Kiran Gandhi, also known by her stage name Madame Gandhi, is an American electronic music producer, drummer, artist and activist.
Gandhi’s music career includes being a touring drummer for artists M.I.A., Thievery Corporation, and Kehlani. Her music and activism focus on female empowerment and fourth-wave feminism. As she gears for the release of the music video for her latest single “Waiting For Me”, we sit with her to speak about her year, her music, what inspires her and a lot more. Read on!
Shivani – Hey Kiran, firstly, congratulations on the release of your latest music video, “Waiting For Me”. Considering it was [*during*] Vh1 Supersonic, it also makes us reminisce about the times we could come together and celebrate, pre-pandemic. How do you feel about it?
Madame Gandhi – Yes! I was touring in India in February, my birthday month, to perform at Vh1 and other places. We blocked out 2 weeks to prep for the shoot and then we took two days to shoot in the outskirts of Mumbai. We had no idea what the future held and had no idea how severe the pandemic would be at the time. But, the video’s themes are deeply relevant to what is happening in the world today. We have all been in Lockdown for so long, we are all longing for togetherness, to run wild with our loved ones in nature, to bang loudly on drums and scream and shout! So, me, our director Misha Ghose and the rest of the team wanted this to really represent that source of healing for anyone watching it.
Shivani – Activism and music overlap clearly in your music. What do you think music can do as a vehicle for change that other mediums cannot?
Madame Gandhi – Music makes us get up and dance, and feel good! And so, it is the perfect medium to infuse messages of liberation, of love, of joyfulness. And music videos are the best place to reflect back to society some of our most problematic norms, while also depicting what the world we wished we lived in could look like. I hope my audience watches this video and goes inward, asking, “what does oppression look like in my own life” “What does freedom look and feel like for me?”
Shivani – The one thing you actively advocate is, “The future is female”. Could you elaborate a little on it and what it means to you?
Madame Gandhi – Yes! The future is female is about valuing feminine styles of leadership. It is about saying we as women, feminine people, trans folks, and gender non-conforming folks have so much to offer that is often overlooked because we tend to only value masculine styles of leadership. It is about valuing collaboration over competition, emotional intelligence instead of brute force aggression, and realizing we live in a world that is linked and not ranked. It is about being brave enough to step into the fullness of our gender identity, without having to perform masculinity in order to be taken seriously. It is about moving away from people who shut us and surrounding ourselves with people and environments who value us for who we are and what we bring to the table. This message is for people of all genders. Men also suffer from having to perform masculinity within the patriarchy, without expressing their most authentic emotions. I find this so problematic. Women are here to heal, and I hope this music video serves as a reminder for that.
Shivani – You have also done your best to create a positive supportive “ecosystem” for women to thrive and support each other and stand up for themselves. According to you, how can people carry this ahead and be more positive and supportive?
Madame Gandhi – We have to embody the world we wished we lived in. We have to be even more tender, even more kind, even more honest, even braver. We have to lead with love. We have to collaborate with each other, instead of aspiring to standards that were never designed to position us in a place of self-power, and often place us in a position of sexual subservience. We have to validate each other’s experiences, listen as much as we speak, and be deeply gentle.
Shivani – You have always propagated tenderness and positivity with your music. What is your creative process like?
Madame Gandhi – Ha! Nice. As soon as I feel deep emotion, either motivated by my activism, or social injustice, or love, I make sure to record it, and sing, and sing lyrics either in my studio or into my iPhone if I am on the go. I think the more of my emotions that are captured in the song the better because this is what resonates, this is what feels real, this is what feels vulnerable and relatable. Then I add in dope production and drums and melodies and collaborate with folks whose musical sound I connect with!!
Shivani – How has the pandemic affected your work year? And how has it impacted you, positively and negatively?
Madame Gandhi – The best aspects have been time to work on myself, to grow emotionally, to be a better person to my friends and family, and to identify my own personal demons so that I can work past them. To be unbothered by people’s energies! To be able to hold space for other folks without it dimming my light or positive energy. This is some zen madame type sh*t but it is what I am working on daily, and what I learn from my mom, Meera Gandhi. I think the difficult parts have been not being able to travel, to perform in front of real audiences or to get up close to hug and kiss my friends!!!
Header image courtesy: Sajna Sivan
Tune in to Vh1 to catch Madame Gandhi’s latest international track, “Waiting For Me”, shot in India.