"[I remember] just looking at them in awe because it sounded like angels were singing in the home."
A lot of the same artists are mentioned by journos when trying to pigeonhole Ecca Vandal's sound, but she gets "why people do it". "Some people need to understand, 'Okay, what am I getting into when I press play here?'"
"I just have memories of having a lotta people in our home all the time, and they'd just break out in song all the time."
She's South African-born with Sri Lankan heritage and Vandal explains, "My parents and the rest of my family were living in South Africa for about ten years and I was born at that time when they were living there; maybe a bit of an accident, maybe they didn't think they were gonna have another child [laughs]." Vandal spent her first five years in South Africa before her parents decided to relocate to Melbourne, where "half of the extended family were". When asked what she remembers about her country of birth, Vandal reveals, "There are some moments that have really stuck with me and that's the richness of music in their culture. And I just have memories of having a lotta people in our home all the time, and they'd just break out in song all the time and, like, in harmony, you know what I mean?... I'd just be sitting there on the ground — I think I've got photos of it somewhere — but [I remember] just looking at them in awe because it sounded like angels were singing in the home." Alongside these happy memories, Vandal recalls "some other little tough moments that [she] saw... racial kind of things that happened when [she] was young". "My parents made the right decision to move over here because it wasn't a great time in South Africa at that time," Vandal commends.
When asked whether she has any formal music training, Vandal says, "I sort of taught myself piano early on and then I learnt violin for about eight years, classical violin, and then towards the end of high school I did music as part of VCE. And then I went on to study jazz at VCA." According to Vandal, studying jazz "stretched [her] taste in music" and taught her valuable improvisational skills, which come in handy when things aren't exactly going to plan during a live show. "There's been times when the band's stopped and I'm left singing so... I've gotta improvise the ending sometimes."
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Once Vandal established she wasn't gonna "write jazz standards", she then "picked up the guitar and started writing songs". At around the same time, Vandal was "playing some old soul music" in a cover band when "an amazing bass player" (aka Kidnot) stepped in. "[Kidnot] was like, 'Oh, yeah, I write some beats and I'm working on some stuff at home,' and he'd never released anything either. So he's like, 'Oh you should have a listen sometime,' and [I] heard his stuff, and I was like, 'Wow!'... and then I gathered the courage to play him some of my crappy demos on my GarageBand." To Vandal's surprise, "He was like, 'I really dig this'". "We started writing music and a coupla songs came about really fast, White Flag was one of them." And now Kidnot is Vandal's co-writer and producer. "I definitely think the man upstairs was looking after us at that time," she allows, "'cause it was just one of those moments where you went, 'Oh, wow! Okay, this is a really cool partnership and there's something more here'."