Story originally published on guitarcenter.com, provided to exclusively to Tom Tom courtesy of Guitar Center
Madame Gandhi is an artist, producer, and devoted advocate for using the language of drums to inspire womxn in music and in life. Her unique productions infused with Indian, Brazilian, and African rhythms have led to collaborations with Lizzo, Kehlani, and others as well live shows for M.I.A., Thievery Corporation and, most recently, Oprah on her 2020 Vision Stadium Tour. She has been listed as Forbes Music 30 Under 30 and is a 2020 Ted Fellow. Her uplifting music and mathy beats have received critical acclaim from The New York Times, Billboard, NPR and more. Read on for our conversation with Madame Gandhi on how she stays inspired and equipped for making music at home. Plus, check out our video for a look at her home setup and insights on how to stay rooted in the importance of music, message, and innovation.
How do you maintain focus when working on completing a piece of music?
I maintain focus when working on music in a couple of different ways. Advanced planning of the goal and work flow does actually help me and get into a session so that I have a game plan. I’ve run 5 marathons in my life and all 5 of them have taught me the value or breaking down a project into smaller tangible goals. So, I always provide myself with attainable goals for that one session, and then usually the psychological win of attaining that goal allows me to surpass that goal and continue ‘til I get the song done! I also find that working with a collaborator and having a set time to work with them also allows me to continue to benchmark progress on a song. Finally, I think the genuine enthusiasm of knowing that song is going to be done and finally into the world is enormous motivation! I usually play my music for a live audience before it’s even out to test it in real time and see what it needs or how it is received. This also informs what I add to a song to bring it to the finish line.
Why is it important to surround yourself with creative inspiration?
I surround myself with many forms of inspiration for my home, since this is where most of my music is made. The first is basic access to fitness tools, be it the Peloton bike that I was gifted, a yoga mat, my punching bag for boxing or free weights. When I have these tools around me, I find it easy to work out for 1 to 2 hours each day to get my mind right. I also draw major inspiration from yellows and golds, so everything in my loft (from luggage to silverware to my speakers!) fit into that palette so that I feel the power of those colors every day. Finally, I save every card or special ticket or paper gift I am given and hang it up on my wall – including the Guitar Center card I was given from Moogfest 2018!
These kind words from friends and family all around the world motivate me to keep going when I feel down or behind. Certain poems or mantras hanging around my house also help to stimulate my mind when I am writing lyrics for my songs.
What advice do you have for creating a personal studio/creative space?
My best advice is to be deeply honest about what gives you personal joy and happiness. To not look outward for what others have done in the past, but to go inward and say, “What makes me feel happy? What makes me feel motivated? Will I ever actually read this book? Will I ever actually use this piece of equipment?” And if the answer is no, to be brave enough to give that item away to someone who would love it and use it, and to make space in your home for the items and gifts that do bring you joy and will empower you. I am very intentional about everything that lives in my space, and I give away any and everything that I haven’t touched in a year or so. It makes me so happy to see others excited to play with that item or use that thing or wear that shirt, you know?
What are your gear essentials for writing and recording at home?
I love my Teenage Engineering OP-Z, I love the Roland TR-08, I love my Ableton Push, I love the Korg Wavedrum (which I spray painted yellow), the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol, my Artiphon Instrument 1, Critter and Guitari yellow synthesizer from Third Man Records, my Grandmother synthesizer from Moog and finally, my Touché from Expressive! While most of these I use with my computer, I really do love also making sure I can create “out of the box”, so I use the iZotope Spire to connect a mic and a synth together to be able to make music with no need for any DAW. This allows me to generate ideas quicker, without the need for technical prowess or perfection.
Stream Gandhi’s latest album, Visions, out now on Spotify and all digital streaming platforms.