Interview: Ecca Vandal stomps on boundaries in the name of inclusivity

Shimmering keys production leads into a pounding marriage of drums and guitar. Enter Ecca Vandal‘s banshee high range, soon to be joined by Jason Aalon Butler‘s guttural notes and punk royalty Dennis Lyxzén. The latest weapon out of Ecca Vandal’s musical arsenal is “Price of Living” – a hip hop licked punk fireball, it’s a statement on the harsh realities asylum seekers face everyday.

Drawing upon some well made networks in bringing this collaboration to life, “Price of Living” is a remarkable example of the way Ecca has managed to defy genre expectations.

She knows it too.

“I’m really passionate about community,” she says. “I’m really passionate about breaking down walls. Normally, you wouldn’t see those particular names together, but why not? That’s my question. Why not? We’re all stuck in our little communities or our pockets of social scenes but it’s like, ‘Why can’t the punks hang out with the hip hop kids? Why can’t the coloured people hang out with the white people?’ – all of those concepts are ones that I think about a lot. I think, conceptually, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve, hopefully, brought people together.”

The long awaited debut album from Ecca Vandal drops on Friday and from what we’ve heard of Ecca Vandal already, the record charts the Melbourne musician’s chaotic journey from “White Flag” to now pretty damn accurately. But while the hype continues to grow and the international interest is getting stronger (Ecca heads out on tour in the UK with Frank Turner & The Rattlesnakes in December), Ecca herself remains calm and collected. If she isn’t, she’s got incredible poker face game.

“I’ve gone through the whole process, you know?” she laughs. “I’ve loved the album, I’ve not known if I’ve liked it, I haven’t been sure if it’s any good. All of those thoughts have gone through my head over the last six months and right now, I’m feeling excited.”

“It is challenging and it does take a lot of energy, thought and time.” she adds. “The self-care that is needed amongst it all is bizarre.”

She reflects on the making of Album Number One with a sense of nostalgia, almost; Ecca Vandal may be the album to bring newcomers to the fold but for the leading lady herself, this has been a long time in the making. A part of a much larger story.

“I felt the progression,” Ecca muses. “I have definitely felt like I’ve grown as a songwriter. I definitely feel that I’ve been the most free in this process. I think I’ve always tried to maintain that sense of freedom and removed any kind of limitations or restrictions applied by styles and genres and categories.”

“I really started that mission a long time ago, but with this particular record, I think it’s really exploratory and I’ve really allowed myself to go into those areas. I didn’t want to put any restrictions on it; in fact, I really wanted to show different sides of myself. There’s so much more vulnerability, I think, in some of these recordings than say, “Battle Royal” or “White Flag”. There are delicate moments and there are really abrasive moments; they’re all part of who I am.”

The tour that is due to kick off around Australia next month brings Ecca to some of the largest venues she’s ever played. From club venues to the Corner Hotel in Melbourne, the excitement she speaks with is infallible.

“Everything is really interesting in terms of the live process,” she says. “It’s been recorded and tracked already, so we’re trying to work out how to do that in the live atmosphere. Everyone is playing everything live and I’m really proud of that, that we don’t have to rely on other backing tracks. It’s going to be a fun run of shows; these are my biggest shows, so it is nerve wracking but it is exciting. I mean, I’m going to play the Corner Hotel, it’s an iconic venue!”

While artists like Ecca have the platform to switch things up, musically and performance-wise, in bringing music fans an experience they can properly sink their teeth into and escape the normal banalities of life through, it’s still a struggle in a lot of ways. While, to many, Ecca Vandal is still a new name; the graft she, Kidnot and her band have been putting in extends years prior to now. With Ecca Vandal showcasing the likes of not only Lyxzén and Jason Aalon Butler, but Sampa The Great and Darwin Deez on the credits too, it’s obvious that pushing through restrictions or any boundaries put in place for Ecca, boundaries put in place decades ago, is something this artist relishes.

A perfect contender for stages like that of the annual UNIFY Gathering (where’s her call up, organisers?), the punk fireball we mention at the beginning is only just heating up and getting started.

“I think we’re getting there,” Ecca says, commenting on the diversifying of Australian music. “I think there’s definitely a lot more experimenting happening. I do think there is a lot of great music out there, but I do think a lot of it sounds the same. I think, personally, the magic happens when the combo is right and when you can put different combos together and go, ‘Okay – what can we create?’. That’s when we are actually being really creative, not when we’re being copycats. When we’re being artists and when we’re doing what we’re supposed to do as artists. I think that that’s all in the combination. That’s why I really love having unexpected collaborations and processes. I never thought that I would write a song like this with Darwin Deez, for example, on “Your Orbit”. I think it’s great. It’s about being inclusive and being open minded; it comes down to being up for the adventure of it too.”

“You get challenged and somebody will put an idea forward from a different perspective and you go, ‘Wow – I never thought about it like that,’ and it challenges you to open your thinking process and ultimately, improve. I think that’s a positive thing, it’s a win-win situation. That’s why I’m a massive advocate for embracing that, it’s important for me to keep doing that.”

Ecca Vandal is out via Dew Process on October 20th. 

ECCA VANDAL TOUR DATES

November 3rd | Town Hall, FREMANTLE
November 4th | Rocket Bar, ADELAIDE (with Sin City Committee)
November 9th | Cambridge Small Room, NEWCASTLE (with Haiku Hands, Suburban Haze)
November 10th | Oxford Art Factory, SYDNEY (with Haiku Hands, Born Lion)
November 11th | Rad Bar, WOLLONGONG (with Haiku Hands)
November 16th | Shark Bar, GOLD COAST (with Midas.Gold, DangerPenny)
November 17th | Sol Bar, COOLUM (with Midas.Gold, TBA)
November 18th | The Brightside, BRISBANE (with Midas.Gold, Earthlings)
November 24th | Karova Lounge, BALLARAT (with Fan Girl, The Second Sex)
November 25th | Corner Hotel, MELBOURNE (with Fan Girl, TBA)