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Queendom Talk Music, Performing Live, Their Sound And More

interviews Nov 17, 05:51pm

The duo played a set at the Zomaland festival in Pune earlier this month

Queendom have been up to interesting things over the last months (and years, actually). They are vocal-driven (as everyone will know), but that’s not the right label for the way their music works; it’s layered, multi-genre, and highly varied. You will hear everything from jazz inspirations to Indian popular music to electronic textures in their music. And to hear said music, you might have been in Pune earlier this month where the duo (technically a trio consisting of Brecilla D’Souza, Damini Gautam and Ananya Sharma, but Ananya is out of the country right now) played a set at the Zomaland festival. So, we thought we would ask them about it. And themselves, of course.

 

How did the three of you meet, and then decide to make music together?

We (Brecilla, Damini and Ananya) met at The True School of Music (Mumbai campus)... The stars aligned for us when the two of us from the band (Ananya and Damini), were planning to do an open mic, when Brecilla reached out to collaborate on musical synergies. So, the three of us decided to perform at this open mic, for which we made an emotional, vocal-heavy arrangement of "If I Don't Belong" by Strike The Colours. We soon realised our chemistry was undeniable and we were itching to make more music together. What really validated us was the love and support we received from our mentors and faculty. We were quite amused by the fact that 3 very distinct voices could blend together this way. After this we co-wrote Pussytalk, our first single which will be out early next year.

 

Your work varies greatly in genre and style - it's fair to assume that each of you had your own influences growing up... What were they, and was there this one artist/genre that you were surprised all of you were fans of?

Queendom is a project that's not bound by genre. We're always looking to experiment using vocals as an instrument beyond singing lyrics. We are really huge fans of bands like Hiatus Kaiyote, Becca Stevens, Emily King, H.E.R, so a lot of our influences draw from RnB and neo-soul music. Our inspiration comes from the experiences we’ve had – Brecilla grew up singing in the church choir, so that brings a gospel influence. Dancing Bharatanatyam from a young age was her induction into Indian rhythms. She also enjoys Eminem, Janis Joplin, Ray Charles. Without a doubt, Indian composers like AR Rahman, Amit Trivedi play a role in our musicality. Damini also draws strong influences from blues, RnB and hip-hop. Some of her favourite artists being Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Little Simz, Snarky Puppy. An artist we realised we loved, unsurprisingly was Regina Spektor.

 

 

Composing as a vocal trio must have some fundamental differences compared to, say, a rock band... is that true, or do ideas end up coming about individually, which each of you bring to the table?

We love experimenting with vocal styles and textures and we're looking to push the boundaries with what we do with voice as an instrument. One of the effects we like to go for is sounding like a chord. Hence the three-part harmony plays a vital role in our sound. We largely rely on our ears to compose and arrange harmonies. Music theory is a fallback for when we feel lost. Sometimes one of us brings an idea and we build on it, and sometimes we brainstorm together. For instance, Pussytalk came about from a casual conversation over chai, between Brecilla and Damini.

 

On the same topic, performing live must be quite the high-wire act given how intertwined your voices are. So, maybe a new artist would appreciate hearing about your rehearsal and soundcheck process?

We find great comfort in performance, as we consider the stage our safe-space. Since our arrangements are elaborate, they require a fair bit of practice. This is a twofold process. First, we make the vocal arrangements, and then call in the band for instrumentation. We prefer keeping our setup minimal so that there is little to distract from the voices. Once we've practiced our parts, we give our full focus to lyrics, texture, tone and dynamics. Blend is integral to this process. There are slight compromises each of us makes with our natural tone, so as to blend seamlessly into each other.

 

Tell us about your upcoming releases, anything already in the can that we can expect to be out soon?

Pussytalk, our first single is due for release early next year. At the moment, there is a live version you can find YouTube with Compass Box Studios. We are working towards writing our debut EP. Our themes explore our experiences as brown women living in India.

 

 

How was your experience playing at Zomaland Pune earlier this month?

Performing for live audiences has always been an exhilarating experience. Playing at Zomaland Pune was nothing short of unforgettable. As performers, we make sure to put our soul into our sets with upbeat music, plenty of vocal harmonies with a touch of sass. The atmosphere at Zomaland was electric, and we could feel the energy of the crowd at the grounds of Mahalakshmi Lawns, Pune. We’re always excited to meet our fans and we feel truly blessed to be able to connect with them in such a special way, at such a special platform!

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