With powerful vocals and a delightfully diverse discography, Kiran Gandhi has always been the arbiter of the female-powered music. The musician, producer and activist who goes by Madame Gandhi busied herself on social media in the past month with Instagram lives and videos that were all about discourse centred around Pride Month. By the end of it came the release of her track ‘Waiting For Me’. Kickstarting with “We always assume our own powerlessness, but never our own power”, the lyrics only get stronger turning into a formidable force to be reckoned with.
Gandhi grew up between Mumbai and New York and went to on creating an impressive career which includes a Havard Business School degree and her stint at Interscope Records. Her tracks are a thought-provoking blend of activism, cross-cultural influences, non-binary gender perspectives in music. And it echoes through ‘Waiting For Me’, that she describes as a “resistance anthem”. The song chronicles her experience in an Indian convent school and all the way until her gig at Vh1’s Supersonic. The music video directed by Misha Ghose features several trans, female and queer faces that exude authenticity.
Madame Gandhi’s voice is distinctly millennial and shares the increasingly relevant call to celebrate diversity. So we hit her up with a few questions about expressing dissent with music and the joy of deconstructing music into a cultural melting pot of identities.
Music has become an essential tool of expressing dissent as witnessed at protests all across the world (Indian Anti-CAA protestors performed hip-hop tracks at protest sites). What are your thoughts on it?
Kiran: Music caters to the emotion. Music captivates the listener with the melodies and rhythm. It caters to an emotionally intuitive part of the psyche. So it is one of the most effective mediums for communicating a message. I use my music as a vehicle to convey truth, and I use my visual imagery as a means of illustrating the world I wish we lived in. I wanted to partner with Misha Ghose, one of the best directors in India, and Aastha Singh of Chalk & Cheese Films to bring to life a story that gives us space to safely question society’s most problematic norms, while simultaneously depicting what my understanding of freedom looks and feels like. I want the viewer to watch the video and ask, “what contributes to my oppression?” “Whose oppression might I be contributing to?” and “what does my version of freedom look and feel like? How can I incorporate that into my own life?
How would you define your music and what part of your skillset/experience are you hoping to showcase with ‘Waiting For Me’?
Kiran: I would say my music consists of uplifting percussive anthems! “Waiting For Me” is definitely a global resistance anthem, in which I want to depict aspects of life that I find oppressive, and aspects of life that I find liberating! My team, Director Misha Ghose and Producer Aastha Singh and I, wanted this video to also serve as a gift to all the folks globally who have been in Lockdown for so many months. This video is a reflection of how we are all feeling, wanting to break free, return to nature, hug and kiss our friends and family and feel a sense of personal liberation again.
If you were to assign a few characteristics to songs written with a female/non-binary perspective what would they be? Is there a method to deconstructing the dominant gender perspective in music?
Kiran: YES! It is about celebrating community, kindness, joyfulness, sincerity, purity, calmness and nature. It is about value that which is gentle, that which is emotionally intelligent, that which is loving. These aspects represent distinctly feminine energy, that is deeply undervalued in our overly masculine society. Having top-down feminine leadership on set made for an experience that was collaborative, inclusive and thoughtful.
What are millennial electronic/electro-pop artists doing differently from their predecessors?
Kiran: We are continuing the work of our ancestors by directly critiquing that which we believe no longer serves us. We are actively decolonizing! We are actively celebrating that which is inherently of the earth and of the feminine. We are merging our heritage with current waves of culture. We are seeing joy as a radical activist practice. We are using social media to find power in the collective and to own our voice. We are choosing to own our own narrative, and investing in our own storytelling skillsets instead of depending on other folks to tell our stories for us.
How would you define your cross-cultural music influences?
Kiran: I love songs with rich lyrics and heavy percussion and soulful melodies. One of my co-producers, Alexia Riner, taught me that our music should sound like a mix of our favourite bands. So I absolutely employ this mentality with the song I create. And I feel I am still on the journey to getting closer and closer to my own sound, but each song gets us there. I definitely feel like this video is a personal milestone in painting a distinctly clear picture of my message of moving from the oppressed to the liberated, from the individual to the collective, from the mundane to the colourful!
Pride Month might be over the celebration doesn’t have to end. Can you curate a pride month playlist for our readers?
Kiran: Sure, it is here!
Tune in to Vh1 to catch Madame Gandhi’s ‘Waiting For Me’.
By Tanzim Pardi Walla for Mashable India