By Here / Now for Here / Now
Kiran Gandhi made headlines in 2015 when she defiantly ran the London Marathon free-bleeding while on her period. She has since emerged as an activist and public speaker, who has joined her passion for music, technology and feminist ideology into musical projects that are being amplified across the country. Empowered from an early age, Kiran pursued an education at Georgetown University, followed by Harvard MBA (no big deal) but never lost touch with her connection to music and drumming. Once best known as the drummer for rapper and musician M.I.A., she is now pursuing a solo career as Madame Gandhi and elevates the female voice through music. She launched a five-song EP, Voices, in 2016 and has a full record coming out soon.
Kiran’s never been afraid to be bold and be different, and the courage she embodies is infectious as she speaks around the country in her uplifting and high-flair fashion statements. She is preaching the message of unity and acceptance among women, reminding us that it‘s not about what everyone else thinks, but rather about what you believe and how strongly you believe that you can affect change on this world.
What motivates me to get out of bed every morning: The ability to inspire somebody else to be their free-est and most authentic self.
What the Madame Gandhi movement strives for: It strives for each of us to feel brave enough and safe enough to ask for what we want so we can serve humanity. I’m very interested in us stepping into our own personal power, not our own powerlessness, in order to serve the greater cause of humanity. When we are not our best selves, we cannot serve, and serving is what gives us great joy and purpose on this Earth. I spend a lot of time optimizing for the things that allow me to be my best self, such that I can serve my community and my audience.
How I got my start: I ran a marathon free-bleeding on my period as a symbolic act to combat the menstrual stigma that faces women and girls all around the world. And I wasn’t expecting to start a movement. I was just doing what I thought was best for me and my body at that moment. In writing about it and sharing the story, it went viral and it really taught me something about my own personal power and the personal power in every person. When we are brave enough to be ourselves and do what we think is right, the whole world might just support and feel the same.In experiencing that, I said “I want my life to be like this”– one that serves the greater purpose of humanity and makes others feel free to be their most fierce self. I want to show up for those who can’t show up for themselves. Just like others before me and in my life fought so that I can be free and I can exist in my body comfortably.
What empowered me to dispel traditional conventions and expectations set for me: Pursuing happiness. When I am authentic, not only does it make me happy but it also empowers others to do the same. I’m really interested in radical truth and me being true about the times I feel really high and about the times I’m feeling really low, because that truth is what offers others a feeling that they can survive and thrive on their own.
How music and being a drummer impacts my life: Being a drummer built my self confidence. As a kid, it allowed me to have a sense of purpose and a sense of self power and I carry that into my day. When I want to feel like I’m boosting my self confidence, I just invest back into my skill sets. When we invest in our own skill sets, we develop a sense of self love and the ability to help others and heal others. Music caters to the emotions. My movement and my feminism is one of love and intelligence. Music is such a beautiful way to safely have people question their norms and widely held belief systems and unpack them without feeling attacked. Music is the form of my message. It has a joy energy, a love energy, a happiness, dance, emotions, empathy. I hope that those who may not be turned onto feminism or believe in the equality of the sexes or the fact that we are all participating in the patriarchy that is oppressing us. When people are ready to question that, my music is here for you to listen to.
What I’ve got coming up for you that you should get excited about: I have a full record coming out and two songs coming out called Bad Habits and Top Knot Turn Up.
I feel most supported by: I feel most supported by other women who give me love. With them shining their light on me, I am able to shine my light on the world.
Five things I can’t live without:
My legs and ability to run
The love of others. We are an interconnected species
The most rewarding moment thus far in this journey: I recently spoke at a high school and I was able to share my truth with young girls about experiencing female to female bullying when I was a middle schooler– how that hurt me, how I came out of it, about self worth and talking about sex and sexuality openly. You don’t have have to do anything with boys and girls that you don’t want to and sex is really something that is beautiful and about empowerment. It is important to learn about your own body and your own pleasure before you let somebody else in and its important not to assume that someone will teach you about your own body. You should teach yourself about your own body and feel empowered in how it makes you feel so you can develop your own boundaries before sleeping with someone. It felt really beautiful to be so honest with these young girls because they wanted to receive it. I wanted someone to come in and reign that truth on me when I was 16 so it felt good to be that for somebody else.
My personal style notes: I love all saturated colors, block colors, patterns and sequins. I love things that match. In the shoot, the red stripe in my hair and yellows and blue matches the flowers of the sequin jacket as well as my shoes and my pants. I love yellow. My name is Kiran which means first “ray of sunlight” in Hindi and as a kid I was always drawn to yellow and orange. I find them joyful, vibrant, love-giving, life-giving, positive, nuanced, hopeful, exciting and so I surround myself in bright colors and dye my hair and rep it in all aspects of myself. I find it to be so beautiful and so helpful.
And finally, a few words for all girls out there, working to make their dream come true and create change in this world: Own your voice. Don’t be afraid. The Future is Female.