Four years ago, Sanjaya Malakar was tearing it up on the American Idol stage with Joe Perry of Aerosmith during the season six finale. They were reprising what became a sort of signature song for Malakar during his time on the show, “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks. Though he finished seventh, he became one of the best known contestants in Idol history thanks to his unpredictable wardrobe and hairstyles. But it was his soft, smooth, quiet storm vocals that originally captured the Idol judges’ attention.
In the years following American Idol, Sanjaya Malakar has kept busy. He recorded an EP and penned a memoir. Earlier this year Malakar was in New York City, starring in the Off-Broadway production of Freckleface Strawberry. Most recently he has released a cover of the Squeeze hit “Tempted.” Next month he will be playing a benefit for Gilda’s Club at Seattle’s Musicquarium Lounge, followed by Summer With the Stars in Cancun, Mexico. I recently had a chance to chat with the twenty-one year old singer-songwriter.
What was the play Freckleface Strawberry all about?
It’s based on a book by the actress Julianne Moore. It’s about her childhood, growing up with freckles and red hair. The premise of the play is that it's okay to be different and have quirks. Things that set you apart from others. In the end, that's what makes you unique. If everyone was the same, the world would be boring.
What was it like performing in a New York City playhouse?
The audience reaction was great, they really got into it. Most of the audience was obviously kids, but we got a lot of energy back from them.
What have you been doing musically lately?
I've been writing and recording my album. And setting up a tour for later this year. While I was in New York for the play, I was working with some local producers. It's really given my songs time to develop - it's a fun process.
Any release date at this point?
That’s not really settled yet, but we're hoping to have it out in time for the tour.
How does your new music compare to what you released in 2009 on your EP?