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Ecca Vandal: 'Women Are Coming To The Front' In Australian Music

The genre-busting Melbourne artist is part of a new breed.

There's a new class of bold female musician taking over Australia. Can you feel it? Everywhere you look, another female artist is making waves. Even the casual music fan would know the likes of Tkay Maidza, The Jezabels and The Preatures; not far behind them are Thelma Plum, Little May, KLP and Montaigne; while also fast-rising are Camp Cope, Sampa The Great, Tash Sultana, Alex Lahey and Ali Barter.

Ecca Vandal probably sits in the 'rising' category, but not for much longer. She's a Melbourne artist who nearly defies classification; part punk-rock, part grimy nightclub beats, part snarling hip-hop, part dark pop starlet, she's all about distorted guitar and driving percussion and popping electronics. The closest contemporary parallel we can draw is politically-charged personality M.I.A., but even with their shared Sri Lankan heritage, even that's not right. Ecca is a talent unto herself, blending these disparate elements into a dirty industrial pop punk rock underpinned by an electric energy.

"Women are coming to the front now. Not just the front of the band but they're really strong artists in their own right," she told The Huffington Post Australia. She's partway through recording her debut album, and preparing to perform at a Pandora party in Sydney on Saturday.

"These are the artists we hear about now. I just got back from [music industry conference] Bigsound, the girls are just ruling, they are the names you keep hearing -- Alex Lahey, Tash Sultana, Tkay Maidza. It's great to see, the females are bossing it."

Vandal herself, much like her music, is a melting pot of influences. Of Sri Lankan heritage, she was born in South Africa before her family moved to Australia. There are three cultures running through her veins, which comes out through her creative output.

"My earliest childhood memories are groups together singing. That's what South Africans do, they get together and sing. I remember falling in love with those rich harmonies," she said.

"I feel tied to those cultures, especially Sri Lankan culture based on music, food and dance. That definitely inspires me, listening to classical south Indian music, and party music of Sri Lanka. Those big beats, party festive music, is part of my fibre."

It is that combination of influences and sounds from Africa, Asia and western music that sculpts Ecca Vandal's unique sound.

"I listen to jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, and love their voices. But also Chino Moreno from Deftones. I love all those different types of voices, it's all part of my musical heritage. When it came to me writing my music, all those sounds I loved and was inspired by, they came out and I let it come out, rather than steering it in particular directions," she said.

She burst into the consciousness of Australian music fans two years ago with Triple J hit 'White Flag', an urgent, distorted tangle of rock, punk, rap and late night club beats. It was wild, energetic and vital, a first step into the public spotlight that showed no fear in mashing together vastly disparate sounds.

She's since released her first EP, End of Time, and is now working toward her debut album. She's been working with a few different producers, and says she has doubled down on the loud, noisy, punk rock and hip-hop flavours.

"It's still as diverse as my record has been so far, and I want to go further in those zones," she said.

The album is "about three-quarters" finished, but before that, she's just booked herself to go on tour with fellow noisy rockers DZ Deathrays through December. She's also on the Laneway Festival lineup, with a whole heap of the "boss" female acts she's so excited about.

"[Females in music] have always been there but we are highlighting it a bit more and supporting it. Females feel more empowered than ever, feel able to step up to the plate and own it, their stage and business as well. I feel it when i talk to other artists," she said.

"Now the spotlight is on women and the support is there. It's a great time for women to shine, it's fine for us to have this massive vision for our projects."

"Now I can go and own it."

Ecca Vandal plays the Pandora warehouse party on Saturday night in Sydney, with Seth Sentry, Ladyhawke and more. For info and to RSVP, click here.

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