“Musically I just wanted to capture who I am as an artist,” explained Melbourne based Ecca Vandal regarding her upcoming self-titled album released on October 20, “and my interests when it comes to music. Basically, I wanted it to be a portrait of what I go through when I listen to music. I listen to everything from Fugazi to Rihanna to Myles Davis to Jeff Buckley to Radiohead all in one day so those are the sounds that I am consuming and that I love so that’s, I guess, why the record is so diverse. That’s why it might sound like it has twists and turns because that is exactly who I am as an artist and I wanted that to be the goal that it encapsulates who I am and where I’ve come from musically.”
After releasing her first single ‘White Flag’ three years ago, Vandal has made a huge impact on the music scene with her punk-tinged music and tenacity proving impossible to ignore. She followed that single with an E.P which spawned songs such as ‘Battle Royal’, ‘End of Time’ and ‘Truth to Fade’, honing her sound into an extension of her personality that blends elements of rock, punk, rap, soul and anything that feels right to create a debut album that refuses to be stereotyped.
“There is a lot of pressure,” she admitted of the transition from writing an E.P to an album. “A lot of people have been saying to me that it takes a lifetime to write your first album then from there you’ve gotta pump it out, and I’ve had a lot of different opinions and schools of thought on the record, but there does seem to be a lot of pressure out there. People wanted it to actually encapture who I am and said it needs to be these sorts of things and tick all these boxes but to me I tried to ignore that. All I wanted it to be was a real portrait of who I am right now and I didn’t wanna shape it or mold it into anything else but that.”
Although being a punk girl at heart, Vandal says that an important feature of this album is its diversity in music, not only catering to her inner punk but also veering into hip-hop territory at times. It is a record that may blindside existing fans with its tone and content while at the same time maintaining the momentum she has already built.
“I didn’t set out to tick all these different boxes and reach all these different sounds or express that sort of thing on the record,” she stressed. “It just happened that way because those are the sorts of music that I was consuming or I have consumed in my life so far. I guess it does take these twists and turns but I love all those kinds of music, and I am listening to those styles of music all the time, and I just felt like those sounds needed to come out of me at this present time, so I allowed for those sounds to co-exist on the record. I didn’t feel confined or restricted and didn’t feel like it all had to sound the same.”
In a major coup for a rising artist, Vandal managed to secure the services of Dennis Lyxen, vocalist from Refused, who performed on the track ‘Price of Living’. Not content with that. However, Vandal also approached Letlive frontman Jason Butler to lend his voice to the song, providing a dynamic three-way vocal presence.
“It was very exciting for me to hear that Dennis was up for the collaboration,” she gushed. “The same with Jason. It was just exciting they were even interested. I sent them the song and asked if they would be up for it and both of them said yes and said that they liked the song so I asked if they would do it together. I wanted to have a collaboration that was treated like an M.C in a hip-hop song because in hip-hop music you hear quite a few different M.C’s jumping on one song but it’s kind of rare to hear that in a punk rock song. Both of them were keen, and it was a big deal for us to have them on there. We are huge fans because the Refused album The Shape of Punk to Come is one of our all-time favourite records, and it is an iconic record and shape a lot for me and how I viewed music. To have people like Dennis and Jason on the record is very special.”
With so many bands to choose from in the modern music, climate Vandal says it is becoming increasingly difficult to juggle aspirations with the basic cost and needs of day to day living and credits her unwavering passion with keeping her mindset positive and her dream intact.
“Yes, it’s a very saturated market,” she sighed. “There is a lot of music coming out all the time, and some of it is great. Some of it is not so great but it is definitely – saturated is the right word. It is hard – of course, it’s a struggle, because the way music is going we don’t really make any money so you can’t live off it at this point so it has been a real struggle for me to juggle and work out how do I do something I love and still eat and pay rent and all those things (laughs). That is the hardest part of the industry, and the way music is heading with the streaming culture and things like that, so it is constantly reassuring you, but at the end of the day I love it and wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
Vandal also places importance on allowing her natural personality to shine through in her music, believing that stifling her natural instincts is more of a hindrance than attempting to cater to circumstances beyond her control.
“I think it is important to be authentic to yourself,” she stressed, “and I think that is linked to having a punk ethos. The thing I link to and identify with in punk music is an unwavering sense of self, and that is something that I like to maintain with my music and make sure it is authentically representing me. There is no other Ecca Vandal in the world, and I can say that about anybody. It is important to be authentic to yourself and who you are; that is what separates you from everybody else because there are not two people alike. That is what makes us individuals. That is the beauty of human nature is that we are all individuals – no-one is the same – so when you are true to yourself then you stand out from the rest.”