Photo Credit: David Terranova

LISTEN & SHARE: Vandana – Contra EP

Vandana has arrived with the release of her new EP, Contra, where she puts a modern twist on inspirational Pakistani and Indian classics from the 70s, 80s and 90s. The EP was released on Fridat and is available now across all digital streaming platforms.

Vandana on her new Contra EP…
“Contra comprises of re-imaginations of Indian and Pakistani songs from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, a lot of them being pretty ahead of the curve that they still sound magical today. Going back to my roots and connecting with it musically delivered some sort of cosmic liberation from my hard held beliefs. It’s been about detaching myself from the nostalgia, what almost seems like a past life experience and subverting the original context and delivery. My attempt has not been to remix or cover these songs but to re-imagine a more self serving and intimate contemplation — a meeting of two worlds and very authentic to me. It’s an interesting opportunity for art as play and translating Indian and Pakistani artists and composers for different audiences, for uncovering new possibilities within the familiar in both parts of the world. 

I started this project for the sake of self-entertainment and for pulling apart the magnificence of these songs as a learning tool, but was soon tripping down a rabbit hole with a renewed appreciation for the music. My aim has been to re-discover these songs which I grew up listening to, as an avant-pop, experimental expression. All of the songs on the EP, as far as I know are songs India and Pakistan know all too well. I’d love for people to listen to the songs in comparison to the originals, they sound nothing alike. I’ve re-imagined and composed all the melodies and instrumentation from scratch, without the use of any samples.

The whole process has been an inquiry, sonically and socio contextually – with the awareness of a much bigger and complex picture at hand which is hard to articulate without going off on a tangential tale of sexism in the Bollywood industry. I am a lucky Indian person to have had the opportunity to express my craft and beliefs and hope that in some way can contribute positively towards the shifting gender typecasts, build cultural bridges and create space for dialogue and change.”

All songs written and produced by Vandana. Mixed by Joshua Drucker at The Outlier Inn. mastered by Christian Wright at Abbey Road Studios. Additional session musicians – Avi Bortnick on guitar, Joshua Drucker on marxophone and guitar, Mazmith on additional synths, Sam Smith on drums and percussion.

Fusing elements of dark wave electronica with mesmeric alt-pop, Vandana’s music embraces otherness as if from inside the mouth of a cave. The singer, producer and visual artist brings her insular and mysterious writing process to life via slow-dripping, throbbing synths and poignant vocal melodies creating an atmosphere that’s haunting and exotic.

Inspired by musical pioneers like Aphex Twin, Thom Yorke and Miles Davis as well as the vibrancy of Bollywood, the Gothicism of The Cure and of Fever Ray, Vandana also takes her cues from purveyors of subversion like Edgar Allan Poe, Lars Von Trier and Henry Miller.

Her journey from India to London to Brooklyn has influenced her otherworldly and self-assured sound, which arrives steeped in the eccentricities of her ancient DNA as well as in vehicles of abstract expression and experimentation.