It took working within the music industry for Kiran Gandhi (known onstage as Madame Gandhi) to realize she wanted to be as an artist — and what she didn’t want. Working as a digital analyst for Interscope Records, the now-31-year-old star tracked patterns in Spotify streams and YouTube views, before coming to her own conclusion about the way the major label music business works.
“I just saw how systematized the whole record label process is,” she says. “There were aspects of that where I was like, ‘Wow, it’s just an engine.’ It’s not good or bad, it’s just an organized engine that’s designed to pump money into something, and then they have a staff designed to market it.”
That’s what Gandhi tells singer-songwriter and host Shea Diamond on the latest episode of Billboard’s Pridecast —the new podcast from Billboard Pride, where some of the most influential LGBTQ names in music talk about how they got to where they are today.
Looking back on her time with Interscope, Gandhi makes clear that while major labels do produce great music, they also perform a very specific task. “They are music lovers, but they’re not musicians,” she says. “Their job is to make sure that an artist is bringing in money, and when an artist no longer brings in money, they sign the next 40 others. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just exactly what it is!”
When it comes to her own music, Gandhi explains that her primary goal is not to bring in as much money as possible, but rather to provide a more spiritual service to her audience. “I want [my music] to feel like a warm yellow blanket for that person to feel,” she says, “Like, ‘All that love I’ve received from this person from this talk, from this show, from this music, makes me want to go out and use my passion for good.’ That’s what gets me hype.”
Gandhi got the opportunity to do just that earlier this year, when she embarked on Oprah Winfrey’s 2020 Vision Tour alongside morning dance community Daybreaker. Before each show, Gandhi and her fellow performers with Daybreaker would perform on the drums and get people dancing and “ready to receive the good energy” that Oprah would bring them.
Gandhi tells Shea that Oprah is one of the few celebrities she’s met who actually met the astronomical expectations that preceded her. “She is just the real deal … what you see is what you get,” she says. “She is the same person on the stage that she is off the stage. She is sassy, she’s honest, she’s herself, and she has so much energy.”
Check out the rest of Billboard’s Pridecast below, where Gandhi and Shea talk more about intentionality in music, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and much more:
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