Meet Kiran Gandhi A.k.a Madame Gandhi.
Self-described as a ‘music industry consultant/gender equality
activist /drummer/artist’, she’s co-labed with us to help raise
money and awareness for Plan’s international work with girls’
rights. Her words/lyrics will feature on 6, yes ONLY 6, limited
edition sweats we’re selling on Depop…
These quotes mean a lot to me, take the first one, ‘Own your voice
don’t be afraid.’
I don’t think I would have had the courage to run the London Marathon and actively speak as much as I do about gender equality if I had not got a very rigorous degree from Harvard. I think the biggest gifts the MBA gave me was to trust myself, trust my gut, trust my own opinion, trust that I have done the work to form that opinion and to express it with out being afraid.
So ‘Own your voice don’t be afraid’ is really the beginning step of Women’s lib, in which we are comfortable to speak about our own bodies. We are able to speak comfortably about our own opinions. We are able to trust our gut, without someone else thinking that we are crazy, or have done something wrong and, that we can start claiming and creating a world that we want to live in, that treats us well and doesn’t treat us like a second class citizen.
At only 26, Kiran has already drummed for the likes of M.I.A, graduated from Harvard with an MBA, ran the London Marathon ‘free bleeding’, and, did we mention that she ‘loves Monki’ ??? Stop it Kiran! You’re making us blush!
We’d like to add badass juggler to her list of accomplishments. Because the M.I.A. tour and studying for her MBA happened at the same time.
I was invited to the summer festival tour with M.I.A in 2013 then I
was going to start my degree in the fall, so it was like a dream
scenario; I got to do both. But then, I got called to do a lot of
shows in the fall as well, and I remember thinking, I guess I am going
to have to say no …
But a mentor of mine, DJ Rekha (a renown international Bhangra DJ based in NY) sat me down over a beer in and is like, ‘Dude, this is the opportunity of a lifetime, you just got to figure it out and make it work. I teach and I see students make their academics and music work all the time. DO IT.
And so she did.
Flying back and forth to make classes and the tour work, kicking ass at both. It wasn’t just Kiran’s mad organizational skills that made it happen, but her outlook on life, a theory she calls ’Atomic Living’ …
Atomic Living is the notion that you use spontaneity to work to your
advantage. So you just focus on the things that matter to you most and
then as spontaneous opportunities come into your life, you say yes if
they have the potential to nourish any of those things that are your
passion, and you say no if they don’t.
That is definitely how I’ve been living and I will continue to live.
So simple, yet so good. If you want to find out more, we’d recommend you watch her great Ted Talk on Atomic Living.
Currently, she is combining her music prowess with her business lady boss brain as the artists in residence at Stem, a music tech start up.
With a life revolving so much around music, it’s no wonder her personal Shero is fellow musician St. Vincent…
I just found out that she designed a guitar that is lighter and more
appropriate for women’s bodies, that accommodates breasts too… She’s
outwardly spoken on Women’s equality and obviously doing something
This is something we talk about that all the time in the drumming world, ‘how do we get women to drum more?’
I do think that many instruments are designed with men in mind, most likely because they’re the largest demographic of people playing them. It’s a huge deterrent in getting women to play music to tell their stories.
A step in the right direction is through innovation where by you recreate the product based on how you wish it was.
Outspoken about gender equality herself, a defining moment in Kiran’s campaigning took place during last years London Marathon.
Yes, we’re talking to THAT Kiran Gandhi who ran the London Marathon with her period – free bleeding. Not only for her comfort, who wants chafing in your lady garden or of a tampon tucked in your bra when you’re running 42kms, but also for the comfort of others. Running to raise awareness around the stigma of periods.
But first, the marathon. That deserves a hi-5 in it’s own right…
What made me want to run? That’s a really good question. I had
finished the tour in my first year of school, and it took it out of
me. I felt out of my element, I felt depressed as I hadn’t invested
much in school; in terms of the community, friends and Boston as a
city, and I was like, ‘damn I am getting fat’. It didn’t feel healthy
especially compared to how I was living in LA; when you’re touring and
studying a lot, food isn’t something that you have time to take care
I remembered that when I was in Boston, one of the things that inspired me was seeing all the runners on the Charles River, even in the snow. I was like, ‘these people are crazy! They’re running like it’s no problem.’ It was so strong looking, it totally, totally inspired me. It made me feel like, ‘wow this is something that you can’t cheat.’
Running has this purity to it – if you ran 10miles, you ran 10miles. There is no way of cutting it. You accomplished it. That just felt epic, I wasn’t even thinking about a marathon. I was just thinking can I run from here to the next bridge, and slowly it started happening; 1 mile, 2miles, 3 miles…
When I’m listening to music and running – I just feel like I can do anything and I get all these positive thoughts…
That just became very addictive, it became grounding for me.
As for the big bloody issue, the stigma around periods, we’ll leave that story for another day. So stay tuned for more Kiran – because we can’t get enough of this UH-MAY-ZING, badass shero.
Until then, head over to her blog to find out about all the awesome things she’s currently working on; both in music as Madame Gandhi and in her campaigning for menstrual health and gender equality.
You can also find out more about Plan's international work with girls' rights over here