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TOM TOM MAGAZINE

A MAGAZINE ABOUT FEMALE DRUMMERS FALL 2014 ISSUE 19: IN THE STUDIO

VENZELLA JOY Beyoncé

ISSUE 19 | USD $6 DISPLAY FALL 2014


CONTRIBUTORS

INSIDE ISSUE 19

FOUNDER/PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Mindy Abovitz (info@tomtommag.com)

TINA HAVELOK STEVENS

MANAGING EDITOR Melody Allegra Berger

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REVIEWS EDITOR Rebecca DeRosa (reviews@tomtommag.com)

RECORDING DRUMS

HEAD DESIGNER Marisa Kurk

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DESIGNER Natalie Baker CODERS Capisco Marketing

SKATING POLLY

WEB MANAGER Maura Filoromo NORTHWEST CORRESPONDENT Lisa Schonberg

CONTRIBUTING WRITER Liz Latty

NORTHWEST CREW Katherine Paul, Leif J. Lee, Fiona Campbell, Kristin Sidorak

TUNEYARDS

LA CORRESPONDENTS Liv Marsico, Candace Hensen

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MIAMI CORRESPONDENT Emile Milgrim

BEYONCE’S VENZELLA JOY

BOSTON CORRESPONDENT Kiran Gandhi BARCELONA CORRESPONDENT Cati Bestard

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NYC DISTRO Segrid Barr EUROPEAN DISTRO Max Markowsky

FRIGHTWIG

COPY EDITOR All of us this time WRITERS Liz Latty, Shaina Machlus, Kate Ryan, JD Samson, Kliph Scurlock, Jo Lampert, Jeanne Fury, Colleen Siviter, Nobuko Kemmotsu TECHNIQUE WRITERS Morgan Doctor, Fernanda Terra Vanessa Domonique, Chloe Saavedra, Madeleine Campbell

38 PHOTOGRAPHER Matthew Bronner

THE BLOW 44

ILLUSTRATORS Maia De Saavedra, Kaja Kochnowicz, Dafne Sanchez

THE EX

MUSIC & MEDIA REVIEWS Rebecca DeRosa, Caryn Havlik, Emily Nemens, Katy Tackett, Jaye Moore, Matthew D’Abate, Mindy Abovitz, Anna Blumenthal

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PETALWAR

GEAR REVIEWS Andrea Davis ILLUSTRATOR Kaja Kochnowicz

THANK YOU All of you, Gareth Dylan Smith at London’s ICMP, Laura Taylor, Doug Smith at Hollins, Geezush, Pooter, Rony (the big bro),

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REVIEWS

CORRECTIONS FROM ISSUE 18 Morgan Doctor’s bio was replaced by Vanessa Dominique’s in Tech.

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CONTACT US 302 Bedford Ave PMB #85 Brooklyn, NY 11249 info@tomtommag.com Facebook, Twitter, Instagram:@tomtommag

TO SUBSCRIBE WWW.TOMTOMMAG.COM

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TECH

THIS ISSUE IS DEDICATED to my Mom. Sometimes all you need in life is a really great Mom. Sometimes you are lucky, like me, and get one.

ON THE COVER Venzella Joy of Beyonce photo by Gesi Schilling

MISS GARRISON + BALANCER 40

PHOTOGRAPHERS Bex Wade, Yael Malka, Cortney Armitage, Catalina Monsalve, Gesi Schilling, Matthew Bronner, Remi Chauvin, Daniel Dorsa, Doug Schwarz, Jon Krop, Eva Carasol

TOM TOM TV Katwo Puertollano, Anthony Lozano, Anthony Buhay, Teale Failla

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WEB SALES & MARKETING Rosana Caban


T H E E D I T O R , M I N DY A B OV I T Z , P I C T U R E D T O P R I GT H W I T H H E R FA M I LY AT H E R B AT M I T Z VA H 1 9 9 1

LETTER FROM YOUR EDITOR

TOM TOM T HE M ISSION Tom Tom Magazine ® is the only magazine in the world dedicated to female drummers. We are a quarterly print magazine, website, social media community, events and more. Tom Tom serves as the ultimate go-to guide for the latest information about female drummers and beat makers. Tom Tom seeks to raise awareness about female percussionists from all over the world and hopes to inspire women and girls of all ages to drum, all while strengthening and building the community of otherwise fragmented female musicians. We cover drummers of all ages, races, styles, skill level, ability, sexuality, size and notoriety. Tom Tom Magazine is more than just a magazine it is a movement. Get into it.

This issue is themed ‘In the Studio.’ We focused on those long nights and endless sessions where the drummer sees no light of day, few humans (if any), and is tunnelvision driven with one goal in mind: to record and produce their music and ultimately share it with the world. It’s a mostly solitary practice with a sweetly communal end goal. These days, as I drum less and make this drum magazine more, I understand the studio musician better than ever. And I remember those stretches of time in the studio that felt like summer camp and prison simultaneously. The clock and its hour hand seeming to move at a new random pace. And at the end of it all, you have something amazing to show for it. In this issue we peek behind the curtain to further explore the process of making the music in

the studio setting. We examine the music while it’s in its conceptual awkward stages and before it meets its consumers in all its glory. We will talk microphones, studio routines, end products and highlight the practice we all know and love. You will get to read about rising star Venzella Joy (our cover story) on the first leg of her On the Run tour with Beyonce. We also shot and interviewed Tuneyards and talked with Merrill and her drummer Dani about programming primal beats and managing two drummers in one band. More stories inside about Frightwig, The Ex, Skating Polly, Miss Garrison and more. Glad you made it,

Mindy Seegal Abovitz Founder/Editor-in-Chief

Illustraion by Dafne Sanchez


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Good Day Tom Tom Girls, Firstly, I’m going to have a fan-girl moment and say that I’ve been drumming for one year now, and the moment I found your magazine was like being hit by a lightning bolt direct from heaven (not to be dramatic) and I was like YES! I wanna sit with these chicks at lunchtime! I’m very much a beginner still, but I’m learning at a steady pace, and knowing that I can progress as a drummer amongst such great, supportive, beautiful company warms the very cockles of my heart. I’ve just spent three months travelling around the U.S., upon which time I ended triumphantly in Brooklyn and was able to get my paws on The Body Issue. Savouring its pages has been instrumental in helping me ride out my killer Americacomedown.

Hey,

Hi!

A couple years ago—maybe two or three—Mindy came to speak as part of a journalism panel at my college, William & Mary. I had read Tom Tom before, being a female drummer myself (there were near to none at W&M), and knew who you were—so I mustered the courage to come say “hey” to you after the panel was done. You were cool. We talked and laughed and you gave me a bunch of Tom Tom stickers and looked me right in the eye and said, very seriously, “Follow up with me sometime.” So, hi. Here I am. Just now following up (BTW, the Tom Tom sticker is still on my laptop).

I like the opportunity to thank you very very much for Paulina’s interview in Tom Tom Issue 18. It means a lot to all of us (her family). This big opportunity Tom Tom gave her, and the boost of enthusiasm in her is incredible. Now she really believes that her dreams can come true some day. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. God bless you.

Would love to have a conversation with you to discuss what Tom Tom does differently, where you and your crew draw inspiration, where the magazine has come from and where it is going, etc. You represent this charming intersection of everything I have come to appreciate when thinking of creating a career out of my passions—music, writing, drumming, New York, magazines, empowering strong women, etc. Keep rockin’, Katie Sharp

You guys are the best. @DrumGearReview

Hi! Thanks for this incredible work. Best issue yet!

I’m a drummer from Rome, Italy and a follower of your page and website. CONGRATS for everything you do for us female drummers all around the world, I find it amazing! Here I am to introduce myself. I’m a Meinl artist and social web administrator of the Italian Facebook account directly managed by the brand and me. I would like to establish a connection, with female drummers, female drummers communities, magazines, web-pages or forums and whatever. I would like to give my help and humble tribute for this cause, sharing, communicating, giving my help back when requested, and staying informed and active. I would be proud to help you in re-writing the history of female drumming out there. Giulia Nc Lazzarino (Italy)

CONTACT US

Wow! This is the BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT EVER!!! SO HONORED TO BE A PART OF TOM TOM MAGAZINE!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!

Just came across this. I am SO glad it exists. More girls should play drums! It’s something everyone should do: men, women, childrencats and dogs if they’re so inclined. Keep it up!!!

Shonnie Murrell

Joe Jeffcoate

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Hello there!

Amy B. Rosenhaus

Lucy x (London, UK)

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Luis G. Villarreal (Paulina´s father)

302 Bedford Ave PMB #85 Brooklyn, NY 11249 info@tomtommag.com @tomtommag


DAPPER DRUMMER Design by Maggie Rivers Photo by Catalina Monsalve

LAUREN CAMARATA, 32 BROOKLYN, NY

WHO IS YOUR FASHION ICON? Tilda Swinton. // WHO INSPIRES YOU TO LOOK SO DAPPER? My grandfather. // WHAT GETS YOUR ATTENTION? Simplicity. Color. // WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT? I like comfy things with fancy shoes. // HOW DO YOU PICK YOUR OUTFITS OUT? I teeter between dressing weather appropriate and wearing whatever I feel like AND whatever is clean. // WHO OR WHAT IS YOUR HAIR INSPIRATION? I like options and versatility. Some buzzed hair and some long hair allows for all of that. // WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR HAIR CUT? My friend Logan Slaughter cuts my hair. She’s great. // WHAT KIT DO YOU PLAY? Slingerland blue sparkle kit from 1962. // HOW DID YOU GET INTO DRUMS? I remember being about 10 years old and setting up pots and pans in the living room to play along to the radio. Finally a neighbor loaned me a kit when I was 13 and I played it all the time. // WHAT BANDS ARE YOU IN? Werewitch, Dharma Swara Gamelan Ensemble // WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VENUE TO PLAY IN? The Cake Shop (Lower East Side) is always fun.

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THE BEAT AND THE PULSE hit the beat Hit The Beat is a physical drum machine that can play everything/anything, incorporating everyday objects into the musical instrument. Being able to use anything makes working with this drum machine a fully interactive investigation of music and sound. The machine is based on an Arduino platform acting as the translator of a message in midi format, which triggers a physical solenoid percussion. This project started off as a workshop for children at Libreria Corraini 121, in Milan by graphic designer and digital media researcher, Lorenzo Bravi.

www.lorenzobravi.com/#hit-the-beat

sor saEnce Sor Saence is the stage name by Mexico City-based duo Cecilia Villaverde and Beatriz C. Garza. We asked them to put together a playlist of what they love and are listening to right now. Here it is! “German Dance No. 1 in C major” - Budapest Strings “Siki, Siki Baba” - Kocani Orkestar “I Come From The Mountain” - Thee Oh Sees “Mucha Muchacha” - Juan Garcia Esquivel “Find a New Way” - TuneYards

www.sorsaence.com

kalyn heffernan Kalyn Heffernan is an MC/producer and educator from the Denver hip hop group Wheelchair Sports Camp. She is currently producing for rappers in Haiti and her group’s upcoming record. When she isn’t producing and performing, she teaches music production to underserved teens at residential treatment centers and Denver public schools with Youth On Record. Her current studio setup includes an MPC 200 XL, a Roland 909, MPK, turntables, Ableton and Logic. The project she is most invested in is Royalty Free Haiti, a crowdsource project to bring music and music technology classes to two orphanages in Portau-Prince and Cap Haitien.

wheelchairsportscamp.bandcamp.com 6

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Shonnie Murrell Ms. Murrell’s roots lie in Louisiana and Texas amongst a family of singers, so music was instilled in her at a young age. So young that she even performed on the legendary Apollo stage at the age of five. Murrell’s star-studded performance list is long, having opened for acts such as Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Bobby Valentino and LeToya Luckett. The drummer has performed alongside jazz legends like Tom Browne, Marion Meadows, Al Jarreau, Miki Howard and Kirk Whalum and has songs with Macshawn100, Warren G, and Drake. Mad talent aside, the percussionist has her heart in the right place, too. “To be able to touch the lives of young girls and women,” she told Tom Tom, “is the greatest feeling in the world.”

www.shonniemurrell.com

what we're listening to

Emily Wells [Multi-instrumental Ambidexterity] // Los Angeles, CA // emilywellsmusic.com Labryse [Metal] // Portland, OR // facebook.com/labrysemetal New Myths [New Wave] // New York, NY // wearenewmyths.com Horregias [Indio Rock] // Santiago, Chile // horregias.com AMRA Island [New Age] // Los Angeles, CA // amraisland.com The Pearl Harts [Rock] // London, UK // thepearlharts.com Tamar Aphek [Rock] // Tel Aviv, Israel // tamaraphek.bandcamp.com Liquid Meat [Rock] // Munich, Germany // liquidmeatlocker.com Gesuotome [Progressive Rock] // Japan // gesuotome.com Opioids [Post Punk] // Tel Aviv, Israel // facebook.com/opioids.r.us Purple [Punk Rock] // Beaumont, TX // purpletexasmusic.com Truthers [Hazy Pop] // New York, NY // facebook.com/truthersnyc The Many Colored Death [Hard Rock] // Columbia, MO // facebook.com/themanycoloreddeath Street Eaters [Truewave/Punk] // Oakland, CA // streeteaters.com The Reprobettes [Garage/Surf Rock] // Melbourne, Australia // thereprobettes.com The Courtneys [Slacker Pop] // Vancouver, Canada // facebook.com/thecourtneys Meshukatzot [Noise Rock] // Tel Aviv, Israel // soundcloud.com/meshukatzot Blasphemic Cruelty [Death Thrash Metal] // Tampa, FL // blasphemiccruelty.com The Prettiots [Twee Pop] // New York, NY // theprettiotsmusic.com Throne [Metal] // London, UK // facebook.com/thronemusic Moonlight Howlers [Rockabilly] // Phoenix, AZ // reverbnation.com/moonlighthowlers Suicidal Furniture [Math Rock] // Tel Aviv, Israel // facebook.com/suicidalfurniture Gel Set [Rust Pop] // Chicago, IL // soundcloud.com/gel-set Fay Din [Art Pop] // Los Angeles, CA // soundcloud.com/fay-din

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ART

METRONOME By Mind y A b o v itz Ph ot os by J ef f Ku r o s a k i a nd Ta r a Pelletier


“THE PLANT TURNED OUT TO BE THE PERFECT DRUMMER”

Jeff Kurosaki and Tara Pelletier are a collaborative duo based in Brooklyn, New York. They build multi-layered narrative projects using sculpture, video, music, and performance to explore the tension between the fundamental rhythms of life and the ordered systems that humans design to make sense of these rhythms. Tom Tom Magazine: How did you two come up with the idea for this project?

strong enough to push the water up six feet from the bucket to the plant.

Our collaboration has always been about creating performative and visual works. With this particular piece, we wanted to make an object that could perform a paradoxical time signature on the snare throughout the day. We have always been interested in activities of urban homesteading, and one of the side projects that we took on was hydroponic gardening. In this sculpture there is a closed hydroponic system. The water recirculated from its reservoir to a plant potted in hydration, so that when the plant became saturated, the water would drip onto the drum. The irregular and unpredictable sound was what we were going for. The plant turned out to be the perfect drummer.

What was the best response you received to the piece?

What were some unforeseen challenges? Finding a plant that would thrive hydroponically but was also visually pleasing turned out to be a challenge. When we finally found the plant we wanted (a Boston fern), it was infested with caterpillars! We had to treat the plant with a natural neem oil spray for a week or so before the caterpillars vacated. We also went though a few trials of finding a pump that was

Watching people get pulled in and held by the sound of the drum was really satisfying. It was as if they were mesmerized. The irregularity of the water hitting the drum replicated the effect of a sudden time signature change or throwing in a spontaneous fill. What does the piece mean to you? The Metronome simultaneously represents the natural and designed systems that we live in. We’re both really interested in the relationship between the two, and how this informs our overall outlook of the world at large. How is rhythm regularly incorporated into your artwork? Many of our projects incorporate our music which inherently has rhythm. In particular, we’re interested in conjuring emotive responses from different representations of rhythm. For example, making a pattern that references water

and has the feeling of the push and pull of currents, or how the crescendo in a song structure can bring you to another place. Everyday we encounter rhythm, whether it be visual, aural, conceptual, or physical, and it has a significant influence on our studio practice. Do you feel drums and art are related? If so, how? Absolutely! At its purest, art making and drumming are both about expression and feeling. Both can also get really deep and thick in technical and theoretical ideas, and finding your own path in the broad spectrum of art making and drumming is what we find exciting. Drumming is an art in itself. The experience of sitting at a table with a sketchbook and working through ideas parallels sitting behind a kit and working out a groove. If you’re a drummer in a band, having that connection with the bassist and then the other instruments is so important. Working as a collaborative duo that sometimes works with others, we find that it’s very similar. We’re autonomous in our contributions, but collectively greater than the sum of our parts. Whether you’re an artist, a drummer, or an artist/drummer, that feeling of togetherness is second to none. ISSU E 19: IN THE STU DIO

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ART

WHITE DRUMMER TINA HAVELOCK STEVENS Wo rds b y JD S amson | Ph otos by Remi C h a vi n

W

hite Drummer, the performance project of prolific multi-media artist, Tina Havelock Stevens, is a most powerful juxtaposition of spiritual enlightenment, sociological intention, audience symbiosis, and pure Animal. Havelock Stevens came of age in Australia, sprouting from the fertile ground of a liberal arts family. From within this inherited backdrop, she was pushed to critique her family’s work, and through that examination, she learned how to experience diverse mediums and collaborative relationships. Soon, she was challenging all of their concepts of creativity. Her family “joked that (she) was a ‘Nappy’ - A Neo Artistic Post Punk Youth.” and Havelock Stevens admits….”They were right.” Tina moved on to school for a BA in Communications, but soon retreated to the world of drumming. Since then, Tina has traveled a wide-ranging path through the music sphere beginning with punk band: The Plug Uglies, (which went on to support Pavement and Sonic Youth), to a more conceptual group of artists from many different mediums, Alterbeast, as well as The Mumps and the Blue Heads (with John Willsteed of The Go Betweens). Recently, Tina has collaborated with Chicks on Speed for their project, “Utopia”.

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Alterbeast is the multi-media project that Havelock Stevens started around 5 years ago. “The idea was that there is another kind of mutating beast beyond those we have experienced in horror movies­—a beast born of our own doing, of our anxiety, repressed behaviors and self-denial.” It was this project that sparked Tina’s revelations about her own work, and finally allowed her to admit that she was in fact, an Artist. Alterbeast also sparked Tina’s interest in durational and installation-based drumming which would become an integral part of her current project, The White Drummer. She made a live soundtrack for an Alterbeast video, which led to a public durational drum for the opening of the show. “From here I started doing drumming interpretations to other videos I’d made, other live installations, and endurance site-specific works.” She declares, “I was off and alive.”

“The blank canvas of whiteness means that I can be projected onto... literally and by an audience. White has its own vibrational sound and, by being white, there has to be darkness.” The name, White Drummer, was born out of Tina’s idea to wear white clothing while performing as a “channeling” force. “The blank canvas of whiteness means that I can be projected onto…literally and by an audience. White has its own vibrational sound and, by being white, there has to be darkness. It resonates on its own. I’m always moving towards refining perception.” Havelock Stevens has a profound interest in site-specificity as well as politically charged spaces. She searches for locations with “charged fields of action” and explains that “my inner narrative is always about the meditation on the relationships that we have between each other, the places we inhabit, and ourselves. It’s like I’m transmitting the ambience of private and/or public spaces which have undergone or are undergoing a significant shift in awareness.” In 2013 MONA commissioned White Drummer to perform underwater, for a durational free-drum project called “Submerge”. Tina describes “Submerge” as “an underwater endurance piece where I not only fathomed the depths and spontaneously played a river, but during the performance I was risking failure on so many levels while being witnessed by 8,000 people. Every time I watch the video footage I can hardly breathe. Seriously.”

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ART This synergetic relationship with the audience is something Tina feels is important to her experience as an artist, “With the installation, I just want to create a unique and ambitious experience for audiences. I want them to be fucked up. Breathless.” She explains that, “Durational performance means I’m exploring my own physical and mental limits. The audience goes through this too. It’s like infecting them with anxiety and joy.” Also in 2013, White Drummer began a project titled, “White Drummer Detroit” in which she traveled to Detroit, Michigan to create durational spontaneous drum sessions throughout the city. She says upon her arrival there that, “There was a sadness. A post -apocalyptic landscape indeed.” She moves on to explain that “The project was more than inspired by anarchy but naturally a part of it—and a falling into one’s own skin in a place far from home. But there was something else at play...like a driving force behind the project that felt as intense as the city itself.” What came about was an incredibly passionate expression of both exhaustion and hope that speaks volumes about what Tina feels is essential to her art practice. “Common to all my work is my interest in fragility and survival in the face of trauma and decay. White Drummer performances are not framed by their location, but inhabit them, both visually and sonically.” Tina’s words are clear, “White Drummer is in the space of the viewer. It’s not a passive experience. It goes back to drumming in its original context. Drumming is historically a meditative device and it also whips people into frenzies.” She says, “It’s intriguing how we can gravitate to what we’re supposed to do. It’s like the drums and I grew up together and now we are on adventures together.” Tina reveals, “The drums are always saving my ass!”


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5 tips on the art of

recording

drums

WORD S BY MA DEL EINE CA MPBEL L I LLU STR AT IONS BY DA F NE SA NC H EZ

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Before you start, think about what you want your finished product to sound like and keep this in mind as you go. Though it may seem like a no-brainer, the kind of drum sounds you want will largely determine your setup, tracking, and mixing process. When I record, I continuously ask myself “What am I trying to achieve here?” I track drums differently for a pop song than I would for metal You can achieve many different sounds with the same drum, or jazz. I often record up to 24 microphone, and preamp. Drums are incredibly sensitive microphones when tracking drums acoustic instruments. A few months back I had a great ,so having a structured approach conversation with Katy Otto, drummer for the amazing Philly-based and establishing goals early on has band Trophy Wife, in which she talked about how critical it is to treat helped me stay focused and made drums as a melodic instrument rather than solely a “beat keeper.” me a more organized, efficient I think about this a lot when I track and mix drum kits. Moving a engineer. snare drum’s microphone the slightest bit in any Record the space you’re in, not just the direction can totally change the captured sound. drums. Room microphones can add a great Pointing it towards the center can give you a deal of depth to any drum recording. When more boing-y sound, while pointing it towards the I first started engineering, I assumed that in order rim can give you more of a crack. It’s essentially to get a “big” drum sound, I needed to record each impossible to mic a kit, tear it down, set it up close miked drum at the highest possible gain before again in a later session and achieve the exact same clipping and that was it. Now I work with much more sounds. reasonable levels and focus on panning, compression and EQ of my room No amount of skill as an microphones to fill out engineer can replace a the kit. Taking time solid drummer with a well to experiment with maintained kit. Recent versions of Pro room microphones in Tools recording software feature Elastic your specific space is Audio—a tool that allows you to move valuable before you each drum hit, or any audio signal, by start tracking. There stretching or condensing it between a are numerous options. start and ending point of your choice. A spaced stereo pair If a drummer plays a take that’s nearly diagonal from each perfect except for one fill whose timing side, angled away is off, I can manually from the kit, is usually There are lots of right move those few hits a good starting point ways to record drums and you are the only into exactly the right for me. I often place one who can decide what works for your place. This has been a microphone behind situation. Ask ten world-renowned audio engineers a lifesaver at times, the drummer as well. how they track and mix a drum kit and you’ll get however, it took me It’s important that ten different responses. Some engineers use four dozens of hours of any stereo paired dragging hits around microphones and others use 30. Every drummer, kit, microphones are room and studio is different. What may work perfectly to realize an edited recorded in phase for one drummer’s kit may be all wrong for another’s. version is rarely, if or you’ll capture a Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. It’s the only ever, the same as a hollow sound which reason recorded sound has come this far. good performance. can actually be One of the first counterproductive. full-length albums I engineered and mixed required a lot of elastic editing in the drums - or so I thought. It wasn’t until after weeks of obsessing over flawless timing that I realized by stretching out and manipulating the drums so much, I lost a lot of the initial attack of the drum hits and everything fell pretty flat. I undid a great deal of my editing and decided for that project in particular, a noisy, thrashing guitar and drums duo similar to Hella, the intensity of the drummer’s performance was far more important than every hit being impeccably on the beat. In this case, there was no point in sacrificing the artistry for the tiny technicalities. That being said, there is no way to take an out of tune, poorly stored kit with lifeless heads and make it sound like it’s in good shape, no matter how many years you’ve been behind the console.

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O T W O H

E G A G T N O E F T FO E L R U YO , s r e y a pl t i k d e fo ot ) d n a h f t- u r r i g h t e l r o yo (o r f

Tips by Chloe Saavedra Illustrations by Maia Saavedra

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One of my favorite things about drumming is engaging my left foot because the foot on hi-hat sound can add so much complexity to a beat. I might be a bit biased to this topic as I am left footed. However, I play on a right-handed kit so my weaker foot is on the kick pedal. Here are some good exercises.

STRENGTHEN YOUR FOOT Practice playing 16th notes on the hi-hat with your left foot while playing a simple beat and focus on being perfectly in time. This will help your coordination while you’re building foot/calf strength.

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CHALLENGE YOUR LIMBS Play a beat that you’d regularly play with your right hand on the ride cymbal but play it with your left hand on the crash and then go through different patterns on the hi-hat with your left foot.

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ADD HI-HAT PATTERNS TO YOUR BEATS Take one of your more complicated beats and add 16th notes on the hi-hat with your left foot. Once you’ve mastered that then try 8th notes, then quarter notes and then if you want to be a beast try triplets or your own hi-hat pattern.

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JASON MCGERR’S FREE TIME INDEPENDENCE PRACTICE This is something Jason taught me when I was 10 years old and I’ve been passing it on to fellow drummers ever since. This practice does not require a drum kit. Sit down on a chair and do a paradiddle with your feet (right, left, right-right, left, right, left-left) starting out super slow. Slap your thighs at right then slide your hands from your thigh to your knee at right-right and then the next thigh slap is on left and the second hand slide is on left-left and so forth. This will really help with your coordination and ability to involve your left foot in complex patterns.


ARA OLA BY REBECCA DEROSA PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTIST

Ara Ola, who caught Stevie Wonder’s ear and has been wowing the world for the past 15 years with her prowess on the talking drum, is poised to release Osunfunke, a movie that she directed, produced, and stars in. It has been nominated for five BON awards in her home of Nigeria. This year has been full of accolades for this Renaissance woman. In July she received an award at the UN African Women Summit for outstanding creativity in African beats and drums as presented by Nigeria’s Ambassador Habib Baba Habu, OON. Tom Tom Magazine talked with the incredible Ara Ola about her journey as a drummer and cultural ambassador.

TOM TOM MAGAZINE: YOU’VE BEEN PLAYING SINCE YOU WERE FIVE YEARS OLD. WAS YOUR FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SUPPORTIVE OF YOU?

DO YOU THINK THAT ACTING, PRODUCING A MOVIE, AND PLAYING DRUMS COMES FROM THE SAME CREATIVE PLACE FOR YOU? HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT?

Ara Ola: I have always had the support of my family especially my father. I wrote my first song before I was 10 years old and he got me a keyboardist to work with me on my compositions. He always encouraged me to read as well as compose my songs. He gave me so much attention and I was very close to him. He was a great father.

They all come from the same place but arise from the need to express my diverse creativity- the need to extend, expand, and express myself. WHAT INSPIRED THE IDEA FOR YOUR CHARACTER IN THE MOVIE? The character I played has a lot of similarities to myself- the talent, energy, shyness, fight for love that keeps eluding her, the need to make people see. I hope this movie will help people understand the stigma placed on rape victims- rather than help them they are sneered at and for the most part most rape victims don’t speak out.

Playing the other traditional drums was not a problem but of course a female playing any drum is always eye catching and interesting. Playing the talking drum was something totally new and different. HOW SO? Because it was the sole preserve of men for centuries and was always played by back up instrumentalists. I am the first female talking drummer as well as being the main act.

IS THERE ANYTHING IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO CHANGE IT?

CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE TALKING DRUM?

WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH STEVIE WONDER? HOW DID YOU GET HIRED TO WORK ON HIS ALBUM?

The talking drum is a greatly unique and spiritual instrument made from animal skin and plants. I source them from local, special drum makers. The Ayan family of the Yoruba people are a family of drummers. There is a god attached to the talking drum who is worshipped by the Ayan.

Working with Stevie Wonder was awesome! An eye opener. We met in Ghana and I backed him up on the talking drum. Afterwards we danced and he invited me to Los Angeles. It was the experience of a lifetime. Stevie also introduced me to Prince and Doug E. Fresh.

I would choose wisely in love, spend more time with loved ones who have passed on, and say I love you more often to them and show it as well. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH? I would love to build a platform that tomorrow’s people can stand on today. Have a facility that helps children and women. I would love to be the president of the federal republic of Nigeria.

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S k aT i N G P o L LY

Skating Polly is a duo consisting of step-sisters Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse. They began playing live and recorded their By Kliph Scurlock | Photos by Doug Schwarz

first album when they were aged 9 and 14. Now, at the ripe old ages of 14 and 19, they have three albums out and have been on countless tours and are in the process of recording their fourth album. I first met them a few years ago after I’d heard about

Skating Pollyaround is a duoOklahoma consistingCity. of step-sisters Kelli and Peyton Bighorse. began playing livepress and seems to focus them from several friends I am loathe to Mayo keep mentioning their agesThey because a lot of their recorded their first album when they were aged 9 and 14. Now, at the ripe old ages of 14 and 19, they have three albums out and have been on countless tours and are in the process of recording their fourth album. quickly blown away by how great their songs are and how much energy they had. I met them after the show and we quickly became I first met them a few years ago after I’d heard about them from several friends around Oklahoma City. friends. I’ve since seenmentioning them live probably times aand never failseems to completely stun whatever audience they’re playing I am loathe to keep their ages20 because lot they of their press to focus solely on that, but I can’t lie and say that I to. I invited them to play a show with my old band, Flaming and a crowd of 2,000 people goaway fromby being annoyed that wasn’t initially drawn in by how The adorable theyLips, looked onwatched stage. But I was very quickly blown howangreat their band, songs to arebeing and how much had.with I metthem themover after thespan show quickly there was opening curious, toenergy fallingthey in love the of and theirwe first threebecame songs. I mixed since Lost seen Wonderfuls, them live probably 20 times and that they were neverdue failto to go completely audience to. theirfriends. secondI’ve album, and mixed 9 songs on their stun thirdwhatever album, which theythey’re endedplaying up scrapping. I invited them to play a show with my old band, The Flaming Lips, and watched a crowd of I love them both very deeply and I love their music and, if you haven’t listened to them yet, I think you should. Anyway, 2,000 people go from being annoyed that there was an opening band, to being curious, to falling in love with I jumped at the interview them. HereI mixed was our conversation, minus lot of side tracks about nine spiders, them over thechance span oftotheir first three songs. their second album, Losta Wonderfuls, and mixed roller coasters and other inside jokes. songs that were due to go on their third album, which they ended up scrapping. I love them both very deeply and I love their music and, if you haven’t listened to them yet, I think you should. Anyway, I jumped at the chance to interview them. Here was our conversation, minus a lot of side tracks about spiders, roller coasters, and other inside jokes.

solely on that, but I can’t lie and say that I wasn’t initially drawn in by how adorable they looked on stage. But I was very

TOM TOM MAGAZINE: WELL, THE THEME OF THE ISSUE I’M INTERVIEWING YOU FOR IS “IN THE STUDIO,” WHICH SEEMS KIND OF PERFECT SEEING AS YOU JUST BECAME PART OWNERS OF A RECORDING STUDIO. YOUR FIRST ALBUM (TAKING OVER THE WORLD, RELEASED IN 2010 ON NICE PEOPLE RECORDS) WAS PRIMARILY RECORDED AT HOME, RIGHT? Peyton Bighorse: Yes, it was mostly recorded at home. After we got all the guitar, bass and vocal tracks down, we went to Hook Echo and recorded the drums and some vocal overdubs and mixed it with Chris Harris. WERE YOU HAPPY WITH HOW IT TURNED OUT? Kelli Mayo: Yeah. At the time I was astonished that we could record our own album. I mean, most of the songs only had a couple of tracks on them, so it wasn’t very difficult and we didn’t do a bunch of trippy effects or anything. But once we got into the studio, it was like, “whoa, going to a studio is a billion times quicker.” Also, when you go to the studio, it’s a billion times

easier because you don’t have to turn off the AC and yell at everyone in your house to be quiet; instead, you go into a room built for recording and playing your music. CAN YOU TELL ME A BIT ABOUT RECORDING YOUR SECOND ALBUM (LOST WONDERFULS, RECORDED LATE 2011 AND RELEASED IN 2013 ON SQE RECORDS)? HOW DID YOU MEET EXENE? HOW DID SHE COME TO PRODUCE THE RECORD? P: We met Exene at one of her solo shows at the Conservatory (venue in Oklahoma City). We were very excited to see her, so we basically talked her ear off all night. We told her about our band and played her some demos we recorded on my phone. They were very bad demos, so she probably couldn’t hear them at all. But at the end of the night, we exchanged emails and as we recorded actual demos, we would send them to her. Then one day we got an email saying she wanted to fly down to Oklahoma and produce an album for us. So, we brought her down here and went to Hook Echo and recorded the album in about five days.

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WERE YOU GUYS TRYING TO CAPTURE YOUR LIVE SOUND AS BEST AS POSSIBLE OR WERE YOU MORE INTERESTED IN MAKING A RECORD YOU LIKED? MEANING, DID YOU TRY TO FIX ALL OF YOUR MISTAKES OR DID YOU LEAVE THEM IN IF YOU FELT LIKE YOU GOT A GOOD TAKE OVERALL? P: We did try to capture our live sound without leaving too many mistakes in, but for the most part, if we felt it was a good take but had some mistakes, we would leave them in. K: Taking Over The World definitely is pretty rough around the edges. Lost Wonderfuls sounds a lot smoother, but still has the Skating Polly “Ugly Pop” vibe. We did try to capture what we sounded like live, but I don’t think we fully captured it until you mixed it. BY THE TIME LOST WONDERFULS WAS RELEASED, YOU ALREADY HAD MOST OF A THIRD ALBUM RECORDED, WHICH YOU SUBSEQUENTLY SCRAPPED. DID YOU SCRAP IT BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T LIKE THE SONGS OR DIDN’T FEEL IT REPRESENTED WHERE YOU WERE AT THE TIME OR WHAT? K: I just started writing more upbeat punk songs which I felt were so much stronger than any of the songs we had recorded for that album, except for “A Little Late”, which we re-recorded and put on the third album (Fuzz Steilacoom). YOU RECORDED MOST OF THAT ALBUM WITH CALVIN (JOHNSON), RIGHT? HOW DID YOU COME TO RECORD WITH HIM? P: I’ve loved Calvin and Beat Happening ever since I heard the song “Fortune Cookie Prize” when I was in 7th or 8th grade. It was always a goal of mine to record an album with him. Dub Narcotic Studio said something, I think on their Facebook, about how Calvin was going to start recording bands and if you wanted him to record your band to send him an email, so we did. When he said “yes” we drove up to Olympia to record with him. I was soooo nervous and I really thought I was going to explode with excitement. THIS ALBUM (FUZZ STEILACOOM) WAS SELF-RELEASED. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO DO THAT? AND WHAT DIFFERENCES HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED RELEASING A RECORD ON YOUR OWN? DO YOU INTEND TO RELEASE FURTHER ALBUMS ON YOUR OWN OR ARE YOU GOING TO LOOK FOR ANOTHER LABEL? K: SQE wouldn’t have been able to release another one of our albums for a long time, so we decided to just release this one ourselves. It was a good choice because I felt like I was more in charge of my band. Skating Polly decisions were now entirely in Skating Polly’s hands. I wouldn’t mind going to another label for the next record if a good opportunity comes up, but as for now, I think we’re doing just fine on our own. THIS IS PROBABLY A GOOD TIME TO MENTION THAT YOU ARE NOW PARTNERS IN HOOK ECHO STUDIO AND HAVE BEGUN LEARNING ALL THE ROPES AND FIGURING OUT HOW TO RECORD YOURSELVES. HOW DID THAT PARTNERSHIP COME ABOUT?

just do the partnership. We’re going to engineer and produce our next album and then hopefully produce and engineer other peoples’ records, which is surreal to me. But I’m so psyched! And I’m not really nervous or overwhelmed because I feel like learning how to use this equipment is going to be like learning how to use a new phone or computer or something. If I can’t figure something out, I can just bug Chris about it or look it up. P: Well, I have been writing a lot of quieter songs lately, but I don’t want to record them just like quiet songs, so I am really excited for our partnership with Chris because I have been having trouble describing even to myself how I want them to be, so I think learning how to engineer will help me turn the sound in my head into an actual thing. K: Not to mention how cool it will be to be a woman sound engineer! It’s really such a man’s world that I am so ready to enter and do whatever the hell I want to do. I’ve always been interested in engineering. Ever since we first went into a studio, I can’t listen to a record without imagining the recording process.

K: The whole partnership came about because we wanted to be YOU GUYS ARE INCREDIBLY PROLIFIC. AT THE TIME YOU able to have unlimited access to a studio so we could go in and record whenever we wanted. We were originally thinking that we’d RECORDED FUZZ STEILACOOM, I THINK YOU HAD SENT ME DEMOS OF 40 OR SO SONGS, NOT TO MENTION THE NINE OR rent the studio for a month or something, but Chris suggested we 24

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K: We just chose our favorites that were the most complete. We actually recorded two extra songs at Dub Narcotic that we didn’t end up putting on the record. I don’t know how many I will revisit. There are some that I’ve started working on again, but haven’t quite finished. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to sit down and work on an old song. Maybe it’s because I get bored with it or maybe it’s just because I get stressed when I can’t finish it right away. But I think there are still a lot of melodies I don’t want to trash just yet. SO, WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE SOUNDING RECORDS THAT YOU WILL BE USING AS INSPIRATION OR A LITMUS TEST OR WHATEVER? P: I draw inspiration a lot from Elliott Smith and Neutral Milk Hotel and Perfume Genius. I try to do my vocals in a similar way in the sense that all three of them are very sincere and it really shows in their music. I am inspired by Neutral Milk Hotel a lot because the instrumentation, especially the guitar, is fairly simple and it doesn’t make me feel like you have to be extremely proficient at an instrument to make music. My music doesn’t particularly sound like Elliott Smith or Neutral Milk Hotel, but I think they do kind of show up in my songs. K: I’ve been listening to a lot of St. Vincent lately. She’s actually become one of my top five favorite musicians. I have thought about trying to make an album with lots of layers and harmonies, but in a heavy way like the first half of her album Marry Me. The whole record is really good, but something about the first five songs on that record really speaks to me. I don’t know if I would want to make a record with so many layers, though, because I would be worried about not being able to recreate it live. I’ve also really been digging The Woods by Sleater-Kinney and Limbo by Throwing Muses. They are both really different records, but I like how they are both really big and loud records with great melodies as the basis.

EVER SINCE WE FIRST WENT INTO A STUDIO, I CAN’T LISTEN TO A RECORD WITHOUT IMAGINING THE RECORDING PROCESS. SO YOU HAD SCRAPPED PREVIOUSLY. HOW DID YOU PARE IT DOWN TO THE 11 THAT WENT ON THE ALBUM? AND DO YOU THINK YOU’LL REVISIT ANY OF THE SONGS THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT OR ARE YOU JUST PAST THEM AT THIS POINT? P: Most of the time, when it’s time to start recording a new album, I have so many songs I like better than the old ones. So we might go back and look at the older songs, but for my own songs, I like to stick to the new stuff.

YOU SORT OF BROUGHT THIS UP, BUT I WAS CURIOUS ABOUT IT—HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO PLAYING THE SONG LIVE VERSUS RECORDING? LIKE, WOULD YOU BE UNCOMFORTABLE AT THIS POINT DOING SOME BIG, CRAZY PRODUCTION ON SOMETHING KNOWING THAT IT’S GOING TO COME DOWN TO JUST YOU TWO PLAYING IT LIVE? P: To a point, we limit ourselves to what we will be able to play live, but if we want strings or extra sounds, we’ll add them in as long as we think the songs will still sound good and full when we play them live. K: Nowadays it’s pretty much possible to recreate anything live if you have the right equipment for it. And sometimes it’s not necessary to recreate it live exactly how it is on the album if the extra instrumentation isn’t too huge a part of the song. It might be weird in a way to have a lot of big crazy production on a Skating Polly song because I think we have a unique sort of raw sound to us, but on the other hand, I feel like we could do some pretty interesting stuff if we didn’t try to limit ourselves to “only what we can recreate live.” I don’t think I would really ever want to add another member because I like being a two piece, but who knows.

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WoVeN RHYThYM tUnE-yArDs’ TWO DRUMMERS IN CONVERSATION

By Jo Lampert | Photos by Bex Wade

tUnE-yArDs, under the leadership of the inimitable powerhouse that is Merrill Garbus, are currently on an international tour in support of their newest album Nikki Nack. I am lucky enough to be along for this ride, having joined Merrill and bassist/ co-writer Nate Brenner as a back-up vocalist, alongside two other new members: Abigail Nessen-Bengson also on BVs, and Dani Markham, percussionist/drummer extraordinaire. We just got back from our first jaunt in Australia, and though it is the middle of their winter, we had nothing short of a warm reception and it felt magnetic to perform down under. It’s been an incredible, artistically fulfilling journey already, and we’re only 4 months into a 15-month long tour. While on this journey, I’ve been privy to a fascinating insider view of Merrill and Dani as they navigate the intricacies of their dual drum lines within the nuanced complexities of Merrill’s musical world. During our final Aussie stop in Sydney, we got to sit down to talk about what it’s like inside their groove.

TOM TOM MAGAZINE: I’D LOVE A LITTLE WINDOW INTO WHERE YOU EACH CAME FROM IN THE WORLD OF DRUMMING, BEFORE YOU CAME TO FIND ONE ANOTHER. Dani Markham: I started playing percussion in the Louisville Leopard Percussionists when I was 8. We had all mallet instruments, a few hand drums, and eventually one drum set. We mainly played in the realm of Motown, American classics, and oldies. I then went on to study classically in high school in an orchestral and wind ensemble setting, focusing on marimba and learning intricate auxiliary percussion within a classical context, as well as very detailed snare drum playing. In college I studied with Brazilian professor, Ney Rosauro, who introduced me to different world rhythms which I took with me as I eventually found myself digging far into afrobeat like Fela Kuti. Those really heavy, percussive beats hit home for me. Merrill Garbus: I guess I’d say I began drumming when I started looping, in, maybe, 2007? I am really not trained at all. Over the years, I took a couple lessons with friends and have always been curious and picking up tips, but until studying Haitian drumming in late 2012 under Daniel Brevil, I didn’t really have any studied skills. 26

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IT’S AMAZING HOW WELL-MATCHED YOU ARE WITH ONE ANOTHER, DESPITE COMING FROM SUCH DIFFERENT PERCUSSIVE BACKGROUNDS. AM I RIGHT IN SAYING, MERRILL, THAT YOU’VE NEVER TOURED WITH ANOTHER DRUMMER? M: Yeah, not a full tour. In the old, old tUnE-yArDs (i.e. BiRdBrAiNs) I wanted to have a drum-line kind of feel, so some of the first big shows we did had multiple drummers. And Nate did some percussion in the intros and middle parts of some songs (like Doorstep) during the last (w h o k i l l) tour. SO, IN YOUR MIND, THE MUSIC HAS ALWAYS BEEN BUILDING UP TO THIS POINT WHERE YOU WERE GOING TO USE AN OFFICIAL DRUMMER/PERCUSSIONIST ON TOUR TO MAKE YOUR MUSIC COME TO LIFE? M: Well, actually, no. I mean, I always knew I wanted to be the primary drummer or the primary rhythmic maker on stage, even if that was through the looping pedal, and so it was kind of the opposite thought. In making the recordings for Nikki Nack, Nate and I were purposely like “I don’t want to know what the live show’s going to be like.”


L: Merrill Garbus R: Dani Markham ISSU E 19: IN THE STU DIO

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RIGHT! I DO REMEMBER YOU SAYING THAT YOU GUYS WERE LIKE, “I’M NOT GOING TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM.” M: Yeah, I wanted to create more problems and then figure out later how to perform it. It was only after the fact that I began thinking about using another drummer; and that was in part because of the nature of the eventual recordings and, after studying Haitian drumming, the realization that a really tight sound is when there are intersecting rhythms and two people are playing separate things. Where together the feel of the rhythm is a completely different entity than either one of those parts could achieve when separate from each other. YOU MENTIONED THE DRUM LOOP, MERRILL – AND I WONDER, DO EITHER OF YOU FEEL THAT IT ACTS AS A THIRD DRUMMER, SO TO SPEAK?

WHEN I WATCH YOU BOTH MOVE ALONG TO THESE HAITIAN RHYTHMS I DO NOTE THAT THERE EXISTS SOME SORT OF PUSH AND PULL WITHIN THE GROOVE ITSELF. DO YOU BOTH FEEL YOU HAVE TO NAVIGATE THAT INDIVIDUALLY? D: It’s less that the rhythms feel opposing or ‘pushed and pulled,’ and it’s more that the interweaving rhythms act as two voices. They can both tie together and also be disparate.

M: Versus a real human being...

M: Studying Haitian drumming made me so curious. It made me wonder where the tradition of having only one drummer on stage came from in the first place. Dani, you’ve played in bands where you’re a percussionist alongside a kit drummer, right? You’re playing “auxiliary” percussion, or in other words you’re “helping,” you’re secondary percussion adding the “flavor?”

D: ...where you have to move and melt together.    

D: Right, like stand-up, multi-percussion, adding the “colors”.

M: Totally. And playing dueting lines with another drummer also points out to me what’s frustrating about the loop. As Dani pointed out, the loop doesn’t move. A human being has the wonderful ability to shift and change. But because I come from hip-hop and drum machines, because we all grew up in an era of digital music, I think I also have an internal rigidity about tempo not swaying, which I feel is not an issue at all for a lot of bands, especially rock bands. It seems with kit drummers there’s a lot more “when we feel excited then we speed up and when it’s a groove we slow down” – and somewhere in me, I’ve grown to loathe that somehow. I feel almost burdened with this idea that it must be as if there’s a constant, consistent internal human click. So then, my click became the drum loop - which is actually this very flawed click. And now Dani’s forced to play to my click!

M: The relationship between two drums is such a different thing in Haitian traditional vodou.

D: Well, it’s not a third drummer like a human being has the potential to be, because once it’s created, there’s not really any error involved. From that point on, it acts more like an anchor.

WHAT IS THE FEELING, IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE IT, WHEN YOU’RE TRULY IN THE GROOVE? M: It feels effortless in a way that it doesn’t when we’re not in the pocket. I think when we’re grooving, that’s when we’re smiling at each other, and we’re feeling “yeah this is IT, we’re just IN it right now!” There’s something about it where it doesn’t feel like a tug of war. But as I’ve learned with the Haitian drumming, it’s very fleeting and if you pay attention to it too much, it’s just gone. So I need to not think about it and just go with it. YES, IT’S ABOUT BEING PRESENT IN IT. I CAN SENSE THAT. DANI, DID YOU ACTUALLY TAKE SOME OF THESE HAITIAN DRUM LESSONS AS WELL? I ASK BECAUSE CLEARLY IT’S BECOME A FUNDAMENTAL PART OF HOW DRUMS/PERCUSSION FIT INTO TUNE-YARDS MUSIC. D: Well when I got the job, Merrill had already been taking lessons, and she offered for me to come to classes. That was really cool because it was a way for Merrill and I to play together and get a sense of each other’s rhythm, and it was a way for me to get to appreciate this music that she had been diving into for a long time. Though it relates to other world rhythms I’ve studied, it is definitely its own language and something very special. It’s all about where

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the weight falls in the groove, and vodou drummers feel that in a very particular way. I only had the opportunity to take, maybe, three classes, but it helped so much in deepening into a groove with Merrill. When we started to incorporate it into rehearsals, she would talk about the history behind the rhythms and what they meant.

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THAT DIFFERENCE SEEMS TO HAVE DEEPLY INFLUENCED THE UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE DRUM PARTS, MERRILL, AND HOW YOU TWO RELATE TO EACH OTHER IN THIS SHOW. NEITHER OF YOU IS PLAYING AN AUXILIARY PERCUSSIVE ROLL.   M: Yeah. In the Haitian drumming set-up, there are three drums. One is the Boula, a smaller, metronome-like drum; then you have the Segon, literally “second” drum, which has a different voice but fits in with the pattern, and together those two drums set the stage for what the rhythm is. Then there is the Manman, mother drum, which is the soloing drum above all of that and has a part that intersects with the other two but also signals the dancers and other drummers to make changes. That relationship between drums seems very rare in Western music. D: In much of Western music, a drum set will lay down a groove and the percussion will lay down a groove that fits in and that all might go on for the entire song. In Haitian music- which is

I WANTED TO CREATE MORE PROBLEMS AND THEN FIGURE OUT LATER HOW TO PERFORM IT.


similar to Bata in Santeria - it’s an actual communication, and so everyone playing has to know the language in order for it to move as one. And that’s totally how I feel when playing alongside Merrill. TO BACKTRACK A LITTLE, WHEN YOU (MERRILL) REALIZED THAT YOU WERE GOING TO USE A SECOND DRUMMER FOR THE LIVE SHOW WHO WASN’T JUST “AUXILIARY,” WHAT WERE YOU LOOKING FOR? M: We were looking for the best fit with us, Nate and me. What we found in Dani, we felt immediately. It’s that “groove” thing where it just felt right when we auditioned her. With most people we found out within the first five minutes whether something felt right. And that’s something that I think is really amazing about music - that though there are nerves and other factors, there’s just that Thing, that “do we have the same feel, do we come from the same place?” thing. I feel we are coming from the same place; that we have a similar idea about what drumming and what rhythms really feed our souls. DANI, WHAT DID IT MEAN TO PREP FOR THIS MUSIC—THE AUDITION AND THE SHOW? D: When I first heard about this audition, I realized, “I need to know this woman that I don’t know.” I felt that, in order to play this particular music which is derived from within Merrill, I really needed to find how to be inside her groove. These are her internal rhythms, her patterns, her drumbeats. I watched YouTube videos because live is a totally different thing. And then of course she

gave me the album, and my goal was to play exactly to the album. Honestly, studying Merrill’s groove was so intimate. For me, rhythm is one of the most intimate things in life. It’s this integral connection between two people, so the deeper the understanding of a similar groove, the more intimate the groove will become. It’s about building a relationship. And, ultimately, I think we do get each other - and I also felt that immediately upon auditioning. We clearly had such similar feels. THAT GIVES ME CHILLS! M: I think, just to add to that, that it’s about a generosity. That’s what I really appreciate about you, Dani, as a percussionist. And that was what we were searching for. It takes such a secure musician to be like “I will do anything to serve the music” and I don’t recall either of us ever saying in rehearsals “actually, I want that part” - that doesn’t enter our consciousness or the conversation. Dani (like Nate, like all of you) lacks ego in a world where so many musicians run on that same fume. Yes, ultimately this is my music, and so everything we do has to serve that vision somehow. Ha! It feels egotistical saying that. NO, THAT’S FACTUAL, NOT EGOTISTICAL! D: Yeah, it’s the only way it would work as this machine, right? Well, not a machine, per se, but as parts coming together to make a whole.

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M: Right, it’s like we have one creative director, so to speak, and we work together from there. You’d asked me before, Jo, if all the parts came straight from the album. I would say yes, and that Dani was trying to learn the details of the album – but details that even I would miss. You know, I would be like “oh we recorded that months ago and I forgot about that part and where it goes”... but Dani would pick up on it. D: Oh yeah, I was digging in hard! And in dividing up the parts, it was always about maintaining the integrity of the album’s sound, what would work towards creating the best whole. M: It’s been so great to have her ear on it picking up other stuff. I mean, I still feel like I’m getting used to playing my own stuff, ya know? RIGHT, BECAUSE THIS IS THE MOST DRUMS YOU’VE EVER PERFORMED LIVE, RIGHT? M:Yes!

HAS HAVING A SECOND DRUMMER MADE THAT AN EASIER TASK? M: I was really nervous playing with another drummer because I don’t have skills in a very basic way. If you study drumming you work to make the two hands really equal and I’d just never done that before, so my left hand is way weaker. With looping, I could get away with it because I just play everything with my right hand and then loop it. Dani has totally helped me, just like with holding sticks and having exercises to warm up with. But yeah, all of this was a challenge for me to get better. I mean, if I’m not gonna get better as a musician over these months then this would all be kind of beside the point to me. ABSOLUTELY. IT’S A BEAUTIFUL CHALLENGE FOR ALL OF US! D: Yeah, for me, it’s not even necessarily the most complex parts that might be hardest. I could have the simplest beat, but it’s got to work with another whole part – the singing. This is the most I have ever engaged in voice and rhythmic percussion simultaneously, so it’s about the challenge of making it really sync up. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR HOW YOU MIGHT CONTINUE TO ENHANCE THE LIVE SET? D: My goal for this show isn’t ultimately to add anything external, per se – new instruments, new parts, taking solos - but to keep finding more depth within our pocket. That’s what’s exciting. I want to keep honing in on this amazing playground I have in front of me. M: Yeah, I feel like, whoa, there’s already so much to dig into. And so to get it more streamlined and more connected is what feels so satisfying. That is where the mystery comes in – when it feels so locked in and everything feels so obvious, so right. That’s when you start to feel the freest to play, too. Yeah, that’s what I hope for within the continuation of this show. The deepening. There’s a lot of unspoken communication going on. I was talking about “the organism” before the last show, and it does feel like the band is one organism instead of everybody doing what they individually want to do. It’s like we’re all contributing to this bigger thing. D: We’re all magnifying Merrill’s brain to create the next level of performance magic.

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Fielded is the stage name of Lindsay A. Powell, a singer-producer based in Brooklyn. She works mainly with electronic manipulation of vocals, synthesizers and live instrumentation in order to achieve a unique pop sound. When Powell isn’t in the studio she is deepening her spiritual practice through dance, spending time with friends and working on a clothing line. We asked her to put together a playlist for us of some favorite tracks.

FieLDeD PLAYLIST

1. FAY – TALK WITH MY BODY I admire Fay’s production and the way she works with samples in a more hands on and organic way. I also think the only lyrics of the song, “I eat with my mouth/I talk with my body”, are intense and sensual without being too confrontational. Her work is mesmerizing. 2. COPELAND – INSULT 2 INJURY I absolutely love the journey this track takes me on; upon listening to it for the first time I had no expectations, I just let it do its thing. That, for me, is potency. 3. NADASTROM – FALLEN DOWN (CLUB MIX) I could listen to this track on repeat for twelve hours, I swear. Super sensual and intoxicating. Forgive the new age approach but I truly feel this song is a techno-spiritual experience. 4. M.I.A. – WARRIORS This song is so tense and futuristic. I like this mid-tempo chiller with these very confrontational arrangements. I listen to it when I need a pep talk or I want to feel hot while cruising in my minivan. 5. DOMINIQUE YOUNG UNIQUE – THROW IT DOWN I love her energy and the way the arrangements move. She introduces these polyrhythmic elements with her lyrical structure that make the song more than just a dance track. It’s also just totally badass. 6. JANET JACKSON – RHYTHM NATION Not a contemporary track but an extremely pivotal example of production that serves as the basis of female pop culture as we know it. This song was so ahead of its time, right down to the lyrics. The drum programming is also absolutely bananas. Janet was not messing around. 7. STACIAN – AIRLOCK Stacian is the minimal synth project of Dania Luck. She’s like Mad Max for the next generation of empowered females... Mad Maxine, if you will. This cold and calculated track is from her upcoming release with Gel Set entitled Vorhees on Moniker Records. 8. N.I.C.O.L.E. – GEISHA Chicago-based Nicole Ginelli isn’t just an amazing illustrator; she also makes some incredible electronic music. This song is creepy, almost voyeuristic. The rise and fall of the synth arrangements make you feel like you’re flying over some post-apocalyptic paradise, with a coy and plotting Geisha as your guide. 9. MY BODY – MAKE IT GOOD Jordan Bagnall is the main producer for this band and I fell in love with her arrangements instantly. “Make it Good” is sweet, honest and strong and Bagnall’s vocal is the cherry on top of this swirling pop masterpiece. 10. HEARSAY & HYPERBOLE – HOLD YOUR FIRE Hearsay & Hyperbole is the solo project of my sister, Alexis Powell. She bases much of her percussion solely on her vocal arrangements and creates cacophonous choruses that force you to move and sway as if entranced. 11. GOD VOL. 1 – SECOND HOUSE God Vol. 1 is currently my favorite synth duo out of Chicago.This track plays off of hyperbolic pop music lyrics with a minimal, tongue-incheek approach. Once comedy clubs start having dance nights these girls will be touring 300 days out of the year—they’re destined for greatness.

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i See YouR DReaMS CoMiNG TRue

VENZELLA JOY WILLIAMS ON TOURING WITH BEYONCE

By Liz Latty | Photos by Gesi Schilling Clothing Line by Kristina Bowman-Smith | Make-up by Danielle Brown

When Buffalo-native, Venzella Joy Williams, was a young drummer with dreams of making it big, her mother was her greatest inspiration. If things were moving slowly with her music or if she had doubts about pursuing her passion, Joy’s mom would say to her, “I see your dreams coming true.” At 26 years old, with her family’s support, her love of drumming, and an unshakable spirit of integrity and determination, Venzella Joy has achieved a level of success that suggests her mother’s early encouragement might have been more premonition than parental bias. As the most recent addition to the musical force behind the one-and-only Beyoncé, Joy now spends her days playing sold-out international arenas, getting recognized by fans across the globe, and learning what it means to live inside the dream. I recently had the privilege of talking with Joy hours before she hit the stage in Cleveland, OH with Beyoncé and Jay Z on their On The Run Tour.

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TOM TOM MAGAZINE: HOW DID YOU GET STARTED ON THE DRUMS? Venzella Joy: I got started at age 10. I just always kind of had an interest in rhythm. So my parents recognized that and bought me a drum set for Christmas in 1998. From there I started playing in the elementary school band. I got my foundation as far as reading, theory, and stuff like that there. A couple months later, I started playing in church and that’s where I developed my skill and my sound. WHEN YOU WERE THIRTEEN, YOU STARTED AN ALLGIRLS GOSPEL GROUP CALLED HEAVEN BOUND. WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE AND HOW DID IT CHANGE YOU AS AN ARTIST? My sister and I, we were playing together first. We had a little group we called The Williams Sisters. I started learning guitar a little bit back then, so sometimes I would play guitar and she played bass or I’d play drums and she’d play bass. Then a lady from the church came to us—it was like a prophecy pretty much—and she said, “If you get two other band members and add them to your group, you’ll go professional in two years.” We were like, why not? So at that time we added two girls who we’d grown up with in church. One played organ and the other played keyboard and they’d both sing as well. Within two years we started working on stuff in the studio. We did a lot as far as the church world goes. We would play conventions and things. The organist, Taveem, she arranged most of our music and she was classically trained and trained in jazz as well, so the type of arrangements she would come up with would be fairly intricate. I feel as though I was stretched the most musically during the time I was playing with Heaven Bound. We were playing different time signatures, like doing instrumentals in 6/8 and 7/4 and all these things and it really stretched me as a musician.

I’m really big on networking and building genuine relationships with people. And I’m big on taking risks and just going for it. Making The Band was one of my favorite shows and I watched all the episodes. There was this one episode where Diddy said, “For the next season, I’m looking for musicians. I’m looking for drummers, guitarists, bassists, keyboardists, and background vocalists. And I’m coming to four cities.” Right when he said it, I was like, I’m gonna do it. So I went to the first city and I made it through a few rounds, but then got turned away. I decided to go to New York City the next week and re-audition. I made it through all the preliminary rounds and ended up making it into the house for a few weeks too, so that was really cool. I LOVE THAT YOU WENT BACK AND AUDITIONED A SECOND TIME. IT REALLY SHOWS YOUR DRIVE AND DETERMINATION. AND NOW YOU’RE PLAYING FOR, ARGUABLY, THE BIGGEST MUSIC STAR IN THE WORLD—BEYONCÉ. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU CAME TO BE PART OF HER BAND? So when I was on Making His Band, I met the guy who is now Beyoncé’s music director, Derek Dixie. Back then we both auditioned on drums and we kept in touch since the show. So after he became Beyoncé’s music director and the opportunity opened up for the position to drum with her, he reached out to me. The first gig we played happened to be Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday party at the White House and then we did the 2nd European leg of the Mrs. Carter World Tour.

MY joB aS a DRuMMeR iS To Be The Rock

WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT BEING A MUSICIAN IN COLLABORATION PROFESSIONALLY WITH OTHER ARTISTS FOR THE FIRST TIME? I learned that everyone has their own lane and you kind of have to stay in your lane. When I was younger with the girl band, whenever there was a break or a drop in the music, I would fill it up with a drum roll. Or like a lot of the songs were drum-heavy, so it was kind of like I was always soloing over the music, but I grew and learned being part of the band. I realized for every break in the song you can’t put a roll there, like maybe the bass player wants to do a slide, or maybe the pianist wants to do a run or something. So it’s kind of like you have to learn how to play your part without overstepping or stepping on anyone else’s toes. AFTER HEAVEN BOUND YOU WENT TO COLLEGE TO STUDY CRIMINAL JUSTICE, BUT DURING, AND THEN ALSO SHORTLY AFTER COLLEGE, YOU STARTED TO GET SOME BIG BREAKS NATIONALLY WITH YOUR MUSIC. YOU WERE ON MTV’S MAKING HIS BAND WITH DIDDY AND BET’S BLACK GIRLS ROCK. HOW DID THESE BIG BREAKS COME ABOUT?

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DID YOU HAVE TO AUDITION FOR THE JOB AFTER DEREK DIXIE REACHED OUT TO YOU? I sent a few videos playing a few of her tunes and then of course, he reviewed it. Management and everybody reviewed it and so that’s how they got a chance to hear me play.

WHAT DO YOU THINK MADE YOU STAND OUT FROM OTHER DRUMMERS TO INSPIRE THEM TO BRING YOU ONTO THIS HUGE PLATFORM? I think in the grand scheme, just based on my faith, I believe it’s God’s favor, but I think I’m also very passionate about drums. I’m very passionate about music, so if I were to speculate, I think that maybe they heard and felt my passion through what I was playing. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO PLAY FOR MICHELLE OBAMA? It’s almost like it’s something that I just dreamed—to get to share that moment with the First Lady. For her to invite us into her space to allow us to share her 50th birthday with her was amazing. Just being around her and her family - seeing them in their element - and all their friends and family that came to celebrate them like the Clintons and Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson and John Legend, Jennifer Hudson. It was a starstudded event and to be a part of it was just amazing. WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT DRUMMING FOR BEYONCÉ THAT YOU HAVEN’T DONE IN YOUR OTHER DRUMMING PROJECTS?


I have never played stadiums! It’s the biggest platform that I’ve ever played and it’s almost like it’s becoming normal, but at the same time it’s still surreal. WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD THE FIRST TIME YOU PLAYED A STADIUM SHOW? Oh, my goodness! I was like, Look at all these people! The first big stage was in Glasgow, Scotland at the SSE Hydro Arena. It was just amazing seeing so many people and then feeling their energy was even more amazing. That’s the biggest thing. Everybody’s excitement and their love for the artist and the band. Just the energy of thousands of people. LAST YEAR WHEN BEYONCÉ PLAYED THE SUPER BOWL, THERE WAS A LOT OF ATTENTION PAID TO HER FIERCE ALL-FEMALE BAND, AND SHE TALKED ABOUT HOW HER INSPIRATION FOR FORMING THE BAND WAS HER DESIRE TO DO SOMETHING THAT WOULD INSPIRE YOUNG WOMEN TO GET INVOLVED IN MUSIC. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A MODEL FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN IN DRUMMING? I would like to be. I would hope that women and young ladies across the globe are inspired from hearing my story or hearing me play. HOW DO YOU THINK YOU’VE GROWN AND WILL CONTINUE TO GROW AS A DRUMMER FROM THIS EXPERIENCE? I think I’ll continue to grow in the area of collaboration, kind of like what I was explaining before, as far as staying in my own lane and knowing that my job as a drummer is to be the rock, is to be the foundation of the band. I’m there to be a rock

for the artist. I’m there to be a rock for the rest of the band. Sometimes that means not doing as many drum rolls or not playing as many licks or as many accents and just staying in a really tight pocket so that everything feels solid. Also, just the professionalism of it all. Making sure that I’m showing up early instead of on time, things like that. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU’VE FACED SO FAR ON THE ROAD WITH BEYONCÉ? I think the biggest challenge for me was going into an environment that was already established. Being the newest member of the band, I wasn’t sure how I would be received or if I would become part of the family, but I was able to quickly overcome that with all the love that the band and then the artist and everyone has shown to me, so that was good. I feel that I am a part of the family and everyone is very welcoming and very loving. It’s just a really warm, nurturing, and loving environment, which I’m very grateful for. IT SEEMS LIKE BEING ON A LONG TOUR LIKE THAT WOULD BE A SITUATION THAT BONDS PEOPLE REALLY QUICKLY. Yeah, because you’re around these people more than your own family members at some point. So you guys do become a family. If one person is experiencing something that’s not necessarily ideal then it kind of brings their energy down, but they have the rest of us to talk to them, hug them, and work through it. We really just build each other up.

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DRUM SET: DW Collector’s Kit CYMBAL SET UP: Zildjian. Left to Right: 16” A custom effects, 17” K Custom hybrid crash, 13“ K custom special dry hihat, 19” A custom crash, a stack inspired by Aaron Spears with a 16” KFX crash and a 9” China Trash Splash on top of it, a 18” K custom dark crash, a 22” A custom medium ride, a Trashformer stacked with a 10” A splash, and an 18” A custom crash. PEDAL: DW 9000 Single STICKS: Vader fatback 3A’s THRONE: DW 9100M ELECTRONICS: Yamaha DTX Kit

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WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT DRUMMING FOR BEYONCÉ? I have to say the love from the fans. With me being so new, especially when I did the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, the Euro leg, I didn’t think anyone would recognize me. And then I was in Amsterdam walking to Starbucks or something and this girl walks up to me and is like, “Joy!” And I was like, “Whoa! Hey! How are you?” And she just stared at me for a few seconds. And I said, “How are you?” And she just kept staring at me and then said, “Can I take a photo with you?” And I was like, “Sure!” But she just kept staring! I definitely didn’t expect that—anybody knowing who I am. Especially over in Amsterdam. I don’t know anyone in Amsterdam. That was really the most surprising thing, but it was really, really cool. SO WHEN YOU’RE TOURING, HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED AND IN-SHAPE MUSICALLY FOR THOSE HUGE PERFORMANCES? I’m always listening to the show. I try my hardest to get copies of the show and I just keep listening to it just to keep it in my head. Generally, I’ll go to sleep listening to the music so subconsciously I’m still learning or just absorbing it. I need to get a practice pad. I’ll probably have Vater send over a practice pad for me, but in the meantime (this is kind of dorky) but sometimes I’ll arrange my pillows so they’re like a hi-hat and snare type thing, and I’ll practice on those guys. Haha! CAN YOU TELL US A FUNNY STORY FROM BEHIND THE SCENES ON THE ROAD WITH BEYONCÉ? Everyone is really big on Uno! I like Uno, but I don’t play nearly as much as the rest of the girls in the band. We’ll be in rehearsals and in between songs they’ll be playing Uno or saying in the talkback, “Hey, it’s your turn,” stuff like that. I don’t know if I have the focus to play Uno and rehearse, but these girls are professionals at Uno! I READ THAT YOU STARTED A SERIES OF FEMALE DRUMMING CLINICS. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT PROJECT? Sure, this began at NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants), 2013. I came and I put together what’s called Glamour, Glitz, and Drumsticks. I wanted to put something together that my colleagues could be a part of. The first one we did we had De’Arcus Curry, Danielle Thompson, and J LaToiya, and they’re each amazing girl drummers. It was cool and hopefully it inspires more girls to pursue drums and see that you can be glamorous and glitzy and still play drums really hard. WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIANS WHO ARE PLAYING RIGHT NOW THAT ARE UP AND COMING? I’m a huge fan of Snarky Puppy. I’m also into a lot of electronic dance music these days. So I’ve been listening to a lot of Zedd and I still listen to a lot of the Diddy stuff. Like the project he released that he was putting the band together for is called Last Train to Paris. I listen to that a lot. And I also listen to the other two members that made up that band, Kalenna Harper and Dawn Richards. I listen to their individual projects as well. I absolutely love them. I love Tamar Braxton. Evan Marian and Dana Hawkins—bass and drum—they have a few projects out. I listen to that probably almost every day.

YOU TALKED ABOUT HAVING EXPERIENCE RECORDING IN THE STUDIO FROM AN EARLY AGE WITH HEAVEN BOUND. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR RECORDING PROCESS? WHAT IS IT LIKE? WHAT DO YOU LIKE/NOT LIKE ABOUT IT? HOW HAS IT CHANGED OVER THE YEARS? My recording process of late has been going into the studio alone and recording drums over music that has already been recorded. These days producers will email music to me that has already been arranged. From there I’ll record live drums over it. In other recording processes I have played with other musicians. We’ll record the music first together and later record vocals. I enjoy playing with other musicians in the studio. We can vibe off of each other’s energy. However, when I am recording alone I try to create my own energy in the booth. It’s important for that great energy to translate to the listeners once they hear the music. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR DRUMMERS GOING INTO THE STUDIO FOR THE FIRST TIME? My advice for drummers going into the studio for the first time would be to focus on musicality. Try to channel any nervous energy into positive energy. I find myself getting nervous at times but I don’t allow myself to succumb to the nerves. I just redirect the energy to be the catalyst for a great session. Studio drumming is about being solid and complimenting the music. You want to play timeless music. Years from now people should listen to what you’ve played on the recording and feel inspired. SO WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS FOR THE FUTURE? WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE? My dream is to continue playing big stages. Also, I want to do more writing and more production. Which I’m doing now, but I’d like to do more. And I’d like to eventually do artist development. I would like to nurture young talent and help them hone in on their creativity, help them get to the next platform. In the meantime, I’d just like to create my own brand. Venzella Joy and Vet Howard, part of my mom’s middle name, really build that brand. Like I’m my own entity; I’m the artist. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANOTHER DRUMMER LOOKING TO BREAK THROUGH AND LAND A JOB WITH A BIGGER ARTIST THE WAY THAT YOU HAVE? I would say envision yourself on stage behind the artist. Envision yourself doing what you would like to do and envision yourself doing it well. And then work as hard as you can towards it as far as practicing, as far as networking, building genuine relationships with people. Not the kind of relationships where you’re like, Oh, that’s so-and-so. I wonder if he can land me a gig? Or, I wonder what this guy could do for me? You know, not looking at people as a means to an end, but looking at a person for a person. I’m huge on that. Go to different conventions and things. I met a lot of people going to NAMM and I’ll probably start going to PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Convention) soon. It helps just to get out, listen to different drummers, study different drummers, but create your own style at the same time. And just believe it. Believe it and work towards it.

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CeCiLiA KuhN

OF

FRiGhTWiG

By Jeanne Fury | Photos by Jon Krop

Frightwig are the reigning mothers of feminist punk in America, and their wildly unrestrained performances have heavily influenced everyone from Courtney Love to Kathleen Hanna. Formed by bassist/singer Deanna Mitchell and guitarist/singer Mia d’Bruzzi in San Francisco in the early ’80s, Frightwig delivered two undisputed punk classics early in their career: 1984’s Cat Farm Faboo and 1986’s Faster, Frightwig, Kill! Kill! Their music pounced on gender politics with gusto; songs like “My Crotch Does Not Say ‘Go’” and “A Man’s Gotta Do What A Man’s Gotta Do” were both deadly sinister and outrageously hilarious—two adjectives that, not coincidentally, describe Frightwig’s drummer/singer/instigator Cecilia Kuhn. After a much too long break from stirring up shit, Mitchell, d’Bruzzi, Kuhn, and new addition Eric Drew Feldman (keyboardist/producer) recently reformed and delivered an EP, Hit Return, in December 2013, and are releasing a 45 through Megaforce Records. Here’s Kuhn on drumming, feminism, and the true definition of punk. TOM TOM MAGAZINE: WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE DRUMS THAT YOU GRAVITATED TOWARD, AND HOW DID YOU FIRST START DRUMMING? Cecilia Kuhn: It was something I never admitted, but I liked the sexual energy of a good beat. All of my favorite songs when I was growing up had a strong rhythm. I’m thinking of songs like “Wild Thing” by the Troggs, “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf, and “Amos Moses” by Jerry Reed. Those songs could just get me. However, I came to drumming by sheer whim. I was working at a crap job and feeling very disillusioned with my life. Thank Gods for discontent, because it can be a great motivator. I was sitting there, contemplating my boring life and flying into L.A. I looked out the window as we were landing, and I said, “Fuck this, I’m learning drums.” I started drum lessons soon after that. Playing drums just seemed like a good antidote to the stupid life I was leading. Little did I know what a major decision that was. I FEEL LIKE YOU’RE ONE OF THOSE MUSICIANS THAT UNDERGOES A TRANSFORMATION ONSTAGE. YOU TAP INTO AN OTHERWORLDLY POWER SOURCE. CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT THAT’S LIKE? Back in the old days, I was always angry. We have a song (“Punk Rock Jail Bait”/“I’ll Talk To You & Smile”) where I come out from behind the drums and sing out front. I basically melt down. Back in the day, when I blew up onstage, I was actually experiencing the anger. Frankly, I think I was trying too hard back then. Today, I

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am in a contented place, and I’m not angry like I used to be. When I blow up onstage now, I don’t have to try too hard. In fact, I’m not trying at all. I’m remembering what that energy feels like, and I draw it up and experience it. AS A DRUMMER IN A PIONEERING FEMINIST BAND, HOW WERE YOU RECEIVED BY YOUR (PRESUMABLY MOSTLY MALE) PEERS? Back then, I definitely used to get guys “complimenting” me, saying that I played real well for a girl. Meaning, I didn’t play better than any of the guys. There seems to be an automatic comparison or competition going on, and some people feel like it’s real important that I understand my place in the hierarchy. Going to music stores was very intimidating, as the sales clerks would ignore me or almost challenge me when I tried to buy equipment. It was a strange thing. Making their point that I was just a girl became more important than making their sale. It made no sense. Apparently patriarchy overrules capitalism. WERE YOU EVER DISCOURAGED, OR WAS THE PUNK SCENE SUPPORTIVE OF YOU AND YOUR BAND? Generally speaking, Frightwig was not always well-received by audiences, but other bands were supportive. When people loved us, oh man, they just loved us! When we toured with the Butthole Surfers, it was a dream come true. They and their audiences totally understood us. But when we opened for hardcore bands, it


FULL NAME: CECILIA BENEDICTA KUHN AGE: 58 HOMETOWN: SACRAMENTO, CA LIVES IN: DOWNIEVILLE, CA PAST BANDS: VARIOUS GARAGE BANDS CURRENT BAND: FRIGHTWIG DAY JOB: COURT CLERK KIT SETUP: BORROWED ROGERS KIT, SNARE, KICK, 2 TOMS, 1 FLOOR TOM; 2 CRASH AND 1 RIDE CYMBAL, PLUS HI-HAT.

seems the kids just did not have a sense of humor. “Play faster!” That’s all we heard. I remember opening for T.S.O.L in Santa Cruz. Everyone was standing around, sullen, with their arms crossed. In between songs, Deanna yelled, “Is everybody having fun!?” Someone answered, “We will when you get off.” Today, some people think that punk equals hardcore only, and their focus is narrow. There’s a lot of ghettoization of the music and not much cross-pollination like a long time ago. In the old days, punk was so many things. A night at the Mab [Mabuhay Gardens] would be a free-for-all. There was a lot of humor and fun. We had the

philosophy of “it’s punk because we say so.” People could benefit from that philosophy today. My music is punk because I say so. I SAW YOU ON A PANEL ABOUT FEMALE DRUMMERS AT THE MUSICIANS FOR EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN CONFERENCE, AND YOU SAID, “I AM NOT OMAR HAKIM. I AM NOT THE BEST DRUMMER, BUT I’M THE BEST DRUMMER FOR FRIGHTWIG.” HOW DID YOU CULTIVATE THAT CONFIDENCE AND ASSUREDNESS AS A DRUMMER? It came out of experience. I don’t say it out of ego, I say it from knowledge of these complicated personalities in Frightwig. When I’m not there, it’s just different. When I wasn’t playing with Frightwig and they got other drummers, they missed me and felt the absence of my energy. Their recordings were great, really good, but there was a difference. When I play with Frightwig, it feels right, and I know there are certain things I contribute that no one else does. So yeah, I’m the best drummer for Frightwig. In addition, they’re the best for me. They know me. They have a certain humor and energy that I really like. I like playing with them, and I love to anticipate what they’ll do to make me laugh. For me, the way to cultivate my confidence is through practice, studying theory, and writing music. I just hang in there. Don’t say no. Say yes.

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DRuMMeR

TO

DRuMMeR

FRAN STRAUBE FROM CHILE’S MISS GARRISON & GABRIELA JIMENO FROM BROOKLYN’S BALANCER (BY WAY OF BOGOTA, COLOMBIA) TALK MUSIC, ELECTRONIC PRODUCTION AND DRUMS. Photo of Miss Garrison by Matthew Bronner Photo of Balancer by Yael Malka

BALANCER

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MISS GARRISON


TOM TOM MAGAZINE: HOW DID YOU START PLAYING DRUMS? Fran Straube: I started when I was 10. My parents took me to a party where there was a drum kit that nobody was playing, so I did. It was incredible, I loved it, so I took lessons for three years after that, and then I was self-taught. I practiced on my own at home as well as in school and I have always been in bands. When I got to college I studied composition and started playing keyboards and writing music, which changed everything. I started listening to melodies. Before that it was all rhythm. Gabriela Jimeno: It was similar for me. I started around 12 but never took a lesson until I got to Berklee. I had a band with my best friends from childhood; we played together from the age of 12 until we were 19. I was always self-taught, the band was my “school.” I actually don’t think I ever sat at a drum set on my own until I started college. I moved to the U.S to school for contemporary music, and I studied drum performance and electronic production. I had the same transition as you. Learning to play melodic instruments, like piano and vibraphone, as well as learning harmony, opened my mind completely. HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND IN THE STUDIO PRODUCING YOUR BAND’S MUSIC? F: Recently I have been learning more about production and really getting into it. Sometimes I even think I am leaving the drums behind. I spend a lot of time writing music and experimenting with electronic sounds, and after I produce on the computer I take those ideas to the drum set. The melodic ideas for the voice mostly come when I am playing drums. It is a very natural thing for me. Whenever I try to write a melody on top of a beat it sounds weird to me; they have to be conceived at the same time. G: For me, I have always enjoyed playing more than anything else. I also love being in the studio recording and creating sounds. I am very lucky that the way we work in Balancer is very “natural.” I think we spend the same amount of time producing as we do playing; we have to, it is the essence. I can hear what you are saying, Fran, when I hear your music. I hear your beats on your vocal phrases. What about when you are playing a different instrument? For example, if you are writing a song on piano? F: I come up with very different melodies. I don’t have any vocal technique, so when I am not playing drums and I am singing I pay more attention to my voice, to my breathing, to my posture, and of course that makes my voice sound very different. WHAT IS THE WRITING PROCESS FOR BOTH OF YOUR BANDS? F: With Miss Garrison it all starts in the rehearsal space. Sometimes one of us has an idea that we bring to start working on, sometimes it is just improvising. But our new songs are more produced in the studio, we are thinking more instead of leaving it to chance. There’s not so much an improvisational energetic rock feel, but more of a clean production oriented feel. G: We play with whatever instruments we can on every rehearsal, record everything, go back and listen, choose ideas worth working on, go back to the rehearsal space and work on forms, and then go to the studio and start working on sounds. We have a producer that we work with very closely and having that “external” perspective makes our work flow more efficiently and creatively.

G: Has this “new” way of working with Miss Garrison changed you in any way? Because I can relate to that energy flow that you are talking about, I am also like that. When I play I literally go to a different planet, I am not thinking about absolutely anything, my mind is blank, and that to me is very valuable. To be able to keep that essence at least in the first stage of the writing process is, I think, the key to my sound as a drummer. Also, the more I listen to my drumming the more minimal my beats become, like I just want to get to the point. F: Of course, that happens to me too. I listen and I think “I shouldn’t have played that.” The music we played before was louder, more chaotic, but now a small arrangement for example on a rim is more than enough, I think, it’s ok, just relax. G: I think it is all in listening, everything is about listening. Also, in playing melodic instruments, I started hearing tones in everything, even, of course, in percussive instruments, playing melodies, playing phrases. Playing melodic instruments brought up that sensibility. I hear melodies in my drums, and I have realized all my favorite drummers are multi instrumentalists. Usually the ones that aren’t play drums like they are playing a sport. F: Exactly, and it sounds like a sport. I hate that. Absolutely hate it, in every instrument. It is the total opposite of what music ought to be. That is what I like so much about your playing, you can tell you have a lot of technique, you can tell you know a lot about playing the drums, but your playing is so subtle, so elegant. It reminds me of Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint. WHAT DO YOU PRACTICE? G: I get really intense periods of practicing that last a couple of months and then I don’t practice at all, and then again another intense period. It usually happens when I have an idea in my head and my body doesn’t deliver, that’s when I know I have to practice. And usually I get so much material from those intense months that I like to have time to digest the ideas and really explore the new concepts. I practice really simple things like stick control, but in many different ways. I use them all around the drum set, using it to work on coordination. I believe deeply that instruments are communication tools, and the most important thing is to always have something to say. This is why I only study very practical books that get my physical body further, and then focus on the music to get the phrases, the musicianship. It is like learning the alphabet and then reading poetry, or a really good novel, instead of just reading a dictionary. F: Of course, that is why I think it is better to be self-taught at the beginning and then go to school, because it is the combination of both intuition and knowledge that makes you truly creative, and in the end, better. Like playing with a click—something that you have to work on to get good at, right? I love playing with a click so much, it is like one less thing to think about. I realized when I play with a click I feel more comfortable even playing the most simple grooves, like for example Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” It’s the simplest groove ever, but it is so powerful, and when I play it with a click I can lay back enough to make it groove more without letting the song drop.

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G: I really like it too. I learned to play with a click for the studio and now I even use it live. It gives me a lot of freedom to use longer samples. I found it interesting that you like it so much as well. I was impressed by your tempo last night at your show—you have really great time. And you weren’t playing to a click. F: I can’t play with a click live because I can’t sing and play with a click. How do you do it live? G: Well, I don’t have much of a choice. We are only three in our band but our production is so big so each one of us is doing a lot. I have to use a click because sometimes I have very long samples that have to be on sync. I play melodies and chord progressions from my sampler. I’ve grown to love it, like I mentioned before. I never use a click all the time through a set, I try to be conscious about what parts feel better with and without it.

F: In Chile instruments are very expensive. So I do not care so much for any specific brand, I play whatever I have in front of me. I do have a beautiful Ludwig Black Panther that was a gift from my bandmates. G: Big fat snares and small kickdrums are exactly what I have. I love used instruments. Everything I own is used. I have a Yamaha Anton Fig signature snare, a very beaten up 1970s Ludwig Acrolite, Istanbul hi-hats and crash, and a flat Zildjian K ride. I don’t think brands matter, but rather the sound. What type of sounds do you prefer? F: I love the sound of Istanbuls, and big fat snares and small kick drums. I am curious about how much the wood hoops on your Yamaha snare influence its sound.

DO YOU FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE BEHIND OR IN FRONT OF THE DRUM SET?

G: It is a very different sound. I first liked the feel of it. Something about wood against wood felt very natural to my hand and I love it. I can make so many sounds with it that you can’t make with regular steel hoops. I play it like a different instrument almost. The rim shot for example doesn’t cut through the way you expect a rim shot to cut through. In the studio a rim shot on that snare makes it sound way smaller than a regular hit. It is a warmer more round sound; it doesn’t work for everything, which is why I have the acrolite as well. They sound great together; it gives different colors to the sound. Once I made a fill using both of them and my engineer was tripping because he thought I did some kind of filtering effect while playing.

F: Well, as long as I’m on stage it is the same to me.

F: You convinced me, I’m getting two snares.

F: We went through the same thing. We are also a trio, and we also explore different sounds to get away from the typical bass/ guitar/drums. That’s why we are moving towards writing more songs where I only sing and explore electronic sounds. G: I like that. I would like to hear what you come up with in the future. Machines open up an infinite world of possibilities, especially when used with the right ears.

LET’S TALK ABOUT GEAR.

Play Fran’s drum part of the Miss Garrison song Land of Aloha. Listen to it on www.tomtommag.com

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Play Gabriela’s drum part of the Balancer song Reminder. Listen to it on www.tomtommag.com

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The BLoW A SOUND ALL THEIR OWN

By Colleen Siviter | Photo by Yael Malka Collage by The Blow

For musicians used to meticulously constructing every sound used in their multi-layered electronic songs and performances, donning caftans and jamming out in the desert seems an unlikely start to a new album. But after The Blow’s eponymous 2013 album—conceived and produced in relative isolation with each other— partners and collaborators Khaela Marcich and Melissa Dyne were ready for something different. “The last album, I didn’t trust my intuition yet and I was working off this idea that we’re going to make this thing, we’re going to make it happen really willfully.” Marchich says. “I think the songs [on the new album] have that sound of breaking through an atmosphere, breaking through some kind of membrane.” On a warm and windy day in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the duo sat down with Tom Tom to talk about their evolving collaboration, using new technology, and how they’ve been championing a sound all their own.

TOM TOM MAGAZINE: HOW DID THE NEW ALBUM COME ABOUT? Khaela Marcich: When we were touring we started to realize there were more babies coming. Melissa Dyne: We build these sort of rigs that are like instruments. We record with them but we also perform with them so they become this sort of organism that we work with. So we started immediately building a new instrument based off of how we were playing with each other live and it basically became this new sound that we wanted to go for. CAN YOU DESCRIBE THIS RIG FOR US? M: Well it’s still kind of evolving you know. It’s all modular synthesizers based in synthesis and some analog. It’s 500 series format. On the last record it was really tedious to get each sound, so we were like let’s try to compress this and figure out how we can get that immediately. And we started working without a computer. The computer is more like tape to us right now, it’s just recording.

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K: It seems like last time we just recorded all these samples from all sorts of musicians and different sources and then we put them together like a mosaic in ProTools, kind of designing them, like drawing them almost. It was as tedious as a mosaic – buffing it and getting the samples perfect and then playing live together. HOW HAS INCORPORATING THIS NEW RIG/INSTRUMENT AFFECTED YOUR PROCESS OF MAKING MUSIC? K: Well the last record we had all these ideas of things we wanted to make. We’d make sketches and then we would try to realize the sketch. Starting in LA we just started jamming. We would just plug in the equipment and be in the same room together, responding back and forth. And that just wasn’t how we worked before. We weren’t quite ready to share the gooey parts of the process yet. M: From a production standpoint we knew what we wanted and we had to create what we knew we wanted and it was very controlled. It was like ok we need a flautist but we’re going to mic him this certain way because we know we want to do this other thing to it.


WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS LIKE IN THE STUDIO? K: The way that we’ve set it up we get to be less calculated. The process really has been like, plug in and let’s jam and then just start writing with each other in the moment. And we write music that I’ll respond to lyrically or that then magically fit things that I’ve written lyrically totally separately. M: Usually Khaela writes the lyrics and everything’s constructed around it. Like lyrics and a melody and then we build it from there. This time we’re working backwards really. K: Melissa was playing more with acoustics and my live improvisation was able to meet her live acoustic improvisation and frequencies so she could kind of send things I was doing around the room and I could be responding to it as I heard it. So the new album is more like that. M: It’s more about space. HOW WOULD YOU TWO DESCRIBE YOUR COLLABORATIVE PROCESS? M: There’s definitely something complimentary about both of our tactics and how we create things but I think that Khaela is kind of a brute. K: And you’re really, really refined. M: I like minimalism and subtlety. I like the big picture I like the overview of what’s happening or how that’s going to affect the next thing. I think it actually works really well. K: Plus we would finish a song and be like, well that’s a cool version but why don’t we do it completely different. And we would grow that way. HOW HAS THIS INFLUENCED YOUR SOUND ON THE UPCOMING ALBUM? K: We did tons of research and figured out the most minimal set up we would need so we wouldn’t have to rely on anybody else’s gear. So Melissa set up all this stuff and what’s so exciting is that I will just touch the keyboard and it’s like Fleetwood Mac or something. All the things she has it running through and the preamps and whatever effects she’s messing around with, it just comes out like seven layers of sound – slightly crystallized and slightly skewed from each other. It’s really exciting and it’s so cool that we came up with it ourselves. M: People still ask us who produced our record and we’re like, we did. We also engineered it and mixed it and played it so come on, get on the wagon.

K: I was surprised to realize it because we have the same taste in just about everything. To realize our processes were so different was shocking, I was worried about our music, that there would be a part missing in the middle. M: Everyone is trying to express themselves and I think that in order to be honest you have to let yourself be off guard a little bit. And that’s something we’ve both done in our individual careers. For a long time, we’ve been practicing this idea – learning as much as you can and then letting it all go and seeing what happens. In our collaboration we always improvise, that’s where we meet the most, especially live. It’s what we do and we do it really well together. K: We’re going to go into the future, who knows what it’s going to sound like or look like. We’re going to risk being ourselves even if it’s weird or unfashionable. We’re trying to let something new come out, which is scary.

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The eX

By Shaina Machlus | Photos by Eva Carasol

Katherina Bornefeld greets me with a calm recounting of the night she almost got arrested for sticking up for their co-performers, Shellac. This is Kat, and this is The Ex, a band known for its super punk un-punkness. Making jazz anarcho noise funk punk music that defies all categorization since 1970. Katherina and The Ex are playing Primavera Sound, arguably the largest music festival in Spain. They’re set to perform before Neutral Milk Hotel who she casually describes as ‘nice, funny guys’. For Katherina, music and life are one and the same, a practice of balance and constant evolution. The wisdom she shares on drumming transcends instruments and resonates into a world that simply glows. It is very clear within the first few minutes of our interview that Katherina knows just about all the secrets to life, and, most importantly, she is happy to share.

TOM TOM MAGAZINE: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING DRUMS? Katherina Bornefeld: Oh, I think 32 years. WHY DID YOU START? Because a girlfriend of mine played in a band and said we are looking for a drummer. I said, I’ve never drummed. And she said, It doesn’t matter just join in and have fun. That’s how it happened at that time; you didn’t need an education. It was more about fun and creating and playing. WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART FOR YOU? I didn’t find it hard, actually. I have musical sense so I have a feeling for rhythm. I only thought it’s very interesting and fun to explore and I started to make up my own exercises. 46

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WHAT ARE SOME OF THOSE? You hit the drums with your right hand from the left to the right and then with your left hand from the right to the left. Later I developed patterns where I use both of my arms the same way. I’m actually singing on the drums. I’ve actually tuned my drums to a certain harmony and I’m singing on them. DO YOU IDENTIFY AS A FEMALE MUSICIAN, A LADY MUSICIAN OR A MUSICIAN MUSICIAN? Female musician. What I’ve found out is that a female musician makes different music from a male musician, especially drumming. We play with a lot of soul, which is very good for music. It’s important not to imitate the males because otherwise you get the same thing and I think it’s only good for


the music if there’s a whole range of possibilities and there is creative play which is unique. All humans are unique. So the best thing is actually to play how you are, yourself. And this is the most interesting. YOU PLAY THE RHYTHM YOU FEEL AND YOU’RE TUNING YOUR DRUMS TO YOU AS WELL. YOUR INSTRUMENT IS SUPER PERSONAL. Yes it is. I am so grown together with my instrument. For example I don’t like it if someone hits it really hard, it really hurts my soul. I get physically sick if someone is really hitting hard on my drums. MUSIC FOR YOU IS A VERY EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE. Definitely. IT DEFINITELY DEFIES THE NOTION OF DRUMMING WITH SPECIFIC TIMING AND MEASUREMENT. DO YOU EVER COUNT? I sometimes count, but I count when I have created a new beat. Just until the beat has become integrated in my body. Because I play very much with my body. And I have found out that it’s best to play out of your belly. I learned to do that from Karate, which I did when I was 21. You learn how to use your Chi, your life energy, from the belly. And that’s what I use when I’m drumming. I try to let it flow from this belly point. I’m very sensitive and aware of my body. I also keep myself in condition. I have to. I do yoga once a week, and nordic walking, which is great for drummers.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ENCOURAGE MORE WOMEN TO PLAY MUSIC? Have fun playing! One more important thing is that I am very happy with the guys I play with and they have always had the full respect for me and my music. It’s very important especially when you are beginning and maybe you’re insecure. I have always had the full support of my band for my playing. And that helps. IT’S YOUR FAMILY, THE PEOPLE YOU PLAY WITH. Yes, absolutely it is. We are like a family. YOU HAVE BEEN PLAYING TOGETHER FOR SO LONG, YOU HAVE GROWN UP TOGETHER—AND WITH SOMETHING TANGIBLE TO SHOW FOR IT! A PROGRESSION OF MUSIC, A STORYBOOK. THAT’S BEAUTIFUL . I compare it with painters, you have this white canvas and one just starts making dots with red and the other comes in and says ‘oh that’s nice! let’s have some stripes!’ and the other adds some other color. Then we shape it all together until we are all satisfied. And that’s the song.

AND GREAT FOR THE LEGS TOO! Yes! I also need to keep myself in good shape because I’m getting older, I’m 52 now. DO YOU IMAGINE PLAYING DRUMS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? I can imagine. Our career is an open book, we never know what the next page will bring. But also, after things might stop, I think I will always make music. It’s one of my passions. The other passion is healing. Those are my two passions, and I will do that until I die, I’m sure. WHAT A LIFE! YOU GET TO GIVE SO MUCH TO PEOPLE ALL THE TIME. But I receive as well! There should always be balance. THE EX HAS ALWAYS PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE ANARCHO-PUNK MUSIC SCENE. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT CLASSIFICATION? For us, the expression ‘anarchist punk’ is only an expression, a label. It’s not that we feel we are anarchist punk or something. Actually it’s more about freedom to break out of what is normal. You can call it punk but you can also call it free spirit. We never got stuck in the dogma that punk rock is not a certain way. We always had other projects with other musicians like Kurdish musicians, or African musicians.

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ILLUSTRATION BY KAJA KOCHNOWICZ

Zoe hoch BATTEUSE for DEMI MONDAINE


ILLUSTRATION BY KAJA KOCHNOWICZ

TokiMoNsTa


B AN D M EM B ERS F RO M LEF T TO RI G HT AB B IE J ONES H O RNB URG - DRU MS AL EX R U I Z - VOX + RH YT H M G U I TAR ES M E AS HLEY-W H IT E - VOX + BASS L EN A AB RAH AM - LEAD GUITAR

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petalwar By K a te Rya n | Pho to b y J enny G o r m a n

T

he first time I got to see PetalWar was on a roof in Brooklyn at a Rooftop Films screening. Rooftop Films had put the word out that they wanted a band of teenage girls to play before We Are the Best (go watch it, you’ll love it), and I asked around in the Willie Mae Rock Camp world about who should play. People said to get in touch with PetalWar, so I did. Months later, there they were in front of the movie screen. I saw slow unstoppable grins appear on all the faces in the crowd as a crew of their friends started hopping and moshing between the band and the rows of folding chairs—first one, singly hopping, then another, until the first few rows of chairs were pushed out of the way of the allimportant living, breathing moshpit. It drizzled through their whole set, but no one noticed they were getting rained on ‘til the music was over. PetalWar is a force. Each individual brings her own incredible talent and presence, and as a band they cohere into something that is obviously special and electric—maybe dangerous in the rain, and definitely worth the risk. PetalWar started as a two piece, borne out of Abbie and Alex’s lifelong best friendship—slumber parties turning into dance parties turning into jam sessions. Abbie started drumming playing along to the White Stripes on pots and pans in her parents apartment. This past year, Esme and Lena joined the band, and they’ve quickly evolved a new and dynamic sound. The band says that they’re equally influenced by 90s rock (Hole, Nirvana, Sleater-Kinney, PJ Harvey), swamp pop, and the bands in their current DIY scene—and especially, they’re inspired by each other. They practice in Abbie’s tiny bedroom, cranking out riffs and jamming to write new material collaboratively. Alex says, “sometimes, the process feels a lot like pressing out air bubbles or unraveling tiny knots— everything we need and want to say is somehow already there, but the real difficulty is in finding the right way to decompress or unravel it for everyone else, and for ourselves.” They’ve just finished recording their first EP as a four-piece, and that’ll be out in the world both on their bandcamp page, and on cassette. Says Lena, “I’m really excited about the cassette tapes! I think self-publishing and free distribution is the greatest thing because record labels are really hard to get signed to because music is so oversaturated now. They also make most of the money. The whole industry is very corrupt and that’s how you get these big and famous idols that are impossible to approach or have any access to. When you have idols involved within your scene or in the same kind of scene it’s a lot easier to meet and network with them. Everything is so much better when you have access to people.” (DIY or die.) After a wild year where they’ve played SXSW, tons of DIY shows in New York, a Town Hall fundraiser (introduced by Marty Markowitz, [Brooklyn Borough President] of all things), and opened for The Julie Ruin, PetalWar is about to splinter off and go to different colleges. I’m sure they’ll all keep playing kickass music, whether together or in other projects, and the world is lucky that a PetalWar record is on the way. ISSU E 19: IN THE STU DIO

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STUDIO WARM UP By Morgan Doctor

You are in the studio and your drums are all set up and mic’ed. You are ready to lay down some killer drum tracks. Here are some simple exercises to help you warm-up before you start playing so your first takes are as good as your last ones.

1 Set your metronome to 80 and work at 5 bmp increments up to 100. We are using a ¼ note metronome. Single strokes—one bar playing eighth notes and one bar of sixteeth notes in one hand only. Do this for 1 min at each tempo.

2 Now that your hands are warmed up, let’s get them moving around the kit. Try this flam tap variation around the kit. Play the dominant hand of the flams on the toms and all other strokes on the snare.

3

With our hands ready to go let’s get our kick warmed-up. 70 bpm. Keeping a basic rock beat on hi hat and snare, go thru the exercises, playing two notes on the bass drum as 16th notes, 16th note triplets and then 32nd notes.

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INVERTED PARADIDDLE By Vanessa Dominique

In this lesson we take a look at the inverted paradiddle [RLLR LRRL] and how we can apply it as a groove and as a fill. = 120

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In Bar 5 we have a linear groove that doubles up as a fill. Linear simply means you play one limb at a time! Some of our left hand strokes are replaced with the kick drum so take your time with it, build up muscle memory then have a go 1/1 with your metronome. Enjoy!

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Small, 3-string guitars.

loogguitars.com


REVIEWS

HEDGEHOG

TEE-TAHS

Buzzkill Self-released / June 2014

Over Me Crime on the Moon / July 2014

The Beijing trio Hedgehog create expansive gauzy-pop sung mainly in Chinese, with a polished mix of distorted and clean guitars, some keyboards, and well-chosen cello. On their sixth album, Phantom Pop Star, guitarist Zo and drummer Atom share many of the vocals, bringing a charged atmospheric sparkle to a thoughtful and, at times, wistful, indie dreamscape. The standout track is “DDDDDDreaMMMMMM,” one that brings together the best of sunny indie postpunk and noisy psychedelic freak-outs. Atom’s drums and soaring voice skillfully punch through the distorted drone of dive-bombing reverb-y guitars, as keyboard lines and clean guitar hooks playfully dart in and fade out of the controlled eruptions of noise. Fans of Pinback, Deerhoof, Blonde Redhead, and Joy Division are sure to find something to like here.

At first listen to Edmonton, Alberta Canada’s TeeTahs’ garage pop album Buzzkill, you may want to do what I did. Play it over and over. The lo-fi production of Buzzkill serves the Tee-Tahs well and calls to mind bands like The Undertones but with the attitude of The Runaways.

Right from the rapid bass murmur start of Cold Beat’s new record Over Me, the mind races towards comparisons to Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control.” But seconds later, once Hannah Lew’s haunting voice seduces through the speakers, you realize you are in Cocteau Twins territory. You ask yourself, is this 1983? Where are the black clad, pale-faced vamps nodding their heads up and down in disaffected agreement?

Listen to this: when you’re about to get attacked by zombies, and you need a burst of sunshine to warm their dead bodies.

—Jaye Moore

Phantom Pop Star Modern Sky Entertainment / April 2014

Songs like “Sl*t F*cker” and “Fun Forever” are sing along classics as my six year old niece and nephew can attest to during a Nerf gun fight for control of the universe while Buzzkill played on repeat. I wish I had this at the beginning of the summer so I could have listened to it every night in the parking lot of a Burger King getting wasted with my friends. Listen to this: right before you steal some beer from your friend’s parents and get drunk in an old van.

Over Me doesn’t remain a dour shoe-gazing affair, however. With tracks like “UV” and “Falling Skyline,” now we hear a surf-punk, almost B-52’s flavor, making the record entirely danceable, and not just a rainy day antidote. No, this record is a cure, using harmonies and synthesizers like a band-aid over a bored and scarred soul. Listen to this: when it’s time to leave all that bothers you behind, put dark sunglasses on, and walk through the crowds smiling to yourself like you got the secret. —Matthew D’Abate

—Caryn Havlik

SOR SAENCE

DARLING DIN

THE REPROBETTES

What would happen if Hella and Le Tigre got married? They’d go on a honeymoon, of course, maybe to somewhere sunny, say Mexico. And if the stars were twinkling and the moon was hanging just right in the sky they’d make a baby out of that union, one that sounds a lot like Sor Saence. The Mexcio City duo of Cecilia Villaverde (guitar, vocals) and Beatriz Creel (drums, other vocals) made an impressive debut with UNO. While the pair has some room to grow, with lyrics occasionally sounding anthemic a la Kathleen Hanna, drums aspiring to Zach Hill, and a bit of surf rock stirred in, these girls are gonna turn into the best kind of heartbreakers.

Named one of the best emerging artists of 2013 in The Deli Magazine, Darling Din, formerly known as So So Apropos, spent just two days in a Jersey studio and produced five beautiful, alluring songs with enough pop appeal to keep the EP on repeat. Singer Lisa Jaeggi’s voice can undoubtedly be compared to that of Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Lee Segarra, but Jaeggi’s guitar and the swirling, pounding, instrumentation of the rest of her band will end the comparisons there. These five songs carry you effortlessly through love, heartbreak, and defiant rebirth, oftentimes all in the same song.

Everything you need to know about The Reprobettes is conveyed in the opening drum beats and the first wave of sound wafting from the guitar and keyboards on their first track aptly named “Reprobettes Theme,” and if you need to know more, their name does the rest. Hailing from Australia, these women pay homage to the surf rock royalty of the ’60’s but with plenty of their own snark and attitude conveyed in songs like “Young & Dumb” and “I Don’t Love You No More.” Throw in a dab of early B-52’s and a few Shangri-Laesque “Oh Johnny’s” and you’re in the girl gang that is The Reprobettes.

Listen to this: while singing into your mirror and perfecting your best John Waters’ style bad girl look.

Listen to this: while debating on sunscreen and bikinis or leather jackets and eyeliner.

UNO EP Self-released / June 2014

Listen to this: when you need to remember it’s sunny and gritty and beautiful somewhere not so far away. —Emily Nemens

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COLD BEAT

TO M TO M M A G A Z I N E

Self-titled EP August 2014

—Katy Tackett

Self-titled Off the Hip Records / August 2014

—Katy Tackett


MUSIC

CRUSHED OUT

Teeth Cool Clear Water Records / September 2014 Crushed Out’s third full-length album is the result of a tumbleweed-strewn, guns-a-blazin’ desert showdown between Jenny Lewis and La Luz. I’m not sure who wins, but I don’t think it matters. All the labels that have been bestowed upon the New Hampshire husband and wife duo — spaghetti western, honky tonk, reverb-drenched surf— are totally accurate, so I don’t feel a need to invent a new (obviously nonsensical and hyper-pretentious) term to describe them. All I can tell you is that when singer/drummer Moselle Spiller sings “hopping trains, landed in some Midwest town” in “Riding Lightning,” even though Crushed Out started in Brooklyn, I’m like, “Yeah! Tell me more about that time you were hoppin’ trains!” I mean, I believe her, man. I am totally drinking the crushed out kool-aid and it tastes like whiskey. Listen to this: when you want to feel like the sheriff of a desert town but you can’t afford cowboy boots and the desert is too darn hot. —Anna Blumenthal

PETTY MORALS

NUNS

Born from the ashes of a Joan Jett cover band, this New England dance punk band say they were initially inspired by Metric when they started Petty Morals. Drummer LoWreck and bassist Ivanha Rock took that mission out to their local scene and cherry picked some of their favorite musicians to join the band.

Sometimes you need music for the end of a humid summer, which in itself is a languid, mystical time. The new release Opportunities from Nuns (not to be confused with the San Francisco punk band The Nuns) is that record. Driving hits, all moody yet familiar, lands between the haunting haze of My Bloody Valentine and the dancing on the celestial void style of Wayne Coyne’s odder efforts. The track “Resurrect This Pawn” even glides close to a Pink Floyd outtake—the record is perfect escape music.

Cherry Ice Pop Self-released / August 2014

They fluctuate between synth-y punk and disco beats with diva vocals. I’d put them on a bill at Danceteria in 1981 with Cyndi Lauper, ESG, and Blondie. The first song, “Girl Gotta Do” kicks off with a lot of sneering swagger as you would expect from a band that gets its name from a Keith Richards quote. But they trade in their motorcycle boots for strappy gold Donna Summer heels in the remix of the same song at the end. There’s definitely a lot of 80s influences here but the track “Shuddup” has closely knit vocal harmonies that took me back to the 90s when I’d ride around in my Honda singing along to the Dance Hall Crashers.

Opportunities Passive Recordings / May 2014

Nuns bring mystery to a sexual level; the plucks on the electric bass are like digital catcalls, the vocals both spacey and practically choral. Opportunities in the end, is a well-orchestrated narcotic, with a no come down guarantee. Listen to this: after you sign up for Zip Car, kickstart the engine, and get the hell out of dodge. —Matthew D’Abate

Listen to this: As you and your friends go toilet paper your crush’s house. —Rebecca DeRosa

FILM FRANK

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson Music by Stephen Rennicks August 15, 2014 (USA)

WHITE LUNG

Deep Fantasy Domino / June 2014 It’s not so much metal, but it certainly is chaos. Leading aggressively with the track “Drown With the Monster,” this music is doom music, a scathing siren roaring down a dark street. White Lung’s third full album release, Deep Fantasy dropped this June, lands in a place between the madness of Lydia Lunch and the psychotic energy of Birthday Party. The track “Snake Jaw” edges closer to a pop-chant that anyone who’s still got their L7 record on vinyl will understand, and it worth noting “In Your Home” could easily fit on an early Hole record. The band, based out of Vancouver, Canada, has already achieved wide critical acclaim from Pitchfork and Spin, and for good reason. That reason? Fucking rock and roll, baby.

This film, centered around a band which includes an eager up and coming musician in tandem with an embittered familial-like rest of the band, is at once heart breaking and ridiculous at the same time. The lead character, played by Michael Fassbender, is based off a real life British outside musician Frank Sidebottom who is best known for writing kid songs and the paper mache mask he never took off. That’s right, the mask he never took off. While the fill is centered around Frank and his mask it leads us to questions we have all had about fame versus anonymity. Can we truly be ourselves when we reach the level of mass consumption? Oh, and one of our favorite drummers, Carla Azar, is the amazing drummer in the film. All the more reason to go and watch this. — Mindy Abovitz

Listen to this: when you start believing everything out of Canada is a little “too nice.” —Matthew D’Abate ISSU E 19: IN THE STU DIO

57


REVIEWS

BOOKS By Nobuko Kemmotsu

Dawn Richardson, well known for her work with 4 Non Blondes and more recently with musicians like Tracy Chapman and Joe Gore, is also a published author of several drumming books. Her new book “Chart Topping Drum Fills” presents transcriptions of fills that are heard in popular songs, accompanied by additional fill exercises. You will see examples of a fill in the book in a lesson that Dawn wrote below specially for Tom Tom readers! Naturally, I was thrilled to ask her all about this book and more when I spoke to her. I found her to be a gracious individual whose passion towards drumming is contagious even over the phone.

TOM TOM MAGAZINE: HOW DID THIS BOOK COME ABOUT? Dawn Richardson: It came about through conversations with Nate Brown (of onlinedrummer.com) about materials that would be of use to people in trying to connect things together. When you teach people concepts and there is no context, it’s hard for them to understand why. And I feel that with this sort of a book you can see the context right away. “Here is where these fills come from, and this is a type of fill, and you can hear them in this song.” And you can see the concept a lot easier and why it might be useful for you to learn that kind of stuff. The songs examples are often the songs I teach to students when I am giving private lessons. It’s great to be teaching Hi Hat

Key Key

4¿ / Hi Hat 4 4¿ / 4

Crash

¿ Crash¿ ¿ ¿ Cross-Stick Cross-Stick

at the same time because I could also try things out. I’m hoping that this book would help people hear the different types of fills that there are, and be able to as drummers have a little easier time putting some of these concepts together for themselves. It will give you a bigger vocabulary to choose from, and maybe give you a little better idea of what might work, instead of “I don’t know, I’m just playing the same things.” WHAT WAS MOST CHALLENGING IN CREATING THIS BOOK? It’s always a challenge to keep updating yourself and reorganizing constantly…and the balance between trying to be thorough enough and making it interesting enough. Also, the video portion of the book is Ride

¿ Ride ¿¿

œ

Snare

œ

œ

Kick

Snare

œ ¿Hi Hat with Foot

œ

Kick

œHigh High

Hi Hat with Foot

available for those that might want to see everything demonstrated. And I do mean EVERYTHING, the whole book. That portion of this project was perhaps the most difficult and time consuming as I recorded and edited all of the video myself. WHAT WOULD YOUR NEXT BOOK BE? I just did another short e-book called Rhythm Reader, which is about working on ostinatos and then going over different hand rhythms. When I teach I run into a lot of people who have never read music. So this e-book is starting way back with whole notes, half notes, and getting into all the notation. Nate is already bothering me about writing another one of drum fills, so, we’ll see if that happens. Toms Toms

œ

œ

œMiddle Middle

œ Low Low

Back in Black

q = 93

> >> > ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ > ¿> ¿ ≈ > ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ œ >œ œ œ > œ / œ œ œ œ ¿ ¿ ¿œ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿œ ¿ ¿ œ¿ œ ¿ œœ ¿ Óœœ ¿ ≈œ œ ¿ œ ¿ œ¿ ¿œ ¿ / œ œ œ œ Óœ œ œ œ > > > > End of Chorus ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿. > ¿ ¿ ¿ > > > œ œ End of Chorus/ œ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ œ ¿ œ ¿ ¿ œ ¿ . œ . ¿ œ¿ œ ¿ œ œ / œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ Œ

Verse to Chorus q = 93 Transition Verse to Chorus Transition

Back in Black >

AC/DC AC/DC

¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ œ ¿ ¿œ ¿œ ¿ œ Œ

> > œ j  œœ j œ

¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ / ¿œ ¿ ¿ œ ¿ œ ¿ œ ¿ ¿ œ ¿ œ ¿ œ ¿ ¿ œ ¿ ¿ œ ¿ ¿ œ¿ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ / œ œ

Solo Phrases Solo Phrases

58

TO M TO M M A G A Z I N E

Walk


REVIEWS

DW

JAZZ SERIES By Andrea Davies

DW Drums was created in 1972 by Don Lombardi. In the early days, DW offered drum lessons, and one of Lombardi’s students was now Vice President John Good. Both Lombardi and Good wanted to create more efficient drum equipment. Soon this became the start of DW Drums we know today. DW is one of the largest drum manufacturers in the world. They offer a variety of series which include many customizable finishes, hardware colors, shells and sizes. DW drums are carefully crafted for a solid build, easy tuning and great sound.

60

TO M TO M M A G A Z I N E


GEAR

DW Jazz Series is unlike any other Jazz kit on the market. From the endless custom finish options, the different combinations of shells and sizes, DW gives you more than just a jazz kit. Though its introduction to the drum world began in 2008, the Jazz Series maintains an incredible sound that is great for many genres in the studio and live. The sizes of this kit include, 8x12 mounted tom, 14x14 floor tom, 14x18 kick, and a 5x14 snare. The finish is a natural hard satin with chrome hardware. The shells are constructed with a combination of 2-ply maple, 3-ply gum, and 2-ply maple. This fusion gives the kit its warm, robust sound as well as its great attack and clarity. The kit is easy to tune to any pitch high or low and the Jazz Series also comes with DW’s famous matching system. When I started playing I wasn’t expecting such a huge sound to come out of these drums. The snare has fantastic warmth matched with great attack. This snare is made for rim shots. The sound is huge and the edge rings perfectly. The DW MAG throw off is smooth and easily adjustable

for a quick sound transition. The snare sound can also be altered by the 3P Butt Plate. This gives you three options for how much tension is put on the strainer. This middle setting has great range for me because you get both a fat and tight sound. I tuned the toms low and then high to see how well the kit projected sound. In low tuning the tom had great warm tones that clearly resonated through the rest of the kit. In highter tuning, the toms sang but didn’t overly ring. DW was able to perfect this by a number of great factors. First, the butter edge, which is a smoother and rounder bearing edge that allows for a wider tuning range. John Good created the butter edge just for the Jazz Series. Second, the DW True Hoop, which is a flat and round design that sits comfortably on the drum head adding weight to control the drum’s resonance. Third, the Remo Coated USA heads adds extra depth and versatility to the shells. Next, the Suspension Tom Mount holds the toms in place without piercing the shell with other hardware, it also allows the drums to vibrate naturally. Lastly, the bass

drum includes the classic style Rail Mount. This great feature keeps the integrity of the shell and makes positioning the tom easily adjustable for every angle. The DW Series is fantastic for any type of music. The fusion of shells, the depth of the Remo Coated heads, DW’s True Hoop and Suspension Mounting System make this kit perfect for playing live and recording. There are also many hardware colors, finishes, and sizes available to customize your kit exactly how you want it to look and sound. Using the same techniques to build the Collectors Series, the DW Jazz Series gives you a fusion of a classic DW kit combined with the dynamic Jazz Series tones the make it versatile for any musician.


Tom Tom Magazine Issue 19: In the Studio  

This Fall issue of Tom Tom is themed "In The Studio" and features Venzella Joy (Beyonce) as our cover story. Inside there are interviews wit...

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