In 1970, Carol Hanisch penned the iconic essay "The Personal Is Political." Her words were a call to arms, a formative idea that radically shaped the women's-liberation movement before becoming an integral axiom for future generations of feminists. On her debut EP, Voices , the former M.I.A. collaborator and LA activist Madame Gandhi continues the conversation first sparked by Hanisch's words. Through politically engaged lyricism, hypnotic backbeats, and sonic melody, she addresses the toxic misogyny of our era on tracks like "Her," "Yellow Sea," and "The Future Is Female." From beginning to end, Voices celebrates the power of femininity, collaboration, and our capacity as individuals and as a culture to evolve.
On the day that Voices dropped, I spoke with Kiran Gandhi, the woman behind the moniker, about her hopes for feminism's future, the story behind her stage name, and how even a seemingly small act can ultimately be radically divine.
Dianca Potts: In addition to being an artist, you're an activist. What inspired you to merge your creativity with your politics?
Kiran Gandhi: Until recently, those two things have been approached separately in my life. When I ran the London marathon last year, I didn't think that act would be considered radical. I didn't think that it would spark a larger conversation about period stigma, but it did, and it was the best thing that could have happened. When I was at the marathon, I was just doing what made the most sense for me at the time. I've always been passionate about gender equality, so when that story went viral it was this kind of divine intervention.
DP: Music has historically served as a catalyst for social progress. What do you think makes music such a powerful tool for activists?
KG: When I talk to students at universities or at the UN, I feel confident because I know the facts and I know the flow of the speech, but it's always a different reaction than when I perform. Even if I'm just playing the drums, the emotional connection and the vibe that I feel in the room when I'm playing my music is heightened, and it's received on a deeper emotional level, and that's the biggest challenge. Like on the final track of my EP, "The Future Is Female." I wanted to say all the things, but I didn't want it to be so brainy and literal that you listen to it and it feels like a speech. It's a really tough balance, but I want to get better at merging the two.
DP: You've spoken out in the past against period stigma. How can we start to change the way our culture talks about women's bodies and health?
KG: I really want to live in a world where the workplace is designed to accommodate day-to-day female experiences, because traditionally most offices are designed for men and by men. We need more intelligent maternity and paternity reform, more intelligent norms in the workplace that accommodate the human and female body. These are some of the things I'm most concerned with. I also feel that a lot of marketing and advertising needs to change. The way that we talk about women is always centered around being beautiful or how sexually consumable we are, and I think that that's unfair. Instead, I want to live in a world where we say, "Here's how you can feel your most comfortable, here's how you can be your best self."
DP: The way that an artist chooses to present themselves can reveal so much about their journey and what they value. What is the story behind your name? How does it represent your journey?