While Ananya is out of the country, Brecilla and Damini have carried on as a duo, developing the identity of the band and collaborating with several Indian indie musicians.
They have performed at several venues across the country, including a live and televised performance on VH1 All About Jazz as part of a celebration for International Jazz Day 2021.
As they gear up to perform at Red Bull Off The Roof, they discuss the band origin, identity and plans for putting out originals.
Who are the members of Queendom? And who are the frequent collaborators?
The core members of Queendom currently are Brecilla D’Souza and Damini Gautam. We were a vocal trio which included Ananya Sharma, but she is currently studying in Valencia and pursuing a job there. So in a sense we have carried on as a duo.
How did the band members meet and when did you start performing/jamming together?
We met in 2018 at the True School of Music. Damini and I (Brecilla) were in the same class, and I’d suggested to her that we could perform together at an upcoming open mic. Damini was friends with Ananya and they were also planning on participating in the open mic, so the three of us decided to perform together. We did an arrangement of the song ‘If I Don’t Belong’ by Strike The Colours. It’s actually a sad song but we had fun performing it together because we experimented with a lot of textures in our arrangement. We spent a lot of time together in preparation, so we also realised that we love working with each other. After the performance, our teachers encouraged us to keep working together and we moved ahead to officially become a trio. And that’s basically our origin story.
What is the idea behind the name of the band?
When we were thinking about names, we happened to be listening to a song called ‘Queendom’ by Aurora. It got us thinking that the word Kingdom exists in the dictionary but Queendom sounded so powerful. That’s why we picked that name. The name also forms part of the identity of the band because Queendom is a space that allows us to really bring out the ‘extra’, the sass, and the inner queens in us. So that’s what Queendom symbolises for us.
Is there an identity to the band beyond music?
The word ‘Queendom’ already evokes certain images. At the forefront of the identity is that we are three women celebrating the queens in us. We wanted to make the word ‘queen’ accessible and relatable. In pop culture, we generally associate the word ‘queen’ with people like Beyonce and Rihanna. While those identities are aspirational, they are not accessible or realistic to an everyday brown womxn. The term queen also carries huge pressure to be perfect in every sense, and that’s part of the association with the word that we are trying to break because there are many layers to being a womxn. All three of us identify with very different female heroes. We identify with their intellect, boldness, entrepreneurial spirit, etc. Our ultimate goal beyond being a band is to create and foster a community of womxn and people that have each other’s backs.
What is the kind of music fans can expect from Queendom?
Our sound is in the process of evolving. Because we are working with so many collaborators, we are constantly absorbing different styles of writing and music. Without a doubt, our plan is to produce vocal-based music. But we are going beyond that by experimenting with how the voice can be an instrument and some electronic inspiration by using the voice as samples. Our lyrical themes revolve around our daily experiences as women. Currently we are writing about friendship, self-love, and our feminist identities.
A lot of what you have put out are covers. Could you tell us about some of your originals, and plans for albums/EPs?
Covers have been a medium for us to practice arranging and adapting our voices to any musical landscape, be it regional music, jazz, or RnB. We are very excited to announce that our first single ‘Pussytalk’ is due for release in early 2024. We also have some other exciting prospects in the pipeline. Watch out for our debut EP and a secret collaboration with some incredibly talented womxn, all due for release in 2024.
How did you hear about the competition to perform at Red Bull Off The Roof? What had you known of the competition before?
Damini: Brecilla and I were in the middle of preparing for a lot of gigs when we saw a friend put up a post about Red Bull Off The Roof. Brecilla was immediately on it to figure out how we could participate. We are so happy we got through. Red Bull Off The Roof was one of the first live music gigs I watched. I was a teenager, and it was super influential. I think I watched Ganesh Talkies and The F16s at that gig, and I was completely floored by those performances and the fact that music could move me like that. I think its surreal that we get to play off the roof of the bus now. The younger me never thought things could work out like this, but I’m very grateful that it has.
Brecilla: I had known about Red Bull Off The Roof concerts and how popular they are. Some of our favourite musicians have performed at Red Bull Off The Roof. But I had never gotten a chance to watch them. I didn’t have any personal experience of the concerts, but my partner had attended one of the gigs where Pentagram performed. He caught one of the concert t-shirts that Vishal Dadlani threw into the audience, and I have been wearing that t-shirt for a very long time now. So I’d like to say that I manifested this. I’m so grateful that we’ve gotten this chance to perform for an audience and a platform to be able to express ourselves.
What are you looking forward to most with the chance to perform at Red Bull Off The Roof?
We consider 2024 to be the year of releases for Queendom. And we are looking forward to premiering these releases at Red Bull Off The Roof. It has always been an offbeat platform that supports the arts, and we’re thrilled to be a part of a roster of brilliant indie artists to have performed these concerts.
Any exciting plans for your set, arrangements, interactions, etc?
We’re really looking forward to going all out with lights, themes, backdrop, transitions, and we plan on adding some secret collaborations to our set. You can expect a tight vocal-heavy set from us. Apart from debuting a lot of our releases on this stage, we’re also looking forward to building a community. To that effect, we are working on some merchandise that goes beyond the basic t-shirt or hoodie. We want the audience to take home a piece of the show.