Few drummers ever leave the throne to take centre stage. But for Madame Gandhi, who’s kept time for both M.I.A. and Thievery Corporation, the urgency to find her own voice became so great that she needed to grab the mic herself.
Maybe you heard of Kiran Gandhi back in 2015. The musician was at the centre of a viral moment when she ran the London Marathon while “free bleeding” to address the stigmas surrounding women’s periods. After the crush of interview requests that resulted, she realized she had a lot of ideas on gender equality and she wanted to share them publicly. “That’s when I moved from the drums to the front,” she says.
Her debut EP, Voices, travels the borderlands between electroclash, trap, and downtempo. It delivers its activism in dance music. That’s the seduction, she says. “My dream is to get everyone partying to the sounds of feminism. I want people fucking to the noise of gender equality.”
When she met Toronto DJ Bambii on the bus ride to their show at Frankie’s Surf Club, Muskoka, presented by East Room last August, the pair connected and decided to collaborate on the fly. A little treat for those on hand: Bambii
DJed Madame Gandhi’s set while the emcee — dressed in radiant yellow like the morning sun she’s named after — hopped from the mic stand to the congas, then behind the drum kit to solo and back again. When Gandhi returns to Toronto at the end of September, she’s invited Bambii out once again.
That’s become part of her mission: to elevate and celebrate female voices. This fall, Madame Gandhi will release a Voices remix album, featuring what she calls some “pretty experimental” reworks of the EP tracks, recorded by five talented female artists: DJ Shiva, TT the Artist, Suzi Analogue, Gizzle, and Perera Elsewhere.
For Gandhi, “the future is female” isn’t some slogan or platitude, it’s a guiding philosophy. “It’s about valuing femininity as much as we value masculinity,” she says. It’s about giving more than taking, collaboration instead of competition. “‘The future is female,’ to me, is about looking to the female archetype for inspiration, for new leadership, but also for our survival.”
Leave it to a drummer to voice the resistance. They’re disruptive and loud, but it’s also the drums that establish the rhythm. It’s the drummer we all dance to.