When people claim that rock is dead, they tend to overlook what millennial artists are cooking up and the impact young musicians can have on shaping music culture.
One artist who has put a fresh outlook on contemporary rock music in Australia is Ecca Vandal. Hailing from Melbourne, Ecca grew up listening to hip hop and punk rock, mashing up both those styles and putting her own spin on the genres with an incredibly tight and aggressive sounding band backing her up. She makes music with a forward-thinking attitude that has an open policy of creating sounds that have no borders and are totally uncompromising.
“I feel like it’s an expression of all sides of my personality,” says Ecca on creating progressive music. “Punk music, hardcore and heavier music have always been something I’ve been really interested in and influenced by when I was really young. Similarly, hip hop was also a big influence and inspiration for me, so I didn’t want to actually cut out any sides of my personality that have influenced me when I was writing music, so I basically wanted to incorporate everything!”
While at university, Ecca studied jazz, which is not really apparent in her music at first listen, but she explained to me how it actually influences her songwriting: “It was one of the big influences actually because I studied jazz improvisation which really encourages you to be free, and it’s something that in essence is in my music – that freedom to go into different styles and use different voices, different expressions, different sides of my personality in my music. I’m also really influenced by the harmony of jazz and the obscure kind of chords, and I love the atonal aspects of jazz.”
To really understand her music you probably would have to be a fan of some of the ’90s alternative rock bands that were fearless when it came to merging genres together and creating art for art’s sake, but are we still seeing that same ambition from artists and bands in this day and age? “I get bored with current music, but there are a few bands that are killing it,” she muses. “A band like Death Grips – I think they are really at the front of mashing up different sounds and actually doing something that is really interesting.”
Ecca and her band just came off a tour supporting Queens Of The Stone Age for their Aussie headline shows, and they are very hungry to keep opening for other great bands and to get a credible reputation as a live band who can tour alongside any of the top rock acts in the world. “Queens Of The Stone Age was definitely a dream come true for us because all the guys in my band are fans and we’ve been listening to their music for a long time, so it was an honour to open up the stage for them and to play to their audiences,” she enthuses. “The audience was very warm and receptive and they had very good feedback for us.”
While Ecca and her band are aiming to grow their audience in Australia, late last year she took a writing trip to New York and shot the video for her latest single Broke Days, Party Nights in the neighbourhoods and city streets.
“I was inspired by the city because there’s so much happening there, everyone’s got somewhere to be and it’s so busy, the colours are electric, most people are dressed benignly and most people on the street are up for a chat. They jumped on our video and there’s a beautiful sense of community in all the different neighbourhoods we visited and I was inspired to capture it on film. We didn’t have much money to go to all these fancy places, we just thought we would film the video on the streets and have a good time.”
Broke Days, Party Nights showcases Ecca’s diverse and energetic musical personality and is a little taste of what to expect from her upcoming album, due at the end of the year. “The message of the song is essentially you don’t have to have a lot of money to have a great life, and New York perfectly illustrates that because there are all sorts of people from all walks of life living in that city and they seem to be having a great life.”
The creativity and flair of Ecca Vandal’s music leaves the door wide open for many other artists in this country to push the envelope and take creative risks, knowing they can find an audience who will respect true musical talent and innovation; she’s clear proof that rock is alive and kicking!