DRIFT: Cartel Madras’ Back With A Boom!
From the beautiful but densely populated streets and markets of Chennai, India to the distant yet fabulous shores of Calgary, Canada, Cartel Madras is a dynamic duo that is definitely, the voice for women, immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community everywhere!
With a style which is drenched with a raw, authentic and extremely surreal idea of acceptance and self-appreciation, sisters Priya, ‘Eboshi’ and Bhagya, ‘Contra’ Ramesh are taking the global music industry with a proper bang.
We at TheVibe got talking to this fabulous duo, as they spoke to us about their upcoming tours and music, the hardships faced by them during the lockdown along with their creative process as a whole. So, read ahead as you dive into the music-laden world of Cartel Madras.
Cartel Madras possess three qualities that make all of their projects, an exceptional phenomenon in the rap game: a double dose of humour and three times the determination not to leave the status quo unquestioned and the passion to represent their roots and identities boldly.
Merging the musical style of Trap with a classic hip-hop groove, Gangster Rap and some sweet essences of Indian classical music, the Tamilian sisters have been setting the world on fire with a unique sound or tone influenced by their desi roots, a new genre of Trap music that they call “Goonda rap” and they are definitely, beyond just rocking at it.
Their attitude, aggression, passion, fashion and sense of exalted absurdity gives their lyrics – written from the perspective of two queer, Indo-Canadian women of colour – all the more punch!
From their bomb single ‘Goonda Gold’ to their latest single ‘DRIFT’- They have worked on releasing songs that are unique, powerful and passionate party anthems with a side of their authentic identities and unapologetic awesomeness.
The video of their new single ‘DRIFT’ featuring Canadian Hip-Hop artist Dom Dias, is an amalgamation of compelling visuals, amazing music and absolute artistic perfection. Here’s an excerpt from our amazing heart-to-heart: –
How has it been going; how much do you think that you have grown since ‘Goonda Gold’?
Well, it’s been about a year since ‘Goonda Gold’ came out and Drift is like a sequel of ‘Goonda Gold’. We’ve spent a lot of time touring since and we have grown a lot, as people and as artists. Our last tour was in March after which the lockdown struck after which, we have been doing a lot of work from home and spending a lot of time recording.
How has the lockdown been for you and how did you go about your writing process through the same?
Well, the lockdown was hard but, our writing style has always pretty much, been separate. We write our parts separately and then, come together and combine it. But the lockdown has changed what inspires us. We’re touring artists and we have done about 100 something shows in the past few years. Being on stage, jumping off the stage and having fun was everything for us and well, having that pulled from under us was surreal.
We have spent a lot of time introspecting and trying to explore as well as understand ourselves. We were able to take out time to reflect on what we’ve written so far. We’re working on much more unified EP this time and there’s going to a different vibe with a heavy, grimy sounding tone to the songs.
Where did you draw your inspiration and motivation to keep going?
We’re very neurotic and cerebral artists and therefore, we spend a lot of time in our heads, processing and thinking about art and then, of course, making art.
That’s the thing we had to turn to during the lockdown- we were exploring, waiting to feel out what we were feeling and identifying the same which is why, we were very careful about what we were releasing in 2020 but, we did record a lot of music. This year, we are making sure that we stay true to our sound and work on representing our authentic selves through our art.
Tell us a little bit about the music video for DRIFT, where was it shot? What was your experience like filming it?
The video for DRIFT has been shot in Toronto and there are a lot of Toronto based creators and artists who have contributed to the same. This includes a wide array of Art DJs, artists, models and a very beautiful cast of people that we love to see at work.
We wrote DRIFT before we went on our last tour and what you’ll hear here is the amazing live music style of Cartel Madras that you know and love.
What we really love about this video is that people from different backgrounds have come together to make a very badass video. Our team, the photography and the production house and all of these awesome artists have made our visions come to reality.
There was a small window in summer where a limited social gathering was allowed in august in Calgary and Toronto. That is when we shot both DRIFT as well as working. Both of these were shot in the 2-month period as we didn’t know when the situation would get better. It really was a beautiful window of blissful ignorance where everyone just wanted to enjoy the summer and after this, it was as if we all just, rushed back to reality.
What was the thought that went into making it?
DRIFT is like fun and cheeky and it’s a good live song as we were thinking of smoking weed and having fun. So, Highstreet Cannabis reached out to us that gave us the idea to get a diaspora of artists here and shoot this. The thing is that there aren’t a lot of conversations around marijuana smoking especially when it comes to South Asian women and it was a fun angle to add, just women coming together and having fun.
This was also the time when people back home were going crazy over weed and everyone here was like ‘Wow! what are people back home doing?’ Like, what the fuck! It was insane to see a country losing their shit over women smoking weed when there are far worse things happening right there like, even in the film industry. It was just crazy.
There are completely different stigmas surrounding everything in different parts of the world and since we knew that we do get this rush of Indian audience, we wanted to bring in layers of discussions for them laced with radical ideas. It is a very taboo topic when it really shouldn’t be that controversial. Medicinally, recreationally and even personally, it should be a choice. On one side of the world, there is a new wave of legalisation on this industry and the government is getting involved in the selling and trading of the same while on the other, someone is in jail somewhere for having a joint in their pocket. It’s a huge difference.
There are a lot of essences of cannabis culture and lifestyle in your music; does that inspire your music?
Well, we smoke weed to chill out and you know, we’re all stuck at home and the first two months of this lockdown were very hard. There was a lot of change
We had gotten used to such a tight touring schedule that we didn’t use to spend more than 2 weeks in the same city in the past 2 years and everything about our lives kind of changed with the pandemic. It was very difficult to get used to it at first.
2020 was a year of big opportunities for us and we had to pause it all. It was like a huge wrench in our plans- everything started shutting down and we were looking to continue and had to visit India in the fall and it was really like, we were going to go to different countries and fan bases and having that taken away- it was bad. So, we stayed at home, ate a lot of food, created a lot of music and smoked a lot of weed.
What’s in store for 2021, any tours coming up? Are you planning to tour India anytime soon?
Of course, we would love to tour India and we have like, 4 tours that we are supposed to go on. We had to delay our tour to the US, Europe, the Canadian festival and India. I reckon that they will hopefully happen with everything clearing off soon.
But, travel in 2021- It’s way too soon to comment and right now, nobody should be travelling and it is such a dangerous prospect. However, when we get vaccinated and we wanna go back home right away. Like in fact, we wish to write our debut album back home, somewhere between Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
As for music, we have DRIFT coming out and we have another single coming in Feb or March and that is also paired with a visual which is going to be a big aesthetic departure from our usuals because we wanted to lay into something a Lil’ different than what people are used to seeing us in. so. It’s a bit more light-hearted in a cheeky way.
We have a couple more drops for the year before the next EP which Is going to be one of our most important works so far as it would conclude the ‘Goonda Trilogy’.
What message would you like to give to young boys and girls who want to follow in your footsteps?
What we would wanna say to anyone who’s into Cartel Madras and below 18 is like, where and how are you listening to this. Like, if your parents find out, it’s going to be crazy!
But honestly, it’s always amazing to just be able to reach out to people from different parts of the world and connecting with them.
Our advice to the ones who want to follow their passion for music would be to find your voice and find what you’re trying to say and express about yourself. The music industry is very non-compromising and asks a lot of you but, it’s up to you to find your authentic self to express and showcase your vision. Once you do it, it’s actually amazing.
Being involved in the arts is extremely important and if you want to do it, you should do it even though sometimes, it might be hard to get the people in your life on board for the same. So, you must be able to vouch for yourselves and not compromise on your voice and passion at any cost!
Catch the beyond fabulous video of the track ‘DRIFT’ right here!
Q. What are you are binge-watching rn?
Old episodes of the chef’s table – the greatest thing Netflix has given.
Q. Go to Munchies after a spliff
Eboshi: Recently. I have become good at cooking so it would be my own cooking like a Tuna melt and Fried rice.
Contra: It has got to be Korean spicy chicken noodles.
Q. What’s your drift?
Eboshi- To have a good time.
Contra- Overthinking and of course, writing a tweet and deleting.
Q. Kill / Fuck / Marry which retro queen from Indian movies?
Contra- Marry and Fuck- Silk Smitha, Kill- Hema Malini,
Eboshi- Fuck – Rekha, marry – Silk Smitha, Kill- Kangana Ranaut.
Q. What’s streaming on your Spotify other than you guys?
Contra: A fabulous artist from Kerala called ‘Marthyan’
Eboshi: I’m into Ukrainian Hip Hop these days, I don’t know how I found it and but now I’m just into it.
Q. The drink that gets you tweaking?
Contra: Old Fashioned!
Eboshi: Beer or like. A gin martini either with a twist or an olive.
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