Melbourne’s Rising Star, Ecca Vandal, talks about her new album, Fashion and…weather

Ecca Vandal is the personification of sunny Melbourne, energising sounds and is an ebullient, unstoppable force in the music industry. Talking to her was like chatting to an old friend who had moved to the other side of the equator. Her warm disposition juxtaposed the subject of the arctic conditions of Britain where she is currently supporting Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes throughout December. ‘I love London. It’s my first time in London during winter. It’s 33 degrees where I come from in Melbourne’. We discuss the occurrence of snow in November here and she reassures me: ‘I go back to Melbourne mid-December’.

South African born, with Sri Lankan heritage, Ecca’s parents left for Melbourne after apartheid. ‘It was a strange time growing up in Australia and coming from South Africa. It was a very strict Sri Lankan household and my parents were very cultural. We lived in a very white, well-to-do neighbourhood so I spent a lot of time, in my childhood, figuring out whether I identified with Australian culture as part of my life was in South Africa… So a lot of figuring out there…’

‘I had two older sisters who went on to be quite academic. I was the only one who was into music. They expected me to follow in my sisters’ footsteps and be quite academic. There were a lot of Sri Lankan accountants, doctors and lawyers out there and that is the ultimate career path that Sri Lankan parents want for their children. That was their hope for me but shock horror… I said nope! I’m going to be pursuing a creative path. That was quite tough and I still don’t know if they quite understand it. I’ve had to forge my own path, work it out along the way, and stay true to myself. So that’s how I’ve ended up here’. Ecca’s journey is admirable. Her self-titled debut album unapologetically explodes with self-sufficiency, originality and is the embodiment of creativity.

Ecca Vandal shot by Sean McDonald

Each song on Ecca Vandal reflects a distinct, relatable mood and an aspect of everyone’s nature. The album is a characterisation of a multi-faceted personality with its cocktail of genres that intoxicate every listener. The rapidity and aggressiveness of ‘Broke Days, Party Nights’ is an oxymoron to the raw, beats-driven track ‘Cold Of The World’; a song that emotionally speaks to Ecca the most. ‘I feel that this was where I was at my most vulnerable. It is the most chilled track on the album and I thought it was important to have that side incorporated on the album, alongside some of the heaviest stuff. I thought it would be important to reflect that I am not always aggressive, obnoxious and loud all of the time. The opposite also happens. I’m also introverted and introspected and vulnerable. That’s why they all co-exist on the same album and find a home. Its reflective of who I am as a person’. It is reassuring for someone like Ecca to say this. Her definition of the album is relatable and an ode to humanity. The moral appears to be that it is OK for even the bravest to have moments of weakness and to take off the façade that we often adopt.

Ecca’s eclectic sound derived from the varied soundtrack of her childhood. ‘I draw inspiration from the music being played at home when I was a child such as R&B, hip-hop and soul music. My sister’s record collection was anything from Aaliyah to Missy Elliott. Then I fell in love with jazz and singers such as Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday; so such a range. From there I discovered punk rock and fell in love with Mr. Bumble. Somehow its been marinating and the music I write is now a combination of all of those things that I love’.

Ecca’s electrifying essence bursts with surprises as she has collaborated with the likes of Sampa The Great, on the track, ‘Your Orbit’. ‘It’s a beautiful thing when like-minded people come together and make something because it’s just so powerful. The people I have collaborated with so far have all brought something new to the table and opened up something that I may not have noticed before. They’re like “hey have you thought about it like this before?” Even though it might be a critique, sometimes it’s good, because then you can grow. I always love having other creative people around as I can bounce ideas off them. I like working with people you wouldn’t necessarily work with just from their particular aesthetic point of view or style point of view. That’s when the beauty happens! You make something unpredictable and I really like those unpredictable creative experiences’.

Ecca Vandal shot by Sean McDonald

I ask her to name the top people she wants to collaborate with in the future. Her response: ‘Oooooh that’s a tough question! I mean… one person?’ We agree on the top three. ‘I’d say Thom Yorke would be one. Number two would probably be… Rihanna. Number three would be Damon Albarn. Bit of a British slant there. All three at once would just be great’. Imagine the sheer carnage and revolutionary outrage. Groundbreaking.

I want to get to the bottom of ‘Future Heroin’. ‘This song was born out of a personal experience of a very close friend of mine who was basically second best in a relationship. It was my way of helping her through that and saying “you know what? You need to be number one in this relationship for it to move forward.” She didn’t know she was in the song but then I played it to her and showed her the video. She was honoured it was about her. It’s about entitlement and not settling for second best.’ The music video is a whirlwind of champagne bubbling out of crystal glasses, sweets printed with endearing messages dissolving into tongues and flashing, psychedelic lights whilst Ecca’s omniscient voice harmonises above the thundering of drums. ‘You want that classic ending’ preaches Ecca as she is transported, from an underworld of debauchery, into a backdrop of velvety clouds as a veil drapes her head. She angelically lounges on the blanket of clouds like a classical figure as her image is art-gallery-worthy and her musical words of advice are mantras to live by. ‘It is very important for visuals to portray exactly what you want to say. I’ve always been very DIY and hands on with music videos. This was my first time co-directing with another cinematographer called Amy Dellar of Indoor Fountains. I found her on Instagram, aligned with her aesthetic, reached out to her and we conceptualised the visual together. I was really proud we pulled together an all-star girl team on this video. We did this behind the lens and in spaces you would normally see men occupying, in cinematography, such as the post-production and set design. It was really cool to look around and see so many women just ruling and owning it. The head stylist was someone who aligned with our aesthetic and we really wanted to represent some local designers from Melbourne such as fashion students. Everyone was up for it! To have like-minded, creative people come together and make something for art’s sake… It was really special.’

Ecca Vandal shot by Sean McDonald

Ecca Vandal’s Instagram is a myriad of effortlessly cool images. They range from her chilling behind a pair of groovy cat-eye frames, to standing in rooms filled with musical instruments the same size as her. Like her music, her style is something that cannot be bought or replicated; it is self-titled and unique. She exclaims: ‘I love fashion. I think I draw inspiration from street style and high end. I love the cross over of mixing luxury with thrift clothes. I’m really influenced by Japanese street culture, which is so inspiring and vibrant, and the 70’s punk kind of movement shown in Vivienne Westwood.’

Speaking to Ecca was like talking to the older sister that I never had (and who had moved to the other side of the world). Her worldly knowledge, and advice, conveyed how conscientious and diligent she is with everything she undertakes. I came away with three main tips. 1. ‘If you want something done… Do it yourself and if you don’t know how to do it then learn how to do it.’ 2. ‘With Instagram all you’ve got to do is reach out and slide into the DM’s!’ 3. ‘I do have times where I get a bit stuck with writer’s block. First of all I would collect a lot of equipment, as there is so much inspiration that can come from that, as technology can dictate a spark of an idea. If that fails then usually I just… stop. In the stillness I find that inspiration and I don’t push it. For me, as a person, I’ve got to know myself. Silence is sometimes where it happens for me and is that moment of insight’.

Ecca Vandal’s next plan of action is to continue songwriting and to collaborate and connect with people all over the world. I am bursting with excitement to see what she conquers next.

check out her website for tours and album 

Photography by Sean McDonald





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