Mariyam Maeesha

9 mins read

Mariyam Maeesha, perhaps better known as Raalhu Mariyambu, is a local musician working in the resort industry and the 2nd runner-up of the third season of Maldivian Idol. Although she initially didn’t consider music as a serious career path, Maeesha has now carved a niche for herself as a celebrated artist in the local scene. Here, we chat with her about her journey in music and her experience as a musician in the resort industry.

Hotel Insider: What drew you to the music industry? Have you always been interested in singing?

Maeesha: I think I’ve always been interested in singing, but I was a very shy girl, so I never really thought of pursuing it as a career. I’ve always wanted to do something fun, and I wasn’t really sure what path I wanted to take. But after participating in Maldivian Idol, I thought I would give it a whirl and go forward with music as a career path. And here I am.

Hotel Insider: That’s right, you were the 2nd runner-up of Maldivian Idol Season 3 too. What was the experience like, being on such a public platform and working with different artists?

Maeesha: It was a bit overwhelming because I’d never been used to that kind of attention – the camera, the lights, having to look impeccable and carry yourself in a certain way. All of it was quite stressful but I enjoyed it because I didn’t have to pretend to be anything that I wasn’t. I’m the type of person who likes to have a good time and I wish the same for everyone else, so it was fun working with different artists and getting to know them. But taking part in a competition in front of cameras is definitely a once in a lifetime experience because I don’t think I’ll do it again.

Hotel Insider: So, what’s your career in music been like so far after Maldivian Idol?

Maeesha: It’s actually been very fruitful and I’m very grateful and content with where I am right now.
For musicians here, the usual source of income is by performing at resorts, so I’ve now spent a consecutive 5 years doing that. I currently have a band, ‘MUSIGARUN’, and while we do mostly play in resorts, we do perform in the Greater Male’ Area and we try to go to other local islands as well to keep our connections close with the respective communities.

Apart from being a musician, I’m happy to be a person who is accepted by people and has contributed positively to the community. Lots of faces have come my way expressing their fondness towards my music or even just me, and that means a lot to me. I really like the fact that my singing brings people joy. That’s probably been the best part so far.

Hotel Insider: What’s it like being a musician in the resort industry?

Maeesha: We travel to different resorts and perform. The main event at resorts is usually dinner which is what we call a standard or regular gig. You can say we provide the ambience for it, I guess. Otherwise, we might play in a bar or a recreational space or for private functions.

There are in-house artists as well, who stay and perform in one resort. But the rate is usually cheaper, the workload is harder, and you can’t perform at other shows or venues, which is the opportunity cost for staying put.

Hotel Insider: What’s your typical work week like these days? Is it difficult to travel back and forth?

Maeesha: As the festive season is here, my bandmates and I are currently on a pretty tight schedule with practices and gigs. It’s not really difficult to travel, but if our transfers get bumped or if a show gets cancelled on short notice, then our calendars have to be readjusted to the change and that sometimes gets in the way of our other commitments. Other than that, it’s alright.

But it can get very heavy when we travel. For example, if a resort doesn’t have a drum set, then it’s a heavy day for the drummer, which means it’s a workout day for all of us!

Hotel Insider: Do you think people’s perceptions of women working in this industry have changed over the years?

Maeesha: I would say, yes. People are more aware and more welcoming now. But even so, there have been some instances, even if very few, where I’ve faced some discrimination. But I don’t allow it. Instead, I just offer my service, my respect and I do my job, which helps me to maintain a good relationship with people.

Hotel Insider: In your opinion, what can be done to improve the music industry for local artists?

Maeesha: At resorts, there are instances where international bands or artists are taking up the music space, which is perhaps not moderated to the level it should be. I also think that if we can make the local music scene a bit more global, then we don’t have to depend on resorts like we do now. The same way we market Maldives as a destination, we can globally market our artists too, and we have a lot of talent here that we can disseminate like that.

Nevertheless, the local scene is really improving, and entertainment is now being seen as an essential component of F&B at resorts, which is great. Some city places are now selling tickets and offering music and food as an experience.

Hotel Insider: What’s your advice to youth, especially young women who aspire to follow a similar path to yours?

Maeesha: Over the years, my advice has been changing as I’ve been changing. But the most important thing is consistency. I’ve had moments where I lose my consistency as well, so this is something I tell myself too.

Be grateful, ask questions and listen to people’s advice, but try to recognise what works for you and what doesn’t. And do things that make you feel good which is where creativity shines on.

Hotel Insider: Before we end the interview, what are your plans for the future?

Maeesha: Make a lot of music. I want to build my musical knowledge and learn a lot. Right now, I’m learning more about the theoretical side of music and exploring different genres. I’m making my own music too, which I’m excited to release next year!

Thank you, Hotel Insider, for everything that you do for us artists!

Hotel Insider: Thank you, Maeesha. Good luck!