were practicing ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ for the week after you were eliminated and how you never got a chance to perform it. She said that you planned to dedicate that to your sister but couldn’t even get through it in rehearsal because you were so emotional and you couldn’t make it through two lines…
SM: Without crying!
MJ: Without crying. So tell me about that song and tell me about your sister. Can you sing it now without crying?
SM: When I sing, I try to feel the emotion of the song so when I am feeling the emotion of that song, it’s really hard. Because actually the first time that I really sang it was my eighth grade graduation and it was dedicated to all the teachers and everyone that helped me during school and it was hard to leave because I was going to highschool. I wasn’t going to see all my friends again. My friend was in the first row and at the very end of the song, I was like “you’re the wind beneath my wings” and then I started crying because my friend was crying in the front row so…
MJ: It already had meaning for you.
SM: Yeah. And then I sang it with my gospel choir. Then when I was going to sing it on the show, the first person that I thought of was my sister. She is the wind beneath my wings. She’s the person that I really motivate to be like. She’s my idol.
MJ: She’s your muse.
SM: She’s my muse. She’s definitely my muse.
MJ: What are you up to after the show now? Are you going to release an album?
SM: My sister’s actually helping me write music for my album.
MJ: Do you have a name for it? Because you have to call it “The Universe of Sanjaya.” You absolutely have to! (Laughs).
SM: That’s probably true! I haven’t even thought about it yet, because I mean I don’t have anything in concrete yet. I mean I am hoping that it will come out sometime next year just because I have an open window and I can’t miss it so I mean I just really hope that my record is just me. My personality. And I don’t want it to be really overproduced. I want it to be really raw. The producers of the downloads of the show actually told me that I pick a lot of really raw songs and they’re like ‘why do you do that? Why don’t you have a lot of background singers and all that?’ I was like ‘because it seems like too much to me.’ I feel like if you are going to be a singer, you should be a singer. You shouldn’t be an overproduced artist. You can be that, in my opinion that’s different. I want to be a singer. I mean I’d love to come out with an acoustic album first but I am not going to because that’s not usually smart. I just want to reach out to everyone and show them heart.
MJ: My final question is that I was pulling for you from the beginning. We run a website and we mentioned you the most. Is there anything that you would like to say to all your fans in Canada because there’s a ton, believe me.
SM: Just thank you so much for all your support. I want everyone to know that I do know that you’re the reason that I am here. I mean I literally wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have fans so I want you all to know that I know that. That’s really important to me and that ‘thank you so much for everything that you have given me and I hope to be able to repay you with what I can give you.
MJ: That’s perfect, thank you so much.
Tags: American Idol