Whenever we think of 90’s girls bands, we automatically think of the Spice Girls. The girl group was one of the bestselling girl bands of all time and is responsible for making “girl power” a rallying cry for fans everywhere.
Fast forward to 2017 and you have Ladies Compartment, a dynamic all-female music project based out of Mumbai. Unlike the Brit-based Spice Girls who came together after answering a newspaper ad in a trade newspaper and are termed as a girl band, the four young ladies of Ladies Compartment came together as friends who decided to form a band, and referred to as such, instead of being known as a girl band.
The name Ladies Compartment is a tribute to the daily trials of a working woman in the city of Mumbai and its local trains. Consisting of four extremely talented young girls, there’s Ramya Pothuri (acoustic and vocals), Aarifah Rebello (drums and vocals), Aditi Ramesh (keys and vocals) and Nandita V. (bass and vocals) who make up the band. The band talks about everyday experiences in their songs and also do covers of popular songs; the Beatles’ Blackbird is a must listen. The piece has a lone guitar with the ladies’ perfectly harmonized vocals in a haunting, stripped-down rendition: a truly unique cover of a timeless classic.
The band’s sound is a refreshing mix of jazz, soul and blues, with the occasional, intriguing addition of Carnatic classical music.
VERUS FERREIRA met up with the band for a short interaction.
How did the idea for forming Ladies Compartment come about?
LC: It stemmed from the idea of having a safe space for women who choose to do music. Just like the Mumbai local trains that have different women from all over travelling to a destination. We’re all on this journey together.
Tell us about yourselves and what each of you contributes to the band.
Nandita: Aarifah is a drummer, singer-songwriter and guitarist who sings and plays drums in the band. Ramya is the producer, guitarist and singer-songwriter who sings and plays guitars, Aditi is a singer-songwriter and keyboardist, and I am the bassist in the band.
What message do you want to convey through your band Ladies Compartment?
LC: We want to just play our music and normalize the stereotype about women musicians.
What has been your experience so far as an all-female project in the Indian indie music industry?
LC: We have been well-received and supported by multiple platforms and performance spaces. We have pushed forward by focusing on our music, but the truth remains that people love to overuse and push the ‘all-female’ aspect for branding and this sometimes shifts the focus away from the music. We’re trying to move away from this type of branding.
Do any / all of you have any musical background?
Nandita: Ramya has been trained in Hindustani, Aditi has been trained in Carnatic and piano, Aarifah has been trained in drums.
Do you also have other musical projects / bands you work on besides Ladies Compartment?
LC: Aditi has Voctronica and her solo project, Ramya has her solo project, a duo called Water and Rum, while Aarifah has her solo project, and punk band called Toycatcher.
What kind of music do you usually perform?
LC: As a band we seem to lean more towards R&B and blues.