This musician’s upcoming EP pays homage to retro Bollywood and Pakistani music
They're complete re-works — a meeting of two worlds.
Growing up in Bengaluru in the 80s, Vandana Jain was surrounded by the music of legends such as SD Burman, RD Burman and Madan Mohan — courtesy her parents’ playlists. Naturally, retro Bollywood songs left an indelible impression on her and now, 15 years after leaving home, she still finds herself listening to them over and over again. Currently based in New York City, they are Vandana’s connection to her roots and she’s re-imagining them, electronica-style, in her upcoming EP, Homage.
“Most of India knows these songs but they’ve never been done with this approach. These aren’t remixes, neither is it a fusion project. They’re complete re-works — a meeting of two worlds. I’m re-creating an entirely different mood and texture for them to exist within. The only thing I’m sticking to from the originals are the lyrics and a few melodic structures,” she says.
Homage, which will release early next year, will also feature traditional, regional and religious Pakistani music. Think works by Nazia Hasan and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Vandana is clear her work will appeal to a niche audience, something she finds solace in. “I have invariably been attracted to the absurd and experimental,” she says.
Image: Manuel Greco
While Vandana is having an interesting time creating music, her experience of shooting for the accompanying video has been equally eventful. In August, Vandana was in Petra, Jordan, positioned on a ruin at dusk for a shot when she was arrested for devil-worshipping and witchcraft. “Someone had called the local authorities on us. What followed was hours of feeling powerless and vulnerable to a mind-set which I have no understanding of. 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, I am madly in love with the culture, music and the generous people of Jordan,” she says.
Apart from the EP, Vandana will also release a full-length album in Autumn 2019.Featured image: Courtesy Adela Loconte, Okeechobee Festival