My feminist trap baile funk anthem “Top Knot Turn Up” is OUT finallly!!! After a year and a half on and off of hard work I am so grateful to give this as a gift to the queens and queers in my life who know what I mean when I say, “tie your hair up in a bun and get that work done!!” Thank you to the team who helped me bring it to life, full credits at the end of this post. Below please find my words on the story of this song and its intention.
The journey with this song started in October of 2016, when I posted a photo of myself rocking out on the drums live at a show in Mexico City for OFFxCDMX Festival, and my friend Derek Auguste who dances for FKA Twigs and others commented, “Top Knot Turn Up”!!!! This concept resonated deeply with me because growing up and through my life I would always have my hair in a bun, so much so that even my parents would get annoyed and ask me to put my hair down every now and then. I would be like…but I’m always doing shit! I might be working or studying or creating or drumming or running or thinking or boxing or speaking…and I never really need my hair in my face, I need my hair tied back so I can focus, not be distracted, and do my thing. And I realized the enormous spiritual power in this metaphor – the idea of us as womxn and femmes tying our hair back so as to reject the expectation that we are supposed to have our hair down and be pretty for the gaze or sexual consumption of others 24/7 – that it is radical to reject this – and to decide when we want to be flirty and have our hair down and loose vs. when we want to tie it back and be in our own energy – there is something deeply symbolic about this that I found many womxn in my life related to.
So I started writing. I had always been obsessed with bailefunk beats in Brazil, especially this track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EG1vOf0ZQAg
, but instead of having to turn up to the sound of my own oppression and misogyny every time I listened to this dope music, I wanted to create the alternative, something that was uplifting and for womxn, without being at the expense of others, but that went hard. That was trappy and unique and dope and powerful. That was for the queens and queers in my life who have experienced harassment or emotional and physical abuse, or who have been constantly underestimated and underpromoted and are tired of the bullshit. I wanted to write something personal and yet relatable, for them.
In April of 2017 I finally had time after tour to take a week in the desert with my best friend Lara, drive out to Joshua Tree, turn off my phone and distractions, and write clearly. There have been many iterations of the song since then, because what I like to do is test lyrics in my live show and keep refining until I land on the set of lyrics that I really love and think resonate.
Around that same time that I was writing, an up and coming gifted virgo producer from Brazil named Ruxell reached out to me with some of his ideas, and we started to craft the beat that you hear now for Top Knot Turn Up. We went back and forth on whatsapp and email and I was able to use my two years of Portuguese that I had learned at HBS and we had several initial drafts of the track going. He is a peaceful virgo with love energy for the female spirit and the vibe really joyful and mutually enthusiastic. but the track wasnt there yet.
Between touring, I ended up recording and rerecording the live drums and vocals a total of three times, at Q Division Boston, Pulse Recordings in LA, Assemble Sound in Detroit and Red Bull Studios in NYC. I recorded the live percussion at A Different Fur Studios in SF. Neil Comber (M.I.A, Florence + The Machine) mixed it and Piper Payne mastered it.
I didn’t think I would feel the enormous amount of relief and joyfulness I felt when it finally came out at midnight last night, during the full moon in Capricorn, the Strawberry Moon. It was so powerful, I couldn’t sleep all night. It was the moon of hard work, and getting shit done, which I thought was so enormously powerful. I am someone who goes off of my intuition, I didn’t know it would be a full moon until the day of the release itself, nor did I know it would be such a relevant one. We are in cancer season too which is ruled by the moon, and I am dating a cancer, and my energy and cycle is deeply tied to the moon each month. It felt really good and right.
The timing of this song was also particularly relevant because of what is happening in our political justice system today. I wanted the cover art to reference the American flag and put the song out for Fourth of July of this year because while I feel at times grateful to be American and have certain personal freedoms, I also feel embarrassed to be American with 45 in the White House and with the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) about to lean heavily conservative. I wanted to reference the American flag to say, I want to be someone who contributes to making this place a joyful place to live, where we use emotional intelligence instead of brute force aggression to thrive, where we value femininity and collaboration instead of competition, where we want to be linked not ranked, where we say “nourish it!” or “nurture it!” instead of “kill it” or “crush it”!
I say in the song just that:
Please check out some of the artwork, posts, photos, credits lyrics and most importantly the SONG below. Music video and full length album coming soon.
Kiran // @madamegandhi
June 29th, 2018
drops today!!! This song is a gift for all the badass womxn who know what I’m talking about when I say tie your hair up in a bun and get that shit done and don’t let anyone fuck with you. This is an anthem about putting your hair up and focusing on what you need to do in that moment. This is a song about how we’re not here to be the object of someone else’s gaze 24/7, and about how when our hair is up, it means we are in our own energy so please don’t come and trouble us 🏽♀️ #topknot #topknotturnup #ownyourvoice #thefutureisfemale
TOP KNOT TURNED WAY THE FUCK UP!!!! “My time is not your property when I’m productive like my ovaries!!!” 🖕🏽🖕🏽🖕🏽🖕🏽🖕🏽🖕🏽👱🏽♀️💁🏽♀️ We aren’t out here to be the object of someone else’s gaze, we out here to live our best life and prioritize our own joy and our comfort and live out our life’s purpose!!! This song is a gift for every boss madame queen and queer who knows what I mean when I say put your hair up in a bun and get that work done!! And I can’t believe it’s finally out!!! “TURNED UP IN MY TOP KNOT SINCE WHEN I FIRST WROTE THIS.”
IT’S OUT IT’S OUT IT’S OUT!!!!! TOP KNOT TURN UP is a single about putting your hair up in a bun and getting that work done! “Protecting my vibes that are wholesome, trying my best to solve *actual problems*”!!!! This song is about speaking your truth and owning your voice without any distractions!! Be your best self! The future is female!!!
Album artwork by Sara Cifuentes, Art direction by Kiran Gandhi and Sara Cifuentes, Hair by Major Moonn, Photo shot by Anna Maria Lopez.
Top Knot Turn Up Credits:
Daniel Major Moonn – hair stylist
Anna Maria Lopez – photographer
Sara Cifuentes – cover art graphic design
Derek Auguste – top knot turn up concept inspiration
Kiran Gandhi – own your voice turtleneck design, art direction, producer
Lyrics, Melody, Additional Production, Arrangement and live drums/percussion: Kiran Gandhi
Electronic music production/sound design: Ruxell, Waxploitation
Live Drums Engineer: Jon Zott
Live Percussion Engineer: Michael Starita
Vocals Engineer: Red Bull Studios
Vocals Engineer: Charlie Moon
Additional Production: Sweatson Klank
Mixing: Neil Comber
Mastering: Piper Payne
Red Bull Studios, NYC
Assemble Sound, Detroit
A Different Fur, San Francisco
Q Division, Boston
Madame Gandhi, Downtown Los Angeles
Ruxell, Rio, Brazil
Additional Press: Byte.fm & StereoGum
Lyrics at Genius.com: https://genius.com/Madame-gandhi-top-knot-turn-up-lyrics