PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNIFER TZAR
STORY BY KATINA GOULAKOS
BEAUTY DIRECTOR REGINA HARRIS
“Emblazon the Face with Color. Decorate with Bold Jewelry.”
Imagista: Where did you grow up?
Vandana: Bangalore, India.
Imagista: How did you get into music? How old were you?
Vandana: Music was our home spirit. My parents were very keen listeners, my dad collecting endless cassette tapes of Ragas and Bollywood soundtracks and the off Police or Beatles album and playing them at home, mastering each song on the keyboard and I’d often join him. I was in New York interviewing for a graphic design gig at a music production company and the founder and I hit it off talking about music. I had him listen to some stuff I had played around with in London while I was there studying graphic design and film making and he expressed I take it seriously. Hearing that from a complete stranger sort of pushed me to do exactly that. It all became very real when I started performing it live at 26.
Ear cuffs by Manish Arora for Amrapali, Marc Jacobs Highliner Hot Pink, Orange Crush and Fineliner Gel Crayon
Imagista: Can you tell us a little about your upcoming album?
Vandana: My upcoming album comprises of re-imagined 60’s and 70’s Indian and Pakistani music made dark wave-y and experimental, in sorts an homage to my roots but totally subverted, however, still keeping true to the pop elements in the originals – with no samples involved. I have never identified in my music with being Indian, in fact, I’ve tried really hard to stay away from being boxed into the world music genre previously, I do think it’s becoming counterculture now. As I grow though, I find myself softening and opening up to my roots. Indian and Pakistani music are both so magnificent and riveting to hear. My re-works are songs which I find myself listening to over and over again and the amazing thing is that it’s relatable in some way to every person I’ve played them for, something about roots music is compelling to everyone, and for me, it’s about first disowning – due to harrowing experiences in my homeland growing up as a girl and the depth of not mattering at all, and then reclaiming my weightiness.
Necklace by Sanktoleono Diorshow Liner Pearly Turquoise, Matte Rusty, Matte Pink and Purple, All Makeup available at SEPHORA @sephora.
Imagista: I heard you shot one of your new videos in the desert in Jordan, what was that experience like?
Vandana: Thrilling, mind blowing, horrifying, deranging and sweltering in equal measure. Never have I valued my freedom and rights, or the air-com for that matter more so before. We got arrested for devil-worshipping and witchcraft in Petra while I was serenading a stunning ruin at dusk during the video shoot. What followed was hours of feeling naked and vulnerable to a mindset which I have no understanding of and likely never will. I respect all cultures and traditions but here it felt like they had nothing better to do than to denigrate three creative women for their art. No questions were asked from the men. That said, besides the military and the police which I had the pleasure of meeting, Jordan is the breathtaking land and culture of it’s kind and generous people whose taste buds are lit!
Ear cuff by House Of Malakai, Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Matte Yellow, and Matte Orange Paint Shadow
Imagista: Who would you compare your sound and style to?
Vandana: I don’t like drawing comparisons myself but people compare my sound to the array of Fever Ray, NIN, Bjork, Goldfrapp, Portishead, St. Vincent, Radiohead, but still calling it very much my own thing.
Imagista: Musically who inspires you most?
Vandana: David Bowie, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Nicolas Jaar, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Hair pin by Pamela Love, Sephora Collection Liner in Limeade
Imagista: How does your culture and up bringing play into the music you make?
Vandana: My brain constantly goes off on tangents and I find myself yearning for that one sound or that one smell or emotion I experienced growing up. I’m a deeply rooted tree which branched off east and west and they meet again recognizing the others beauty, strengths and weaknesses, with compassion, sometimes anger and frustration and it all comes out in my music.
Imagista: Do you have any advice for those looking to break into the music industry?
Vandana: Don’t follow dogma. Trust your intuition.