‘Anti Venus’. I am not a Venus, I am an Anti Venus. An interesting choice of album title for an artist brought up in Bangalore, open to the influences, the strange uneven riches and poverty games that dance exotically across Bollywood’s silver screens.
Women immaculate, perfumed, virtuous. Unreachable, unattainable, yet equally expected to become chastened, owned by the male lead, a strange embodiment of Bollywood masculinity. The flower cut, the colours fade, the perfume exhausted.
Vandana Jain is not that Venus. She is the Anti Venus, the one that confuses and evades our stereotypical male beseecher. She casts her mind back and now understands the thin, virtually unseen roots that have unconsciously coiled through the years and arched, straining from the Indian subcontinent to the West Village in Manhattan.
This fibrous shoot: Miles Davis ‘Bitches Brew’ a favourite of quicksilver jazz experimentation, but wait…collaborations with sitar, tambura and tabla playing musicians Badal Roy, Khalil Balakrishna, Bihari Sharms. Is it really so strange that jazz fractals manifest themselves in the whirling mists of ‘Nothing of Consequence’?
The Beatles. Father’s tapes. A family of musicians that play into the night. A figure flashes past the mirror reflecting Jain’s image. George Harrison playing sitar on ‘Norwegian Wood’… encouragement and mentoring from classical Hindustani sitar player Ravi Shankar. East teaches West.
Jain sallies forth, mirages recede under the grey wash of London’s skies. Discoveries: Maxinquaye encourages, Blue Lines provokes, Dummy graces long nights, and Underground mornings. Through the vapour scrapped skies Jain forms melodies. Visually. Designs brand identities. Advertising provides the transit to Uncle Sam. Darkened glitches form ‘Mask’, shadows embrace the solitude of ‘House and Tree’.
Finally, melodic cornerstones in place. Temperament solidifies. Catholicism meets Jain Hindu. Naïve Bollywood aspiration meets cynical Western aspiration. Canticles meet Bristolian trip-hop. Jain strikes new directions. Music translates, visuals coalesce. As the girl who runs from a prescribed formulaic ending, Jain produces electronica that is anything but middle ground. Anti Venus is a celebration of oppositional forces, the creation of contradiction. Vandana Jain is the contradiction: “You freak, you make me… ecstatic.”
Here’s Vandana Jain’s original artwork submission, including ‘Present But Never Caught’:
I believe that polarity requires equipoise, a juxtaposition of ideas to create equilibrium. In my case, the ugly always needs to accompany the beautiful, the calm always comes with abrasion.
Whether in music, fashion or in art, I like to subvert one idea with another opposing one. Opposites attract. Positive and negative magnetize.
I like taking a traditional snare sound for example and layering it with a field recording, then layering a chopped up Mini Moog note over it and using it as a synth sound. For this article, I chose to make a sequence of self-portraits. calling it ‘Present But Never Caught’. The portraits are taken with items lying around on my work table, some old flowers, pink neon vinyl material, a pair of sunglasses.
The text is a technique I developed in art school in London and have continued using it for various things. I made a journal using a point 1 paint brush and ink creating patterns with sentences describing the mood of each day. Below is the same with lyrics for each of the songs Vader Evader wanted to embed on this post. Each letter is sized 1/3rd of a grain of rice.
Nothing of Consequence
House and Tree
When doing this my focus becomes extreme, its almost as if concentrating on each alphabet makes me forget the bigger picture and I zoom out of the tunnel vision surprised (and with carpel tunnel). The process is really enjoyable.
I am someone who likes total control over what I put out there and that includes the imagery I create or co-create with collaborators. These are my materials to paint a picture with, the medium is the message and my messages are assertive moods.
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Introduction by Vader Evader