susie ibarra USD 6.00 w w w.t o m t o m m ag.c o m
ISSUE FOUR / FALL 2010
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the experimental issue
Letter From the Editor
Welcome to Issue 4 of Tom Tom Magazine: The Experimental Issue. We scavenged the world to bring you some of the most profoundly creative and innovative musicians of our time. Included in these pages are Kinetic Light Drums, Susie Ibarra's folkloric narratives, and a band of women who dress like men and perform with a 200-pound stompbox. We interviewed Maria Chavez, the incredible avantturntablist, and I quote her because she put it best, “When I first started, I was mixing the ‘Land’s End’ of records. The Land’s End is the term that describes the very end of a record, the groove that has been created after it’s been stamped by the lathe. It’s originally used to alert the listener to flip the record over. If you allow the record to continue to play, the needle will start to get hot and slowly change the rhythm by slightly melting the physical groove into something more intricate. So the friction creates its own rhythm. Every Land’s End sounds completely different.” Enjoy all the Land’s Ends we brought together for this issue. xo, Mindy Abovitz
P hoto by Bek Andersen
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Contributors F o u n d er / Ed i to r- i n - C h i ef
Mindy Abovitz Des i g n BY
Candice Ralph Harlo Holmes
W eb M a ster p r i n t ed i to R DE S IGNER
p ro duc ti o n
Nort h w est C o r r esp o n d en t L A CORRE S P OND ENT
L ON DON CORRE S P o N DENT d i r e c to r o f ma r k eti ng v i d e og r a p h er s
Angela Favorite, Angela Cheng
P HOTOGr a p h ER S
Bek Andersen, Stefano Galli, Erin Nicole Brown, Meg Wachter, Matt Johnson, Ben Aqua, Nathan Backous, Aart-Jan Schakenbos, Mr. Arko Halder, Jim Callaghan, Jessica Green, Maro Hagopian, Tyler Trykowski, Kristen Blush, D. Hope, Claudine Rousseau,Travis Lindhorst WRITERS
Jane Boxall, Allie Alvarado, Camila Danger, Lisa Schonberg, Adriane Schramm, FonLin Nyeu, Ashley Baier, Katy Otto, Cathy Hsiao, Jeremy Danneman, Kelie Bowman, Alison Mazer, LaFrae Sci, Elizabeth Jungleforce, Laura Fares, Jasmine Dream Wagner, Rachel Trachtenburg, Temim Fruchter, Joel Jr., Fernando Ribeiro Neto, Josephine McRobbie, Nikki McLeod, Allie Alvarado, Katyann Gonzalez, Bianca Russelburg, Derek Wayne, Radio Sloan, Olsi Johnson, Lee Free I L LUSTRATORS
Rachel Wolf, Pascalle Ballard
THANK YO U Kickstarter and all our backers, Cassie Marketos, Razorcake, Northside Festival, Susie Ibarra, Ima, Aba, Rony, Rita & Wanda, Rock N Roll Camp for Girls, DBA, Cake Shop, Collette Blanchard Gallery, all of Tom Tom’s fans c o n tac t
ema i L : IN FO@ TOMTOMMAG.COM addre ss: 302 Bedford Ave P MB #8 5, Brooklyn, NY 11211
WWW.TOMTOMMAG.COM on th e cover (front) Susie Ibarra by Bek Andersen (back) Evelyn Glennie by Jim Callaghan
co r r e ct i o ns f r o m i s sue 3 Craigie and and Debbie are the 14th generation, not the 12th. The order notebook photo is of Avedis Zildjian’s book, not Armand’s (from Zildjian piece). Suze turned 32 not 31. 4
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tom tom magazine issue 04
CONTENTS Beacon, Musician, Thinker Susie Ibarra on concious drumming. 26 Dame With a Flame Evelyn Glennie shares her take on sound and music. 2 4 Tabla Time Sunayana Ghosh muses about her mom, God, men, and India. 34 The Lathe Maria Chavez on avant-turntablism. 3 2 Choosing to Dream, Choosing to Drum The Ingoma Nshya women of Rwanda and a Jewish saxophone player. 28 Simultaneously Soft and StronG A phenomenology of female musicianship, part I. 2 3 Matt & Kim Kim and her best friend Kelie talk high school and T.I. 36 Janet Pant A dancer with a drummer's beat. 1 8 Kinetic Light Drums Illuminated by human interaction. 1 6 Painted Heads Adriane Schramm's escapism. 1 4 Shopping for Drums by Lee Free. 4 7 Addition by Subtraction Drum technique by Bianca Russelburg. 5 0 Moms on Drums How to stay at the kit with the kids. 9 Family Ties Rachel Trachtenburg interviews the Shark on playing with her brother. 1 2 What's in Your Bag Grass Widow's Lillian Maring unpacks her luggage. 6 How-to -Make Drum Triggers 5 2 Throwback Moe Tucker 5 4 Brazilian Drummers 8
please cut out the form below and mail to: PMB #85, 302 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA Or subscribe online at www.tomtommag.com to subscribe
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wh at ' s i n y o u r b a g ? by li z a rmstrong
Grass Widow drummer Lillian Maring flew in from San Francisco to New York for a quick Northeast tour, including a big outdoor Brooklyn blowout with Sonic Youth. Flying prohibits bringing a lot of stuff, but she says she’s not really an equipment kind of gal anyway. What made the cut: cymbals, snare, kick pedal—things people don’t tend to lend out so easily—checked in and padded with T-shirts for sale and extra clothes because she says, “You never know if they’re throwing around your stuff.” Usually the band does all their interviews together, but Lillian agreed to let us dig through her luggage and ask her what she brought. She was feeling a little shy because this is the first time one of the Grass Widow trio has broken from the group, so we helped her along by being really nosy. Lillian Maring, unzip your bags!
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Water Stay hydrated, especially if people are drinking alcohol. Water, dude.
Plane Snacks We’re health nuts. We bring a lot of our food with us. On our first tour we had a camper that had a pop top and it had a little fridge inside and we went to the grocery store and only ate from there. That was a dream.
Crazy Hosiery I like wearing tights because I’m not interested in being half naked.
Hair Rollers I use hair rollers. Hannah and I were both wearing them on the plane and the flight attendant was like, “are you going out right now?” We were flying in at midnight. We both have really curly hair. Rollers make it less curly.
Laptop i Bring my computer everywhere I go because I’m the webmaster of the band. I write the html code from scratch. It’s annoying to lug it around but it’s necessary.
Useful Crafts I make my own menstrual pads with shoulder pads from shirts i buy at the thrift store.
Turmeric Another thing you can do to make sure your tendons aren’t agitated is take turmeric. Some people take it in capsules, I just cook with it a lot.
Wrist Guards Playing drums so much has affected my wrists—I don’t know if it’s tendonitis or carpal tunnel. On tour your body’s going through so much so I encourage everyone to stretch. I also raise my stool so I’m above my drum kit, so as to create a straight line from shoulder to hand. on tour you’re loading and unloading at least twice a day, then sleeping on a floor, so you’ve really got to take care of your body. I wear these wrist braces in bed every night. Yeah, we’re definitely grandmas on tour—we never go to after-parties. People will say, “You wanna hang out after this?” And we’re like, “We’re hanging out right now!”
The Furry Thing This is my favorite hat. I wear hats a lot. It’s cute. I don’t wear it when I’m playing. There isn’t a whole lot you can wear while playing drums to feel comfortable.
My Rent Check I didn’t send it. I have to mail it. I hope it gets there on time.
Rabbits, Crabs, Etc. This is a book of short stories by Japanese women. I haven’t started reading it yet. I don’t get sick when I read in the car. I try to bring something light to read. I chose this one because I like the use of symbolism, which is something that’s a big part of our songwriting. We use a lot of symbolism and abstraction to describe situations that can be interpreted on multiple levels by anyone who takes interest. We don’t tell straightforward stories. It’s not like, “I liked you and then we broke up and now I’m writing a song about it.” Because we each write from our own perspective, we have to not conform to each other ‘s perceptions but create a platform for each of us to talk about our experiences in a way that’s universal.
Flouncy Top We’re gonna shoot a music video in Providence so I thought I’d bring something costumey. We’re shooting underwater with a Super-8 camera that [bass player and singer] Hannah got. I thought this was a cool mermaid dress. I like the sequins. I always end up bringing frilly funny things in case I want to wear them, but when I’m on tour I just want to be comfortable so I end up wearing the same T-shirt every day. When playing drums I always have to wear shorts. I like feeling mobile. I like to relax and not worry too much about what I look like. I think we carry that onstage too. There’s a certain kind of attitude when you’re comfortable. When playing I don’t want to worry about how I look. We’re not a very image-oriented band, not in the sense that we rely on that to sell our music.
Bag o’ Goodness I carry nettle leaf and black cohosh—it’s good for relieving menstrual symptoms, and some people swear your period will start as soon as you take it. I also have some medicinal teas, earplugs, and hand sanitizer. I’m not a germaphobe but when you’re in the car eating an avocado with a pocketknife you need something to get all the stuff off your hands.
Journal We don’t take tour very lightly. We all usually have jobs and houses to maintain. So while on the road we’re very productive. Sometimes we’ll write songs. When practicing we record on tape, and then while driving we’ll listen to the tapes and brainstorm lyrics. We write all the lyrics together. We’ve written songs and sung them in the car together. We have a lot of time, so why not use it to be creative?
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CLAU SW EET ZOMBIE 22 / As Diab at z / Curitiba
I play psychobilly, a mix of 1950s rockabilly and punk. When I was a little kid, I used to play air drums! I always liked drummers, drums, and anything related. So when I turned 15, I decided to take some lessons and here I am seven years later. Brazil is an exotic country for sure—we have so many styles that even I don't know them all. But my thing really is psychobilly. We have a lot of good Brazillian psychobilly bands over here: Os Catalépticos, Brown Vampire Catz, Ovos Presley, Kães Vadius, and, of course, As Diabatz.
DANI GOMEZ 2 4 / Baby Lee & Nunca Fui Santa / Curitiba
LUCY PEART 22 / Punkake Punkake; Curitiba/ Curitiba
I was born in a city called Rolandia (north of Paraná) and I play rock ’n’ roll and pop. I’m also studying Brazilian rhythm. When I was a kid my father was a martial band conductor and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Those who understand a bit of martial band may be familiar with the “caixas de guerra” (snare drums), and all the marching. I always felt like these were the strong parts of this style of band, so when I was 12 and I decided to start studying music, I went directly to percussion.
I play indie rock! I needed something to channel my hyperactivity, and thought that drums would be perfect—an incredible instrument that you play with feet and hands. In the past there were virtually no women playing drums, so I thought, “Why not?” After much insistence, my mother put me in a class; after that, there was no stopping me.
NANA RIZINI 29 / soloist / São Paulo
FERNANDA TERRA 31 / F in al F ight / São Paul o
I play hardcore/punk, and I started playing when my brother´s band needed a drummer and I just wanted in. So I started taking lessons with a neighbor and really liked it and never stopped.
Sã o paulo
b ra zi l i a n DRUMMERS Drum Time is an expansive 20-yearold percussion school in Curitiba, Brazil that instructs students in all styles, from traditional rhythms such as samba and maracatu to the outright experimental. Director-owner Joel Jr. noticed that the girls who took his classes seemed to catch on and develop faster than the guys, and had more courage at the drum kit. As a result, and to commemorate Drum Time’s two-decade anniversary, he held a workshop open only to women called Girls on Drums. Joel caught up with five participants and asked them what got them started.
My main solo project is electro rock acoustic instruments, programmed drums, and samplers. But as a drummer I enjoy playing all kinds of music. I played with Tiê, Thiago Pethit, Jack & Fancy, Vive La Fete (from Belgium), Codigo B, Krepax, K-SIS. My dad has always played percussion, especially samba, so I grew up listening to a lot of music— mom singing, dad playing. So my dad tought me a little bit of tambourine when I was a kid. Later I decided to play drums, because in my mind it was more complete. Of course I learned later in life that one doesn't have anything to do with the other. But definitely the best thing I did was decide to play drums.
bra z ilia n ba n d s t o l o o k ou t f o r
Tila Gandra myspace.com/rocklipstick From Lipstick, a pop-rock band from Santo André.
Nina Pará myspace.com/ninadrummer She plays drums for three different bands right now: Illustria, a heavy metal band; Crats, an instrumental blues project with her twin sister Tatiana Pará; and Lacme.
Debora Teicher myspace.com/scracho The only woman in the band SCRACHO from Rio de Janeiro
Fernanda Terra myspace.com/thelyrex Drummer for the punk rock/ hardcore trio Final Fight and the all female band Lyrex. She’s also an illustrator and painter. Naná Rizinni myspace.com/nanarizinni Played as side-woman drummer for many new Brazilian acts, and also works solo as a singer and composer. Dani Gomes myspace.com/bandababylee Drummer for Baby Lee, from a prolific girl band scene in Curitiba. Lucy Peart myspace.com/bandapunkake Drummer for Punkake, another all-female band from Curitiba. Clau Sweet Zombie myspace.com/asdiabatz Stand-up drummer (like Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom) from As Diabatz, a psychobilly trio from Curitiba.
Taciana Guimaraes youtube.com/user/taciguimaraes Drummer from Diadema who has a YouTube channel of drumming clips. Nicolle Paes myspace.com/nicollepaes Born in Santos, the state of São Paulo, and now studies drums in São Paulo City with Giba Favery. Jully Lee youtube.com/jullylee Another drummer from Santos who plays for a heavy metal cover band called ROCKS HOLLYWOOD. Paula Nozzari myspace.com/canjarave She plays in Canja Rave, a duo that toured several times in the US. She will be on tour in the UK, Netherlands, and Spain between September and October. Pat myspace.com/ thedeadloverstwistedheart She bangs drums for a band called THE DEAD LOVER'S TWISTED HEART, an indie rock band from Belo Horizonte.
Simone Sou myspace.com/simonesou Drummer and percussionist who plays with many of Brazilan acts, now runs her own project THE SOUKAST DUO with Gulherme Kastrup. Cynthia Tsai Yuen myspace.com/scathaband Drummer for SCATHA, a trash metal band from Rio de Janeiro. Drica Lago myspace.com/dricalago Drummer for another heavy metal band called RATTLE from Salvador, Bahia. Claudinha Bukowski myspace.com/copacabanaclubmusic She’s in COPACABANA CLUB, an indie quintet from Curituba that blends indie rock with a twist of Brazilian music to craft catchy songs that attract a fast growing audience and turn each gig into a dancefloor. You might like it! Mel Toda myspace.com/subburbia Drums in electro-rock band SUBBURBIA from Curitiba. Vera Figueiredo verafigueiredo.com.br The most recognized female drummer in Brazil. Vera also plays on a famous Brazilian TV show and runs a drum school. All the Best, Fernando Ribeiro Neto
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But Can She Play?
Obviously, pregnancy necessitates some changes regarding all kinds of things, especially drumming. All four women I spoke to agree that a hiatus from roadie duties is a nice perk. “It was awesome,” says Peta. “I would carry a snare or a tom into the gig then go and relax over a lemonade.” Morning sickness while drumming was an issue for a couple of drummers. Sasha Lawless of Maryland hip-hop-rock crew Mzery Loves Company accommodated this by cutting out the background vocals she used to sing while drumming, while Trish Naudon of Brooklyn band The Natch toured with a bucket strategically placed kit-side. Trish also got an endorsement deal with RockStarMoms, who make what she calls “awesome” maternity wear designed for musicians. Each drummer says she made sure to listen to her body and make changes as needed. But for Sasha, “The only change I made was take out certain songs and shorten the set time.”
ing to ught
y ere rums, ch class; me.
bmusic UB, an that st of hy wing nto it!
o plays ow and
Trish Naudon of The Natch
M o m s O n D r um s By Ja ne Boxa ll
How many times have you seen a lady with a bun in the oven playing the drums? That’s what I thought. In 18 years of drumming, during which time I paid particular attention to my fellow female musicians, I’d only ever seen one pregnant percussionist—marimba artist Janis Potter, who performed solo at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention while very heavily with child. Although I don’t have any kids, advice from family and friends on the topic generally has been along the lines of “Oh, you’ll have to give up drumming if you have a baby.” The idea of giving up drumming is, to me, a bit like the idea of giving up food or oxygen, so I was curious to find out whether there were any women who didn’t give up drumming while pregnant. That’s how I found these active professionals who are overwhelmingly positive about the compatibility of drumming and motherhood.
Sasha Lawless of Mzery Loves Company
Peta says her family is “happy to look after [the baby] when we go and play gigs. Dad brings him out to the jam room and they sit outside listening while we practice. He loves it.” Sasha says it’s all a matter of scheduling. “It’s not too hard to be a grownup and be in a band,” she says, though she’s planning on getting earplugs for the baby. And no one’s even thinking about stopping playing. Jessica hopes to share drumming with her daughter. “I definitely plan on being a drumming mom. And I hope my little lady will want to play too!”
The consensus among these ladies was a resounding “yes”—drumming and pregnancy do work together. Jessica Zweback Zoller of Houston, Texas, band Skyblue72 explains: “My doctor said it was totally cool, that I could keep playing until I gave birth, just like any other kind of exercise.” Peta of Tokyo Spares, an Australian garage rock trio, said that being pregnant made drumming more interesting. “Bubs would kick around inside, which was so weird,” she says, “but great ’cause I knew he would be a little rocker. We played our last show when I was 38 weeks.”
Jessica Zweback Zoller of Skyblue72
Jessica has researched hearing issues regarding pregnancy and drumming, and says, “The deal is, supposedly, that when the baby gets to be about 26 weeks or so, they develop a stronger sense of hearing. So that was about the point that I decided to tone it down a bit.” Peta notes that some of her research offered conflicting advice. “Some people said that [drumming] can affect the baby’s hearing and others said that it was fine,” she says. “The sounds are all muffled in the belly because of all the fluid, so it takes the high-pitchedness out of the sound.”
Peta of Tokyo Spares, with Roland Rad
Read the full interviews with each of the four drummers quoted above online at www.tomtommag.com 9
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what we like
MPC 4000: The Guilt and The Machine “They were the penultimate Grooveboxes, bedrocks of hip hop-production, and I wanted to see for myself what all of the mystique was about.” I’ve been thinking about selling my MPC4000 lately but I feel pretty guilty about it. I got a really good deal on it a couple of years ago when it was still top of the line and I was at the height of my obsession with samplers. Up until that point, I had only used these kind of “Mickey Mouse” Boss samplers (I say that because pretty much everything is a toy compared to the MPC), which weren’t really drum machines, but were easy to use. I’d always heard people defer romantically to MPCs. They were the penultimate Grooveboxes, bedrocks of hip-hop production, and I wanted to see for myself what all of the mystique was about. And clearly it was a well-deserved mystique. The Akai MPC (short for Music Production Center) in its various incarnations–60, 2000, 2000 Xl, 3000, 4000, 5000–was responsible for a lot of groundbreaking music. In fact, it’s almost impossible to find a hip-hop album it wasn’t used on. So like any self-respecting wannabe MPC guru, I started watching videos of people making beats with it on YouTube. They were mostly guys in their bedroom studios chopping up samples from vinyl, or recording hooks from their Motif keyboards straight into the MPC. But the one thing they all had in common was that SOUND. That instantly recognizable swing that made even the most generic beats sound exciting.
was a lot easier to use. I could drag and drop in any of my samples and still use pad triggers to record a beat in Logic. As time went on I became a lot more adept at doing this and found myself taking extended breaks from powering on the MPC. It got to the point that I barely even considered myself the owner of one. I did keep using Logic, Battery, and other software samplers to achieve a different sound. Not quite the familiar machine gun snare roll of the MPC, but something I was happy with. So does that make me a traitor? Did I abandon ship too soon? Did I miss out on the opportunity of achieving a more classic and authentic sound through hardware? I don’t quite know the answers to these questions, but I do know it’s hard to emulate the MPC groove and sound if you aren’t using one. I may not have had the love affair I was expecting, but who knows, maybe I should keep it and see if it’s in my future after all. Allie Alvarado is an electronic musician who performs under the name Painted Face. She lives and makes music in Washington, D.C.
drummer watch: kiran gandhi
I hadn’t been using Logic for very long then. So when it came to programming drums, I figured I would try to stay on the path I knew better, the one that involved pressing on pads and turning knobs. So the MPC moved into my own bedroom studio, and I got to work burning samples onto a CD and trying to crack the manual. But the instant gratification I had achieved before using my loop samplers was nowhere to be found. I eventually got the basics down, but it took a while, many repeated tries, and lost work, before I could remember even how to do the simplest tasks. To take a break from studying the MPC, I would play with Native Instruments Battery on my computer. Yes, I know, it doesn’t sound like much of a break, but the Battery software
This versatile and advanced percussionist keeps herself busy playing with lots of artists in the DC scene. www.RhythmandCulture.com
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ALBUMS WE LISTEN TO
GRASS WIDOW Past Time//Kill Rock Stars 08/2010 What started as a four-piece Shitstorm (that was literally the band’s name) from San Francisco has evolved into Grass Widow, a warm, skilled trio of women and their three-part harmonies. Their second album, Past Time, sounds like it was recorded at a haunted beach party—a very, very quiet one, where the sun is out but the surf is still. Everything on here is solid, familiar in a soothing manner, and just strange enough to startle. Camila Danger
2 RAD PONY
1 SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD The only thing better than this movie's visual splendor is the original score. The entire presentation of the movie is set so far apart from what we’re used to seeing. Based on a comic book series, the movie features an enjoyable Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, who is the bassist for fictional band Sex Bob Omb (notice the one of many, many, many video game references that drive the plot lines and irony). The drummer in the band is Kim Pine, played by Alison Pill. She is dark and angsty and most of her aggression, directed at heartbreaker Pilgrim, is released on the drums. The film’s score was produced by Nigel Godrich, who collaborated with Beck to write Sex Bomb Omb’s songs. The rest of the music is provided by giants like Metric and Broken Social Scene, or to the tune of video games like Zelda (so perfect). This film has not one, not two, but three female drummers in it. In fact, all the drummers in this film are women. Go see this movie now.
There’s something tribal about Rad Pony’s repetitive drum patterns, so you can trace the parallel to their tendency to paint their faces like neon amazons. And their style isn’t just visual; it’s what their first release, an eponymous EP, is based on. They use silence as a rhythm device—there’s that Einstürzende Neubauten song “Silence is Sexy,” and it’s true. Rad Pony is pure fun, with romantic tough-girl ritualistic constructs and dreamy melodies, and it’s a compliment to say that some things are good celebratory and light—for instance, bling, hot tubs, or outfits for small dogs. This is the stuff that makes you want to shut your brain up and dance. Marcio Kelmanson
3 MAGNETIC ISLANDS Out at Sea//Disregard 09/2010
Magnetic Island’s Out at Sea comes crashing in with a battle cry on the drums, signaling the guitar and bass to explosively scream out in solidarity. This EP gives the sense of being inside a terrible storm, an engulfment that is majestic in its momentum. You’re dropped into Jenny Olivia Johnson’s cataclysmal drumbeats and given a small hopeful harmony to stay adrift. There is nothing wasted in each song’s urgent thread, magnetic concoctions of honest precision rendered with true musicianship. Nikkie McLeod
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SHARK ATTACK ! / j o e g i d e o n a n d t h e s h a r k . c o m
j oe gi d e on & t h e s har k I n t e rv i ew by R ac h el T r ac h ten bu rg p hot o by st e fa no g a lli
If there’s any lass out there who knows what it’s like to play drums in a band with family, it’s enterprising 17-year-old Rachel Trachtenburg. At age six she started playing harmonica with her parents in the mega kitschy Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, and a year later she switched over to drums. Currently she’s focusing on Supercute!, a minimal bubblegumpop group she’s in with two of her friends. Since she’s such a pro at the family stuff, we asked her to interview Viva Cleveland, who is The Shark half of UK duo Joe Gideon and The Shark; Joe Gideon is Viva’s brother. Together they play intriguingly obscure blues-tinged allegory rock that sounds breathless from running away from the law. Tom Tom Magazine: Why did you decide to play the drums? Viva Cleveland: I decided
to play the drums because I was so fed up with having to rely on our rhythm section to make our previous band Bikini Atoll work. My brother and I have played together for about 13 years. Gideon and I wanted to make albums and play live shows but our drummers and bass players always seemed to hold us back. I decided we should become a duo. I still wanted the color, melodies, and sonics to accompany
our music when playing live, not to be just another electric guitar and drums twopiece. So I taught myself to play drums and keyboards, and trigger live loops at the same time. Being an ex-rhythmic gymnast/ dancer helped a lot with the coordination and focus. My brother didn’t believe I’d be able to do it. I said, “Give me two months.” Literally two days before we went on tour, I cracked it.
Do you like touring? Yes and no. I love
love love playing shows. But it’s hard, hard work. Sheer exhilaration (for the one hour onstage) coupled with utter boredom (the ten hours in the van)! What is it like writing songs with your brother? Do you have the same influences?
Writing with my brother is brilliant and horrid at the same time. We work together, have had daughters who are nine months apart, and live one road away from each other. We speak every day. Sometimes it can be too much; sometimes it is a relief. We’ve shared the same influences, from Shellac to Smog, but now he’s gone a little bit more country and I’ve gone a little bit more Japanese psychedelic “Yura Yura Teikoku” rock. What do your parents think of the band?
My dad was the proudest man in the world. He used to email the world our reviews, especially last year, and would stand front row at our shows. It was all his doing, really. He was a music manager, managing the likes of Marianne Faithful and Elkie
> Name Viva | Nickname Veev/V | Hometown London | Lives In London | Age 34 | Current Bands Joe Gideon and the Shark; part-time with Archie Bronson Outfit and The Pyramids | Past Bands Bikini Atoll | JDAY Job Used to be a Maitre d’, but for now running after my little girl while writing a new album
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Zouk Trance / myspace.com/effi briest
Brooks, so we grew up with music all around us. We wanted to make him proud. My brother and I stand united in our love for our father. He passed away this year. Name one thing that you are very passionate about—a cause, or something like that. I’m passionate about keeping
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Pistachio. Who is your favorite gal drummer?
effi b r i es t i nterv i ew by temi m fruchter photo by b ek a ndersen
The slow build of “Rhizomes”–the title track off Effi Briest’s album on Sacred Bones–is nearly unbearable, in the best possible way. Songs that haunt your bones are Effi Briest’s trademark, and the drums and percussion–played, respectively, by Corinne Jones and Jessica Stathos–are instrumental in creating the dark atmospheric quality of Rhizomes. There’s something about a drumbeat that threatens to go on indefinitely that can be really hard to shake, even long after you’ve turned off the record.
My favorite gal drummer is Pikachu from Afrirampo. It’s about feeling and performance for me more than paradiddlidoos. But my all-time drum hero is Jim White. I’ve always thought he drums like a ballet dancer, with absolute female grace and fluidity, and I am transfixed by him every time I see the Dirty Three play.
AND THEN THERE’S INTEGRATING WITH THE REST OF THE INSTRUMENTS, not to mention four other women in your band! WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING COLLABORATIVELY WITH SUCH A BIG GROUP? HOW DOES YOUR SONGWRITING PROCESS WORK? CJ: I always try to leave a lot of space
in what I play so that there is plenty of room for what Jess brings. I also try to hold it down in a traditional sense and maintain a solid support for everything that’s happening, albeit with unconventional means. The songwriting process usually involves playing a lot, allowing all kinds of extraneous stuff to take shape or not, and then parsing out what is essential. It’s fun but it can take a while. Lately, we’re more interested in a quicker discovery.
What is your favorite thing to do with your brother/whole family when you are not playing music? Eat food, drink wine,
I just started a band with two other teen girls. I feel that it’s A LOT different from being in a family band. It also might be so because I’m in a band with my parents and not a sibling, but I’m an only child so I would not know. Have you done any other musical projects that are not with your family? If so, how would you compare the two? I play with
a band called The Pyramids. My husband Arp Cleveland plays the drums, Sam sings and plays guitar, and I play keys, loops, and sing. It’s a lot freer. I let them take charge and happily add the icing to whatever cake they want to bake. It’s fun and less pressure not being my own thing. I also sing with the Archie Bronson Outfit, again my husband’s other band. Even though my husband is my family, it’s a lighter vibe, as I’m not a writer. We have a lot of fun on the road and make the most of it, as we have a two-year-old waiting for us at home. He’s an amazing drummer and has always been my number one supporter. Actually, I just realized this is still a family band! So no! I don’t have any other projects that don’t involve my family one way or another, although bizarrely, I recently got asked to try out for Roxy Music on keys, but was away in Australia with JG&TS at the time. That would have been awesome! Supercute! is currently on an European tour with Kate Nash. Joe Gideon & The Shark are always up to something!
TOM TOM MAGAZINE: IT’S SO COOL HOW YOU GUYS COME TOGETHER TO CREATE SUCH AN ATMOSPHERIC RHYTHM SECTION FOR EFFI BRIEST. HOW DID YOU BOTH FIND YOUR WAY TO THIS PARTICULAR GROUP OF PEOPLE AND JOIN THIS BAND? Corinne Jones: Jess and I met in a
small restaurant where we worked and had control over the music. We were always bringing in something to play for each other. So when I had the idea for the band Jess was the first person I asked to join. I knew I could trust her instincts. She had a lot of interesting ideas and knew other people that would be good to ask too. It was a great way to pass the time at work– plotting our escape via what kind of music we would make. HOW DO YOU WORK TOGETHER ON DEVELOPING PARTS AND GROOVES FOR YOUR SONGS? OR DO YOU WORK MORE SEPARATELY? Jess: Stathos
Corinne usually brings in an idea for a beat, and then we experiment with it and build on it, with the whole band. Some of our songs are ever-evolving–we’ll keep switching up our parts.
the SONGS ON RHIZOMES HAVE A LOT OF SWIRLY, REPETITIVE BEATS. IS THIS A NEW STYLE FOR EITHER OF YOU TO PLAY IN, OR TO THINK CREATIVELY IN? DO YOU PLAY IN OTHER STYLES OUTSIDE THE BAND, AND IF SO, HOW DOES THAT INFLUENCE YOUR WORK IN THE BAND? JS: It is
just the style that developed as we both learned to play together. I spent a little time learning and playing some Afro-Cuban rhythms outside of the band and a lot of time listening to traditional percussionbased trance music, so there is definitely a lot of influence there. Plus, Corinne and I both love to dance so we want to play accordingly. In "Nymph" the rhythms are also swirly and repetitive and the songs are long, with a bit of a North African/Middle Eastern vibe. Playing with them has been inspiring and also keeps my arms in shape! CJ: I’ve been collaborating on some soonto-be-revealed electronic music and I’m curious myself how that might affect what I do next.... WHAT DOES EFFI BRIEST HAVE ON THE HORIZON? ANYTHING YOU’RE PARTICULARLY EXCITED ABOUT?
CJ: New songs!
> Full name Corinne Jones | Nickname Junesie | Where were you born? Memphis, TN | Where do you live now? New York City | Bands you are drumming in currently? EFFI BRIEST | What you do for a living Visual / Audio artist | Something outstanding about you Underrated humorist > Full name Jessica Stathos | Age 27 | Where were you born? Athens, Greece | Where do you live now? Brooklyn, NY | Bands you are drumming in currently? EFFI BRIEST, Nymph | What you do for a living I work at Brooklyn bar/venue Zebulon | Something outstanding about you I’m really a fish.
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head expanding / adrianeschramm.com
pai n t in g HEADS
D r ums a re o ur to o ls for e s s e n t i al human awa ke ni ng
By Adr i an e S c h r a mm
I’ve been painting drums lately and the images really seem to add some extra throb to the belly of the drum. The colors have added a little pulse to the beats. They seem more like the odd animals they feel to be. These creatures have nourished my instincts and telepathy, and are my only real meditation each day. I do have suck days when we don’t communicate, but when it’s on, they devour me and we are pumping the same blood! We all hold a hot little drum in our chests. Inside the bone-swell of our rib cage, our heart is snugly pumping beats. Keeping time, tapping damply, the heart is pacing a quiet rhythm always. The strings of veins clutch to that thick pump like the purple grip of the vital force! Always playing those beats! And the soul tenderly thuds in our sleep, moistly paddling when we are awake.
the drums is like adding an amplifier to your true, wordless, indescribable style, the piquant essence of who you are. When I feel that I really am playing the deepest and truest, it’s always the moment I also realize my physical self has detached and swirls about me like tentacles of dumb meat. My perceptive self becomes all lit and warm and I think I am feeling the peripheries and tiny nerve endings of my actual soul! Drums are our tools for essential human awakening. They free us from our bodies and that is when you are really becoming prepared for the after-life !
Our life is composing itself on top of that rhythm. Our intonations of voice, when we begin to speak and when we decide to be quiet, the distinctive swing and plunge of our walk, how we lunge like a quivering gelée balloon at someone we want to eff you see kay.... all these are the repercussions of our hearts’ rhythms. They are instinctive, soulful reactions to our deepest vibrations, unconsciously exuding our tone and presence in this world. When we are first born, we pop out on a frenetic red blast beat, and from then on the whole symphony begins to ascend. When you grow teeth, you begin to hear the chatter of piano. When you feel your first heartbreak, your piano will turn to synthesizers. Playing
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bang on bang off / jennfigg.net
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k i n e t ic light dr u m s This light drum project, co-designed and built by Jenn Figg and Matthew McCormack, is both genius and beautiful wrapped in one. The drums are tubes of multi-colored light that illuminate upon contact. How this works is attributed to the highly sensitive speakers that transform sound waves into light through several LEDâ€™s that live in the body of the structure. As the drum is played, the light reflects and diffuses throughout the instrument body which is then emitted into the room. The kinetic light drum project operates on a principle of biorhythms and aesthetic s and results in a multi-sensoried spectacle. - MINDY ABOVITZ
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erratic dancer / janetpants.com
janet pa n t s dance By L i sa Sc hon berg p hot o by nat h a n bac ko us
Jane Paik’s work has been described as “punk rock in dance form.” She usually performs with bands at house shows, galleries, and clubs, rather than in traditional dance venues. Energetic, frantic, pulsating yet graceful, her actual style itself doesn’t follow any preconceived notions of what dance is supposed to be. She also drums, sings, and plays guitar in her performances.
Tom Tom Magazine: How long have you been dancing? Jane Paik: I suppose, in some
ways, I’ve been dancing my whole life, but I took my first ballet class when I was 17. Then I studied modern for a couple years after that. Since then I have been mainly self-taught, though I do try to take classes when I get the chance. Were there any specific dancers, performers, or musicians who originally helped inspire and inform your style? Katie Eastburn and Lindsay Beamish, my two
dance mates. German choreographer Pina Bausch–who I consider my permission slip to start putting my ideas up–is probably my hero. Merce Cunningham works for me theoretically, but not always in result. Early Madonna, Bikini Kill, and the Centimeters are all bands that used to sort of put a spell on me. I would actually feel a compulsion to dance when hearing or seeing them–like the story The Red Shoes– and when I did, it always felt very pure to me. Having collaborated with you many times in my bands, Explode into Colors and STLS, I know that you have a fine-tuned sense of rhythm. Are there aspects of your process of choreography that are similar to that of a drummer writing a beat? For instance, do you find yourself tapping out rhythms, or counting them in your head, before you dance them out? Do you use syncopated rhythms in your movements? I choreograph
more in the vein of how a guitar riff would work. Rather than always staying directly on top of the beat, I work through it as well, so, yes, syncopated rhythms will come through. I ought to count more when it comes to choreographing, but I’m sort of poor at it. Instead, I tend to feel moments in the music and place things where I want them when dancing by myself. When working on group choreography, counting becomes more of a necessity so everyone can be at the right place at the right time. I am forced to count more when I’m taking classes, because most choreographers do base their choreography off counts. Oddly enough, I find that I choreograph in silence a fair amount of time. Has anything been especially challenging to you as a dancer learning drums?
Maintaining a steady beat has been challenging. I am a bit of an erratic dancer and that seems to manifest itself on the drum kit as well. I can totally find and respond to rhythm in crazy places in music, but if I have to be the one holding it down I have the tendency to lose it. I teach drums. The most common challenges for my students are finding a balance between the right and left hands, and holding their body without tension. What is your experience with this?
I am pretty good at being ambidextrous, though my left is definitely my weaker side. Just like in dance, I actually enjoy technique, so I don’t have a problem with trying things out on both sides. In terms of form, I recently was told that I should play with my wrists rather than my entire body and was complimented on how quickly I was able to implement that. In those aspects of drumming, dancing has definitely accelerated my learning process. Thoughts on Dance and Drums by Jane Paik I think dancers belong behind drum kits. There is a
The irony is that I have a fine-tuned sense of rhythm
kinship and a crossover. It is unearthing a part of
i n t o t a l l y d i ff e r e n t w a y s t h a t c o m e o u t w h e n I d a n c e .
yourself that is already there. Drumming is dancing in a
Somehow my body is able to get right inside music and
whole new way. It is primal and physical. It is action and
c a p t u r e m u lt i p l e r h y t h m s at o n c e . i t ' s c h a l l e n g i n g , a s
it is meditation. It is limbs working together and limbs
are transitions, but like anything, practice is key. The
w o r k i n g s e pa r at e ly . A n u m b e r o f m y fav o r i t e d r u m m e r s —
ambidextrous coordination I’ve developed from dancing
Knansie Sandercock (Polar Goldie Cats), Busy Gagnes
h a s a l l o w e d m e t o a c c e l e r a t e a t d i ff e r e n t a s p e c t s
( T e l e p a t h e ) , H e a t h e r T r e a d w a y ( Ex p l o d e I n t o C o l o r s ) — a r e
all dancers. I’ll confess, I’m terrible at counting out rhythms, and
There are already so many great drummers around
h a v e o f t e n f o u n d i t d i ff i c u l t t o k e e p a s t e a d y b e a t .
me that it feels awkward to put myself out there as
Though I’ve been drawn to the drums for some time,
another one. But I’m on a mission of sorts to create an
somewhere along the way I was told I couldn’t keep a
experience and an experiment. It’s an act of defying the
beat and never trusted myself to find it. I couldn’t shake
naysayers who said I couldn’t, it’s an act to say that
the desire though, so I kept returning. when someone
it’s never too late. It is an exercise of building my
f i n a l ly s h o w e d m e t h at I c o u l d k e e p a b e at , I s t a r t e d t o
rhythm muscles, a method of improving the musicianship
trust that instead.
in my dance. And it just feels good.
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mountain boys who are girls / myspace.com/mountainlex
Basically we've gotten away with using everything except an actual kit.
lexi e m o u n ta i n b oy s By L ex i e mo u n ta i n p hot os by A a rt-ja n s c h a k en bo s
Baltimore’s flamboyant, slap-happy, art-ecstatic Lexie Mountain Boys is like a men’s healing drum circle without the men or the healing or the drums: loud, forceful, and spiritual in the execution, somewhat unsettling in the observing. Foregoing traditional tools of percussion, the Boys—actually girls, sometimes dressed up quasi-male— perform totally a cappella, devising bodily sources of rhythm. We asked Lexie herself: Why don’t you use the drums?
I am personally hesitant to use a full drum kit in performances because I feel they create a wall right in the middle of the group. One person is playing a drum kit; the rest of the group is sort of beholden to it. But we're always trying to figure out ways to force percussion to suit our needs instead of the other way round. We've definitely found that the music we end up making with one another is heavily percussive and reverberant, so we like to use things that are either portable or part of the performance environment: items that we can control as a group. A big group thing to bang on, with, around. Basically we've gotten away with using everything except an actual kit. Wait, no— once we used an actual kit, a long time ago, but it got all knocked over and sounded discombobulated (more than usual). The floor tom has made a couple of appearances: once as a part of a solo by Sam who punctured the head with her stick, and then once for last year's performance at Whartscape. This past spring, a years-ago dream was made real: we got a stompbox! Sam had been hankering for this for years, and Amy Waller's neighbor in Austin built it for us. We took it down the West Coast opening for Matmos in June. It weighed almost 200 pounds, had a varnished birch top, and raised itself off the ground with skateboard wheels so a microphone could be placed underneath. It generated all sorts of personalities, sometimes warm and resonant like a cave, sometimes echoing like a well, all depending upon who manned the bass microphone we jammed up its hole. We jumped on and around it, used it as a stage and merch table, and thumped it with an openended five-foot industrial plastic tampon looking thing we called “Kyle” that went “PWONNNNGGGGG" in the best way possible.
the lexie mountain boys guide to everything but the drum kit: H a n d s
I n n e r t h i g h s B u t t o c k s
W o o d e n s t i c k s
P i e T a b l e
J i n g l e b e l l s S h a k e r e gg s
P u n c h i n g b a l l o o n s M a r a c a s P l a y g r o u n d b a l l s
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t h i s i s d e f i n i t e ly w h at ' s t a p p e n i n g / w h at s t a p p e n i n g . t u m b l r . c o m
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w h at ' s tappen i n g ?! Austin's #1 Tap Ensemble photo by b en aqua
What’s Tappening?! is a phenomenon in Austin, Texas with performances ranging anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes and shows hyped with dedicated websites for the event. When they perform they literally press play on their boombox and add beats with their feet. They subsequently create a surround sound percussive experience to accompany contemporary hit pop songs. We asked Haleh Pedram, a member of the group, to exlain what inspires them. “We watch a lot of YouTube, where we find a lot to learn or draw from. There are lots of videos to get into, not just tap dancing, but also performers who put on a good show, like Sara Carlson. My inspiration for What’s Tappening?! was to have a crew with synchronized dances that we could bust into at parties. The big picture inspiration is to look hot and have tightly synched steps and razzledazzle and to get paid! ”
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I AM TOM TOM p o ster s s h o t by M eg Wachter a nd co -desi g ned by Meg Wachter a nd Mi ndy Abov i t z
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S i m ulta n e o u sly S o f t a n d S t r o n g A Phenomenology of Female Musicianship, Part I by C ath y Hs i ao
Before we are even born, the very first thing we hear is a drum: our mother's and our own heartbeats. In “When the Drummers Were Women,” percussionist Layne Redmond points out that there was once a time in history when the primary percussionists and drummers were women. In fact, she says, the first-ever “named drummer was a Mesopotamian priestess named Lipushiau.” The maenads, women worshippers of Cybelle and Dionysus, as well as the priestesses of Artemis, Demeter, and Aphrodite, used the Greek tympanum, a precursor to the tambourine. According to Redmond, it is the oldest technology for altering consciousness and was played almost exclusively by women, aiming to ecstatically transform consciousness through rhythmic movement of the body. *"Feminine existence appears to posit an existential enclosure between herself and the space surrounding her … in sport, for example, women tend not to move out and meet the motion of a ball, but rather tend to stay in one place and react to the ball’s motion only when it has arrived within the space where she is." -Iris Marion Young (Young 52).
Why, then, hasn’t there been more research into the relationship between our gendered embodiment and sound? What is it like for a girl to learn to play the drums? What are some of the ways in which the feminine body has been imagined and iterated in relation to music, percussion, and rhythm? What follows is a brief call for contributions to a feminine musical phenomenology, and part of a longer work on aesthetic corporeal cognition. Simone de Beauvoir famously wrote in The Second Sex that we are not born woman but become so through socialization. Judith Butler, recounting the fate of a young gay man with an overly feminine walk, wonders in Examined Life, “How can someone be killed for the way they walk?” Inspired by De Beauvoir, the late philosopher Iris Marion Young argued in, “Throwing Like a Girl,” that as a whole, our perceptions of our bodies’ “natural actions” as they correspond to two distinct sexes structure the way we use them. Yet our bodily movements are also socialized; we simply internalize them as natural, inherent to our being. Bodily comportment and gendered identity seem to be intertwined in inextricable ways that ring true in something as seemingly innocent as catching a baseball.* One could draw a similar analogy with drumming–the differences in body experience stem mostly from the underestimation and underuse of women's physical abilities and capacities by all genders. Qua Beauvoir, we are not born drummers but only become so. Development, refinement, and creative exploration of one’s body into specific motor skills in coordination with the ear, the brain, and the heart create the magic that is rhythm. This is what makes a drummer. In my own limited experience, it exemplifies Heidegger's articulation of a praxical, embodied intelligence, the only kind of intelligence humans can in fact possess. Musicianship is a unique site of corporeal knowledge insofar as we learn to incorporate specific tools with specific skills, all activated by variously coordinated parts of our bodies. This infinitely empowers our ability to interact with other objects and technologies, further enhancing our dexterity in our daily environments. Thus there are anxieties and consequences to gendered body experiences as they circumscribe expectations, which in turn affect our real ability to project full social and musical spaces. The many intricacies of inhabiting and navigating a woman’s body include fears not only of being not as capable as a man but also of appearing too strong or not feminine. Young writes, “In entering a task we frequently are selfconscious about appearing awkward, and at the same time do not wish to appear too strong.” I believe that in the fourth wave, a sense of guilt or shame in inhabiting more “traditional” feminine body roles can also be an issue. Women and men shy away from identifying with feminism because being feminine in the socially understood sense is mistakenly equated with not being feminist. Femininity and feminism however, are never opposed, and in drumming they are aligned in an exhilarating and unique manner.
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Drumming, amongst being many other things, is a way to skillfully and creatively contain the feeling that sometimes our bodies cannot contain us, those moments when the immensity of our emotion cannot be bound by flesh. This is the counterpoint to other times when we want to shrink into a corner and hide our bodies away, become invisible. Such moments are not exclusive to the feminine experience, but because women’s social existence tends to occur “as the object of the gaze of another, which is a major source of her bodily selfreference,” (Young) it amplifies and exacerbates those experiences by making them public in our minds even when they are not actually witnessed. The practice of drumming and music enables us to inhabit our bodies as a source of knowledge and selfexpression. It shapes our attitude towards technology, equipment, and, most importantly, our corporeal spatiality as something fun, to be played with! These possibilities are articulated anew each time we activate our limbs, wrists, ear, head, and heart in drumming.
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Tom Tom: Tell me about your first experiences with music.
Dame Evelyn Glennie: I grew up on a farm north of Aberdeen in Scotland. There was music in the home as a child, but I can’t say it was necessarily a musical family. I began playing percussion at the age of 12. At that point you probably weren’t thinking about difficulties you might face being a female in a male dominated field. No, not at all. At the age of 12 you’re
not at all thinking of those sorts of things. Most of the people who were learning percussion at my school were female. Wow, that’s pretty special. It
was only when I became a full-time student at the Royal Academy of Music in London that in fact I was the only girl and the rest were boys. The main sort of challenge was to try to convince people that a career could be had as a solo percussionist. How did you become so virtuosic in all fields of percussion? I chose multi-
percussion because a lot of the solo repertoire is written for multipercussion. It would be more challenging to create a career as a soloist if I only concentrated on mallets. That’s true. You have a special career because you’re known as a soloist and a collaborator. Who are some of the other artists you’ve played with? Björk was
THen do you use your own instruments for gigs? I used
to use all of my own instruments all over the world up until September 11, 2001. From then on, I found it very difficult to transport my own equipment because of security. I will use my own equipment if I’m playing in the UK or in certain places in Europe, but now when I travel around, I basically have local suppliers provide everything. How do you keep your chops in top shape on so many different instruments? All of the exercises I play are
e v ely n g l en n i e The Dame With A Flame By Ashley Ba i er photo by ji m ca llag ha n
Dame Evelyn Glennie is profoundly deaf, meaning that the quality of the sound she hears is not sufficient enough to understand spoken words. However, she reads lips perfectly and is able to associate pitch with the different vibrations that each note produces. Regarded by the New York Times as someone whose “musicianship is extraordinary by any measure,” she’s received countless awards, performed hundreds of commissions with the likes of The New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestras, created at least 25 solo records, and still finds time to rock out on her drumset.
interesting. For that we used many different types of instruments, ranging from tuned car exhaust pipes to bass kalimba. Collaborating with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was pretty amazing because that was on a piece I wrote myself. To have such an incredible force of voices behind you is pretty amazing. There would be sort of a brief musical exchange with people like Sting and Elton John and Stevie Wonder. And of course I have the opportunity to work with first class symphony and chamber orchestras. Do you have any favorite composers you like to work with? It’s really impossible to pick. You have to
respect each composer’s way of working because ultimately they are the ones writing the piece of music and my job is to make sure that that piece has a long shelf life. Playing so much new music, do you ever incorporate any electronics into your percussion setup? No, nowadays
not so much, although I do sometimes when I’m writing music for film or television. I used to, but I found that it was very difficult getting quality equipment and quality workmanship from venue to venue to venue all across the world.
created from the actual piece of music so that everything is relevant. I have to always concentrate on the actual repertoire of the situation that I’m in, and that allows me to keep the flexibility as a player. Do you rely on a great deal of muscle memory? I don’t
know if I do, to be honest. I know that it’s a big subject in the percussion world. I suppose there’s some muscle memory there, but at the end of the day I really have to think of the actual emotion and story of the music. That’s what I want to have in my system rather than something that is entirely physical, because who knows how long that might last. Do you think there’s a difference between “sound” and “music?” For me, no, but
it depends where that sound was played. You can play a wonderful big B-flat major Mahler type of chord from the greatest symphony orchestra on the planet, but if that was played at 3 AM then the neighbors may not take too kindly to that and they might see that more as noise. You can have a formal note that people might regard as annoying but actually it could be a great, powerful, emotional sound if you’re ready to accept it. What kind of music do you listen to for fun? I don’t
listen to music for fun. Everything I do musically is usually related to work. That is true dedication. What would you say is the pinnacle of your career as a percussionist? I’m hoping
it’s still out there. I think that I’m not someone who wants to say that X, Y, or Z has been the absolute pinnacle. We’re all striving to be better and for interesting things to happen. The journey so far has been incredibly interesting and adventurous. I really hope that there is more of that to come.
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Susi e iba rra Beacon, Musician, Thinker by K aty O t t o p hot os by T o n y C en i c o l a n, Jessi c a g r een
Susie Ibarra is a Filipino American percussionist and composer who was raised in Houston and now lives in New York. I was introduced to Susie in college–I was hooked, and I stayed hooked. Eventually I bought her solo works, and then those of EK, her duo with percussionist/composer and her husband Roberto Rodriguez. In the throes of a rough breakup a year ago, I decided I needed something wonderful to increase my joy in living. I sought out lessons from Susie. Little did I know that this would turn into one of the most fascinating collaborations of my life. In trade for lessons, I began helping Susie as a development consultant. With her recent TED fellowship and countless visionary projects, Susie is a beacon–as a musician, a thinker, and, most importantly, a human. What is your musical background? Playing
music was encouraged by my family; my mother and father gave us the gift of music and art as children. I began playing classical piano when I was three and studied it for 14 years. I performed piano in church, sang in choirs, and [attended the] opera regularly. There was a Kulintang gong set in my uncle’s home, and we hosted Philippine choir groups passing through Houston. Jazz was a first love for me in NYC. The first jazz record I bought was Thelonius Monk's Monk’s Dream, and I began listening to Coltrane and Miles then too.
The first show I saw in NYC was SunRa Arkestra. It blew me away and the drummer, the late Buster Smith, became my first drum teacher in NYC. Who else have you studied with? My
mother found me a drum instructor [when I was growing up] in Houston. I have studied through listening and transcribing a lot of the masters of percussion music. I studied drum set with Buster Smith, Vernel Fournier, and Milford Graves. I studied Philippine Kulintang gong music with the Kalanduyan family and particularly Danongan Kalanduyan, in Maguindanaon style.
How has the music you've made been affected by the places you've lived?
Traveling and touring influenced me a lot and opened my ears to developing a creative voice. These experiences have awakened my passion to create art that serves cultural preservation, features indigenous and under-recognized communities, and educates and communicates with children. How does your Filipino ancestry influence your playing today? It has been my life’s
work [to meld] contemporary music and art with Filipino tradition. I returned to the Philippines on an Asian Cultural Council Rockefeller Fellowship in 2008 to research and learn about indigenous and folkloric music with seven tribes in the Philippines. I walked in as a visiting artist and realized I really want to help in humanitarian and [cultural] preservation work. Last year we went to film the trailer for Song of the Bird King with the T’bolis (the Dreamweavers) of Lake Sebu, Mindanao in the southern Philippines. This is a matriarchal community of many gifted women artists, weavers, musicians, and dreamers. They dream their life, and they learn how to play their instruments from teachers in their dreams. They have lost their ancestral domain, Lake Sebu, to
p hot o of sus i e at ted 2 0 1 0 by Jessi c a G r een
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overcrowded tilapia farming. We went there to film and record the music and dance of their master drummers, gong players, flute players, stringed instruments, and dancers. We also went to film the near-extinct national bird, the Philippine Eagle (the Bird King), whose life is parallel to many indigenous groups. Tell us about the Kulintang playing that you do. how did it start? What are you doing with it now? Kulintang music is from the south of the Philippines, and is traditionally
passed down by women. Kulintang are eight brass gongs which you hammer tune intervallically. I have played contemporary works tuned specifically to my Kulintang instrument, and I have composed and improvised Kulintang concerts. I find it to be an extension of my drumwork, and Kulintang style informs and colors how I play the drum set. I have also written piano music that is inspired by the trance cycles of the Kulintang. In 2002 I formed Electric Kulintang, first as a quartet and now as a duo with my husband. We play an array of percussion instruments, trapset, use effects from Ableton Live, and sing; Robert programs sequences and beats. You do a lot of composing–can you talk about this? How did you start? I started leading
my own groups and composing for other ensembles around 1998. My experience as a drummer has informed how I write for other musicians; I have intuitively been
Mysteries of Nature. One piece, Kit (Cycles): Music for 4 Pianists , features three movements (duet/duet/quartet) that are modeled on the independence of the 4 limbs of a drummer. I also have had an improvisational trio for the last 10 years, Mephista. I have a childrens project called Mundo Niño® (Children’s World). It is a percussion-based multi-lingual world music project that teaches children to sing and count rhythms, and about instruments, cultures and our environment. This year I am composing a piece for 12 singers, a chorus, and an 8 person ensemble titled Saturnalia. It is about the complex setting of sex trafficking, war and AIDS in Thailand, and will be in English and Thai. We’ll perform previews in December 2010 in Brooklyn. I co-founded Song of the Bird King (SOTBK) to preserve indigenous culture and ecology with music and film. I am writing the title film which features seven indigenous tribes and their music, dance and stories of land and loss.
developing rhythmic language in composition. It is challenging to ask a vocalist or instrumentalist to try drumming phrasing or techniques, so I adapt and make the necessary compromises of musical language so it works in new contexts. Drums have had a long history of storytelling and means of communication in many cultures; for instance, Kulintang gongs have been used to communicate with neighboring communities. [Similarly,] I am interested in using creating narratives and images in music. Two [common] elements in my work are field recordings and Filipino and indigenous folkloric motifs. I’ve used ambient sounds and recordings of indigenous artists playing gong music. Folkloric motifs might be in the rhythms, melodies, harmony, or subject matter of the composition. I wrote a concerto for drums and visual art for American Composers Orchestra that was influenced by visiting the native Ainu in Japan and native Kalinga in the Philippines. My solo recording Drum Sketches includes traditional gong instruments, field recordings, and narrative compositions. What does doing interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary work look like in your life? I do
composing for theater and opera, and being a percussionist informs my language. I have a certain way that I hear things; I set poetry to music and it is very rhythmic. I am working with Pulitizer poet Yusef Komunyakaa; his words are very rhythmic whether spoken or sung. There are many tuplets in them. I also love to collaborate with visual artists.
I also have begun composing and organizing a large drum work for a threeday drumming event, Drumming for the Gulf. I grew up on the Gulf and I used to swim in it. SOTBK will be partnering with various organizations to get as many drummers as possible to participate. It is an environmental piece and an acknowledgment of how our society has been disconnected from the land and water. Musicians will be able to simultaneously perform and participate internationally. I have asked the communities of Modern Drummer and the Percussive Arts Society to participate and I hope that the community of TomTom Magazine will too. Do you think about your gender on a regular basis as it relates to being a drummer? Yes, on a fairly regular basis.
I have a bicultural upbringing; Filipino culture is matriarchal whereas American is patriarchal. Stepping into the music scene here in the States became a political statement by virtue of me being a very soft-spoken and feminine young teenager. I didn’t pick up the drums to prove anything. I loved the instrument and didn’t see it as a gendered instrument.
What projects are you currently working on? I am a mother, wife, musician, co-founder
of organizations, filmmaker, humanitarian, and educator. I am a 2010 NYFA Fellow for Music and Sound, and am also a 2010 TED Fellow for my interdisciplinary work as a composer, percussionist and co-founder of Song of the Bird King (SOTBK). The TED Fellows program has been supportive in my humanitarian work on Cultural Preservation and Ecology, and the development of my artistic career. I perform solo work in Drum Sketches, and am in development of a new program of drum and percussion solo music. Electric Kulintang (EK) will be doing a new record in 2011 called Drum Codes on our label SOTBK Records. My chamber jazz group, the Susie Ibarra Quartet, will be recording a series of small chamber and quartet compositions,
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C h oos in g to D r ea m , Ch o o s i n g to D r um J eremy Da nnema n
“Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson Last summer I hatched a weird little dream. I would go to Rwanda and play saxophone on the street to contemplate and observe the 15th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi. My goal was to promote reconciliation between the country’s previously opposed ethnic groups, and between victims and perpetrators. I’d call it a Parade of One. I had never been to Africa or even met a Rwandan person when I first conceived this. Since my venue would be the street, I figured, the performances would be open to everyone who happened to be there: Hutu, Tutsi, rich, and poor.
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parade of everyone /paradeofone.org
Though it was barely publicized many people now know that in 1994 there was a genocide in Rwanda. 800,000 of the Tutsi minority were slaughtered, mostly by civilian militias with machetes. There were violent sexual crimes commited against women as well. As I read the stories from Rwanda, I saw some kind of reflection of the stories I grew up with, having grandparents who experienced Nazi Europe as Jews. Music is often acknowledged as a great form of escape. When we listen to music, we might achieve a greater distance from our own perspectives and habits, and after the performance, as we return from our imaginations back to real life, maybe we won’t fit so neatly into the mold we left of ourselves. The Parade of One dream turned first into obsession, then action. I prepared to go, gathering the necessary funds and building up contacts in Rwanda. Still, though, I’d never met a Rwandan person. That changed when I saw Ingoma Nshya, the first all-female Rwandan drumming group, about a month before my departure. They were in Brooklyn to play a fundraiser for the nonprofit branch of Blue Marble Ice Cream, a local ice cream shop that in June opened a location in the capital of Huye, which is one of many impoverished regions of Rwanda. The sister Rwandan ice cream shop is called Inzozi Nziza, or Sweet Dreams. Ingoma Nshya and Blue Marble are business partners. The drummers are in fact running the shop in Huye and even performing there. It helps fund their drumming. Ingoma Nshya’s performance at House of the Lord Pentecostal Church on Atlantic Avenue was astounding. The crowd was on the edge of their seats, bopping their heads and tapping their feet to the rhythms. These women brought an act that was extremely well rehearsed and included not just drumming but singing and dancing too. They played the drums in so many ways, striking the skins and the sides, tapping their sticks together, and turning them over and sitting on them while playing. They also showed a great dynamic range, their fortissimo so powerful you could feel the room shake. There were multiple standing ovations throughout the performance. The music was so joyful and fun, you wouldn’t imagine these musicians had come from a society with so much experience in devastation. Some of the women were orphaned in the genocide, and still others had family members imprisoned for perpetrating the atrocities. Days ago these women were on an airplane for the first time, and now were seeing skyscrapers, countless miles of paved roads, streetlights on every corner, and so many different kinds of people speaking a variety of languages. You could feel their enthusiasm, their joy for new chances and opportunities. Afterward, I was still buzzing from the performance and went for ice cream at Blue Marble, as did the drummers and much of the audience, including many members of the Rwandan diaspora in New York. I told them about my crazy plan to be a street musician in Rwanda, and I got the sense that they welcomed me and my saxophone, if from afar. As much as I enjoyed Ingoma Nshya, I for now kept thoughts of collaboration out of my mind, as tempting as it was. It was one thing at a time for me. Most important was getting to Rwanda and playing on the street.
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Weeks later I was on a plane to my destination. I landed in the evening, and the next morning I was so eager to get this Parade of One started that I went right out and played in front of Kimironko Market, just down the street from the house where I was staying. People started gathering around before I’d even fully assembled the horn. As I started playing, more and more of them came, and quite a crowd formed, with small children standing practically right under me. Some people started dancing. I was at once amazed by what was going on around me, and worried about what would happen next. Would I be asked to explain myself? Was I really going to tell these people about this strange dream I had to come perform on the streets in Rwanda? But I was on the other side of the dream now: I was actually doing it. My whole world was turning inside out in this very instant, and I wasn’t sure what I could possibly say if they asked. So I just kept playing and playing until I simply couldn’t play anymore. And when I finally took the horn out of my mouth, sure enough, they wanted to know what this was all about. I told them my name, where I come from, and that I was performing on the street to recognize the genocide. I said I hoped my music would bring them and myself some peace of mind about the state of the world and ourselves, if only temporarily. They graciously applauded this message, and they had so many other questions too. What was this gold instrument? How could they possibly know what the music is about if I don’t have lyrics? (Purely instrumental music is not very common in Rwanda.) Most of all they, they wanted me to keep playing. I continued much in this fashion for four weeks, performing on the streets in Kigali, Butare, and Gisenyi, and even on the bus rides in between. I improvised on the streets, played Klezmer clarinet at a genocide memorial, and collaborated with locals, learning about their instruments and genres. Along the way, the music opened the door for new conversations and new acquaintances. People told me their stories from the genocide, and how they feel about it today, living in the same neighborhoods as those who killed their families. When I came back home to Brooklyn, things didn’t feel the same anymore. I’d been to the other side of the dream, where every day was an adventure filled with meaning and purpose, and then I slipped back into ordinary life. My dream had progressed through reality and become a memory. I went through the motions of everyday life, but my mind was occupied with re-ignition. A little less than a year later, I returned to Rwanda, and this time was determined to play with Ingoma Nshya. I’d played on the streets in Rwanda so much now that it felt ordinary and commonplace to me, so it was time to expand the dream, to let it wander into new territories. I hadn’t forgotten that incredible performance in Brooklyn, and it had been on my mind for a long time. But would they want to play with me? After all, I’m not a drummer, a female, or Rwandan. I wasn’t sure what they’d say, but I asked them if they would, just this once, be interested in jamming with a man. I didn’t want to become a part of Ingoma Nshya or do anything to change their identity. I just thought it would be cool to improvise with them. They said it was no problem. The plan was that I’d be a special guest in a performance for about a hundred kids. I took the bus from Kigali to Huye and arrived just 30 minutes before the show was to begin. When I walked into the theater, Ingoma Nshya was waiting for me, in full costume with their drums onstage. We rehearsed a little, and the collaboration was natural. We were able to fit the saxophone into their songs, and we also made new ones: I spontaneously composed melodies and riffs; they created complementary drum parts. I found that I was treating the saxophone like part of the percussion section more than as a vehicle for melody lines. I used rhythmic, often repeating and slightly varying riffs, at times swelling into more throbbing solo sections. The important thing was to just feel the beat and not fall into the common habits of jazz musicians, such as playing so many notes. Despite being white, male, and not speaking Kinyarwanda, I felt like part of the group. They were so accepting and fun to work with, and we were really happy with the music that we so spontaneously created. When our young audience came, they loved the music too. They were hollering and clapping the whole time. They even rushed the stage at one point and all started dancing.
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After the performance I had a chat with Odile Gakire Katese, better known as Kiki. She is the mastermind behind Ingoma Nshya and also the director of the theater department at the National University of Rwanda. Ingoma Nshya was founded in July 2004, and the name is translated in two ways. It can mean “New Drums” as well as “New Reign.” A central tenet of the group is to create new opportunities and new choices for its members and to spread a joyful and lively experience to audiences. On Blue Marble Dreams, the portion of Blue Marble’s website dedicated to their Rwandan project, Kiki explains, “While conventional development initiatives are vital to Rwanda’s physical well-being, there remains a need for efforts that boost the spirit of its people.... We want to share moments that are not embossed by despair and death.... We want to create a space where poverty, disease, illiteracy... are not obstacles to happiness and barriers between human beings.... We have to, for the sake of our souls.” Thus was born a drumming and ice cream initiative. The women of Ingoma Nshya are for the first time in their lives part of an organized activity. The youngest member is 16 and the oldest is 62. Many of them never went to school and have never before held jobs or had any responsibilities outside of the home. They are paid 100 dollars a month, and for most, this is the first time they’ve ever earned an income. I asked Kiki what the USA and Europe should know about Ingoma Nshya, and she replied in two words: “We exist.” Ingoma Nshya is now widely considered to be at the top of Rwandan drumming, launching the country’s first-ever drumming festival. They are so impressive that socially ingrained notions about the unlikelihood of female drumming are quickly washed away. Kiki explains that audiences are captivated when they see women “really drumming” and not “trying to drum.” Ingoma Nshya’s motto is, “All are ordinary and extraordinary.” People might think nothing of these women when they see them in the routines of daily life, but when they see them drum, they become extraordinary. Their sparse lyrics are about the beauty of women and the experience of liberation. Ingoma Nshya has been a huge success, but it’s still not easy to keep the group operating. Kiki is quite sure they have enough funding to proceed for the next nine months, but they don’t have a plan yet for what will happen after that. It is a constant struggle. There are many obstacles to their mission. A big one is that, due to poor or no education, the women are lacking basic skills in business. They don’t know how to promote themselves or how to apply for grants or book performances, though Blue Marble Dreams has helped some of them pay for English lessons and intensive training in business and financial management from collaborator Business Council for Peace.
A couple days after I jammed with Ingoma Nshya, I found myself performing for an audience of ex-soldiers at the Mutobo Rehabilitation Center. These 190 male and 3 female ex-combatants had been fighting in Congo for as long as 16 years. They are mostly from the Force for the Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) which is one of the many warring parties in Congo. The Congolese war has become one of Africa’s greatest catastrophes ever involving multiple countries and ethnic groups. The violence, disease, and starvation have left millions displaced or dead. The crimes against humanity include, rape, pillage, and genital mutilation. At the Mutobo Rehabilitation Center these soldiers, some of whom less than two months ago were in the middle of this chaos, are given room and board as well as medical treatment and education. After two months, they are given a little money and they may return to their home villages and previous civilian life. My expectations about these ex-soldiers were shattered. They did not seem tough, psychotic, or evil. As I entered the room they were standing and singing, a few them dancing in the front. When they took their seats, I was told that it was a welcome song for me, and it was a display of their discipline and spirit. I played sax and clarinet for them, told them how the genocide led me to make music in Rwanda, and shared the experiences I had in their country. Some of them leaned forward with their mouths wide open; others had restless legs and could barely sit still. They were also extremely gracious. I asked them if they had any questions for me, and most of them simply wanted to express their gratitude. I was expecting to come face to face with evil, but on the contrary, I found the most inspiring audience I have ever had. I found that even these people who had been on the dark side wanted new choices and new opportunities. It is not just the victims who need rebirth and renewal. The perpetrators must be liberated too. They asked me what I thought when Michael Jackson died, and at the time, it struck me as something that should be humorously insignificant to them. Only later did it occur to me that Michael Jackson is both a hero and a criminal. Quite possibly, some of these soldiers behaved both criminally and heroically in war. Sometimes they are referred to as both soldiers and captives. This reminds me of Kiki’s description of female drummers: ordinary and extraordinary. Contrasts and dualities exist in every single person. Now I’m back home in Brooklyn again, still addicted to dreaming, and there is a shred of Kiki’s wisdom that keeps on ringing in my mind. “I don’t like the word ‘project,’” she says, “Everything I do is a dream.” Mine is to go back to Huye and play more with Ingoma Nshya, maybe get our act really good and rehearsed. Perhaps they will even join me to perform at the Mutobo Rehabiliation Center. These ex-soldiers and female drummers, both Hutu and Tutsi, and even a sax player from New York have some things in common. We make choices to follow one path in life or another, to be ordinary or extraordinary, to stay where we are or to go somewhere new. And we all dream, so we might as well dream together.
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Mari a C h ave z : Avant- T u rn ta bl is t by all i e alva r a d o p hot o by T r avi s L i n d h o r st
Maria Chavez is a true sound scientist. If youâ€™ve ever been curious about conceptual art or music this lady will inspire you. Using a turntable as an instrument, Maria has created her own unique language to describe the breakdown of sound and rhythm. She started as a DJ in Houston. Inspired by improvisational music, she quickly began to see new creative potentials for records and needles. She has notably performed at the Whitney Museum for the Christian Marclay Festival and with the Merce Cunningham Modern Dance Company in New York City. Tom Tom Magazine: Before you became a sound artist and avant-turntablist, you were a DJ. How did one lead into the other? Did you play any other instruments besides the turntable? Maria Chavez: I used to
play the guitar, piano, and flute when I was a kid, but I totally forgot how to play them all. I became a DJ when I was 16 and got involved in the French disco house scene of the late 90s. Daft Punk were the kings. As I got older, I became more oriented to producing house music and decided to leave the University of Houston [where I majored in] Art History to pursue an audio engineering degree. Somehow I managed to get a radio hosting gig at KTRU, Rice University radio. I think I was like 21 and I DJed the dance music nights at the station,
full name: Maria Delpilar Chavez nickname: Chavez age: 30 hometown: Lima, Peru, Austin & Houston, Texas lives in: Greenpoint, Brooklyn current bands/projects: Quechua Couture w/ Donna Huanca (www.ruaminx.com), MERCE w/ Shelley Burgon past bands/projects: too many to remember day job: personal shopper, vintage dealer
called MK Ultra. KTRU is really well known in Houston because it spans about 150 miles. You can hear it from the coast halfway to Austin, so I had a coveted DJing position for the dance scene there. KTRU is also really well known for its avant-garde music collection, and I heard that some free jazz group was coming to Houston. I didnâ€™t really understand improvisation at the time so I decided to go. It was Trio X with Joe McPhee and it blew my mind. I needed an internship at the time for my audio degree so I asked the Pauline Oliveros Foundation if I could get my internship with them. And the rest is history! Yeah! How would you describe the community of musicians that you play with? A lot of the
people I know are self-taught improvisers who became involved with the high art side
> FULL NAME Maria Delpilar Chavez | NICKNAME Chavez | AGE 30 | HOMETOWN Lima, Peru/Austin & Houston, Texas | LIVES IN Greenpoint, Brooklyn | CURRENT Projects Quechua Couture w/ Donna Huanca (www.ruaminx.com), MERCE w/ Shelley Burgon | PAST PROJECTS too many to remember | Day job personal shopper, vintage dealer
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have to ruin a record to make crazy sounds. You can do it on your own. “Ruined” records are still in my vocabulary for the dry electro-acoustic sounds they can provide, but overall, I see them becoming less and less a part of my repertoire.
"Making sound work, in any respect, is a projection of your voice into the universe.”
Besides Djing house music, have you ever tried to match beats or focus on the drums in any of your compositions? When I first
started in the improvisation world, I was mixing the “Land’s End” of records. The Land’s End is the term that describes the very end of a record, the groove that has been created after it’s been stamped by the lathe. It’s originally used to alert the listener to flip the record over. The unintentional rhythms fascinated me because they were so minimal and changed over time. If you allow the record to continue to play, the needle will start to get hot and slowly change the rhythm by slightly melting the physical groove into something more intricate. So the friction creates its own rhythm. Every Land’s End sounds completely different.
of sound performance. I consider myself in this group. I was a DJ but then became totally involved in the improvising sound scene and then started to look at the career of Christian Marclay. I find it interesting that he was able to mold his own sound works into the visual arts side. How did you come across him? He’s
considered the father of avant-turntablism. I get compared to him and his work fairly regularly, although I think we can both agree that our work is very different in approach. I performed a piece of his with a bunch of other turntablists in Berlin last year for the International Turntablist Orchestra (TITO). Ignaz Schick had 14 of the world’s top turntablists come and perform this exhausting four-day festival. I was the youngest person there. It was surreal. Was it all improvised or were you guys following some kind of script—if that’s even possible? It was both. Some people
created their own scores for all of us to follow; some created scores for just a few of us. The thing is, with the turntablist culture everyone is using a similar instrument, but in completely different ways. How do you approach compositions on the turntable? Are you conscious of beats?
I think all of my work, regardless of whether it sounds rhythmic, has some kind of pace. It is all improvised, and since I’m working with a circular motion, rhythm will exist in some way. Would you call what you do sampling, or is it more abstract than that?
It’s definitely more abstract than sampling, or at least I like to think so!
How did you get into this? The Land’s End What kinds of records do you use? How do you pick out the sounds you want to work with? A lot of my records are field
recordings of nature, test tone records, or recordings of other improvised performances. I’m not using the records for what the sounds actually are. I’m listening to them in my language, how I can make them into something new. I can’t use classical music records because the space has already been created. There’s no room to move with a Vivaldi record. Once you hear a second, you know what it is. But with a speaking record, or a sound effects record, there’s room to make it into my own voice. You also use the turntable itself as a sound tool. I read that you called the table needle a “pencil.” Did I get that right? What did you mean? I call my needles “pencils of
sound” because of the different ways that each needle is literally broken into. Some are perfect, sharp, clear. Some are totally worn down to a nub. So the sounds you get from those are mainly electro-acoustic rather than actually reading something from the record itself.
Do you ever intentionally modify the actual records to get a sound you want? I used
to, but I think that’s the biggest lesson I learned throughout my career: you don’t
Series was my response to the minimalist techno movement at the time, when everyone was working with Max/MSP (still are!) but I loved that I could also find the same sounds naturally from these unintentional loops. But no one got it so I stopped. I have been considering doing it again, but I’m still thinking about it.
You’ve made compositions to accompany dance performances, specifically for the the Merce Cunningham dancers. People often equate dance and movement with very strong rhythms—how did you approach this? It’s
based on the teaching of John Cage and his relationship with Merce Cunningham. They never showed each other their works until the moment of the performance, and chance was their only friend. It normally worked out perfectly. I work in the same manner.
Would you prepare a piece ahead of time?
In a way, I knew what sound sources I wanted to use, but wanted the moment to decide in what capacity to use them in— which is normally how I prepare for a lot of shows, unless it’s an actual composition that someone has created for me. In that sense, it kind of still resembles what DJs do.
It does. 33
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Indian Tabla Player
s u n a yan a g h o s h Muses on her Mom, Men, God, and Music
As told to F onLi n Ny eu photos by Mr. Arko Ha lder 34
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My journey in the world of rhythm started at age six, in India. I come from a musical family and it was my mother’s dream that I become an accomplished musician. She herself started training in classical Indian music at age three under the guidance of Sri Saroj Bandopadhyay, among many others. She was a star student but was unable to carry forward her dream of becoming a musician because of marriage and family life. Despite unstable financial conditions, she encouraged me to practice regularly and put me under the tutelage of my guru Pt. Shankar Ghosh. At 13, I decided to pursue music as a career. The little push I received from her and my many gurus spread rhythm through my veins. My mother has always been a constant support for me and still remains to be so to this day. I am pursuing a dream that belongs to both of us. I can still see in her eyes her expectations and hope burning bright. Currently she works in radio and TV in India. MEN
The world of tabla is highly, if not entirely, male dominated. Carving out a niche for myself has not been a very smooth task. I have faced innumerable obstacles in pursuing tabla, and at times, I have felt discouraged. But whenever I remember my responsibilities towards my mother and my guru, I pull myself together, as in this line of work one cannot quit her passion. The obstacles still present themselves in various forms. There are certain societal norms that I have to abide in order to lead a respectable life. Difficulites include sharing a room with a male partner while on a tour, and certain venues of performance are offlimits to women. As we all know, no matter how advanced a society is, as women, certain aspects of it never change for us.
When I was about 16-years-old and practicing tabla for 16 to 18 hours a day, I began to understand the spiritual aspect of being a musician, particularly a tabla player. After this, my playing changed a lot, as I discovered music to be the sole reason of my existence. My most meaningful performance took place when I was performing at a Hindu festival abroad. It was there that I experienced a divine communion with God. And the loving reciprocation from the audience was an out-of-this-world experience for me, which gave me a deep sense of myself, and of my talent as a musician. My actual goal in life is not only to prove myself in this discipline but also to grow every day with new knowledge and new experience. I believe that a musician’s quest in life never ends, as a true musician is forever a student, is forever dynamic. Each day for a musician is a new reason to immerse herself in this magical world of music. No matter what genre we produce, it all ends up at a place of a divine communion. It is that place that I want to reach each day. I am and will always be in pursuit of it, whichever way possible, be it fusion music or classical music. Deep in my heart I have nurtured this dream so that at the end of my life I have a little something to offer to my next generation. I want to help them start from a better platform and also to offer my music no matter how meager it is, to the Almighty, who is the cause of my humble existence.
My tabla playing is classically based with a hint of modern-day music. I am currently engaged in fusion music production, combining classical Indian tabla with more modern instruments and musical genres. I am extremely grateful to my past guru Shri Samar Mitra and my present guru for passing on their musical knowledge to me. India has a rich cultural heritage spanning more than 5,000 years. It all started with the creation of tabla by Amire Khusro. Since then various musicians have paved the way for the peaceful collaboration of the six types of gharanas (schools), enriched by their own styles, including Karnataka and Northern Indian classical. Over time many great maestros of tabla have emerged, and their legacy has been carried out by successive generations. The city of Kolkata is considered to be the heart of Indian classical music, and many talented young people still keep the flame of our culture burning bright by studying the traditional styles.
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k im s c h i f i n o from Matt & Kim By K el i e bow ma n p h o to CO U RTE SY OF ARTIST
My interview with Kim started with a walk to get New Orleans iced coffee, which, two hours later, made our hands shake. That coffee is like crack. We walked to the waterfront and started talking about music, art, and life. We have been best buds for a long time so it was funny at first to do an interview with someone I know so much about. The interview turned into a hang out session, which led us to dinner, then back to Cinders—the gallery I run with Sto Pit in Williamsburg—to drink wine, and finally to the city to hang out with No Age and crew at Odessa’s. It was a long day and late night. This is a collection of several conversations we had over the course of the day.
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broccoli, 80's fashion, bff's, high school band / mattandkimmusic.com
"Jordin and I went to a show to see this old punk band play, and I whispered to him that I was going to learn to drum and he laughed."
Tom Tom Magazine: So what’s it like being in a popular band? Kim: I don’t know. I don’t
consider us popular. We’re still doing what we’ve always done, it’s just in different places. But definitely being in a band is the best job I have ever had. I feel awkward saying these things to you since you know me so well.
What jobs have you done before the band? I
didn’t have a job in high school ’cause I ran track. After high school, the summer before I went to college I worked at a coffee shop and I remember the guy hiring me—he said I was the youngest person he ever hired. He said that he felt like he should give me a chance. Have you played any other instruments besides drums? The clarinet in band. But
in high school they wouldn’t let you play in band and do sports so I quit. I tried playing it again a couple years ago but as you know I have really chapped lips and it hurt. Matt played saxophone in the school band. What is your least favorite instrument? Mine is definitely the saxophone followed closely by the didgeridoo. The bass guitar. Really? But you love to dance. Crazy. I just
hate it. But Matt does look really cute when he plays the bass. When did you start playing drums? In the
summer of 2002. I always wanted to play the drums, partly because I love to dance. Jordin and I went to a show to see this old punk band play, and I whispered to him that I was going to learn to drum and he laughed. Six months later I started to play. What inspires you? This sounds cheesy,
but it’s friends who are doing cool shit. It’s true! It’s not even friends who play music—I am inspired by Cinders, Taylor and Jay making films ... it’s inspiring and competitive. If they are doing cool shit I wanna do cool shit too! Living in NYC is inspirational. I always say that it is so expensive here you gotta be doing cool shit to take advantage of it.
Favorite vegetable? Broccoli. One of the coolest places you’ve ever been?
The desert in New Mexico with the white sand. Matt and I went there to shoot a film he was working on. It’s like when I went to Tampa and hung out with you and your brother on the beach there—the fine white sand is crazy! People bring sleds to this desert, there are wild horses, and it is really close to a military base so huge fighter jets are always flying over. Why did you start playing as Matt and Kim?
We started because I wanted to play drums and Matt wanted to figure out this keyboard and we hung out all the time anyways so it just made sense. What do you do for fun? Honestly, I watch
TV! My favorite show right now is Cougar Town. I think Courtney Cox is hilarious. I love Fantasy Football League, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights…. So wait, let me ask you a question, do you remember when we first met? No, I don’t remember. You don’t remember
when we first met! I’ll remember that when I am picking bridesmaids! So you’re getting married? No. What have you been listening to lately? T.I.
I absolutely love T.I. We’re playing with him and Ludacris at the Virgin FreeFest in D.C. We are finally playing a festival that we’re super psyched about and know the bands! Ha! It’s a free festival and it sold out in 30 seconds. They have art and music so it seems pretty cool, and the dude who runs it seems pretty awesome.
pathetic but it makes me feel like I am still involved and keeping up with everyone. I also look at the Cinders opening photos. How many openings do you think you’ve been to? This your fourth year? No, it’s our sixth! No way, that’s crazy!
Probably been to 60? Missed 20 or so but I am always there in spirit. My one complaint though is that you got rid of the bench inside! You should bring it out for openings. I think that bench might be my bed now. [KIM GAZES OUT AT THE WATER AND SEES A TUGBOAT PASSING BY.] I wanna ride on a tugboat! The
little tough guy! The song “Jessie Jane” is really about a tugboat but she wanted a song named after her. There used to be this tugboat on Smith and 9th Street named the Mary H and I made up this whole story around it: There was a business man who owned it and worked on Wall Street. He had a wife who he did not spend much time with. She died and then he quit his job and lived on a tugboat, naming it after his late wife. One day I hadn’t slept; it was during college when I was up all night working on an art project. I went to Matt’s house and started crying about this make believe story feeling that I had killed his wife.It made no sense! I hadn’t slept. He made me come inside and take a nap. He kept dating me…..When did 80’s fashion come back?
How long have you lived in NY?
Since 1999. What are you currently reading? Elle Decor
What do you do when you get homesick from touring so much? I go on Facebook and look
at all the photos of my friends. It’s quite
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cajon throne / hiptapproject.com
narj es s SAAD By L aFr ae S c i p hot os c ou rtesy o f a rti st
About two years ago I got a call from my girl Tamar-kali (a punksoul songstress) about a gig she wanted me on. It was a 17-piece all-female orchestra for a musical tribute to the great Dr. Nina Simone, sponsored by the Black Rock Coalition. As an ensemble, we did completely sold-out shows in New York, Paris, and in the South of France. It was a beautiful opportunity to forge a deeper relationship with the life and music of Nina Simone. Also I got to know other great women artists I might never have met. We were all bandleaders in our individual worlds outside of this project, aptly titled "Daughters of Nina Simone." This was how I met French-Tunisian percussionist Narjess Saad. She's known for multi-tasking on hand percussion and body drumming. Before our first sound check in Paris, she was sitting on a cajon holding a darbuka under one arm, a djembe off to one side, and some rattles, shakers, and sticks on the floor next to my drum set. I went over to her to say hello, and after two sentences I realized we had a language barrier because I don’t speak French. The song we chose for sound check starts with drums out front, so I started to play the groove. I noticed that Narjess really listened before she entered and designed her groove: darbuka punctuated by bass strikes on the cajon. She came up with a part that was melodic and in concert, not conflict, with the other sounds and voices. She is a really sensitive player with an infectious playful groove who can rip a solo when she wants to. Since that first sound check, Narjess and I have closed the language gap and continue to take advantage of opportunities to play together. We caught up recently over Skype. Tom Tom Magazine: How did music and drums enter into your life? Narjess Saad: My
grandmother and my mother both played darbuka and were singers. I grew up between Paris and Tunisia. I have memories of seeing and hearing them play at family events and holidays. I also remember times when the women would gather separately and play and sing together. I first picked up a drum (a darbuka) when I was about nine, 38
and my grandmother taught me how to play it. Later I also played and studied djembe and djun-djun in Mali. What’s your usual setup? When I need
to sound like a drum set I sit on the cajon and use my right hand for bass sounds, with bells and shakers on my hands or feet to make a high-hat sound. In my left hand I use a brush and I strike the cajon or the darbuka to get a snare sound. I use a combination of sticks, brushes, and my hands. I also play the congas and djembe. I know you freelance with many artists. What are you up to now? I’m playing for
[percussive dance ensemble] Hip Tap Project. I’m playing percussion, and I have been exploring using body percussion sounds with them. I’m also developing my own music by producing and performing at a weekly music night at a club in Paris while also freelancing with other artists. And you’ve recently started singing. Seeing as your mother and grandmother were both singers too, what took you so long? They
sang for cultural and religious occasions. The things that inspired me to sing came along later in my life. What’s it like to play and sing?
I have to practice. I have to practice to develop the song, my voice, and my coordination. I sometimes spend all day in the studio working.
> FULL NAME Narjess Saad | NICKNAME Jess | AGE 29 | HOMETOWN Paris | LIVES IN Paris/Tunisia | CURRENT BANDS Ismael Wonder, Toli Nameless, The Black Rock Coalition (tribute to black women songwriters), , Oswaldo Nieto, Yasmine Kyd, Bantunami, Tapage Nocturne | PAST BANDS Cauris, Melissa Laveaux, Kedsen, ANtrabata, Yallow, Les Haricots Libres, Michael Tee, Batitsta | Day job Percussion instructor
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la's rising star / myspace.com/worldwartour
stella m oz gawa by e l i zab eth ju ng l ef o rc e p hot o by er i n n i c o l e brow n
Their name is Warpaint. Their myspace url is worldwartour. Their M.O. is "take no prisoners," but their skillful meandering songs aren't in any way reminiscent of a battle. It seems as if these songs existed first, and the band was just there to channel them. Drummer Stella Mozgawa's wit only adds to their intelligence. Tom Tom Magazine: How long have you been playing? Stella Mozgawa: Roughly a
What was the first song you learned to play? I’m going to reveal a little too much
about myself and say “MMMBop” by Hanson. Oh God. After that, mostly Steely Dan’s Royal Scam album. How Many bands have you been in? Many!
I’ve always shared my time with music, like someone in an extra-marital affair. Drummers always seem the most open to musical promiscuity, maybe because a lot of them are unsure of their melodic/harmonic capabilities. So they join bands instead of starting bands.
That’s an interesting theory. What fruit would you live in ( James and the Giant Peach style)? Haha. Probably a date. If
someone called me to see what I was doing I could say, “Sorry, I’m in the middle of a date.” When you were a kid what did you want to do when you grew up? It changed every
day. I think the weirdest one was wanting to be a lawyer when I was six. That’s a pretty unimaginative fixation at that age. Most kids say “astronaut” or “princess with wings,” but I chose lawyer. I guess if I asked my 12-year-old self that question it would be pretty close to what I’m doing right now, only I’m not grown up yet. Soon. Best/worst concert experience? Best:
Flaming Lips last year, side of stage at Tokyo’s Summer Sonic festival ten minutes after an earthquake. Also, Vic Chesnutt at the Great American Music Hall last year. Worst: I honestly cannot think of anything. How boring for you.
Maybe being called “monkey child” in primary school? I was lanky and weird. It’s actually quite funny now. Meanest thing you said to someone? I told
a school friend she smelled of rotten cheese. I still feel like shit about that. Do you have any unusual talents?
I believe I am double jointed but this has not been scientifically proven. I can also play the nose harp. What were you obsessed with as a kid?
Getting crunked! Just kidding. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, mostly Raphael. I was a total tomboy. What are you obsessed with now? Season
one of Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! Also, the correct way to make French press coffee. (Fill hot water almost to the top; wait one minute for the gases to escape, then fill hot water to the top for real. Wait five minutes before plunging).
Best/worst gig? Best would be Paris
Maroniquerie this year. What a pretentious response, but it’s true. Any time you can play in Europe is a good time indeed. Worst: That’s hard, ’cause all the worst gigs end up being the best stories. However, anytime I play drunk is always objectively horrific. Meanest thing someone said to you? The
meanest thing has probably been repressed into the deepest tunnels of my mind banks.
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spicier girl / sudha.co.uk
sudha kheter pAl I n t e rv i ew by L au r a Fa r es PHOTO by D. H o p e
What a privilege to interview the amazing Sudha Kheterpal, best known as the charismatic percussionist for Faithless. She has also worked alongside Kylie Minogue, Spice Girls, and Dido, amongst other world-class artists. She invited me to watch her show at the Roundhouse in London and to experience why she’s a leading percussionist. Sudha will be playing an arena tour with Faithless this winter, and will be chipping away at her new album while on the road.
tom tom magazine: How did you get started playing drums? Sudha Kheterpal:
Apparently the first word I ever said was “drum” but I think that’s a family myth. I went to an all-girls school, and when I was 11 the drum teacher from the boys school across the road came over to scout for budding girl drummers. I thought, “Yes, that’s me!” and went on to have lessons with him for six years. I got my first drums at 14. My gran was over from India and she told my mum that she wanted to buy me a kit because she could see how much I loved drumming. I studied the rudiments of drumming and kits with teachers from ages 11 to 16. I’ve since studied Afro-Cuban percussionists in the UK and Havana. Were you encouraged by the people around you to pursue percussion as a profession?
My drum teacher at school really encouraged me. My mum was incredible too. She took a lot of convincing when she realized that this “hobby” was fast becoming a profession and that I wasn’t going to get a “real job.” But she supported me all the same. Who are your favorite percussionists?
Trilok Gurtu, Changuito, Manny Oquendo, Anuradha Pal (an incredible female tabla player), Kimberley Thompson, and Sheila E.
Who is your favorite band at the moment?
LCD Soundsystem. I love their punky, raw energy and percussion-filled sound that makes them just so damn live! What’s your current setup? Natal conga,
requinto and tumba, Natal bongos, 13" and 14” LP Tito Puente bronze timbales, 12” Mapex snare, LP granite blocks, cowbells, jam blocks, agogôs, LP chimes, mounted LP tambourine, hand toys, Gibraltar rack and table, Sabian cymbals, two PD 105 V- pad triggers, Roland SPD-S sampling pad, Roland HPD-15 Handsonic, Vic Firth 7As and Alex Acuna conquistador timbale sticks. How did you start playing with Faithless? I
had played alongside the band's Sister Bliss and she called me up a couple of weeks later. Producer Rollo got me down to his studio for a recording session. It all went super trooper and that session was subsequently used in Danny Boyle’s film, A Life Less Ordinary. yeah I’ve read that you even composed music for film. How did you get into that? I teamed
up with jazz writer and pianist Janette Mason. We got to grips with Logic studio and writing tunes. Since then I’ve written my first artist album, called Anti-freeze, and I’ve been approached to use songs for syncs and film and to write independent works. You are also an accomplished producer and songwriter. When did that begin? [In
the early 1990s] I took a sound engineering course and began messing around with the music program Cubase. That was it. A slave forever to the blips and bleeps. How do you usually write your songs? Does it all start with a beat? Yep, it all starts
with the groove. Then the bass line. Then I sit for hours layering bits of percussion, bit crushing, and filtering until I’m happy with the texture. Then the melody with layers and hooks. Vocals at the end. What is the best advice you can give a percussionist wanting to make a living in the music industry? Do as many gigs as you can.
You really need that experience of things going tits up! Feedback, zero monitor levels, and falling gear will always happen, so the more hands-on experience you have, the better. And it is important to recognize you are part of a multi-billion pound industry. At the same time as practicing your reverse paradiddles it’s important to get your head around accounting and the general runnings of a business.
> Full name Sudha Kheterpal | Hometown Nottingham | Lives in L ondon | Current bands Faithless | Past bands Spice Girls, Dido, Talvin Singh, Kylie to name a few | Day job Faithless
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old time relijun new time soul /myspace.com/germaineb
tom tom magazine: Was your family musical?
Germ a i n e Baca -h a s I n t e rv i ew by Jas m i n e Dr ea me Wag n er
Germaine Baca-Has: I started playing drums at about 16, that’s half my life! My family is a big influence on me. My mom, dad, and uncles play every Sunday for a Spanish Mass, and all five of my siblings play music. My dad and his brothers were the band at every [family event]. Usually they played Mariachi music with Mexican instruments, but their musical personalities ranged from dancehall to campfire.
p hot o by Cl aud i n e Ro uss eau
How did you choose the kit you play today?
Germaine Baca-Has is the woman responsible for the booming booty-beats behind Arrington De Dionyso’s malaikat dan singa. The first time I saw her perform, her intense, throbbing tribal dance groove was inescapable. Germaine’s drumming has a soulful backbone; it’s almost as if she’s dancing. One of her greatest strengths as a drummer, beyond technical knowhow, is her uninhibited nature; she’s known for her unhinged, envelopepushing performances. She’s been performing for most of her life and is armed with an arsenal of sass that is contagious. Germaine is a true wild woman of the Rocky Mountains and a brilliant beatmaker.
I now play a vintage sparkle Pearl set with strays that my mom picked up at a thrift store. Any tips for practicing beats or developing technique? Minimal percussion is always
something a drummer should strive for, but who doesn’t love Bill Ward? Playing along with an album is difficult because of the volume required. You need headphones that cover your ears and you need to wear earplugs under the headphones. I am protective of my ears. I suggest using a metronome in headphones. Being conscious of how easy it is to speed up really helps you keep a decent tempo.
Your playing is groovy, soulful, and also extremely powerful. How do you develop your strength and endurance? I [once] lived
in a venue where I could be as loud as I wanted and for as long as I wanted. I would just rock out in the basement without realizing how long I was down there. I definitely showed off and over-played. Arrington is such a powerful personality and a brilliantly creative musician. What’s it like playing with him? I have learned
so much from him. He is a pro, he is very intellectual, and he has great stage presence. I love the spontaneity of the live show as well as recorded.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a drummer? Learn how to hold the
sticks correctly from the start, saves your wrists, and saves you from having to learn later when it’s too late. Use your wrists to snap rather than muscle so that your sticks bounce; this also avoids ruining heads. What records are you listening to right now? Are there any up and coming female artists you’re particularly excited about?
I was excited about Explode Into Colors, then they exploded. Definitely check out Diamanda Galas!
Are there any aspects of your drumming that you work on regularly? Fills. I wish
I could be more creative with fills, but most of the bands I play in want the bare minimum anyway. Learning to hold back and not fill all of the space is a challenge but I welcome it.
> Full name Germaine Marie Baca | Nick name Germz | Age 32 | Hometown Denver, CO | Lives in Portland, OR/Denver, CO | Current bands Sin Desires Marie, Malaikat Dan Singa | Past bands Rainbow Sugar, SDM, Hot Fag, Josh Taylor’s Friends Forever, Harsh Sunshine, Old Time Relijun | Day job Freelance Audio/Visual
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T h e u lt i m at e c o o l i e / m y s pa c e . c o m / b r o o k ly n c o a s t i n g
Fiona C a mp b ell All The Kids Are All Right i n t e rv i ew By C ath y Hs i ao p hot o by Ty l er T ry kows k i
I’m sitting with Fiona Campbell in the idyllic basement of Pizza Forest, a musical Eden and HQ of multiple Brooklyn bands, including Coasting. Fiona is the drummer for Coasting, Vivian Girls, Cybelle Blood, and now defunct New Zealand band The Coolies. We hung out after Coasting’s Brooklyn debut 7” release show (on M’ladys) and again after her first Vivian Girls tour to talk shop, feminism, and the Brooklyn music scene. Coasting have another 7” forthcoming on Group Tightener, a split on French label Atelier Ciseaux, and a cassette on Japan’s Sixteen Tambourines. They tour the West coast this September and New Zealand in the winter.' TomTom: How did Coasting come about?
Fiona Campbell: We met working at shows at Brooklyn DIY spaces. I had been on hiatus from drumming for over four years. Her attitude suited mine. We have a common bond around music, particularly female drummers, there’s just more of us. There’s also an attitude that’s welcoming towards female musicians in general in Brooklyn. I agree! I like that. I feel like there’s
enough of a community here that you can be honest about the experience of being a female musician without feeding into any stereotypes. You don’t have to compete or pretend you’re “just one of the boys.” There’s already that level of support.
You sound huge for two people, was that always the plan? It wasn’t an aesthetic
choice not to have a bass player or midrange. It just came down to us working really well together.
Your drumming has this controlled finesse but also this incredible strength. What different drum muscles do you flex for all your bands? Each band requires a different
energy and mindset. Coasting’s drumming is very physical for my entire body. I move around a lot, and it is tom and ride focused. I’ve just started writing my own parts in Vivian Girls and I want to honor their work. Learning both eras of Vivian Girls have been challenging, as there are different
song structures and timing from what I usually play. All the bands allow for a lot of freedom and input. You were in bands for half of your life and then you stopped. Why? It was really
intimidating when I first got here because everyone was so talented. I fell into a kind of traditional marriage and it affected me creatively. I look back and I think, “Oh my God, I stopped playing drums.” Right now my outlook is that I want to do this for the rest of my life. I’m 29, and I want a family and to still be involved in music. A lot of women at a certain age get married and things change…. I did that for a while. I stopped playing music. That’s the DIY, post-feminist ethos, a lifestyle that isn’t about having to choose…. There were fighters who had to choose. Many of my friends who’re older don’t have children, and they do feel like they lost out because they did have to make a choice. That to be true to themselves they had to lead these lives that did not include “traditional” desires. I think a whole new wave of feminism is being really honest with yourself with what you want. Wonderfully put! Favorite drummers? Last words of advice for aspiring drummers?
Janet Weiss, Michael Prain, Hamish Kilgour! Don’t be scared. Do what you want and be honest about what you want. That’s the hardest thing, because a lot of the time you will think you should play really tough because you want people to know that you’re tough and you can play. You don’t have to do that if you’re just starting out. It’s cool, just play how you want to play and be OK with that. That’s the best thing, being OK with OK.
> FULL NAME Fiona Marie Tarati Campbell | NICKNAME Fei | AGE 29 | HOMETOWN Auckland, New Zealand | LIVES IN Brooklyn, NY CURRENT BANDS Coasting, The Vivian Girls, Cybelle Blood | PAST BANDS The Coolies | DAY JOB Massage Therapist
9/6/10 2:44:55 PM
jazzy. crunchy. thick. / myspace.com/theesatisfaction
thees at is fa c t ion by c am i l a da ng er p hot o by k r i sten blus h
When I first heard THEESatisfaction I was in a golden mini van with Talk Normal (Brooklyn duo) and our good friend Megan. We were traveling from Arkadelphia, Arkansas after finishing a fine meal at a Waffle House, on our way to Austin, Texas for SXSW. Megan suggested listening to a mix she had made for the occasion and track 12 was THEESatisfaction’s “Bisexual.”
The song is a brilliantly rendered tale Cat and Stas tell together about a girl with “a man on her arm” who one of them meets out on the town. Cat says, “But I knew she’d do me ’cause its all about charm.” They meet up together for the chorus: “I don’t usually do guys / but tonight I might be bisexual.” What makes THEESatisfaction relatable is the totally raw, unapologetic place their music comes from—it has nothing to make up or hide, sharing simply what they know from their daily lives. “We like to write about our own personal experiences of what it means to be black, queer, and female,” they say. “We’re constantly making observations of our surroundings, and we also listen to a lot of music. Different shit everyday, and so we take those ideas and usually freestyle them into words via recording or paper.” That’s how their hit song “Bisexual,” came about. “We were on our way to a show, waiting for the bus and I had this churchy sounding melody that I was humming,” says Stas. “I told Cat to pick it up so that I could freestyle over it, and the rap was a story of my encounters with guys and girls.” That organic personal process doesn’t just pertain to their lyrics—Cat and Stas also create their own beats. They use keyboards, form drum loops on an Akai XR20, and use samples to create their distinctive jazzy, crunchy, thick sound. “We listen to a song or sound and find parts of it that we want, and we use Recycle—a program by Propellerhead—to chop up the song into itty bitty pieces.” And with this they call upon soul, funk, bossa nova, and 90s hip-hop, without ever losing their personal edge. As we listen, we ride their melodies, sink into their lyrics, feel their smooth harmonies and all of a sudden it hits us: this is their world and we are just lucky to be tuning in.
> full name Catherine Harris-White and Stasia Irons | NICKNAME Cat and Stas | AGE Cat, 23; Stas, 24 | HOMETOWN Cat, Hawaii; Stas, Tacoma, Washington | LIVES IN Seattle, Washington | day job Musicians
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more exclusive pics of Miss Meg and Black Cherry's exclusive video premiere on tomtommag.com
b lack c h e rry i n t e rv i ew by a lli e a lva r a d o p hot os by st efa no g a lli
Megane Quashie is a disco maven who believes you can make a beat out of anything. And she does, whether with her band or spinning records. She's been singing since the age of six. She can pack a dance floor like a zebra steak ata hyena party, and is currently channeling her many talents into UK dance band Black Cherry (with partner Gui Fraisse). They have a new record coming out next year and a single out now. Tom Tom Magazine: Tell me a little about your own musical background. What came before Black Cherry? Megan Quashie:
Music is something that has always been a massive part of my home life. I started jumping around with a microphone at around age six. My big brother and I used to make tracks in his bedroom. He would hook up bike lights to the back of the stereo so it would look like a mobile disco. My dad, who passed away last year, used to blast Prince in the car while we drove to school. I have very earlier memories of screaming, “Purple rain, purple rain!” in the back of this big-ass Volvo. Anyway, I got older and started falling in love with the idea of being in a girl band—I know, really funny. It happens ! I did a few auditions, and was told I was too good ’cause
I could play guitar and sing along in tune so I started a band. Sugar Mountain was my first project. What kind of music was that? Very bluesy, soulful rock ’n’ roll.
working on a solo project and I needed a good producer to work the tracks with me. Someone re-introduced me to [Gui] the genius, the beautiful French boy on my arm. The chemistry was electric. How do you mean “re-introduced?” We met
before and were friends, but I never knew he produced. We had so much fun making the first record. Too much fun. It was magic. So in return for his great work we went to New York City for two weeks. Did you perform there? Yes, for two
weeks in basements, warehouses parties, underground venues. We met a BFG—big friendly giant—and jammed with him for two weeks at his place. Ian Savage. One half of a band called The Bluffs. He gave us more confidence about our project, introducing us to many people, bigging us up to his friends, etc. Did you get a good response to your new collaboration? The response was, “You
need a band. Love the music, but you need a band.”
That’s pretty different from the pop you listened to as a kid. So how did you journey back? Yes, now I am listening to all the stuff I
And how long from then until now? Three
did as a kid. I love Tina Turner and disco lights.
or four years. Black Cherry really started as a proper touring band mid-2007.
Are these your inspirations in Black Cherry? Love, sadness,
Tell me about your songwriting process .
laughter, death, restarting all journeys. Black cherry is a fusion of so many different influences: mainly electro, but earlier good stuff like Depeche Mode, Prince, Neneh Cherry, Donna Summer.
How did Black Cherry come about? I was
It normally starts with an idea, maybe a vocal melody or riff. We will play it to each other and develop the idea into a song. The writing team is myself and Gui, but Rob, our
Full name Megane Quashie | Nickname Meggie Moo, Megaphone, Megatron, Miss Meg | Age Twenty-something | Hometown London | Where do you live now East London, brov | What you do for a living Make beats, sing melodies, affect how people dance | current bands Black Cherry | Current DJ alias Monochrome DJs, M.E.G.A.T.R.O.N. (solo) | past bands Sugar Mountain, Khaki Brown
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guitarist, also used to write with us before he passed away. He wrote this album with us. I’m so sorry. It sounds like a rough year for you. Yeah, it has been
very sad to start this again. He is missed every day, but the show must go on, and he is always with us in laughter, music, and those crazy drunk nights.
I’m sure he’s missed. It sounds like you guys have some programmed beats as well as live guitars and other instrumentation. Do you create the beats? We have backing tracks onstage when we
perform live, but in the recording process we program the beats. Nice. Do you use drum machines or is it all in the computer?
Sometimes via a Mac on Pro Tools, sometimes we just clap and do percussion live and loop it. Like on “One Another,” that is three of us simply in a room all clapping. Gui also plays drums live onstage. He is great. I play an electric pad. We’ve jammed live onstage together with drumsticks. I know you have a new album coming out. What’s it called?
WHITE GOLD. Does it have a theme? Yeah, it's all about how we are robots. Slaves
to cash. We want to be covered in WHITE GOLD. The album follows a story and is written like a short film. Hopefully, we will make the two together. Please tell me more! The story is about a young lady who
discovers something is not quite right about the banking system. And as she discovers more about this, her world becomes a very dangerous place. We are going to make it in October. So the album is like the soundtrack for this film/story? Yes.
The two will work together but the film will have dialogue. We normally have crazy visuals by the super coolio Kate Moross. The very artistic artist. We’ve got Moross fever. Oh yeah. She’s awesome. Will the film play during your music performance as well, or is that separate? Allie, that’s a great idea.
Didn’t think about that. First one’s free!
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Shopping for Drum Sets by lee free
Shopping for a drum kit can be an exciting but daunting experience. When you go into a drum shop or shop for used gear, it helps to know specific lingo. When you want to understand the quality of a piece of gear, asking the right questions is key! Even if you’ve never sat down at a kit before you can talk the talk and sound like a pro. Just read on… Unlike traditional song structure we’re going straight to the breakdown. Drums are made up of lots of little parts, Drum sets are made up of different kinds of drums that work together along with a collection of cymbals, hardware, and accessories. What makes a drum a drum? A resonating body and a membrane. Here’s how those two principles work on a modern-day drum: drum shell The actual drum most
often made of multiple layers of bent plywood. Shells can also be made of metal or synthetics (plastic, pressed wood). Shells act as the resonating body. drum head The main striking
surface, the membrane. Today this is most often made from some form of synthetic material that’s been mounted and glued onto a metal rim. Drum heads can be changed out for general maintenance or to achieve different sounds appropriate to different styles of music. drum rim A circular piece that holds the
drum head in place. They can be made of chrome, cheaper metals, or wood. drum lugs and tension rods Drum
lugs are those metal "braces” attached at points all around the drum’s shell. They hold the threaded seating for tension rods. Tension rods are the screws with a square or slotted top that tune the drum. The drum rim, the drum lug and the tension rods work together to hold the drum heads in place. They provide a way for “tension” to be increased or decreased on the head, against the drum shell. what makes a drum set?
That’s up to you! It’s one of the reasons playing the drums is such a great way to express your individuality. Usually involved in a basic setup: snare As the centerpiece of your
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w e wa n n a b e l e e f r e e / l e e f r e e m u s i c . c o m / b r o o k ly n b i k e b e at . c o m
kit, it provides the back beat with those excellent metal (or catgut) strainers on the underside, most commonly made in 14” diameter with varying depths. Each snare will have a unique “throw-off” to pull the snares on and off. tom toms If you’re reading this magazine
then you know how great a Tom Tom can be! Diameters range from 6” to 12.” The floor tom, the low end beast, is about 14”to 18.” bass drum The thump on the floor;
common diameters 20” to 24.”
L ee F r ee i nterv i ew by a li son ma z er photo by MARO HAGO P IAN
Lee Free takes a running leap at anything s/he finds interesting— drumming, the circus, bike riding, animation, gamelans, junkyard objects—and turns it into an experiment in rhythm. With a background so varied it makes sense s/he’d find order in drumming, Lee is one of those people who can score and totally nail it all. Lee currently plays with New York’s Circus Amok, an elaborate celebratory shambles of threering art and music and gender expression, and with a grant from the city is working on a TV project called Brooklyn Bike Beat.
Cymbals Loud ringing metal plates.
Cymbals are varied and can also be endlessly upgraded.
hardware General term for the metal
“scaffolding” that holds all the drums in position. Also holds the cymbals and includes the throne. Some specific hardware pieces include bass drum pedal (the device that lets you hit the bass drum) and hi-hat pedal, the device that lets you play the hihat cymbals. Sometimes kits are sold with hardware and cymbals and sometimes you need to buy them separately. Either way you want to make sure it all functions. Do things open and close? Move smoothly? Most hardware can be replaced and upgraded so if something on a used kit doesn’t work it’s not the end of the world. It's just another expense and a little more time. The quality of cymbals and hardware will generally be reflected in price. I say just buy one of something good rather then a bunch of crap. Buying used? Look closely for cracks. Use your ears to judge quality. Cymbals are very personal. Play as many as you can to try and learn the subtlety across the price range. Note differences in weight and bell size (the bump in the center). Play the whole instrument across the full body. Play it loud and play it quiet. Where does it shine? Something trashy sounding or unique may have value too. Spend according to taste rather than size or brand. When buying hardware, remember you’ll probably be the one to carry it around. Where you can, avoid plastic parts, and play with all the different configurations before you take it home. Take a tape measure, pencil, a friend to boost confidence or carry stuff, some blankets or towels for transport if you don't plan on buying cases, and a budget. See if you can find coupons online. Ask questions so you buy smart, and remember a drum set is an expandable creature! You don’t have to buy all your gear at once from the same place.
Tom Tom Magazine: You’re drumming all the time, it seems. Is this what do you do for a living? Lee Free: I freelance full-time.
That can include anything from touring to handiwork. I had the slogan “temporary fixes for permanent problems” for various random gigs, which in the past included commercial fishing, farmers market, and rigging. I teach, compose, and recently started writing grants for art projects and human-interest work. Wow. Is that all? NYC hustle.
When and why did you start playing the drums? I started at 11, and I have to credit it
to the Bangles.
I was a huge Bangles fan as a kid! The
guitar lessons I started with were so boring; I just wanted instant satisfaction. Did your family encourage you to play guitar? My dad loves music—he’s an opera
singer. There were some hippies that came to my Catholic school to teach guitar and I ended up in the class. When I asked to play drums, they agreed to lessons. My dad took piano in the next room at this little Brooklyn shack. I played on a gum rubber pad for three years until they figured out I wasn’t stopping and finally allowed me to get a kit…. I think they were happy I had a place to tire myself out, and it kept me from hammering things into the wall in an effort to fix things.
What is your favorite setup for your kit?
My favorite setup is a basic four piece. I’ve worked with this set of Gretsch drums for years. I like to take out the original bass drum (24” H 16” W) when I play loud rock. I made an 18” replica for smaller venues and circus or jazzy gigs. I also am in love with my Roland SPD-S sampler and love to weave in electronic sounds when I can. Playing with the gamelan is unique because the kit is totally fabricated of pots, pans, and tubs—no rebound! I play double pedal too. How did you make that bass drum replica?
I made the bass drum replica from an 18” shell. I drilled out for the hardware, [prepared] the bearing edge, and stained the drum too. Do you always play double pedal or only in the gamelan? I learned to play double
pedal with Bitch. I had torn [a major knee tendon] really bad on my right leg. We had a tour and I didn’t want to not go, so I learned to play things backward. Then as the right leg healed I taught myself to play the feet together. I use it in the gamelan. I guess I’m asked a lot to sound like more than just one person so I’ve found it a valuable tool. The gamelan kit has evolved over the years into the monster it is now. First, the parts I play were written for two people, and then the charts got combined. It’s all written out and that’s a great challenge.
> FULL NAME Lee Frisari | NICKNAME Lee Free | AGE 33 | HOMETOWN Brooklyn, New York | WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? Still here | CURRENT BANDS Electric Junkyard Gamelan, Circus Amok, Inner Princess and Shira Kline’s Rockin’ Out Green Band are in-town steady gigs; also does freelance work | PAST PROJECTS Has loved playing with Bitch and the Exciting Conclusion, The Tipton Saxophone Quartet, Hanifah Walidah’s Black Patti ttm4release.indd 47
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Nelly ’s All -Fe m a l e Apple B ot tom Druml in e by jos e p hi n e mc ro bbi e p hot os c ou rtesy o f a rti st
Nelly’s Apple Bottom Drumline was an ensemble masterminded by creative director Kimberly Burse, who had previously put together Beyonce’s ten-piece all-female backing band. The Drumline backed up rapper Nelly at the BET Hip Hop Awards in 2007, performing a cadence on his song “Let It Go (Lil Mama).” They were later praised on a post-show recap as the best backing band of the awards show. I spoke with two members of the Drumline– D.C.’s Morgan Anna Terry (then 21), who played quints with the group, and San Diego’s Natracia Ballard (then 24), who was the top bass drummer.
Tom tom magazine: What are your backgrounds in music?
Morgan Terry: I played the violin, piano, oboe, and saxophone while in elementary school. It was pretty hard being a girl and wanting to play the drums in a marching band. I was always told the drums were too heavy for a female to carry, but I seemed to prove them wrong. I became section leader of my drumline in the 8th grade. I was also the section leader in high school, and have
played in a few community drumlines. Natracia Ballard: I’ve been playing drums since I was about four. I wanted to play the drums in my middle school band, but the director thought they were more for boys so he made me an alto saxophone player. At the end of my sophomore year I did a talent show and I played a solo on my drum set. They played [it] on the school news and the band director saw it. He had no idea I could play. That next year, he made me the drum
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captain of the drumline and the drummer for our jazz band. I attended Florida A & M University and tried out for the Marching 100 on the predominately male drum line. I scored the highest freshmen try-out score for the line, and landed the 22” base drum marching position.
morning everyone could walk well enough in heels to make it through the show.
How did you come to hear about Nelly’s Apple Bottom Drumline? NB: I heard about
mind when I saw the heels.
the audition on the radio, and they also had an advertisement about it on BET. MT: For the cities where [Nelly] wasn’t holding auditions, people could upload an audition video via his MySpace page. I recorded myself playing a cadence on a book.
Because it was an all-female line of younger women (and with the sexy Apple Bottom name), did you have concerns that this would more about eye candy than playing? MT: Honestly, that did cross my
NB: I even changed my style up for the audition. I didn’t wear my usual baggy pants and over sized T-shirt. Nelly said he wanted fine girls with apple bottoms and high heels. But we didn’t care about all of that. We just wanted the chance to prove that we could play.
NB: When the Nelly opportunity came along, I hadn’t been playing anything at all, not even for fun. So when I heard about the audition, I jumped at the opportunity. Plus,
MT: It was a big challenge for me and probably for most of the other girls, but we made it work.
it was gonna be all females. Usually drum lines are all male and maybe one girl but she had to be twice as good as the guys to even be considered.
was it the first time you’d performed with an all-female ensemble? MT: Yes it was,
What were preparations like once you arrived in Atlanta for the awards show?
NB: We all got along with each other really well. I think we were too excited about what we were doing to be catty with each other. We felt like we had something to prove. Not only were we an all-girls drumline, we were also all African-American. There was no room for error in our show.
NB: Kinda crazy. Usually it takes months for a drum line to gel together. We got our spots on a Monday and we played the show that Thursday. Luckily, they already had the cadence written for us. They taught it to us by section, then we all came together as a line. We worked on the cadence for an hour or so and then came the dance routine. In the video of your performance, you’re dancing while drumming and wearing highheeled boots. Was that your choice or Nelly’s? NB: They had some designers from
Apple Bottoms there with lots of clothes and shoes. That was when we found out we would be performing in high heels. Most of us were tomboys. Luckily they let us take our shoes back to the hotel with us that night. I don’t know how we did it, but by
and it was amazing. Our chemistry was great. In fact, many of us stay in touch.
what was it like to perform for such a huge audience, in front of so many other musicians? NB: It seemed like everyone
was interested. Wyclef Jean took pictures with us and expressed interest in having us play with him. He thought we were a drum line that had been together for a while and had happened to get booked for Nelly’s show. He had no idea that we’d all just met that Monday.
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get yr chops on / more at tomtommag.com
Addition by Subtraction By B i anc a Russ el bu rg i llust r at i on by Pa s c a lle Ba lla r d
Someone once told me that studying drums is like a long hallway full of doors. You finally get one style or technique down, reach your metaphorical door, and it opens… only to reveal another hallway full of doors. Sometimes the resulting feeling is accomplishment, other times (most of the time) it’s frustration. Lately I’ve been considering the theory of “addition by subtraction” applied to drumming, or learning by removing various parts of the drum set. For example, how would you adjust the following everyday pattern without a bass drum, if you still wanted a bottom to the sound? Perhaps you would use the floor tom? Or would you move all sounds up to a higher pitch and use a rack tom or even a snare? You might not want a bass sound after all. These considerations not only add more creativity and flair to your playing, they might also help in the event of some setup malfunction during a show. You kicked a giant gaping hole in your kick drum? (Work with me here, you never know.) Now you have a Plan B to turn to until you can pause to fix the drum. Sound won’t be sacrificed, and hopefully the spontaneity won’t throw you off your A-game. I think it’s important before you begin adding more cymbals or drums to your set to fully explore what you already have. If you usually play with a five-piece set, take away the middle rack tom for awhile. How does that change your fills? Does it have a small or a large impact? If this change is difficult, play around with this particular setup for a decent amount of time. Maybe you’re used to that setup, so try removing all rack toms, leaving your cymbals, bass, snare, and the floor tom. With so few drums, are the cymbals more prominent in your playing? What now is the key piece of the set for you? In removing and adding various pieces, hopefully the key piece to your setup will become more interchangeable. Maybe for one groove you like a heavy snare, but on another your anchor is the ride in the same setup. The hardest things to remove are probably going to be the bass and the hi-hats. Hihats are generally played over the top of everything, so what can you use that won’t dominate the groove or song, but will still sound appropriate? You could use the bell of your ride or even hit the rim of a tom. The possibilities are quite endless in these “subtraction” scenarios. Maybe I’ve opened a door or two for you.
Banana Clip & Shoulder Pads Not Included by D e r e k Way n e
The clarity of electronic drum sounds has come a long way since their introduction but there’s still something still so appealing about those early cheesy snare sounds. No doubt you’ve heard the infamous “cawjshhh” snare sound from 80’s electro bands like the Eurythmics, Yaz, and Depeche Mode. Back then it took a rack of sound/MIDI modules and hard trigger pads to achieve this sound live. Even today’s superior sampling pads still need an electrical outlet and amplification to just get started. Here’s a simple way to get an acoustic-electro sound.
Although you can perform this move with almost any snare throw-off, a Gladstone style works the best. For this example, we’re using the Pearl Omar Hakim Signature Snare with its vertical throw-off.
Disengage the throw-off completely and let it lay against your fingers. This effect works best with stripped down acoustic configurations and low volume sections of a song.
Once you have the technique down, attempt more syncopated rhythms or switch back and forth between regular snare hits. Now go try this t o t a l ly r a d i c a l bodacious new wave beat to the max!
Engage (a nice way to say slam!) the throw-off in place in a snare hit. For instance, the throw-off is off on beats 1 and 3 and “forcefully thrown in a vertical direction” on 2 and 4. This causes the snare wires on the bottom to rapidly be lifted against the bottom head. The result being a choked snare sound that resembles the “cawjshhh” sound that helped ABC discover “The Look Of Love.”
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star wars / myspace.com/mullinsdrums
Ten Tips on Form & Technique to Make Drumming Easier & Less Painful by l i sa s c h o n berg 1 Play from your wrists! Don’t play from your forearms or shoulders. Your arms are of course involved in the process of moving around your kit and shouldn’t be held stiff and still, but the actual movement of the stick to the drum head
This is a tale of drums, Star Wars, and Kaki King
should be controlled by the wrist.
by b i a nca russelburg
2 Set the height of your throne so that
Through a crazy random happenstance, I met John & Heather Mullins from Houston, Texas. They’ve been running a custom drum op there called Mullins Drums since 2006 and have had some well-known customers from Scale The Summit, Gwen Stacy, Haste the Day, and more. We talked for a bit, and then they suggested that I do a review of a snare. So, here we are.
y o u r t h i g h i s a n g l e d e v e r s o s l i g h t ly downward. It should be almost parallel to the floor. 3 When you strike the drum head with the stick, let the stick bounce off i m m e d i at e ly r at h e r t h a n p u s h i n t o t h e head. This will keep your hits sounding p r e c i s e . T h e o n ly e x c e p t i o n w o u l d b e i f you want to play a “buzz” sound. 4 Hold your forearms at a slight angle inwards – your body and arms should r o u g h ly m a k e a t r i a n g l e t o g e t h e r . D o n ’ t let your elbows rest on your sides. Y o u a l s o m i g h t f i n d t h i n g s d i f f i c u lt i f your elbows are tucked in front of you; this won’t leave you enough room to maneuver. 5 Adjust the heights, angles, and placement of your stands so that your set-up is most comfortable and ergonomic for you. 6 Make sure there’s enough of a gap between the snare and hi-hats so that y o u r a r m s d o n ’ t c o n s t a n t ly c o l l i d e . 7 Check out where your hand is holding the stick; if you hold the stick too far up, you will lose range of motion, whereas if you hold it too far down, y o u ’ l l h av e d i f f i c u lt y c o n t r o l l i n g
drumstick. I find that it works to allow 1.5-2 inches of drumstick to stick out beneath your pinky. 8 The primary part of your grip should come from your pointer finger and thumb. The other three fingers give support and can loosen – even coming s l i g h t ly o f f t h e s t i c k – d e p e n d i n g o n what you’re playing. 9 Stretch your arms, wrists and fingers before you play. 10 Keep a relaxed grip. Don’t worry too much about dropping your sticks; it happens.
Now this is my first experience with a custom drum, so I initially had no idea how to review it or what to base my verdict on. In my infinite geekdom, I’ve been working on a drum solo version of Kaki King’s “Playing with Pink Noise.” So, I thought, why not ask for a specific sound and judge accordingly? I talked to John Mullins about this on the phone. I described the percussive guitar playing as best I could, although I’m pretty sure some of the things I said weren’t actually words. Then he asked, “So you’re looking for the sound of an acoustic guitar being slapped?” He said this completely void of sarcasm, as if people asked for that all of the time. Relief! He suggested a deeper shell, around 7 or 8 inches deep. That way I could always tune up if the tone’s too low. Great! The sound was figured out. Then he asked what I wanted it to look like. I knew this was coming, but I still had no idea what I wanted. There are so many choices in custom drums: lugs, rims, shell design, and other hardware. They can do just about anything you can possibly imagine. My brain shut off for a while due to the awesome amount of options. When I returned from my customization coma, I decided to stick with the “Pink Noise” theme and chose a black shell with pink splatter and black hardware. In the midst of getting everything figured out, I was feeling a little tense and awkward about being so business-like. I had seen on Facebook that John was looking into Star Wars tattoos, so I brought up the series. I always feel more comfortable in geek mode. Luckily, I can continue doing business with John, as he agreed that the newer trilogy was lacking, and Return of the Jedi is best. An important fact I’d like to point out especially is that the Mullinses were never condescending. As I said before, I have never been even remotely involved with custom drums, so I’m pretty lost when it comes to the customization lingo of drum making. I asked questions even though I felt like a moron, but John answered them simply and in a way that didn’t make me want to smack myself upside the head. So far I can easily say that my experience has been a positive one, despite the fact that we’re trying to create something tangible from an abstract thought… from halfway across the country... through phone calls and email. Even as I write this, we’ve been communicating in one way or another, and things are moving right along. There’s more to come! I’ll get an insight on what’s going into the drum making process, and then post my review of the drum.
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STEP 1 P i c k up some piezo transducers from Radio Shack (part #273-0073; about $2 each).
HOW TO MAKE DRUM TRIGGERS by Ra di o S loa n & Oli se Johnson
STEP 6 W e m i c ’ d a t i n y guitar amp, ran it t h r u a PA , a n d m e s s e d around with different levels of noise and feedback that ensued.
This spring term of Rock Camp Studio we decided to experiment by building drum triggers made from piezo transducers. (A piezo transducer is a mechanism that can convert a vibration such as sound into a corresponding electrical signal.) Lots of people use piezo transducers to incorporate triggered sounds or previously recorded samples in their live performances. But drum triggers are also just fun to mess around with in your free time.
STEP 2 S a l v a g e b r o k e n guitar cables, strip them on one end, and twist together the copper braided shielding.
STEP 5 H e r e ’ s w h e r e i t
STEP 4 S o l d e r t h e
gets personal. Olise
ran one trigger into a
and wrap with
reverb/delay pedal, the
other into a distortion
and duct tape to
pedal. Then she ran
both into a small
crunchy guitar amp, via
creates a secure
a mixer. To neutralize
shell that will
the sensitivity of the
triggers, she put them
blows from brutal
inside oven mitts from
STEP 3 R e m o v e t h e plastic cover from the piezo transducers to get inside to the raw element.
Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls (RnRC4G)
is a non-profit organization that started in Portland, Oregon in 2001, and now has more than 20 branches around the world. Its mission is to build girls’ self-esteem through music creation and performance. Three years ago they added a Rock Camp Studio (RCS) program to their extensive lessons and jam sessions where campers learn how to use all kinds of recording equipment from analog four-tracks to music creation software. I asked RCS manager Radio Sloan and intern Olise Johnson a few questions about what
they’re up to over there, and they explained how to make drum triggers.
Here is Radio’s take on why RnRC4G started the studio program in the first place:
Drum triggers, or transducers, are an exciting and easy way to affect the sound of your acoustic drum set. The trigger acts like the microphone in a guitar pickup, detecting a signal when your stick hits the drum and sending it to your processing unit (pedal, sampler, etc.), which then sends the sound out through a speaker (an amp, PA, etc.). Radio and Olise describe above how they made some triggers; you can make these yourself, and then place them on any of your drums or cymbals.
“First of all, there have always been so few women involved in sound engineering. Having basic knowledge about the technical side of recording, your instruments, and sound in general is essential. It’s like knowing how to check the oil in your car or thread a sewing machine. I am trying to integrate more things into the program besides audio recording and sound, such as DIY instrument building and basic electronics. I believe these skills can play a large role in growing as a musician.”
> Name Radio Sloan | Age 36 | Hometown | Portland, Oregon | Current bands The Need, Northern Swords, Blood on the Handle | Past bands The Circuit Side, Peaches, Courtney Love | Instruments played guitars, theremin, anything with electric current 52
> Name Olise Johnson | Age 17 | Hometown Austin, Texas | Current bands Goblin Market | Past bands The Vegaleague, Paz Demente, Wolf Rayet |Instruments played drums, bass, learning guitar, washboard
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tom to m NEWS a n d EVENTS
w h at w e di d
issue 3 release party, nyc
This part parade, part party was INSANE and SO FUN! We started the day getting our faces drawn on by artist Shantell Martin then paraded through the street of the Lower East Side renegade style. We continued the night's festivites at Collette Blanchard Gallery where the all-female drum troupe Chica Vas performed and DJ's Lauren Flax, HottMomz, and Tiny Favorite spun. Fun was had.
fabulosa fest, ca Tom Tom was at Fabulosa Fest June 16 to 18th in Petaluma California near the Bay Area! Fabulosa Fest is a three-day fest of women-centered music, film, craft and healing arts. It featured performances by many woman drummers such as Lovers, TJO, and the FABULOSA Collective Drum Meditation for Healing and Harmony led by the women of Tom Tom Magazine.
northside festival, brook lyn This party was off the hook. DJs Tikka Masala, Sister Sundown & Manhate brought the music while Awesome Alison (Red Dawn 2), Silvia Chavez and Menya entertained the crowd. Videos by A.L. Steiner.
pdx drumfair, or The first annual Portland Drum Fair was held August 16th in Portland, Oregon at Revival Drum Shop. Festival organizers Revival Drum Shop & Rhythm Traders invited local drum makers and retailers to set up shop in the parking lot outside Revival. Tom Tom Magazine was there. There were drum performances all day long, including sets from STLS, Rachel Blumberg & Julianna Bright, and Janet Weiss & Sara Lund. Janet Weiss and Sara Lund faced off in an exciting drum duel; look for their interview in an upcoming issue of Tom Tom!
PRESS razorcake The sweet folks over at Razorcake asked for their own copy of Tom Tom Magazine and what we got back was the sweetest possible coverage. â€œA dream magazine come true.â€? says Adrian Chi in the review, "I recommend it to any drummer (not just female ones)." Thanks Adrian! 53
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moe knows / art
throwback: moe tucker By C amila Danger I llustration by R achel Wolf
The Velvet Underground’s mesmerizing and haunting sounds captured the hazy vibrations of an era that redefined music and art as a cohesive community. The group was as much an art form as a rock band, working to make their own sound as well as creating music for Warhol’s road show Exploding Plastic Inevitable. At the warm and rhythmic center was our lady of femaledrummer sainthood, Moe Tucker. Moe Tucker's playing was unconventional and unlike anything rock ‘n' roll had ever seen before. In place of aggressive flair and loud drumming, she created an unassuming pulse, preferring to keep the beat steady for a song rather than take it over it with cymbal crashes. She stood up to play her pared-down kit—tom toms, a snare, and a bass drum—and traded sticks for mallets. She skipped cymbals altogether to avoid abrasive and distracting sound, and upturned her bass for easier access. Plus, well, hey, she was a female drummer in the 1960s for crying out loud. It doesn't get much more revolutionary than that. Perhaps most inspiring, however, is her attitude and relationship to drums and convention. Tucker didn't pioneer as a goal, but rather pursued what came naturally to her regardless of tradition. A small woman, she stood at her kit to get the most leverage out of her bass drum, and wasn't deterred by being one of the only female drummers of her time. She did what came natural, making changes when necessary in order to do best what she loved. And that’s really what it’s all about: doing what you love, the way you love to do it.
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w w w.t o m t o m m a g .c o m
issue 0 4 fall issue USD 6.00
9/6/10 2:45:05 PM
evelyn glennie / susie ibarra / sunanya ghosh / maria chavez matt & kim / black cherry / grass widow / warpaint
ISSUE FOUR / FALL 2010
This is the fourth issue of Tom Tom Magazine ,marking the end of our first year in print. We feature legends Susie Ibarra on the cover and E...
Published on Sep 1, 2010
This is the fourth issue of Tom Tom Magazine ,marking the end of our first year in print. We feature legends Susie Ibarra on the cover and E...