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Video: Madame Gandhi Talks About The Intersection Of Music And Feminism

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Madame Gandhi performs during Global Citizen's 'Show Up and Vote' concert at the World Market Center on October 25, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Global Citizen)
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Kiran Gandhi, otherwise known by her stage name Madame Gandhi, is a musician and activist. She lives in L.A., and first came to prominence as the drummer for M.I.A. In a new short film, she discusses how she approaches songwriting, how she advocates for feminism through songwriting, and choosing a wardrobe that prioritizes "self-expression" over beauty. "My passions have always been the same since childhood. I've always loved music and I've always loved feminism," she says.

Gandhi still uses the same drum kit she received at 12 years old. In addition to her work with M.I.A., she has also produced her own music, releasing a five-song EP titled Voices in 2016. She discusses one track, "The Future is Female" in the film. "The lyrics are a direct commentary on the problems that I see today," she says, before quoting the song:

Fictitious depictions of girls must die out/If we want to live in a world that triumphs
I am just talking about loving the femme/I ain't talking bout nobody else
Toxic masculinity has to end/I am just talking about loving ourselves

She says she is inspired to create music randomly and often while in transit. She saves those ideas for when she is booking studio time with her co-collaborator, Alexia Riner.

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Gandhi made headlines when she ran the 2015 London Marathon on the first day of her menstrual cycle sans tampon or pad, in an act known as "free-bleeding." She had trained for the marathon for a year and ultimately made the decision because "it would have been way too uncomfortable to worry about a tampon for 26.2 miles."

I thought, if there’s one person society won’t fuck with, it’s a marathon runner. If there’s one way to transcend oppression, it’s to run a marathon in whatever way you want. On the marathon course, sexism can be beaten. Where the stigma of a woman’s period is irrelevant, and we can re-write the rules as we choose. Where a woman’s comfort supersedes that of the observer. I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist. I ran to say, it does exist, and we overcome it every day. The marathon was radical and absurd and bloody in ways I couldn’t have imagined until the day of the race.

The video comes via filmmaker Matthew Kaundart, who has previously profiled L.A. personalities including L.A. historian Charles Phoenix, artist Jen Stark and Calder "The Cardboard Artist" Greenwood.