Maalavika was born on 16 September 1993 in Chennai to Malayali parents from North Malabar. Maalavika had been listening to music a lot since childhood. Though her parents were not musicians, they would play a lot of 1970s and 1980s style music to her, even though she was only fairly young. Her father listened to a lot of electronic music from the early 1990s and she grew up listening to a lot of the same as well. When Maalavika was five years old, her parents decided to enroll her in various classes ranging from swimming and Bharata Natyam to piano and drawing classes. A few years later, she quit all of her classes other than piano, which she learned till she was 17 years old. Around that time, she also decided to try her hand at the guitar as well, because at that point she felt it was really "cool". Maalavika said she never had to seriously tell her parents that she wanted to be a musician, because "they're happy if I'm doing something I want and can sustain myself and be comfortable with a career in music." Her first singing performance was at a party when she was 12 years old. At the party, she sang Ella Fitzgerald's version of "Fever", with some of the lyrics changed to "suit the occasion". She did her schooling at Sacred Heart Matriculation School and studied for a BBA at Loyola College, Chennai. In mid 2013, she left for France to complete her BBA degree, but returned to Chennai a year later after graduating. She graduated from Loyola in the same year, and moved to Mumbai to pursue a career in music.
On her religious views, Maalavika has stated that she is not ritualistic, and although she takes part in pujas with her family when they conduct them, she is not particularly motivated to do them on her own. Maalavika states that she like exploring and understanding religions and their respective spiritual practices, but does not follow anything in general, and only prays when she feels like.