2019 was a major year for genre-transcendent Melburnian Ecca Vandal.
She started it by singing on a couple of tracks from Hilltop Hoods’ The Great Expanse LP and capped it off by joining the hip hop collective on a national arena tour.
Vandal also lent her voice to Alice Ivy’s ‘In My Mind’, Birdz’s ‘Place of Dreams’, and ‘Dare to Fly’ from Sampa The Great’s The Return. In August, she was awarded the $30,000 Levi’s Music Prize for 2019.
“2019 was largely about collaboration and learning that it’s quite powerful being able to collab with so many different types of artist and learn from them,” Vandal says.
Vandal also teamed up with DZ Deathrays on a track that’s due out sometime in 2020. All up, it’s a diverse roster of collaborators, which was entirely the point.
“It’s exciting when I get to dip into other artists’ world and hear what they’re up to and have the privilege to contribute to their projects,” says Vandal. “When I went back into the cave to write my own music it inspired me to keep going and keep pushing it musically and sonically.”
Since debuting with the single ‘White Flag’ in 2014, Ecca Vandal’s music has consistently been multi-layered and stylistically dissociative. She combined hardcore punk with R&B and hip hop influences on 2017’s self-titled debut LP, while also flirting with pop in many of its assorted forms – electronic pop, emo pop, indie pop, pop rock.
“I grew up on all sorts of different music, so I was open to just exploring and learning more about different weird sounds, different styles,” Vandal says. “So when it came to writing my own music it felt natural for me to explore all those different layers and different nooks and crannies of my musical heritage. All different genres, different styles, different influences.”
Ecca Vandal includes guest vocals from Refused’s Dennis Lyxzén and Letlive’s Jason Aalon Butler on ‘Price of Living’ as well as Sampa The Great on ‘Your Orbit’. It’s tough to think of many other artists who could employ guests from such disparate backgrounds without it seeming really odd. But this ploy aligns perfectly with Vandal’s polygonal artistic identity.
“It felt natural for me to be able to express all those different feels and emotions on the album,” she says. “Having Sampa, Dennis and Jason on there felt really cool. It’s just really cool that other artists are open to it as well, that they feel like they’re up for branching out and doing something different.
“When I started getting into the industry and releasing music just as I knew it, I realised that the industry and the music that was around me was all very much in certain lanes. It was very categorised, it was very safe.
“That’s when I remembered to myself, ‘Ok I don’t have to be like that. I can just be who I am’. That was when I had the intention of actually making sure that I stayed true to who I actually am as a musician.”
Outside of her many collaborative ventures, Vandal has been working hard on new music. Album two isn’t far off.
“I’ve been writing a lot and there’s going to be some new music at the top of [this year]. I can confirm that it’s still heavy and it still has a heavy intention – not necessarily with guitars, but there’s all sorts in there,” she says.
Vandal’s first gig of 2020 will be at Grampians Music Festival and fans can count on hearing some new music then.
“There’s definitely going to be a few jams in the live set. It’s going to be sick. I’m ready to release some music and get amongst it, get out there and tour and travel, see the world. This year is the year.”
Ecca Vandal comes to Grampians Music Festival when it goes down from Friday February 28 to Saturday February 29. Grab your tix via the festival website, grampiansmusicfestival.com.