Tom Tom Magazine Issue 21: The Girl Band Issue

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Cherisse Osei Bryan Ferry

Heather Thomas | Mary Lambert Gemma Hill | Editor of Drummer USD 6 | EUR 6 | DISPLAY SPRING 2015

September Girls | Daddy Issues | Nari Gunjan

QUIZ INSIDE! What Girl Band Are You?




James Douglas Mitchell

Allan Wilson

WEB MANAGERS (INTERNET BOMBERS) Maura Filoromo, Jennifer Mulligan SHOP TOM TOM MANAGER (TRENDSETTER) Susan Taylor ( WEB CODERS Capisco Marketing PORTLAND POWERHOUSE Lisa Schonberg NORTHWEST SUPPORT Fiona Campbell LA LOVES Liv Marsico, Candace Hansen MIAMI CREW Emile Milgrim BOSTON BRAINS Kiran Gandhi



Jordan Martin


Shout Outs



WRITER Shaina Joy Machlus, Rob MacInnis, Lucy Katz, Susan Taylor, Ciara Lavers, Kate Ryan, Katy Otto, Christopher Sutton, bo-Pah, Chloe Saavedra, Jayne Henson, Lorena Perez Batista


TECH WRITERS Morgan Doctor, Vanessa Domonique, Kristen Gleeson-Prata, Fay Milton, Jonna Lofgren

ON THE COVER Mariachi Flor de Toloache by Andrei Averbuch BACK COVER Illustration Sara Andreasson

SHUTTER SNAPPERS Stefano Galli, Andrei Averbuch, Bex Wade PICTURE DRAWERS Christopher Darling, Kaja Kochnowicz, Rachal Duggan, James Douglas Mitchell

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



This issue is dedicated to girls and bands and girls in bands

MUSIC & MEDIA REVIEWS Rebecca DeRosa, Anna Blumenthal, Lola Johnson, Candace Tossas, Jay Moore, Tarra Thiessen, Mindy Abovitz, Attia Taylor, Matthew D’Abate TOM TOM TELEVISION Teale Failla, Angel Favorite

MERCI BEAUCOUP All of you, Tony Barrell, Julie at the Soho House, Chris J Monk, Baby Geezush, Peetz Patz, Ima, Shamai, Rony, Shani, E.B., Scoot, Kate’s baby, Zoe

Tom Tom Magazine ® is the only magazine in the world dedicated to female drummers. We are a quarterly print magazine, website, social media community, events and more. Tom Tom serves as the ultimate go-to guide for the latest information about female drummers and beat makers. Tom Tom seeks to raise awareness about female percussionists from all over the world and hopes to inspire women and girls of all ages to drum, all while strengthening and building the community of otherwise fragmented female musicians. We cover drummers of all ages, races, styles, skill levels, abilities, sexualities, sizes and notoriety. Tom Tom Magazine is more than just a magazine; it’s a movement.

The Mission

GEAR REVIEWS Andrea Davis COPY EDITORS All of us this time

Illustration by Mindy Abovitz (this page) / by Arina Svetlitsa / Hopes&Fears (facing page)

TOM TOM ACADEMY Mickey Vershbow & Natalie Baker (

Letter From the Editor

So now we are in our 5th year in print. I never imagined we would be in print this long or get this kind of distribution and attention. Part of making it to a place you never thought you would get to is setting your sights on the next even higher goals. This means that the Tom Tom Family have had many meetings to address what we think we have done well and how to move into areas where we can do better. We are also stepping back and assessing the drum and music industry and asking ourselves what has changed and what has stayed the same since we came on the scene. Part of our new goals is to expand our print magazine into Europe, grow our web presence and get out information about us female drummers through partnering with new and exciting folks like the University of Cambridge and Soho House. This issue is themed “Girl Bands” which can be a loaded word pairing. Most of us at Tom Tom are drummers and musicians. The majority of us are female. A lot of us have played in bands that were, without our consent, labeled a “Girl Band”. There is a myriad of reasons why that label can be misleading. One being, this group being called a “Girl Band” may in fact have no girls in it. All the members might be women. Females over the age of 18 by definition. And the “Girl Band” title can then take on an unintentional or intentional condescending tone. The next best way to misuse

the term “Girl Band” is ironic in that Tom Tom operates similarly. By sectioning your group (or magazine for our matter) by gender you are automatically taking away from the medium and assuming gender to a genre (see Katy Otto’s piece on p.12). While here in this magazine, it feels like the most political and proactive thing to do, a lot of my friends in bands (myself included) want our genders to have nothing to do with our music. And that becomes the larger overarching question. Why talk about gender when talking about music? We dedicated an entire issue to investigate that question. We asked some of our favorite drummers and their cohorts in all female bands to shine a light on what the use of these two words “Girl Bands” could serve and/or what harm it could cause. We reviewed music by all “Girl Bands” and loaded this issue with drum technique centered around “Girl Bands” music. We interviewed the incredible Flor de Toloache (all female Mariachi band) from NYC, Gemma Hill (editor of UK’s Drummer Magazine) in London and Mary Lambert’s drummer Heather Thomas. We went behind the scenes of a Toyota commercial with Kim Temple and have included “What Girl Band Are You?” quiz by Chloe Saavedra of Chaos Chaos. Feel free to write in and let us know how we are doing and keep the conversation going with us online, at your dinner parties and in your beats.

Love and drums,

Mindy Seegal Abovitz


WHAT GIRL BAND ARE YOU? Take this Quick Quiz and Find Out

12 14

GENDER AIN’T GENRE Why I Disavow the Moniker of “Girl Band”

GAMELATRON Aaron Taylor Kuffner’s Robotic Orchestra


BEHIND THE SCENES with Toyota commercial drummer


HEATHER THOMAS Drummer for Mary Lambert


NARI GUNJAN Women in Unison Can Change the World


CHERISSE OSEI Super Glue, Ice Packs, and Loads of Triggers




DADDY ISSUES Music as a Safe Space


MARIACHI FLOR DE TOLOACHE NYC’s Only All-Female Mariachi Band


SEPTEMBER GIRLS The Epic Sarah Grimes on All Things Drum

48 51


GEMMA HILL Editor of Drummer on all things Drum

Photo by Mindy Abovitz


I was just at my local music store and the magazine was on the counter. Five years. Wow! Congratulations. It looks great. It inspired a conversation between me and the woman working about being young and “playing” music and not really knowing what we were doing but doing it anyway because it was fun, it was crazy and loud and a little because we weren’ t supposed to. We kept doing it though and now we do know how to play. Like you mentioned in your letter we didn’t really have that many positive role models! So thank you Mindy! Thank you for this magazine and what it stands for. Thank you for documenting our lives as women and girls and inspiring and empowering us.

Dear Tom Tom Magazine, I am a huge fan of your magazine. I just started reading and all of the content is so amazing and you seem to feature all of the musicians that I love. Olivia

Hi there, First of all I wanted to congratulate you on an amazing magazine. I am a drummer and recording engineer in Montreal, Quebec and have been playing drums/touring for over 15 years at this point. The world definitely needs a publication like this, and it is such a positive inspiration.

I remember bumping into you on Bedford Ave. several years back when I was on tour. Tom Tom was just a baby then! Look at her now! You rule. Keep up the good work!

Kind regards, Anne Gauthier

Happy new year! Xo Samia

Hey, Dear Tom Tom,

Hey Mindy, You may not remember me but I took your drum class at Rock Camp in Brooklyn a few years ago. It’s been on my mind to tell you for a while now how much of an inspiration you have been to me over the few years that I have watched you grow Tom Tom. You have done such an amazing job, shown so much dedication and perseverance, and consistently produced such quality productions every time that I am full of admiration, and it really gives me the impetus to get off my ass and follow my dreams!! I am sure you are an inspiration to many other women, too, and you shine and give us hope that women can do it and do it very well. Keep on going!! Carolyn

Hi Tom Tom , I’ve loved your mission and promotion of female drummers. It’s silly that there has to be a magazine specifically for us when we have proven to be competitive in the industry. Thank you for being such strong supporters. We love you! Happy Anniversary. Warmly, M 6


I love the new issue! It’s fantastic - you are totally a bright shining star and I look up to all of the people in the pages of Tom Tom! So glad to hear awesome stuff about the new school that’s happening, too. So cool. Three cheers for a new year! I loved reading that Tabla article, and the writing in general is just great—so interesting—and the layout is truly awesome! Can’t say it enough-thanks for being a great voice and inspiration. All the best in 2015! Carly

Just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you for all of the amazing work you and the Tom Tom folks are doing. You’re putting an important resource out there for girl and women drummers all over and doing it with an awesome and inspiring energy. I really love the language of your mission statement (“building the community of fragmented female musicians”). I think that generalized feeling of “fragmentation” is something we all struggle with. Things can sometimes feel pretty lonely out there, and it’s cool to know that your mag is present as a unifying mechanism. Keep on doing what you’re doing. I think you’re making a big difference in a lot of lives. I would have *loved* if Tom Tom had existed when I was a kid bashing away on my old Tama kit! :) Laura

Hi Tom Tom Mag! I have been an avid follower of your comings and goings for over a year now. As much as I’d love it to be a normality, being a female drummer still makes for a very unusual and interesting perspective in the world of music (least of all due to unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions! But that’s another story...) and so it’s amazing to be able to tap into a community of people who know how it feels! Many thanks and keep up the good work! Weezey Jaye

CONTACT US 302 Bedford Ave PMB #85 Brooklyn, NY 11249 @tomtommag

What we’re

listening to Vasmacska Zenekar // Túrkeve, Hungary The Pretty Greens // Philadelphia, USA Legs Electric // Perth, Australia Skinny Girl Diet // London, UK Kissey // New York, USA Vula Viel // London, UK Cat Bear Tree // London, UK Kiriaka // Gothenburg, Sweden SnowApple // Amsterdam, Netherlands

Read the magazine, then listen to it! Visit for this issue’s playlist.

Illustration by James Mitchell


There is enough space for women to be good, to be exceptional, to be boring, to suck. I’m not a novelty to myself. 10


Why I Disavow the Moniker of “Girl Band” by Katy Otto illustration by Christopher Darling I started playing music when I could technically still be described as a girl. When I first picked up a pair of drumsticks and started learning the instrument seriously, I was 17. I hadn’t yet become a legal adult. Still, at no point in time do I recall ever feeling an affinity to being called a “girl drummer” or playing in a “girl band.” This could have been for a few reasons. For one, most older teens you meet are looking towards their adulthood, not hanging on to their childhood. I was new to playing music, but I knew the phrase carried with it marginalization, Othering, and a demarcation that was overwhelmingly uncomfortable to me. I had become inspired to play as a teen after watching Patty Schemel of Hole command power, energy, mystery and beauty like I’d never seen before. When I watched that band, even though there were three women in the group, they were not a “girl band” to me (though I am sure they dealt with that title being slapped onto them, as we all do). They were a band. Fierce and undeniable. The phrase “girl band” has become increasingly absurd to me over the course of my life. It’s been used to describe almost every band I’ve ever played in over the last twenty years, in some form or another. Sometimes the band didn’t even have a majority of women/female-identified membership. It carried with it novelty, and sometimes did draw extra attention or a raise in eyebrows. “Whoa, chick drummer!” “You never really see girl bands rock out like that!” “I usually hate female vocals (??!?!?!?!) but I really liked them in your girl band.” I never sat down and thought about how to form a “girl band.” I wanted to make music with people I respected, loved, and was inspired by. I wanted to shred and do interesting things. I didn’t want a free pass. I was never a novelty to myself for doing what I loved and what I viscerally felt drawn to do – play drums. I gravitated musically towards people I developed relationships with —and as happens with many other women I know, those people often were other women. But now I am 36. I have been playing in bands, touring, and releasing music publicly for just about two decades. And still, bands I play in are described as “girl bands.” It’s often not malicious—in fact, sometimes the phrase is dropped just after a lot of wonderful, complimentary things have been said about our musical voice, ability, and contribution. But it still makes me feel bad. Every. Single. Time. I realize some adult women who play music call themselves girls. Some may even like to describe their own bands as “girl bands.” They are welcome to do so. But it is frustrating for those of us who do not want anything to do with that title yet constantly face it. It subscribes to a gender binary that I don’t subscribe to or feel comfortable with. It comes across to me as infantilizing adult women, making them smaller, less threatening—it’s a sanitizing term. It’s also lazy and doesn’t really describe music at all.

How can you tell it’s being applied in sexist ways? Try calling bands made up of adult men “boy bands” and see how well that goes over. A friend of mine also has funny stories about noting that a “male guitarist” has done an acceptable job or played well. It really does stop people in their tracks and confuse them. Language is powerful. This confusion stems from the fact that when we think culturally of a guitar player we think of a cisgender man. But in actuality, shouldn’t we just think of a human being playing a guitar? I’ve known male musicians who express interest in “finding women” to play with. This doesn’t always sit well with me, as a person who has been on the receiving end of such recruitment. Musical relationships feel good when they develop organically. In some of these scenarios, the vibe overall recalls Svengali. I’ve also seen men look towards the presence of women to make their band more interesting and marketable. I appreciate men who don’t want to just play with other straight, white, cis men – but there are ways to go about looking for those relationships that don’t feel opportunistic, inauthentic and smarmy. Ladyfests as institutions, though, are positive to me for a few reasons. When groups of people (in this case anyone who plays music who is not a cisgender man) feel marginalized by various music scenes at large, of course they will hunger for a place where their presence is celebrated and invited. Ladyfest was founded on principles of community building and highlighting artistic achievements of women-identified people. When a Ladyfest is operating thoughtfully, it should be an explicitly trans-inclusive space. The word “lady” was applied in this context to offer a corollary to dude or guy that wasn’t age specific (as girl is). I love playing in these spaces, and have found them to be immensely valuable for community building. They have strengthened me for all the times when I am playing out in the non-Ladyfest spaces. I think it’s vital that I play in those less-than-inviting spaces. I recognize some people are truly excited when they see women play music they have never thought of women playing before. I try to be patient and understand that people are all on their own journey. I try to respond in appropriate ways when someone says “I’ve never seen a female drummer who could actually play” (in one case, I made the guy a list of 20 to start and told him he’d probably really get a lot out of checking the work of these people out). There is enough space for women to be good, to be exceptional, to be boring, to suck. I’m not a novelty to myself and other women aren’t to me either. Musical instruments are great equalizers—I promise you my drum kit does not care about my gender. It cares about what I deliver. Who I am as a person and my lived experience in the world will impact some of what I create, but that encompasses far more than just gender. This is why I’d like my bands to just be called bands.




MILANA NIGRO Interview by bo-Pah | Photos by Jeffrey Juip Photography

It’s always exciting and inspirational to meet other girls who are passionate about drums. I started playing drums at about the same age that Milana started to play. Wow! Time really does fly!!! Milana is a fantastic ball of energy and fun. Her dedication to the drums is awesome and I had a great time getting to know her! I’m sure you all will too!! 12


Hello Milana!! I’m bo-Pah I’m going to interview you for TomTom Magazine! How are you? Doing great, bo-Pah! I am a big fan. It’s awesome to talk with you! Thank you so much! I see you wear a certain hat when you play drums? When did you start wearing it? [laughs] Yes I do! Truth is, I never leave home without one. It started when I was about 5 years old. I just turned 7, so yeah, I’ve been wearing hats a couple of years now. It’s kind of my thing, another way to express myself. I like collecting hats from places I visit, like the famous Professional Drum Shop in Hollywood, or DW Drums when I toured their factory. When I think about some of my favorite drummers I think of Cindy Blackman, Eric Moore, Thomas Pridgen and Buddy Rich...Who do you think of? When I was 4, I remember watching Thomas Lang’s “Creative Control” video. WOW! I did not know drums could be played like THAT. It totally changed me. I’d put it on in the background all day while I played with my sister. I wanted to play just like Thomas Lang, so he will always be my drum hero. My other favorite drummers include Tommy Igoe, Sheila E., Chris Coleman …there are so many! Right now I am really diggin’ Anika Nilles and Luke Holland. That’s awesome! Who are some drummers you’ve met? The past year has been amazing. I had the chance to be taught by Stewart Copeland, and also by Daniel Glass! Even got to jam with each of them! But the most exciting day of my life was when Sheila E. brought me up on stage to play her drums during a live concert! I will never forget how it felt playing in front of so many people and feeling their support. I know that’s where I want to be! I have also met Scott Hessel of the Gin Blossoms, the great Matt Wilson, and Cuban-American drummer, Dafnis Prieto. Very cool! When did you start playing? I’ve been playing the drums for 3 years. My mom has videos of me turning over boxes to make drums as early as 2 years old. But I got my first drum kit on my 4th birthday and started private lessons 3 months later. I owe a lot to my teacher, Sherrie Senese of the Groove Drs. She was brave to take a 4 year old, and together, we’ve never looked back! Haha! Yes, that’s a brave lady :) I have a band with my sisters and love playing with my family! Are you in a band? Is your family musical?

That is so cool! Well, my 3-year old sister, Giana, has a plan be my lead singer! [laughs] She practices every single day. Actually, I’d love to be in a band with her and we already have our name picked out. Right now I’m in a band called, “ADHD” and having a blast! My family is very musical. Most of my cousins, aunts and uncles play instruments. Mom started on drums, but ended up playing violin and piano. She studied composing and arranging with grammy nominated composer and educator, Dick Grove (Grove School of Music). She also sang with the Utah Symphony and toured all over Italy. My grandpa, Craig, was in a band called “The Ramblers”. He sang, played the banjo and guitar nearly every day of his life. Wow! So you come from a very musical fam-

ily!! If you could play with any drummer, who would you play with? That’s a tough one. I would have to say Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bombastic Meatbats. I love his style and I bet he’s a ton of fun to play with. In fact, I’d like to challenge Chad Smith to a drum-off this year! What do you say, Chad? Haha! You never know? (Chad Smith, are you reading this?) What’s your practice schedule like? I play my kit about an hour a day, 6 days a week. How my schedule became what it is kind of a funny story. We live in a condo building with neighbors above and below. Add a drum set to that and it equals a problem, right? So we worked it out with our neighbors and everyone agreed I could practice between 3-5pm. The discipline of needing to be home during those hours (or miss a day of practice) has become a habit that will probably stick with me forever. That’s a great practice schedule!! I love jamming out to songs, what’s your favorite songs to play to? Anything by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Currently playing “Chop Suey” by System Of A Down and I often jam to “Come Sail Away” by Styx. What would you say your style of playing drums is? Rock! I love all kinds, from funk rock to punk rock. I am practicing jazz right now and really want to be a good fusion player one day. I love rock too!! What would be your dream drum kit, including the brands and colors? My dream kit is a DW 7-piece fusion kit with either Black Mirra or Exotic wood finish. The cherry on top would be having it personalized by legendary DW artist, Louie Garcia, especially after meeting him last spring! Ok, my last question is always my fun bonus question :) What is the animal that describes you the best when you play drums? (My answer for me would be a tiger!!) Hate to say it, but I’m a tiger, too! I’ve been obsessed with tigers ever since I can remember, I can even run like one. Haha! I guess great minds think alike! We can both be tigers! Thank you sooo much Milana for doing this interview with me and Tom Tom Magazine! We all will be following you on your musical journey! Rock on!! This was fun! Thank you bo-Pah and Tom Tom Magazine!




Aaron Taylor Kuffner’s Robotic Orchestra

By Rob MacInnis Photos courtesy of artist


amelan is a traditional form of percussive music originating from the Indonesian islands Java and Bali. Played by large groups of people and accompanied by dances, puppet performances, and extravagant ceremonies, it represents a native art form predating Hindu-Buddist cultural influence in Indonesia. Brooklyn artist Aaron Taylor Kuffner has combined this ancient musical form with modern technology, creating a robotic orchestra to produce massive, immersive sound installations. He calls this project the Gamelatron. Drawing on years of experience as a composer and sculptor, he creates unique audio experiences for each installation. I met Aaron at his studio in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood on a rainy afternoon in January 2015. TTM: What are the origins of the Gamelatron? Aaron Taylor Kuffner: I started doing the project in 2008 almost accidentally. I had previously lived in Indonesia for a few years and studied traditional Gamelan music. I was also doing research on the tonal differences specific to different regions, different tuning styles, and observing them ‘in the wild’. I wondered about the cultural and spiritual significances of this music in modern times. I was a DJ, electronic music producer, and visual artist for many years before I met Eric Singer. He’s a really brilliant technologist who created the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots (LEMUR, and received a grant



to create a residency program, where artists and musicians could visit his shop and use the instruments he was making to write music or create performances over the course of a few months. This is where I started using robotic percussion instruments. I didn’t love the way his robots sounded, but I loved the technology, so I started using the instruments I brought back from Indonesia. I kept collaborating with him for about six months and redesigned the instruments and how they could be laid out. We worked on robots specifically designed to play Gamelan instruments, and that was the beta Gamelatron, the mixture of Gamelan and robotics.

an experience of the ‘exotic other’. One of my core goals is to extend this tradition, to simply bring the power of these instruments to different communities, different places. This is one of the great movements in art right now: experiential art. Does the difficulty in selling an experiential art piece affect how you make it? Do you find yourself having to make compromises? Why use robotics instead of just a group of people? It almost seems like you were reverseengineering what was already present. I wanted to make music that was quiet and sparse, and hangs like sonic incense. That doesn’t happen in traditional Gamelan where there are so many people involved. No person would want to stand in the corner and wait to softly play one note. It just wouldn’t be enjoyable for the player. After learning that the original purposes of these gongs was not actually to give people something to do together, I started to think about Gamelan in a completely different way. What are these tones? What are these sounds? What is the impact on the body? On the psyche? What’s the impact on spirit in general? Because I’m taking the human out of it, can I personify the sound, the reverberation? So now it’s more about an experiential artwork instead of a concert. Now, I’m trying to compose from the point of view of architecture, how the space is set up. I realize it has to be siteresponsive. I also need to write the music so it can be experienced in a nonlinear way, instead of like a traditional concert, where it begins and ends at specific moments. How many Gamelatrons have you created? Could you describe the most recent iteration? I’ve created about sixty so far. The piece I’m working on now is called Kebangetan, or Red Birds, for the Venice Biennale. It’s referencing the phoenix: the idea of rebirth, of rising from the ash. The way these gongs are made is Bronze-Age shit. It’s guys in bare feet, in their back yard with charcoal in earth pits, heating them up, smelting their own bronze, using banana husks on their arms for insulation. They’re master craftsmen, hand-pounding gongs for days and days to get it how it is here. It’s this really archaic alchemy,

and it connects you to alchemy as a concept, and not just as a poetic word. This labor is performed to make these reverberant objects that effect us psychologically. That’s alchemy. Again, there’s something there with the phoenix; out of the ashes of these fires, this thing is made. The tradition itself outside of Bali is fading fast. Indonesians listen to pop music, not Gamelan. This is their grandfather’s music, but I’m taking artistic license with Gamelan, reshaping its use and potentially reconnecting people to it. How do you feel about the many traditions around the world that are dying out? How does the demand for ‘exotic experiences’ affect your process? Gamelan is never going to die out, but the cultural context, for the most part, is almost dead. It’s not part of people’s lives the way it was before. It’s a special folkloric thing that is no longer of much use. A positive byproduct of the Gamelatron is the potential for reinvention. My project has the potential to integrate itself into people’s daily lives. I take Gamelan, which has been considered an obscure, exotic experience, and make it something that’s a refuge or sanctuary for you. I can set this up in a small town in Germany and people can have an experience of their own, and not just

I would love to say I compromise 0% of the time, and it’s pretty close to that. More of an artistic than a financial choice, I’ve been trying to make smaller work, which changes the way you compose. I like pushing myself that way. I’ve been experimenting with different ways of making my compositions. The upside is that they’re a better fit for private use, which increases the potential for it being part of people’s daily life. This is my main goal. I make art because it’s fun. I make music because I love making music. I’m indulging in making the things that I love, and so maybe it’s selfish that I’m not making instruments for the public to use, but there are a lot of people doing that. Steep Objects With Objectives: the main point of this shop is to think about what you’re making while you’re making it. What are your feelings about the inhuman robotic hand? It seems so eerie! I’ll answer this the way that Eric Singer used to. The sampler was invented, but people didn’t stop drumming. It didn’t eradicate it; it just becomes part of the diaspora. I like playing music and it hasn’t taken that away; it’s just another thing in addition to it. The constant is that things change; the spirit of the musician, of the drummer, just needs to adapt to those changes.

Behind the Scenes:


By Kate Ryan Photos by Jennifer Rowsom

Canadian drummer Kim Temple recently showed up an all-boy garage band in a Toyota car commercial. After laying down a sick beat and showing international viewers what’s up with female drummers, she sat down with Tom Tom to give us the ins and outs of what it’s like to drum for an advertisement, from her audition to the international press the commercial has received.



Tom Tom Magazine: First off, how did you wind up getting this gig playing in a Toyota ad? Did you audition? Kim Temple: Yes, I auditioned after I got a call from the casting agency because friends at a jingle house had recommended me. There were two rounds of auditions. I had no idea there were so many female drummers in Toronto! Did you have much of a say about what you played, or about what you could wear? I improvised my drum part. We were told to play something that would blow the kids away. Most of the drummers I heard did drum solos. I went a different route and tried to channel Keith Moon. I had no say in what I was wearing. The wardrobe department brought all the clothing. Toyota and the agency people got to pick what they liked best. I just had to be able to drum in it. Have you done commercial work before? No, but I did go to theatre school in Montreal and have acted in film & television. I’m also a member of the Canadian actors’ union (ACTRA).

Do you plan to do more commercial work? It was great doing this commercial. I loved the concept, and the director (David Gray, a New Yorker) approached it with the right sense of humor. He had a strong vision of how to catch the viewer off guard, which made my job easy. Based on how this ad turned out, I’d be open to doing more for sure. How did you get compensated for doing the ad? I received a payment from the American Federation of Musicians upon completion of the commercial, but I’m waiting to hear back about any additional payments. As an actor I’ll receive additional payments if the ad plays beyond the initial airdate window. What other kinds of drumming do you do? What other projects are you working on now? I like playing all styles of music, but I’m a rocker at heart. I studied with Jim Blackley, a legendary bebop teacher, and he’s had an incredibly positive musical and spiritual impact on me. My time working with him was too brief, but incredibly formative and unforgettable.

How did you prepare for the commercial? I had a rehearsal with the director, the sound engineer, and the editors to lock down what I needed to do on drums. We also tried different approaches to how the storyline would unfold. Were you playing live, or air-drumming? I played live and they mic’d my kit to record it off the floor. It worked well for the ‘garage band’ sound they were after, probably because we shot in a suburban garage. What was hardest about playing for an ad? What did you learn? What was most surprising? Repetition is probably the hardest part, trying to keep everything the same for continuity. We shot over two days (lots of driving around in the car) and my drumming was the last thing we shot. The anticipation was building- “Can she rock the kit?” It was fun to see the actors’ and the crew’s reaction. There were neighbourhood kids watching from across the street; after the first take, a girl who was maybe 8 years old yelled “That was so cool!” Everyone clapped and cheered. It made my day. The most surprising element of the commercial is how much people love it, and the discourse around why it’s ground-breaking for a car commercial: because I’m a woman playing drums, and I’m driving the car instead of my on-screen husband. There were articles written about it in two national papers, The Globe & Mail and The National Post. It’s in heavy rotation nationally on TV, in movie theatres, and on the internet. My kids’ friends think I’m a movie star.



HEATHER THOMAS Drummer for Mary Lambert & her Major Label Maneuver BY KATE RYAN PHOTOS COURTESY OF ARTIST



Tom Tom Magazine: When did you start playing with Mary Lambert? How did you two meet? Heather Thomas: I started playing with Mary in May of 2014. One of our first shows was at Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington State. Mary put it out to the community that she was looking for a female drummer from Seattle to take on tour. Hollis and some others I had played with around the city recommended me for the gig. (Hollis is known for Mackelmore’s song ‘White Walls’, and she also introduced Mary and Macklemore.) How is playing with Mary different from playing in your other projects? In Mary’s show, the music is very emotional and personal. There’s this awesome feeling of connection between the band and audience that’s unique to her music. It’s also the first band I’ve played in where we have in-ear monitors, and that I sometimes play to a click for. We play much bigger shows than I had been doing with my other bands in Seattle. It’s super fun! Mary is the best and I love my bandmates Maiah Manser and Tim Mendonsa. How is playing with a major label band different from playing with a band on an indie label, or without a label?


eattle-based drummer Heather Thomas joined pop artist Mary Lambert’s band in 2014. Heather’s drumming career was significantly transformed when she began working with a major label artist. Tom Tom got the chance to speak to her about her personal strategies for positive touring and performance experiences through this transition.

Well, we get to stay in nice hotels instead of sleeping on couches, for one! There’s also a different type of community among touring pop musicians. It’s cool when you start playing shows with the same bands and make friends with musicians and crew that you run into all over the country. The community in Seattle is incredible and exciting to be a part of, but I like meeting people from all over too! Playing on a label affords me that. Tell us about playing the AMAs. The AMAs were great. We performed an acoustic version of ‘Secrets’, which meant that I got to wear a pretty dress and play the tambourine. I sing a lot in Mary’s band; it’s fun to get out from behind the drum set. The red carpet was a trip! What are your tour essentials? They include a little travel candle (makes the hotel or green room feel more homey), my practice pad, a book to read, and workout clothes/shoes. And a scarf ! My vocal coach would kill me if I forgot to mention that! What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned about playing high-profile concerts, like the VH1 You Oughta Know Live Concert? I’ve learned that all performances are important, and that you have to be just as relaxed playing in front of 20,000 people as you do in front of 100. It’s also essential to appreciate how lucky you are to play music for a living, and to not take yourself too seriously. It’s got to be fun, after all! You can only ever be in the moment you’re in, so make the most of it. I particularly like playing for live TV shows, like Good Morning America or VH1 Big Morning Buzz. The element of only having one take to get it right for a live broadcast really keeps you on your game!

Any funny backstage stories? We always circle up, put our hands in the middle and do the “quack” cheer from the Mighty Ducks before shows. People look at us like we’re so weird, but we do it every time. Tim and I also like to do push-ups before a show to get pumped up. That’s made for some pretty funny moments. What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in playing for a major label pop band? Make as many friends as you can and be totally genuine in your interactions. You never know where an opportunity will come from. Just as often as you can help someone out, they may be able to help you. Don’t expect anything from anyone, but be your best and put yourself around people who inspire you. And practice to a metronome. Seriously! Are you playing in other bands right now? How do you balance multiple projects? I just released an album with my good friend Jerett Samples and I have a new glam rock band with Maiah called Sparkle Bomb (keep an eye out for a music video soon!). I’ve always been in lots of projects; at one time I was in 9 bands. It’s the challenge of playing a lot of different styles that really appeals to me. The balance comes from being smart about my schedule and saying no to things I don’t have time for, or that I’m not 100% excited about. What’s next for you? I’ve been starting to write and develop my own songs. I’m going to continue that. We have some shows and tours with Mary coming up, and I’m definitely looking forward to those. I also want to do some more recording, and to start making instructional videos.



Christopher Sutton is a longtime artist, musician, writer, and DJ who currently lives in Portland, Oregon. As a musician he has toured, performed, and recorded with bands such as Hornet Leg, Gossip, Dub Narcotic Sound System, Spider & The Webs, C.O.C.O., Hooded Hags, The Dirtbombs, and Chain & The Gang to name a few. He currently writes a blog called Record Lections, and recently he wrote about a few of his favorite all-female bands just for us.

RECORD LECTION #72 Electrelane “The Power Out” There are moments when you hear a perfect sound that super glues itself into your eternal memory. When this happens it’s usually a result of impeccable timing, tireless editing, imaginative musicianship or a lucky serendipity of all three. Throughout recorded history musicians, producers, and engineers have been trying to crack the magic algorithm that will attain them that magic groove or note. Tons of bands toil so hard for this lofty ideal and usually end up failing. However, I believe that through thoughtful producing and honest self dynamics an aspiring group can find the right sound and successfully center all of the their energies within it to get the desirable results. In 2004 Brighton’s magnificent Electrelane produced a record called the “Power Out” with this formula firmly in mind. Perfectly blending Neu! and Stereolabs reliably warm and steady beats with wintry vocals and even lusher vocal arrangements, Electrelane hit a glorious stride with their second album. Initially, the girls appeared to be a motley crew of stylistic differences, but this affront only added to their appeal as a solid and eclectic live group. Frontwoman Verity Susman wrote and arranged vocal and keyboard parts that demonstrated an innate knowledge of theory and melody, and was even able to introduce bilinqual elements to her distant poetry, only futhuring her prodigal reputation. Guitarist Mia Clarke added the sharp edges to the picture, providing assured riffs and sharply timed licks that gave the bands upper classical leanings its necessary rock n’ roll teeth. In the end though, Electrelanes collective genius revolved around co-founder Emma Gaze’s hypnotic cymbal pulses and Ros Murray’s reliable bass rumble. Much like Can and Kraftwerks mind control experiments, Emma and Ros were stoic and persistant, letting the rest of their band cast spells of light around them while their stony rhythms held down the fort. Veteran producer 20


Steve Albini was able to truly capture their precise dynamics, and Gazes drums were always rightfully and faithfully placed in the center of nearly every song. Over this infectious bedrock, lush strings and chorals fade in and out of cinematic climaxes with Morricone-esque bombast and concentration, sonically impressing the listener with conductive aplomb while still adhering to rules of straight ahead pop. Demonstrating this aesthetic to fullest is the song “Birds”, a track built upon a subtle variety of moods. In it, our heroines begin with a pillow-soft breakbeat that eases the listener into a quiet dirge, only to energize suddenly into a triumphant drive towards the finish line, all corners navigated seemlessly and with class. “Love Builds Up” not only shows our girls in an instrumental vein, but reveals that they can also flex a little muscle. Here, Verity injects hearty organ tones over the asphalt velvetness of a stout Gaze backbeat. Electrelane was most certainly a band built upon dynamics, and the entire crew steer in and out of thunderous climaxes and delicate whispers with relative ease, which after incessant touring had become skin tight and ultimately the hallmark of their impressive stage show. A show which featured all four girls strumming in unison on those wonderful pulses, lost in deep concentration. Electrelane were able to produce two more respectable albums after “Power Out”, but it could be argued that this might’ve been the most definitive statement in the bands too-brief sojourn. I must also add here that there is probably no better CD to take on a long drive than “The Power Out”. This album is literally the sound of the horizon, a bright glowing orb beckoning you into the distance with essential warmth.

Electrelane The Power Out

The Need Jacky-O-Lantern

RECORD LECTION #73 The Need “Jacky-O-Lantern” 7” Originally concieved by the duo of ace guitarist Radio Sloan and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Carns, The Need made waves almost from it’s inception with their playful sound stew of operatic steam punk and progressive metal coupled with a dynamic and ritualistic stage show that centered around Radio’s tastefully ear-bleeding guitar work and Rachel’s frenetic, engaging drum performance. At their creative peak, The Need were highly championed by their gay/lesbian/punk comrades, but as is so often the case in history the weight of societies labels, in this case their gender, has perhaps relegated both Carn’s and Sloan’s genius to that hallowed underground status. This position may be one of choice but I believe that their collective work is on par with any other group I’ve ever seen in person and at the very least Rachel should be recognized as one the most interesting drummers in the world, beyond categorization. “Jacky-0-Lantern”, a song which became one of their most revered crowd favorites, is an infectious goth/garage/groove that accessibly encompasses everything about their devilish intent. On the 7” single of the same name we begin with a impishly fun organ intro (also played by Carns) that sets the tone for the evil swirling groove that smacks you in the buttocks shortly afterwards. The rhythm is both medieval and soulful, (Dave Davies in a Bela Lugosi afterworld perhaps?) and one that moves and drags the senses underneath Rachel’s howled wicked witchisms and Radios primitive riffage. It is a steady and relentless boil that remains persistantly enjoyable hours after listening. Not only that, but the beautifully intricate cover (also designed by Carns) fully represents their darkly carnivalistic aesthetic: sharply cut agitators and pasted onto a post-apocalyptic frame. This particular single is a glorious statement of uniquely realized music,

so unique that I doubt that this chemical reaction can ever be properly replicated. Many bands are tecnically proficient, while other bands are uncontrollably “weird” by the sheer fact that “weird” cannot even be avoided. The Need were proudly both, and defiantly waved that flag. It is important to note that witnessing Rachel Carns play drums is a revelation and a close look at her musical career reveals an artist capable of handling a wide palette of styles. From the dreamy art-popisms of Kicking Giant, through the ambitious orchestrations involved in the musical The Transfused (an ecstatic experienced witnessed by sadly too few), and on to the plodding but intense thrash of King Cobra, you see her execute all of her detailed and catchy percussion with skill and heavy stylization. Usually shrouded in black cloth and even blacker make-up, Carns’ meticulous double bass runs, difficult time signatures, and “cymbals” seemingly made by props from the movie City Of Lost Children are all manipulated and deployed from the waist up and with a warrior’s stance, adding further theatrical nuance to the already cabaret-worthy performance. Seemingly mesmerised by her own actions, a whirling dervish suddenly appears swinging and swaying wildly, sticks warping and dancing across a futuristic diorama, all the while bellowing hymns of the unknown into the rarified air. Why she is not considered when talking about great percussionists, female or otherwise, is a mystery to me but sometimes it is the artists that are unprecedented and beyond replication that get overlooked in the annals of influence. Regardless, whether it be sound travelling through space with Nudity or Moon, brewing amazing kombucha with her company Magic Kombucha, or the occasional Need reunion, Rachel Carns happily continues to persevere a spirit that is entirely her own.



Suzi Analogue

Fashion, Beats, and a Lion’s Mane

by Mindy Abovitz | Photo courtesy of Suzi

WHO IS YOUR FASHION ICON? My mom. She was named best dressed in high school and in my life. She had her own style but when she was younger she resembled Diana Ross. HOW DO YOU GET YOUR CLOTHING INSPIRATION? Every style inspiration I have is based on a moment I experience. I lived in Tokyo for a while, so I dress fun, but a little more tough because I hung out more in the hip-hop/streetwear scene than the Kawaii scene. As I’ve grown up, I’ve started adding more womanly elements to my style and it’s all very authentic and not just imagined. When I was younger I traveled to Europe so I understood international style ideas from an early age- around the same time I got into recording my own music. I love different fabrics and textures. I am attracted to transparent and light reflecting fabrics. I also was a head costume designer for my high school musicals—so I’m inspired by time periods too. I would describe my style as “graphic style”.

WHAT GETS YOUR ATTENTION? Originality, braveness, attention to detail in style, audio and visuals. WHAT IS YOUR EQUIPMENT SET-UP? Ableton Live, MidiFighter by DJ Techtools, Korg controller, various synthesizers, AKG Mic. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT? It depends on the situation. I choose comfort over everything because I live an active lifestyle. I make a lot of music in the comfort of my home, so I actually don’t wear too many outfits when I’m doing that. Recently my favorite pants have been Adidas Climacool tights, and an Alexander Wang x H&M neoprene jacket. I like a lot of Adidas designs. WHO OR WHAT IS YOUR HAIR INSPIRATION? I like wild hair. Like rock hair. My hair inspiration right now is... a lion’s mane. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR HAIR DONE? I’ve had cool hair stylists everywhere from Atlanta, to Philly, and Jersey. The style I’m after leads me to the stylist. HOW DID YOU GET INTO MAKING BEATS? I’ve written songs since I was 7 years old. One day when I was 15, a friend installed software on my PC for recording and it had a few beat capabilities. I started translating the songs I would make on my keyboard to the program and the obsession grew from there. I’ve met a lot of great people along the way that have encouraged me to continue, so I just go. WHO HAVE YOU WORKED WITH? TOKiMONSTA, Stalley, Grande Marshall, Tiombe Lockhart, Swarvy - lots of emerging tight artists on everything from sound design to production and songwriting. WHAT IS YOUR FAV VENUE TO PLAY IN? Low End Theory, it’s a beat night held weekly in LA and the people there are just open to diverse music in a little smoky room with these projected visuals coming at you- plus the sound system there is reinforced so the quality of the beats coming out is amazing. Prince even went to a night recently. I also liked the 9:30 club because they give you lil cupcakes in the dressing room. HOW CAN PEOPLE KEEP UP WITH YOUR STYLE & SOUND? I use my music videos and visuals as a way to connect my true style and experiences to my music. If you watch and subscribe to my videos, you’ll come to understand me more fully as an artist. #LifeInAnalogue




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Intro by Kate Ryan

My favorite response to “whoa, are you girls in a band??” is “NO WE’RE CARRYING THESE INSTRUMENTS FOR OUR BOYFRIENDS.” Or just “yeah, are you boys really a band? It’s just amazing what empowered boys are capable of.” I, clearly, am in the camp of haters of the phrase “girl band,” at least when it’s flung around in the direction of bands who don’t claim it for themselves. The words “girl band” inspire a wide range of strong reactions among women in music. Some feel like it excludes them as not the right kind of “girl,” some women feel really affirmed and held by it, some feel like it’s belittling or just beside the point. Many hate it for different reasons, many love it for different reasons, and we’ve tried to include as many different perspectives as possible in this issue. We’ve also included some bands that are all women who didn’t mention the “girl band’ issue at all.

The Nari Gunjan Sargam Musical Band practising at Dhibra village near Patna.



by Jennifer Mulligan photo by Anathu Ranjit Kumar

I often read about micro-loan programs for women in disadvantaged countries. When women are given a chance at a better life through these opportunities, they seize the opportunity to do so and generally their entire community benefits in some way. The Nari Gunjan Sargam Musical Band, ten Mahadalit women from the remote rural village Danapur, Patna, in India, are doing something a little different. The women in this band have joined together, with the influence of a strong leader, and through the power of using drums as a communication tool, have changed the attitudes and the behaviours in their village to fight domestic violence.

The women in the group, ranging in age from 20-60, agree that it is their didi, Sudha Varghese, who is responsible for who they have become as women in a position of power. Sudha Varghese is a social worker and Catholic nun who works for the improvement of lives for women and children through the organization Nari Gunjan. This organization provides employment and teaches skills, arts and crafts, as well as looking after children from ages three to eight. Sister Sudha has been quoted as saying, “I want to break the myth that women cannot do what men can do, I want to prove that women are equally or say better than men.”

By day, they are agricultural labourers and maids, making very little money. Through their drum music they have transformed into a group of strong, confident female musicians, commanding rates of five times the money they make during the day, and playing their music at prestigious events. On November 4th, 2014, Nari Gunjan were at the opening ceremony of fifth Shashi Bhushan memorial theater festival at Kalidas Rangalaya.

This is a powerful statement from a Catholic, and even more so from a nun. Nuns everywhere have often been the women who fought for the lives of the poorest of the poor, the sick, old, or dying. My grandmother, after my grandfather died, and two of my aunts are nuns. Each of them contributed to my life, showing me that women could be in a position of power, and also compassionate and generous with those who have much less than most people in the world.

But, it’s what these women are doing in their own village that demands the most respect from people elsewhere.

With a very immediate and effective response within their community, the women in the Nari Gunjan Sargam Musical Band demonstrate that we all have that power to change a situation for the better, but, we need to show up. We need to be vocal and not back down from oppression. By learning and playing drums to evoke a powerful shift, these women are making the world a better place for every woman to exist without fear.

When another woman in their village is experiencing distress due to violence from an abuser, they become a sophisticated mobile emergency response unit of sorts. They go to the house where the abuse is taking place and they play their drums. Because they draw attention to the event itself, and villagers gather around them, they are effective at getting the woman’s husband to stop the abuse from fear of shame and disgrace within the community. This is a powerful tactic that is met with some fierce resistance. And, the response isn’t to back down, but to keep drumming.



by Ciara Lavers photos by myb777 (Craig Hughes)

Cherisse Osei started playing drums when she was just 11 years old. She said that the moment she first sat behind the kit, it felt like home, like it was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life. A busy drummer, Cherisse currently plays for both Paloma Faith and Bryan Ferry. I caught up with her while we were both on the road, where we talked about gear, tours, nerves, blisters, practice, and everything in between!



TTM: With the amount of playing that you do, do you still practice? What do you work on? Cherisse: Yes, I practice as regularly as I can. When you’re touring, you don’t get much practice time. I have a drum teacher, Mike Dolbear, and I have a practice schedule. I do a 20 minute warm up for hands and feet, and then I’ll work on something Mike has given me. And then I play along to records. If I have some songs to learn or work to do, I’ll get on with that. A good thing to do, which I do a lot, is to record yourself practicing. It is the biggest eye opener! Because you can’t hide—all your imperfections come out - and your strengths too! I’d like to know about your setup, and if you use the same set in both bands. Well, I have slightly different set ups. To begin with, with Bryan [Ferry], there were no electronics. It was just snare, a 12” tom, a 16” ride, three crashes, hats, and that was it. Later on he wanted to add something different; some of his new material has electronic loops, so I added a Yamaha DTX Multi12. With Paloma it’s a slightly different set up. More toms—10”, 12” ,16”, and again I have the Multi12 and loads more triggers. I think I have about nine different triggers going! What are your must-haves for tour? I have a gig bag I take with me. I bring sticks, a practice pad—I have one that I can strap to my knee and it’s amazing. My stick control book—every drummer should have this book! I’ve got to take my make up bag, hair straighteners, and stage clothes. I also carry super glue with me - it’s fantastic for blisters. Micropore tape works really well for that too. Can’t forget ice packs! After a gig, if any of your muscles are feeling really sore, use ice packs for 15 or 20 minutes; it stops the soreness from getting any worse. Do you get nervous? How do you deal with it? Yes. I get nervous before every single performance, but I like to redefine the idea of nerves as excitement rather than something negative. I feel that excitement whether it’s playing in a pub to ten people or at Glastonbury to 80,000! I get ‘nervous’ every single time and I love it! I use the feeling and energy and channel it into my performance. Before I go on stage I close my eyes and I visualise myself playing the first song of the set in the best way I ever want to play that song, thinking also about how I look, how I’m going to feel, etc. I only do a minute or 30 seconds of this, and then just go for it. I think the day I stop getting nervous is the day I should start to worry! Aside from playing with Paloma Faith and Bryan Ferry, have you got anything else planned for this year? I’d like to do some more teaching and I’m trying to fit that in between tours. I’m doing a Masterclass at the International School of London in Chiswick where I’ll be judging young Drummer of Year in February 2015. Also, Emily Dolan Davies (drummer of The Darkness) will be visiting our old secondary school (Broomfield School) to do a drum workshop—which is where it all started for us! I’ve got a new website that will have details on my availability, as well as info on upcoming shows and projects.



What’s been the biggest challenge in your career so far? The first thing, obviously, is being a female. I’m not saying “poor me”, but it is a challenge. If I walk in to a room full of musicians, even now, no matter how much I’ve done, I feel that I’ve got to prove myself. People are initially skeptical of my skills, because when people think of drummers, they don’t think of girls. I’m a quite small girl, so when people see me they think “Really?! OK, go on, show me what you can do!” So that’s a challenge you have to face daily. I use this as motivation to become better and work harder, and let my playing do the talking. Another challenge is that I’ve got a stutter and I’ve had to overcome that a lot on tour, doing interviews and just generally speaking! That’s been a real challenge for me. I’ve had it since I was about 13 and it’s quite difficult to deal with on a daily basis. Tell us about the best things that have happened in your life recently. There are loads! With Mika, we played Parc de Princes in Paris to 60,000 people – our own show! It was supposed to be Mika and Annie Lennox as a double headline, but they just put Mika on the first day of the bill, and the tickets sold out within an hour! When we went on stage, it was just mayhem! Looking out into the crowd at all the Mika fans singing his songs and dancing… it was absolutely incredible!

Playing Glastonbury with Bryan Ferry was amazing! We headlined the West Holts Stage, and we were all very scared because the set had changed quite a bit. Some of the songs we hadn’t played that much at that point, so it was quite nerve-racking, but it just came together and was so magical. Also another high point was performing on top of a London bus at the Closing Ceremony of the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 to a TV audience of 1.5 billion!!! If you could teach a drummer just one thing, what would it be? It’d have to be a few things! First, it would be timing. I always look at the drummers I love and think, ‘what do they have in common?’ All the good drummers have fantastic timing. You are the foundation of the band; the rest of the band are leaning on you. You are dictating the time. Second would be playing with a good ‘feel’—playing with your heart. Not to be cheesy, but developing your own style is important. All the great drummers have their own style going on—they’ve all got their own ‘feel’. I’m always working on making the music feel good.

I get nervous before every single performance, but I like to redefine the idea of nerves as excitement rather than being nervous.

The other thing—which is SUCH a big thing—is listening! Listening! That’s something I learned when I was 13 or 14. If you listen to what others are playing, you’ll play what’s appropriate. Play for the music and for the song, and really listen to what’s going on. What are your goals for the future? Developing my skills as a musician. Developing my own style and becoming more of the player that I actually want to be. That is quite a tough thing—a lot of drummers go on a long journey trying to discover where their playing strengths really lie, and how to use them to be the type of drummer they want to be. Another goal is to teach and inspire more girls to pick up the sticks. There are an increasing number of up-and-coming female drummers, and it’s becoming more widely accepted. I’d like to be part of that movement and an inspiration to others. Just being a good human is a goal in itself ! Oh—and to make good cuppa tea!!



by Jayne Henson



I started playing drums because I wanted to be loud, and in control. To me playing drums was a rush like riding a roller coaster or jumping out of a plane. Thrilling and scary at the same time. I’m not sure if the first time I picked up my first pair of fresh Ludwig 2Bs that my 11 year old brain had any idea that 17 years later playing drums would be as much a part of my life as breathing‌ or that I would be a woman. Being trans is weird like that.

I never got to have a girlhood. For me my history with my gender and the world at large is an odyssey ripe with denial, shame, alienation, and fear. My decision to transition resulted in a time of great achievement, personal fulfillment, and loss. But drumming stayed a constant, like the four on the floor back beat of my life keeping it all together at times. For me separating the world perceiving me as a “girl drummer” from my transition and journey to womanhood is impossible. I still recall the first band that I was ever a “girl drummer” in. It was a four piece made up of all guys… and me. I tried out (initially presenting as male) and things went well and the band asked me back, I was excited, and also horrified. I had already made the decision to transition and knew that I would have to tell them eventually so I figured why not now. So I took a deep breath, called the front man, and braced myself for rejection and humiliation. Luckily the guys were 100% supportive. One night after playing a show I was loading out my gear and heard a fan telling our front man how awesome she thought it was that our band had a “girl drummer”... I think I might have literally cried. It wasn’t long though before I realized being a “girl drummer” carried with it a whole lot of baggage. Suddenly everything shifted in my life and how the world responded to me. I was no longer taken seriously as a musician, everyone automatically assumed I was wrong, or that I didn’t know what I was talking about, I didn’t know how to set up my gear or take care of it. Instead of being given compliments on my playing, I was now given compliments on my hair or outfits (not that those aren’t nice too), and it was clear that the music scene was mostly interested in what I had to offer superficially. Thus being labeled a girl drummer has just become complicated. On the one hand it is nice to finally have my gender identity which I have struggled and fought so hard for recognized, yet on the other hand it means my status as a musician is often seen as a gimmick or joke. Whenever I answer an audition call for “female musicians” I am still always pleasantly surprised and relieved when the door isn’t slammed in my face to a chorus of laughter. Yet even still I am often told that I “don’t play like

a woman” (whatever that means) which people always attribute to my trans experience, in some weird kind of backhanded compliment sort of way. My reply to this is always “yes I do play like a woman, because I AM a woman, and this is how women play.” Nowadays, I play in bands that are largely queer and feminist identified and usually with other trans folks. Many of the bands I have played in have been called “girl bands.” Thinking back on this now, there’s a mixture of feelings for me. Many of the “girls” I was in bands with are no longer female identified. Gender is such a fluid and ever-changing thing. I will never be able to understand the tenacity at which our western society tries to make us believe that it is such a fixed marker in our lives. It is essential that ciswomen and transwomen come together and realize that even though our histories may not be the same, our oppression is forever linked. It is important that we speak up against transphobic things in the industry (like [transwoman-excluding policies at] MichFest), and that we don’t let artists get away with transmisogynistic language or imagery (like “Mister Sister”) just because they are iconic women in the industry. I long for the day when having my gender identity acknowledged properly doesn’t mean sacrificing my legitimacy as an artist. Even though I do not feel affinity towards the term “girl band” or “girl musician”, I think there is still power to be had in making our identities and experiences known. It is important for the world to know that women can be loud, strong, angry, emotional, aggressive, and in control. It is also important that transwomen continue to be vocal about our lives and show that we don’t need to be invisible to be happy and successful. Younger generations need to see us killing it on stage, not in spite of our gender or identity, but in honor of it.



by Shaina Joy Machlus photos courtesy of band

Music is a physical space. It is. Sometimes it is a space we inhabit in our innermost of cavernous depths and druthers. And sometimes it is a space we inhabit in our outermost of psychedelic planetary outerspaces. But it is a space, nonetheless. The space is palpable and it is powerful. Daddy Issues, collectively Lo Davy, Lindsey Sprague, Maddie Putney, and Amethyst White hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina, has taken off quickly. After playing for only 10 months they are in venue spaces from New York to Georgia, their lo-fi surf pop tracks are being distributed in various spaces worldwide, record labels are scratching to fit them into glossy vinyl sleeve spaces, pinned up as ‘rock-goddesses’. But Daddy Issues isn’t concerned with the spaces everyone else wants them to occupy; most important for them is creating their own safe space as a ‘lady band’. Like any categorization, identifying as a ‘lady band’ or ‘girl band’ comes with its ups and downs. Lo explains, “A lot of the bands I love are all girls, so I don’t mind being called a girl band. Because girl bands are creating amazing things, I don’t find that offensive at all. But when someone says ‘Oh you just get attention because you’re girls,’ I wanna tell them to go away.” Maybe it would be easy to call Daddy Issues ‘gimmicky;’ a group of unarguably stunning ladies singing unabashedly about whatever they want. But if you called them ‘gimmicky’ for this, you’d be an asshole. A sexist, stupid, asshole. Their lyrics center around enjoying their bodies and sex. Each member of the group identifies as queer. Maddie, the bassist is a trans woman. These details are simply Daddy Issues being themselves; an all lady, all queer band. It is not the reason to listen to them, but it is an important part of their music. In fact, it’s the reason they began playing together. The band started as a break up band; Lindsey and Lo came together after failed relationships as a source of comfort to one another. The two confided in each other making simple songs focused on being honest and open about their physical and emotional well-being. They ran into Maddie at a show, who quickly confessed to a serious music/friend crush and offered to provide bass notes. To which Maddie recalls “‘[Lindsey and Lo said] We need a bassist… but you have to wear girls clothes.’ And I was like ‘I do wear girls clothes, because I’m a girl’”. When their first drummer quit to finish school, Amethyst jumped right in, picking up drumsticks for the first time ever and picking up the skill of drumming even quicker.



It’s the first band for each of the members except for Lindsey, who had previously only played with men. Lindsey talks about the tangible difference in making music with ladies, “I identify more with women so I think songwriting is a lot more free when it’s only with women. For this it feels like a safer, more collaborative experience.” For Maddie this musical manifestation is physical as well, “Me being trans, this band has been so identity affirming—when we go places people know we are an all girl band so people automatically know how I identify. People automatically refer to me as female, which is incredible. You never know someone’s gender until you ask or are told—it’s great I don’t have to answer those questions constantly.” People have always used music as a tool to express parts of themselves society, self, or both might otherwise suppress and Daddy Issues is carrying on this tradition with force. The guitar riffs are unapologetically twangy; full and fuzzy with distortion. The sometimes ‘crass’ lyrics perfectly juxtaposed with strong, lovely vocal harmonies. The straight forward drum beats make each track more danceable than the next. It’s garage rock, it’s surf indie pop, it’s punk; The Vaselines making out with The Slits to a Kleenex album, on a tropical beach, of course. “Everyone is totally, naturally open to the suggestions everyone else has—there’s not a lot of ego. For the sake of the bigger idea, of making music with each other specifically, there’s cooperation.” Says Amethyst. Daddy Issues is defining themselves by the music they are making. You don’t have to believe they’re talented, they’re happy to show you on their own terms. And the truth is, the music is so good, people keep coming back for more. “I’m so glad that no one in our band has to compromise themselves or fear for their personal or creative safety.” says Maddie. But Daddy Issues is creating a musical space that feels bigger than themselves, a place where everyone has the opportunity to feel safe. Where, if you’re invited in, you are grateful to be inside an experience that is authentic and brave—exactly how rock and roll should be.



by Lorena Perez Batista photos by Andrei Averbuch

Mariachi Flor de Toloache is the first and only allfemale mariachi band in New York City. The flor de Toloache is a poisonous flower native to Central and South America, sometimes used in love potions in Mexico. Much like the flower, this unique band blends the beauty and power of their diverse musical influences into a sonic concoction that will make you fall in love. Their mix of traditional mariachi and alternative sounds have caught the attention of the New York Times, NBC and Univision. Mireya Ramos, the band’s directora, founded MFDT in 2008. She is a violinist, vocalist, composer, and arranger of Dominican and Mexican descent, raised in Puerto Rico. I had the pleasure of talking to Mireya so she could tell us more about Mariachi Flor de Toloache. Mariachi Flor de Toloache es la primera y única banda de puras mujeres mariachi en la ciudad de Nueva York. La Flor de Toloache es una flor venenosa procedente de América Central y América del Sur que es usada para pociones de amor en México. Así como la flor, esta banda única combina la belleza y el poder de sus influencias musicales para enamorarte! Su mezcla de mariachi tradicional con sonidos alternativos ha llamado la atención de el New York Times, NBC y Univision. La banda MFDT fue formada en el 2008 por su directora, Mireya Ramos. Ella es violinista, vocalista, compositora y arreglista de descendencia Dominicana y Mejicana, criada en Puerto Rico. Tuve el placer de hablar con ella para que nos contara un poco mas sobre Mariachi Flor de Toloache. 40


TTM: How did the idea of an all-female Mariachi band come about? Was it easy to find members?

TTM: ¿Cómo comenzó la idea de una banda de Mariachi de puras mujeres? ¿Fue fácil encontrar integrantes?

Mireya Ramos: I had already been playing with male mariachis in New York City prior to founding Mariachi Flor de Toloache. I had noticed that there weren’t many female mariachis in NYC, but I dreamt of having my own all-female mariachi band to continue my father’s traditions. I also encountered some negative ‘macho’ situations that made me decide to start the band. However, we were only three in the beginning, and it took me more than a year to start the band. I must say, though, that the timing was perfect, not only because the Mexican population has been growing and the culture has been the new and trendy thing in NYC, but because the three of us—Shae Fiol, Veronica Valerio and I—were going through break-ups; rancheras and most mariachi music are definitely therapeutic for heartache.

Mireya Ramos: Antes de fundar Mariachi Flor de Toloache yo ya había tocado con hombres mariachis en la ciudad de Nueva York. Había notado que no habían muchas mujeres mariachis en NYC pero yo soñaba con tener una banda de mariachi de puras mujeres para continuar la tradición de mi padre. También me topé con algunas situaciones negativas de “machos” que me hicieron decidir que quería formar mi propia banda. Sin embargo, éramos sólo tres cuando comenzamos y me tomó mas de un año empezar la banda. Pero la verdad debo decir que el momento fue perfecto, no sólo por que la población Mejicana ha estado creciendo y la cultura se ha puesto de moda en NYC, pero por que nosotras tres, Shae Fiol, Veronica Valerio y yo, estábamos pasando por separaciones; las rancheras y la mayoría de la música mariachi son definitivamente terapia para las penas del corazón.

How is being an all-female Mariachi band different from playing with men? It is very different. Unfortunately, with male mariachis I would encounter situations where they would drop me off far away from home, at a subway stop, for example. However, the dynamics between the women in the band is very different. We tend to act differently among women, especially when there’s a woman director. And I have to say: thanks to the band, I have become more experienced in music, management and business. How do audiences respond to you? The audience in New York has been the perfect platform for us. Mariachi music is fairly new in NYC, and even more so when you have women playing it; people love it! Since we get to play in venues where you would never see a mariachi performing, we get to reach a variety of audiences. It’s also great because we have convinced many people who wouldn’t particularly like mariachi to love it as much as we do. Also, I think it is impressive to see a good-looking all-female band on stage with beautiful hand made charro suits. Our beautiful and original outfits are designed by Veronica Medellin, Shae Fiol, and my mom Carmen Ramos. Although we mostly get positive responses from the audience, we do receive some negative comments posted on social media, especially from traditionalists, even to the point where some comments are racist in nature.

¿Qué diferencias tiene tocar en una banda de Mariachi de puras mujeres a tocar en una banda de hombres? Es muy diferente. Desafortunadamente, con hombres mariachis me he encontrado en situaciones donde ellos me dejan lejos de casa en una estación de tren por ejemplo. Sin embargo, la dinámica entre las mujeres de la banda es muy diferente. Nosotras tendemos a actuar diferente entre mujeres, especialmente teniendo a una mujer directora. Y tengo que decir que gracias a la banda, he ganado mas experiencia en la música, administración y los negocios. ¿Cómo ha sido la respuesta de la audiencia? Nueva York ha sido la plataforma perfecta para nosotras. La música de mariachi es relativamente nueva en NYC y mas aún cuando son mujeres las que tocan; a la gente le encanta! Como nosotras tocamos en lugares donde nunca verías a un mariachi tocar, logramos alcanzar a una audiencia muy variada. También pienso que es impresionante ver en tarima a una banda de puras mujeres guapas con hermosos trajes de ‘charro’ hechos a mano. Nuestros hermosos y originales trajes son diseñados por Veronica Medellin, Shae Fiol y mi madre, Carmen Ramos. Aunque mayormente recibimos respuestas positivas de la audiencia, también recibimos comentarios negativos en las redes sociales, especialmente por tradicionalistas, hasta el punto donde algunos comentarios son racistas. ISSU E 21: GIRL B AND S




Where are your members from? Have their origins influenced dthe band?

¿De dónde son sus integrantes? ¿Sus orígenes han influenciado a la banda?

Everyone is from a different country and that is one of the main reasons why we have a very unique sound and style. Our band includes women from Colombia, Cuba, Argentina, Australia, United States, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, and more. Most of us are full time professional musicians who have played in different bands, and we love to incorporate our musical background into MFDT’s music.

Todas somos de países distintos y esa es una de las razones principales por la que tenemos un sonido y estilo tan único. Nuestra banda incluye mujeres de Colombia, Cuba, Argentina, Australia, Estados Unidos, México, República Dominicana, Alemania, Italia y más. La mayoría de nosotras somos músicos profesionales que hemos tocado en distintas bandas y nos encanta incorporar nuestras influencias musicales a la música de MFDT.

Tell us about your latest album. Does it include original compositions?

Diganos de su último álbum. ¿Incluye composiciones originales?

We are so excited that our debut album Mariachi Flor de Toloache is finally out! It is a mix of Mexican classics and original compositions with all original arrangements. On this album, we wanted to tastefully showcase tradition and fusion using our influences and capture our unique sound.

Estamos muy emocionadas por que ya lanzamos nuestro debut álbum Mariachi Flor de Toloache! Es una mezcla de clásicos Mejicanos y composiciones originales con arreglos propios. En este álbum queremos mostrar tradición y fusión con buen gusto usando nuestras influencias y capturar nuestro sonido único.

Why did you decide to sing in English? Who writes the arrangements?

¿Por qué decidieron cantar en Inglés? ¿Quién escribe los arreglos?

MFDT: We represent the melting pot of NYC, so we wanted to connect with everyone though our music. Shae and I write most of the arrangements, but we have had contributions from artists like Jackie Coleman, our trumpet player, and George Saenz, who is a touring musician currently working with Lila Downs. On your album we can hear many different musical styles. Can you tell us about the origins of these diverse rhythms? We love to experiment and branch out with different rhythms, since most of us have grown up with hip-hop, salsa, jazz, R&B, etc. We take Mariachi as our base and branch out from there. Although we have an extensive and varied repertoire, we like to adjust our set list according to our audience, or to the type of event we are performing for. We also like to have fun being creative while performing on stage.

Nosotras representamos la fusión de culturas en NYC así que queríamos conectar con la gente a través de la música. Shae y yo escribimos la mayoría de los arreglos pero hemos tenido contribuciones de artistas como Jackie Coleman, quien es la trompetista de la banda, y de George Saenz, quien es un músico que se encuentra de gira con Lila Downs. En su álbum escuchamos diferentes estilos de música. ¿Nos pueden decir más sobre los origenes de estos ritmos? topé con algunas situaciones negativas de “machos” que me hicieron decidir que quería formar mi propia banda.

Nos encanta experimentar y expandir con diferentes ritmos ya que la mayoría de nosotras crecimos con hip-hop, salsa, jazz, R&B, etc. Tomamos la música mariachi como la base y nos expandimos desde allí. Aunque tenemos un repertorio extenso y variado, nos gusta ajustarlo dependiendo de la audiencia o del tipo de evento en el que vamos a tocar. También nos gusta divertirnos siendo creativas con nuestras presentaciones en tarima.

How is it working with percussionist Jacqueline Acevedo?

¿Cómo ha sido trabajar con la percusionista Jacqueline Acevedo?

She is awesome! She has great energy and a desire to learn. Jacqueline is always willing to listen, to be in sync with us. In the past we’ve had challenges trying to find the right fit for us, although we’ve also had amazing male drummers and percussionists. But Jacqueline clicked with her great feel, swing and musical sensitivity on stage.

Ella es increíble! Tiene una gran energía y muchos deseos de aprender. Jacqueline siempre está dispuesta a escuchar para estar sincronizada con nosotras. Anteriormente tuvimos muchos retos tratando de encontrar a la persona indicada para nosotras, aunque también tuvimos excelentes bateristas y percusionistas hombres. Pero Jacqueline hizo click con su excelente sentido musical, swing y sensibilidad en tarima.

Tell us about the instruments used in mariachi. Would you say that the vihuela plays an important part in how rhythmic mariachi is? The traditional mariachi uses vihuela, guitarron, guitar, violins, trumpets, and in some cases, harp. In our band we have also included the flute and the cajon. The vihuela is definitely one of the main instruments that carries the whole band, both in rhythm and in sound. It is such a small instrument but it is very powerful and essential for the mariachi sound. What’s next for the band? MFDT: The Grammys, baby!!! Wooohoo!!! Our plan is to tour, play more festivals and promote our album. There is a documentary about us in the works, and we are in the middle of the production of a reality show. We also have award-winning director Sonia Fritz planning our first performance in Mexico!

Diganos más sobre los instrumentos usados en el mariachi. ¿Se podría decir que la Vihuela forma un papel importante en la parte rítmica del mariachi? El mariachi tradicional usa vihuela, guitarrón, guitarra, violines, trompetas y en algunos casos arpa. En nuestra banda también incluimos flauta y cajón. La vihuela definitivamente es uno de los instrumentos que conduce a toda la banda, tanto en ritmo como en sonido. Es un instrumento pequeño pero muy poderoso y esencial para el sonido de mariachi. ¿Qué sigue para la banda? MFDT: Los Grammys!!! Nuestro plan es irnos de gira, tocar más festivales y promover el álbum. Hay un documental sobre nosotras en proceso y estamos en medio de la producción de un reality show. También tenemos a la galardonada directora Sonia Fritz planificando nuestras primera presentación en México!



by Lucy Katz photos by Bex Wade

September Girls mix 60’s Girl Group vocal harmonies with overdriven guitar fuzz to create an immersive sound that falls on the gothic side of the noise-pop spectrum. Formed in late 2011, the Irish quintet features Paula on bass, Caoimhe on rhythm guitar, Lauren on keys, Jessie on lead guitar, and Sarah on drums and vocals. Following a string of singles, the band released their debut album Cursing the Sea in January of last year. There is a dark heart at the center of their music, and the heavier sounds of their latest EP Veneer suggest that it’s only getting darker. Lyrics that call to mind the recounting of nightmares offset the group’s feminine melodicism, while pounding beats cut through the hazy, reverb-soaked melodies. The woman pounding out these beats is Dublin resident Sarah Grimes. We met online (hence the “hahas” and emoji) to talk about drumming, girl bands, and BBQ... ISSU E 21: GIRL B AND S


TTM: Hello Sarah! The topic of this issue is ‘girl bands’. What does this label mean to you? Sarah: I always find the phrase a bit of a strange one. We’re a bunch of musicians who got together and hit it off—we just happen to have female parts. I’d rather that things weren’t labelled, and be gender neutral, but unfortunately we aren’t really in a gender neutral world just yet. There are so many bands made up of guys, but I’m yet to hear them being referred to as ‘boy bands’. I’ve often been told that I’m an “amazing drummer...for a girl”, or I’m “one of the best girl drummers” they’ve seen. People have said these things to me and been totally serious. I’m a drummer, full stop. I happen to work hard and put in a lot of practice, maybe that’s the reason I’m okay at it. One thing I take from the label is the motivation to shake off all labels and get recognition for being a creative individual. That’s an impassioned response and I tend to agree with you. I’m in a ‘girl band’ too, but I wouldn’t always be happy to have it referred to as such, for the reason that it tends to pigeonhole bands. Labels aside, how did you end up in September Girls? I used to live in Galway (Ireland) and was playing in a band called The Debutantes with a mate, Leon. He was talking about this girl, Paula, coming over from Dublin to play bass with us. So Paula came over, joined the band, and we played a few gigs and did a bit of recording. Anyway, I finished college there and there weren’t any job prospects, so Paula half-jokingly said “Move to Dublin, drum in this other band I have.” So I came to have a practice with them one night. There was no drum kit or hardware, but we made do; I used an upside down stool as a snare standand we just clicked. Impressive improvisation! For a small city that seems to have lost a lot of its young people, a lot of great music is still coming out of Dublin. How is it to be in a band there right now? There’s no shortage of music, and it is very supportive... like everyone you know is in a band, or a promoter, or runs a DIY label. How did you first get into drumming? Probably about 10 or 11 years ago now, when I was 16. I wanted to learn an instrument and I always really loved the rhythm section. I used to tap on everything! There was a girl in my class who played bass in a band and I spoke to her about it. She mentioned I should get in touch with some guy she knew who played drums, so I did and OBVIOUSLY we started to go out ‘cause that’s what 16-year-olds with something in common did. He put me in touch with an amazing teacher and I took lessons. Oh man- that is cute. What kind of music inspired you at that time? I didn’t know much about music or what music I was “supposed to know”, but I would just follow the beats of whatever songs were on. One time my drum teacher told me to take a break from sheet music and to put on a song that I liked the beat of. I chose Kasabian’s ‘Club Foot’, and he was like, “Okay, listen to it, play it, but take it elsewhere.” He encouraged me to make beats my own and to take inspiration from them. What inspires you now? Some of my all-time favourites include Interpol, Joy Division, Kate Bush, The National, The Knife, Lower Dens, Katie Kim, The Velvet Underground, Deaf Joe, Patti Smith, and Autolux. Some of my favourite drummers are buried in that varied list. People who use the whole kit and aren’t afraid to play ‘off ’ beats or experiment a bit - those are the people who inspire me. I think Kate Bush is an absolute genius; when I listen to her music, I hear it, see it, and feel it. The production of her music and the way it’s laid out is amazing—you can visualise everything. I like the kind of music that commands my full attention, that doesn’t float into the background... stuff that I can get lost in. I’m totally with you on Kate Bush. ‘Wuthering Heights’ is one of the first pieces of music I remember dancing to; she’s completely engaging.



Speaking of songwriting and production, how do you think September Girls’ sound has developed? It seems like you’ve gotten a little darker, a little heavier. Are you shedding some of your earlier pop sensibility? Our sound’s definitely gotten a bit darker... for the better! I guess it took us a while to find our feet. I think we are all a bit more comfortable now trying out new things, and we are all influenced by different things. I guess that’s showing in our music more, that we’re not picking one genre and sticking with it. Some of the new stuff we are working on is so different! It’s fun! I think that being in two bands that I really love fuels my creativity. Do you feel that your creative mind is always switched on? Or that the different sounds of your two bands play off each other? Kind of both. I think my mind is always switched on, and the bands are quite different—though they do have some similarities. But I’m consciously making sure there’s no cross over. You can definitely sense in the music that your confidence is growing as a group, and as individuals. Your more recent stuff seems to be considerably more experimental; have you experimented much with getting new sounds out of your kit? I think I’ve just let loose a bit more on my kit, to be honest. My girlfriend spoiled me at Christmas and got me an amazing drum machine! I’ll definitely be taking it to practice and experimenting. It seems like September Girls are a pretty collaborative group whose members all do a bit of everything, for instance, sharing singing and songwriting duties. Is this the case? How do the songs come together? Usually, someone will write a bit of a song at home on guitar—melody and lyrics or whatever—and then she’ll bring that to practice and we all take it from there. We’re becoming more of a “jamming” band (is there an alternative word to jamming? I hate saying that), but if I hear a harmony or have vocal ideas, I’ll ask the girls to try them. With my other band, CRUISING, it’s just Benni on vocals, but I’ve asked her to try some other stuff too. There are so many beautiful, haunting lyrics on your album and new EP. I love the line ‘If I could swim, I’d be dead by now.’ It’s the kind of abstract, frightening refrain that underscores a particularly bad dream, but then a lot of your lyrics are pretty dreamy/nightmarish. That song, ‘Black Oil’ is actually a dream that Paula had... it’s bizarre. Your other band mates have talked about getting inspiration from 60’s girl groups, bands who not only had a unique musical style, but relied upon a very cultivated image. What is the importance of image for September Girls? You do have a striking aesthetic. Do you feel that this strengthens you as a band of women who, as such, are scrutinized more than men? I think that image is very important in all aspects of life; it’s important to make a good impression, whatever you’re doing. In September Girls we do most of our videos, posters, visuals, artwork, and design ourselves. We are artistic people influenced by various media: art/film/photography/ fashion/what have you. I guess that’s where our image comes from; our visual presentation is just an extension of ourselves. You played SXSW last year; how was it!? Most importantly, what did you think of the BBQ? It was an experience! I’m from a small city in Ireland called Waterford. When I was starting off playing drums, I’d read about SXSW and think ‘Wow, that’s the dream, that’s the height of it.’ I know there are bigger things going on, but as a teenager, it was a huge thing for me. I never once thought I’d actually be playing at it.

That’s totally relatable; it feels like it’s become both a pinnacle and a rite of passage for all kinds of artists. There are like 3000 bands or something, right?! Ah, it’s mental. Some of the girls in the band had been there before and said it was better years ago, before it got so huge and commercial, but I loved it. It was my first time in America, actually! But it was hard work we played a lot of shows, and there’s so much running around with gear and doing sessions and stuff, but when I had time off it was great! We were saving the BBQ for the last day, and off we went to a place called Pitts, or Pitt Bros or something? And they had to shut the restaurant because of a plumbing issue! So, no BBQ for us. Dammit! My Texas BBQ experience was tantamount to a religious experience. I’ll go back for the BBQ one day. You must. Speaking of playing shows, what’s the most bizarre moment you’ve had on stage? I’ll tell you two funny things. I was playing a gig with September Girls at a gallery in Manchester last year, but I hadn’t tightened the drum stool lock and the stool started to get lower and lower. By the end of the song the stool was at its lowest point, so basically all you could see were my eyes over the drum kit. I am laughing for real—that is a hilarious image. Also, just before Christmas I was playing with CRUISING in Belfast. During one of the songs, the kick pedal broke. Some guy in the crowd noticed, so I eyed him up to come over (while still playing, minus kickdrum), and I nodded toward the spare pedal. He got it, and as I kept playing I stood up and he replaced the pedal. I went to sit back down and the stool fell back; I caught it with my leg, all the while still playing, and then we finished the song on an extended epic chorus! It was hilarious! That is an epic story - you are an absolute trooper. I read a blog post recently that described you as ‘Keith Moon on a particularly confused day’. Compliment or insult? Haha, I haven’t seen that! I don’t know how to take that one. If it is a compliment, and I’m being compared to Keith Moon, then that’s good. And confusion is good. I work hard at writing drum bits; if something is a bit straight, it frustrates me. Me too. When a sound or song structure seems chaotic, but is actually tightly and technically structured, it can have an incredible, complex and nuanced effect.

I’d rather that things weren’t labelled, and be gender neutral, but unfortunately we aren’t really in a gender neutral world just yet.

One time someone described my style as sounding like a drum machine and live drums playing together, which is nice! That is great! What’s coming up for your bands? I have a couple of gigs coming up with CRUISING—that band is kind of my baby. The recordings we did will be mixed soon and then we will figure out how to release it. I’m really excited for people to hear it. The members are all in different bands, so it’s been quite difficult for us all to get together, but every time we do, it’s pretty special! There’ll be more touring with September Girls and hopefully some new stuff by the end of the year. Thanks so much for chatting with me, Sarah! I’m going to band practice right now feeling pretty damned inspired. Enjoy practice! Make sure to warm up. Okay Miss Grimes, I will. ;~)



by Susan Taylor photos by Paul Brown Photography



I first met the ladies of Piefight about six years ago during one of my trips to Portland. It’s been amazing to watch each of these women grow on their individual and collective musical journey. It struck me that a common theme among them was a hunger to express themselves musically, and after many years of self-doubt and rationalization about why each of them “couldn’t” play drums, write songs, or rock out in a band, here they are doing it with full force and abandon. They credit Ladies Rock Camp, a program hosted by the nonprofit organization Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, for giving them the confidence to step out of their comfort zones and make music. And with the help of each other, they’ve all reclaimed something magical that was missing in their lives. Their second EP, “This Changes Everything,” will be released in February 2015.

KIM MEYERS (Bass and vocals) Day Job: Residential Designer ANN TOPPING (Drums) Day Job: Physical Therapist MICHELLE PANULLA (Lead vocals) Day Job: Web Developer LEAH ROBBINS (Guitar and vocals) Day Job: Civil Engineer SUSAN YUDT (Keyboards and vocals) Day Job: Writer / Editor

TTM: Ann, when did you start playing drums?

Where did the name Piefight come from?

Ann Topping: The first time I sat behind a drum set was at Ladies Rock Camp in May 2010. It changed my life, and immediately I went out and bought a drum set. I bought it off of Craigslist for $300. And then I did nothing. We lived in a townhouse, so I couldn’t play much because it would make too much noise. Finally, probably a year later or so, I was interviewing one of my patients and I said, “What do you do for hobbies?” and he said “I play drums.” And I said, “Oh you play drums, I want to play drums—how old were you when you started playing drums?” and he said—“Oh! I started when I was 56.” At the time I was 45, and I was just like –if he can start playing at 56 then what am I doing? I always had this hang-up about how I couldn’t start playing drums at 45.

Leah Robbins: One day after we were playing, we were just standing in my driveway and Kim said, “What about Piefight?” And we said YEAH!

What drew you to playing drums?

Do you have a favorite band snack? All: Wine! And cheese. Is all your music original? SY: We do play some covers, like “Saints” by the Breeders and the Lou Reed song “Vicious,” and we’re working on another cover right now. But most of it is originals. Michelle Panulla: We were also going to do a cover of the “Laverne and Shirley” theme song but it hasn’t really come together yet.

AT: I’ve known all my life that I should be drumming. I always drummed. As a teenager, we all went out to my car at lunch time and played “air band” and I was always the drummer. I had drumsticks in my car and the dashboard was completely demolished. I’ve always been drumming, but it wasn’t until Ladies Rock Camp that I realized I could actually do it. It was definitely life-changing.

The new album is called This Changes Everything. What inspired that title?

Where did you all meet?

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as a band?

Susan Yudt: We met at Ladies Rock Camp in Portland, and after that, we started having big jam sessions with a bunch of people, playing covers. Then a couple of us thought, let’s do something together—something original—and all of a sudden, we were a band.

KM: I think we’ve all progressed as musicians a lot since we started playing together.

Kim Meyers: So many things! We got an awesome lead singer [Michelle] and it changed everything. And Ladies Rock Camp changed everything. And being in a band changed everything. It works on a lot of levels.



SY: I’m really proud of our songwriting—it’s not something I ever thought I could do.

If you had to describe how being in this band has impacted you, what would you say?

AT: We used to be really focused on practicing for whatever show we had coming up. Now we’re moving forward as a band—the shows that are coming up are just a snapshot of where we are as a band.

LR: Transformational. I was a music fan for years and would follow all these local bands and go see their shows. And then I had this idea—I can do this. I can play guitar. I can be in a band. What I am doing now is where I am supposed to be.

LR: There are two songs on the EP that we’ve been working on for a year and a half. The idea is that you don’t need to put something in the trash can—you can just let it sit for a while and come back to it. And now those two songs are awesome and are probably my favorite songs. I often hear people say, “I would love to play music—I’d love to be in a band but I’m too old” or “I have no musical talent”. What would you say to that? KM: I HATE THAT! I would tell them to go to Ladies Rock Camp. The idea isn’t that you need to be proficient—it’s that you just need to do it! What is Piefight’s mission for 2015? Are you planning to tour? KM: We were talking about doing a road trip to Seattle. It’s hard when you have kids and dogs and jobs to just take off. We are planning to do more shows in the spring, though. We were on hiatus for a while. AT: I’m constantly fantasizing about us all quitting our day jobs and not even going on the road, but just working on songwriting. Like the idea that we could hole up for a week and just write songs together. I mean, imagine what we could do! How would you describe your sound? MP: It’s hard to describe. When I first joined the band, they were all saying, we’re sort of pop, punk, funk ... and then after a while, I just thought, we’re a rock band! KM: I think somebody once dubbed it “Piecore.”



AT: For me it’s brought me out of kind of a funk where I’m a much happier person. Practice is definitely the highlight of my whole week. I think back and every once in a while I look at a picture or I think about what I was doing before I started playing music and I was definitely searching for my thing and I feel much more settled now. SY: I moved to Portland from New York, and getting involved with Rock Camp and joining Piefight really changed my priorities and my outlook. Life isn’t just about work anymore, it’s about creativity and community. KM: I grew up playing piano as a kid—until college—but I hadn’t played music in a really long time until Ladies Rock Camp. And now I feel like I have come back to something I really missed. I feel a key component of what makes me me was missing and now I have that. Leah and I both have daughters, and now I feel like I’m showing them, if you want to do something, then go out and do it. So there’s definitely a theme of YES you CAN? AT: Oh my god, YES! If you’re thinking about doing it, just do it

by Ciara Lavers photos by Martyn Leung

I first met Gemma Hill some years ago, in a packed classroom at a college of music. From even then it was evident that Gemma would be going places. Fast forward ten years; Ms. Hill has shared the stage with such acts as Cee-Lo Green, Robyn, Cher Lloyd, Cyndi Lauper, Robots In Disguise, and many others. She’s also performed on X Factor and The Paul O’Grady Show. Today, Gemma is editor for DRUMMER magazine. I chatted to her about her new role there, as well as her thoughts on all things drum...



Photo by Stefano Galli

TTM: Let’s start off talking about your drumming. At what age did you start, and what attracted you to it? GH: I started drumming when I was 10. I had been playing the violin from when I was about 4 or 5. When my mum showed me a list of instruments that I could play at school (probably hoping that I’d give up the violin), I picked drums- which I carried on with- as well as continuing with the violin! There weren’t any other girls at school who played drums, so I thought I’m going to do that because it’s a bit different. Then when I was 14 I started playing tuned percussion because I found my new teacher very inspiring. I learned all different kinds of orchestral percussion, and that really made me want to teach. What led you to getting the job at DRUMMER? I got the job completely unexpectedly. I’m really into creating wishes; I guess the proper way I should say that is “cosmic ordering”, which sounds pretty crazy, but it’s just having positive intentions and putting them out there. So I wished for my perfect job to turn up within the next 3 months. A week later I got this call from the publisher who said that a previous editor had put my name forward for the job, and they wanted to know if I wanted to interview for it. Three days later and I had got the job! Female editors in drumming publications are rare. Did you feel any extra pressure as a woman? Yes and no. I felt some pressure from some people when I first took the job, but the publishers were really amazing. I’ve never felt anything but support and encouragement from them. I feel really responsible, so maybe there is that pressure that I put on myself. I want to make a good impact for female drummers, but I also don’t want people to be like, “Oh God- she’s really laying it on thick about the fact that there’s gender!” I try to include everyone equally, so I don’t want to go too heavily towards the female thing. But I feel it’s really important to feature female drummers because there are so many great female drummers out there, so many players that I know and who should be in the magazine. In an ideal world, every drummer is just a drummer and it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. How do you decide who to have on the front cover? Normally, I want it to be as varied as possible; I want to represent lots of different genres. I also try to have people who’ve had a long playing history, or who are simply legendary drummers, on the front. I also try to feature people who are a bit younger, because it’s important to me that younger people read the magazine, that they want to pick it up when they see it on the shelf. So yeah- covers are difficult. It really dependsthere is no one rule. Have you ever gotten to interview any of your drumming heroes? Yes­—probably all of my drumming heroes! My favorite was Sheila E. This was actually before I was working at DRUMMER, but it was just amazing speaking to her; I felt really REALLY nervous. It’s just really cool when you get to interview people who you’ve looked up to, and maybe have been listening to for like 20 years, and then you realize they are just real people. They are just like you in that they’re just doing their thing, and it just so happens that they are particularly amazing at their instrument. With most of the people that I interview, I’m blown away by the fact that I’m getting to speak to them. I just love it!

Have you ever been in an all-girl band? How did you find it? Yes, I’ve been in lots of girl bands. I’ve had varying experiences. There were a couple of bands where I loved the closeness and the sisterhood with my fellow female musicians. I’ve also had experiences that weren’t so good… but everybody is different. Why aren’t there as many girl bands in mainstream music as there seem to be mixed or all-boy bands? I think it’s to do with the relationship stuff. It takes a lot to become a popular band. You’ve probably had to play together for a long time, and I think that these female band relationships are really intense; I think they probably can’t survive the pressure it takes to do a lot of that stuff. I think there is also a lot more to do with the actual music industry side. There are still things that I think record people still consider, like the fact that women may want to start a family, or that they won’t always look like they’re 17, and that when you’re 17, you aren’t at the peak of your playing. There is definitely more attention placed on female musicians; people watch them a lot more closely, and I don’t think you have that with guys. You see a 40 year-old guy sweating in a nasty looking t-shirt, playing guitar or drums, and people don’t mind it, but if you were to see a 40 year-old woman doing the same, people would say, ‘That’s not something that I want to see.’ Do you consider yourself a drummer first or an editor first? Ooh, er… At the moment I feel like I’m an editor first, just because it’s taking so much of my time, but I’ll ALWAYS be a drummer first!



Girlschool by Kaja Kochnowicz

Kittie by Kaja Kochnowicz


by Kristen Gleeson-Prata

As important as it is to hold down the groove, fills are also an essential part of drumming. Lucky for us, fills are also really fun to play! They allow us to break the norm of the groove and creatively bridge the gap between two sections or set up different parts of the song. For instance, John “JR” Robinson’s legendary drum fill at the beginning of Rock With You is the very first thing listeners hear and it sets up the mood of the song perfectly. Remember, they don’t always have to be fancy! Sometimes less is more.

Girl Band Fills

Below are some fills from a few different decades and genres, but all by girl bands. Work through them slowly and then try playing them in the context of a groove. Store them in your “arsenal of fills” to pull out whenever the need arises, or use some of the ideas to create your own. Have fun!

Drum Set


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∑ Girl Band Fills

Example 1: The Runaways (Sandy West on drums) – Cherry Bomb This fill can be found at 0:19 and is relatively simple but perfect in context. It flawlessly transitions the song from verse to chorus.


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x x x x œœ x x x œ œ œ œ œ Ford on drums) – PLECTRUMELECTRUM Example 2: 3RDEYEGIRL/Prince œ œ œ œ ã œœ œ œ4 œ œ œ œœ œ œ œœ œœ(Hannah ∑∑ to its relatively œ œ in ∑a solo-like context. Due 2 This Drum ã Set ã 4 fill can be found at 3:49 and is œplayed

Girl Band Fills

short length, it can also be 3 used in a non-solo context to add some flare to the drum part.


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QUEEN CORA AND HER GROOVES Below we have an excerpt from Queen Cora Dunham’s live performance of “Run The World (Girls)” at PASIC 2011. The original beat is quite repetitive and fairly simple with a bit of drum line action going on, however—the Queen truly spices it up during her live performances. Rather than simply making the song sound great live, there’s also a bit of choreography going on so be mindful of the sticking below to pull off some of her stunts!

by Vanessa Domonique

HOT TIP! Take this song on one bar at a time paying close attention to your accents, ghost strokes and buzz rolls. Use a metronome.



ALL GIRL BAND GROOVES Here are some more killer grooves made and played by women.


by Morgan Doctor




Beat 1: Savages- “Strive” The main groove of the tune kicks in around :40 and it’s a great use of ghost notes on the snare. When you get comfortable playing the beat try opening the hi-hat on all the “ands.”


Beat 2: Sleater Kinney- “Entertain” This song features a heavy floor tom beat and cool use of a displaced snare hit on the “and” of 4. Play 16th notes on the floor and a snare hit on the and of 4 and don’t be shy to hit hard with this beat.


Beat 3: Conquer Divide- “Eyes Wide Shut” Some really great double kick work and overall drumming by Tamara Tadic on this Metalcore track. There are a lot of variations on the beat throughout the song so I just grabbed a couple bars from the first verse. Play 8th notes on the ride with the kick/snare combination. Have fun with it.


Beat 4: Warpaint- “Feeling Alright” This is a killer beat with some swing and funk happening in it. Again there are many variations on it. I grabbed the beat around 2:27 because it incorporates a cool pattern with opening the hi-hat.


Beat 5: ESG- “Moody” A great old-school funk groove. Can’t beat a straight up funk groove to make people dance.


After listening to “Mariachi Flor De Toloache” and being inspired by traditional Mariachi music and its rhythmic richness, I decided to do some research about how it all started. I found out the first form of mariachi music was from Jalisco, Mexico and it was called “Son Jalisciense”. It was music meant for dancing and it combined folk traditions from Spain, Mexico and Africa. Two of the main instruments used in Mariachi are the Guitarron, a six-string acoustic bass, and the Vihuela, a five-string acoustic guitar. I thought it would be a fun challenge to adapt the rhythm of the Guitarron to the bass drum, and the rhythm of the Vihuela to the hi-hat and snare. The Vihuela is played using Arranged by Lorena Perez Batista very specific strumming patterns where the body of the guitar is used as a drum and the hand is used to mute the Arranged Arranged by by Lorena Lorena Perez Perez Batista Batista strings as a percussive effect.

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by Lorena Perez Batista

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GLASVEGAS - MAGAZINE Jonna Lofgren is the hard-hitting drummer of Scotland’s premiere indie rock band Glasvegas. After her killer interview in our last issue, we asked Jonna to transcribe one of our favorite Glasvegas songs for us. Here is part 1 and you can find the rest of the song online at


by Jonna Lofgren



SAVAGES - SHE WILL Fay Milton was on the cover of our Rebel issue for being an all-around badass. She stopped by our office last month to transcribe some of the beats she plays with Savages; here is her handwritten transcription of “She Will.” by Fay Milton






Small, 3-string guitars.

TOM TOM MAGAZINE STARTED A WHAT?!? That’s right, y’all. We started a drum school. TOMTOMACADEMY.COM



Leonard Logan Self-released / April 2015


Time To Go Home Hardly Art / March 2015 Time To Go Home is like a breath of gray air. Amidst a new wave of lo-fi, reverb-drenched garage bands who come off as too cool for school and wise beyond their years, Chastity Belt’s second album is made up of painfully honest and age-appropriate, brooding, riff-driven indie rock songs. I’m not sure how old they are but assuming they’re somewhere between 15 and 35—it’s spot on. Let’s face it: teens and teen angst don’t go their separate ways after high school. For those sort of trying to escape the dark cloud of youth, this is your album. If you’re trying really hard, this might not be your jam, but hey, we all have our moments when we need a good cry. These Seattle gals are like, “Hey, cry it out. It’s cool.”

From the opening reverbed guitar on the albums opening track, “Greenpoint,” a cosmic alarm rings out into the world. The drums pulse like a heartbeat undergoing a panic attack—in a good way. The mad genius behind the project is Maximillion Markowsky, a Berlin resident, who decided to experiment with musicians who’d never played together before and see what sort of concoctions might occur. Like mixing already unstable chemicals, the result on Leonard Logan, combing the drumming talents of Lia Braswell and Kristin Mueller, in two different cities: New York and Berlin. The result is a fierce bravura of Flaming Lips psychosis and impossible not to dance to interstellar rhythms. Teamgeist is one of those odd experiments that proves that strange bedfellows need not be acquainted first to still speak the same language.

Go Betty Go’s Reboot is a high energy treat for all of the senses. The original members of the LA quartet have reunited after a nearly 10-year hiatus to deliver an aggressive and hard-hitting EP that is reminiscent of their anthemic 2005 album, Nothing Is More, but with a bit of a darker undertone. Each song packs its own dynamic punch, proving that they haven’t missed a beat and in fact, have only gotten stronger with time.


Listen to this: when that party you got all dolled up for ends up being full of frat boys that disgust and intimidate you in equal measures, and you need to feel your Saturday night wasn’t a complete bust.

Listen to this: in the middle of a busy, shitty day to receive that much needed jolt of energy and kick-ass mentality. —Candace Tossas

Listen to this: if you believe that aliens speak to us through music and demand that you shake your ass.

—Anna Blumenthal

—Matthew D’Abate




Turn To Each Other Signature Sounds / February 2015

Capricorn Self-released / January 2015

A healthy serving of pop, mixed in with something weird. Turn To Each Other is the first full length album from And The Kids. Released on Signature Sounds, the Massachusetts trio created an album with a circus of sounds featuring spots of elegant guitar and stretching vocals. While the album works as a concept, each track is diverse and gives a nod to the next and the one before with a beat that throbs in the background. Their lyrics are youthful: “it’s a devastation celebration/we are the ones picking up and not putting down,” simmered with an edge that has the ability to make you feel that you have a bit of catching up to do. Turn To Each Other comes after two EPs and a few stories to share. With this being said, And The Kids created an honest piece of work that begs to be listened to over on repeat.

San Francisco’s Happy Fangs have the kind of catchy vocal wails and guitar riffs that you would hear at a mid-2000s Warped Tour. Their hooks in pop-influenced punk anthems like “Hiya Kaw Kaw” and “Cliche” will make you long for the days when you were walking around at summer festivals, finally free from your parents, stumbling upon Tsunami Bomb’s tent for the first time. The yelps at the end of “Raw Nights” are reminiscent of early Bikini Kill Kathleen Hannah and “The Truth” sounds like a lost Le Tigre song. Each track off Capricorn is gritty guitar-pop perfection!

Very Polite Self-released / September 2014 Soap Scum’s album Very Polite is nothing but. Their thrashy-trashy debut makes you feel like this two piece from Minneapolis, Minnesota are more likely to drive to your house, play their crunchy guitars too loud in your basement, and leave fast food trash everywhere as soon as the cops show up. Their dark, catchy Dinosaur Jr. influenced melodies on tracks like “Hall Monitor” and “Numb” illustrate their apathy and expresses their discontent in simple grungepunk structured songs. “Orange Star” has the best balance of gritty garage rock guitar riffs, perfectly timed crash cymbals, and satisfying vocal harmonies. Listen to this while: you’re pissed about having to make payments on your student loans. —Tarra Thiessen

Listen to this: with that one friend you’ve had since first grade. —Attia Taylor


Reboot Self-released / January 2015


Listen to this while: school is out forever and you’re on way to your first pool party/BBQ. —Tarra Thiessen



El Carter Discos De Kirlian / January 2015

S/T Self-released / March 2015

Lord Classic Self-released / April 2015

If we’re speaking Catalan, the words “Fred i Son” translates into English as “cold and sleep.” This in no way describes the lusciously dreamy sounds of this band from Spain. Their new EP El Carter is the perfect record to listen to driving on a long highway by the sea on a sunny day. Not that El Carter is all bubble gum. There is a sweet sadness that resonates reminding us not all gleefulness springs from the naiveté. Belle and Sebastian hooks, and even traces from the little known project Smokey and Mijo, permeate the EP—the message is clear, that life is one great dive into the warm waters of the Mediterranean. All formed around Elisenda Daura pitter-patter beats, Fred i Son float in that realm of George Harrison hooks and the contemplative sleep of an eternal vacation.

“Imagery” is usually a word used within the world of literature. Using descriptive phrases to create the mental picture of the figure or event. The ishs/ Allen Project debut album is full of imagery, interestingly within sound. Both band leaders, pianist ade ishs and drummer Chelsea Allen, hailing from Melbourne, Austrailia, are very accomplished players, honing their techniques of their principle instruments through this contemporary/traditional jazz-fueled collaboration. At first listen, you can hear the delicacy in key dropping that ishs brings to “A Place in The World” putting not only his skills as a jazz pianist into effect, but definitely hinting on that meditational style that he cultivated while working with such bands as Ozark and MOU. Though what really brings this talented collaboration together is the eclectic stylings of Allen’s skins. Allen, hailing from Brisbane, has a musical resume that ranges from hip-hop to soul, rock to folk, contemporary jazz to big band. She has worked with the bands Aurora Tide, The Thornbirds, The Jon Magill Undectet, and Ozark as well.

Tired of the sensitive shoe-gaze and hand-clapping choruses that sound more like iPad Air commercials than rock and roll?


Listen to this: when Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has taken the steering wheel from your hands in the cold winter months. This record will help you escape. Don’t forget to bring a beach towel.

Listen to this: when you need to press pause on the chaos around you so that you can savor what is good in your life. —Lola Johnson

Did we mention they only play live in Victorian attire? It’s a sight to see. With standout tracks like “Walking in The Garden” and “Raffy G,” Lord Classic’s self-titled record lives, essentially in a caterwaul of rhythm, making the body unable to stand still. Audaciously hip and full of swagger, Lord Classic, both on the tracks and at their live show, gives Brooklyn a necessary injection to wake it from its indie coma. Listen to this: with wine-stained lips, your fist in the air, and your arm around the waist of whomever is keeping you warm this winter.


—Matthew D’Abate

Lord Classic, the Brooklyn based pop/rock quartet, bring their charming heavy havoc to the stages of New York City, dropping their new record this Spring. Aussie vocalist Paul Gillard croons like some drunken pirate balladeer, backed by the iron claw rhythms of Mattley Mountain on the bass, and the skyline violin litanies of Mavis Chase. The star, though, is drummer Mossy Ross. Her relentlessly inventive rhythms (always playing with a smile that doesn’t quit) bombastically push through the nine track debut release.

—Matthew D’Abate



Blessed Be Self-released / February 2015 Brooklyn-based electro dream pop duo Holotropik, comprised of members Jade Payne and Dominika Ksel, compare their sound to “a treacherous voyage into a cosmic sea of mystic adventures sailing past stories of origin… into lands of unknown pleasure.” Perhaps this best describes the goal of their debut album Blessed Be, which within the first few seconds pulls you on a sonic journey with little clue as to what’s next. The tone of the album is eerie; with each of the eight songs containing hallucinogenic variations of ominous pop beats. Tracks such as “New Dawn” and “Meditating on an Emergency” highlight the album, however it fails to build toward some kind of climactic ending. Nevertheless, Blessed Be is an enticing album that draws you in further with repeated listening. Listen to this: while lounging around a campfire, telling creepy tales involving extraterrestrials. —Candace Tossas

Last time I saw Jade Payne was during a show at the collectively directed art space, Silent Barn. “Is that speaker working?” she asked me, then turned to our left and walked over to troubleshoot. A few seconds later, vocals are pumping, and the show is sounding better. The past couple years I have known Jade as a music producer, composer, engineer, and guitarist with an impressive knack for critical listening. Over a weekend in February I was able to sit down with her and audio/visual artist and musician Dominika Ksel. These two have been working together musically for four years. Time has seen them merge into the electronic outfit Holotropik. a duo relationship of mainly beats, synth, programming, and audience participation. We talked gear, beat building, the role of percussion in electronic music, and their debut release Blessed Be.

FIRST OFF, CAN WE CHAT A BIT ABOUT YOUR GEAR. WHAT DO YOU PERFORM WITH LIVE? WHAT DID YOU USE TO MAKE YOUR RECORD? Dominika Ksel: I mainly use a Korg ESX-1 and a Korg EMX-1 [sequencer synthesizers]. During live shows I’ll sometimes bring a Korg KAOSS PAD 3 or a MICROKORG. For pedals and effects processing I like to use a delay pedal and an Electro-Harmonix Voicebox to make it spooky. Angel Favorite is our lighting/visual artist for our live performances. Angel has been working with us for most of the time we’ve been making music as a duo and we kind of consider them to be the behind-thescenes band member. They create amazing projections and do really innovative things with lighting and live camera feeds. Jade Payne: My setup is a ROLAND SH 201 [synthesizer], and I play an AKAI MPK49 for sample and sequence control with Ableton Live [Digital Audio Workstation] and MIDI based software synthesizers. I also have an Akai LPK, which I have Velcro taped to the Roland SH 201, so that I can play two things at once. My sequencers are also externally synced to Dominika’s Korg EMX-1, so that it matches the BPM of the drum machine, and everything will lock up, but I am still able to trigger things manually. My vocals go through a TC Helicon Voicelive stompbox processor.



DID THE ALBUM USE THE SAME PROCESSING? JP: No, the vocal processors are pretty much for live only. During the recording, we did a dry take of all the vocals and the effects were mixed in. This album is really particular because the writing process was really mixed into the recording process. While we were composing the songs, we were recording them at the same time. It became this thing where lots and lots of layers just started building up, and that’s why it took so long. DK: Yeah, a lot of changes happened. We had the songs that we would perform, but then when we started recording, we got sucked into the vortex of the recording process and let’s try this, or change this lyric JP: That’s the exciting thing about electronic music and digital audio, is that you can just make things happen so quickly, and we were just in my room for months and months practicing but then also recording, and it was a snowball process that by the time we decided to sit down and make this record, it had just gotten so complex and big and all these tracks of ideas, it became “Ok, now I have to figure out what goes into the song” and “how are we going to perform this?”


WHEN YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT A RECORD THAT IS SO EXPERIMENTAL, AND NOT LIMITING YOURSELF TO TRADITIONAL INSTRUMENTATION, HOW DO YOU MAKE THOSE ARRANGEMENT DECISIONS? WHAT MADE THE SONG FEEL COMPLETE TO YOU? DK: We listened a lot. We listened to different recordings of the same song, and all the separate tracks. We spent so much time working on the record. We had one song that had almost 30 tracks of sounds and we would obsess over one—“well it’s not quite doing this, we want it to do that” and we were like, “Ok, we need to step away from this and move onto another one, and maybe in a couple weeks we will come back to that,” because it got very intense. JP: It’s a learning process, and the ultimate question is “what is integral to the song?” It’s like running a comb through all of your ideas and deciding what stays and what goes. There were things that came out way later, like “Nubile Nubians” for example has a harp part that I added a year after the song had already been written. It was missing some kind of bright sprinkle of something. Just thinking about balance and dynamics. It just took a lot of time, and it is just hard when you’re the music maker and the engineer. You just get too involved and you just have to discipline yourself. Dominika was really good about saying, “Jade, it’s ok, just don’t worry about this. It sounds fine,” because I would obsess over things.

DOMINIKA, WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN PERCUSSION AND BEATMAKING? JADE, HOW DOES THAT RELATE TO YOUR ROLE IN HOLOTROPIK? DK: I used to play guitar in a lot of bands, and was always really interested in electronic music and beatmaking. When I was a teenager, I spent a bit of time in my bedroom making beats on a 4-track recorder. I had stopped all of that for a while, and then when I came back to the US, after living in Chile, I met Jade. I got a nice drum machine and started playing around, and that is how we started working on things. I would also play with this band Makaroni in Chile doing electronic music, and do my own music, where I would compose everything. I would work with Kaoss Pads and Kaossilators and just got more invested in sequencing and programming.



I’m really influenced by African and South American drumbeats and mixing that with New York electronic music. The beat making influence definitely flew in from more of my travels, and friends that I would meet, and learning different kinds of percussion over time. JP: Before I moved to New York City I had played in rock bands, and had been a guitarist most of my life. When I moved here, I wanted to play pop music and had been dabbling in MIDI controllers and synthesizers and had been composing in Digital Audio Workstations. It was really serendipitous because the beats I heard Dominika making gave me that push to make, for example, dreamy synth lines. They leave such a good amount of space [in the song arrangement]. Just last night we started working on a new song. All I had to do was tap the drum pads like “this is what I was thinking” and she just did it perfectly. It really brings out a part of my creativity that I really enjoy tapping into, that I don’t really get in the more rock and roll music world that I am very much a big part of.

HOW HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT TIMBRE OF THE BEAT, WHICH CAN DEVIATE A BIT FROM A ROCK BASED OR ACOUSTIC DRUM KIT SOUNDS? DK: The way I see it, is more philosophical. Like, our bodies are primarily composed of water—we vibrate. The drum beat is like the beat of the earth, the heart, everything is sort of a beat based element. One of the things that is nice with these drum machines is that they have synth sequences and samplers that you can also add to the basics. I feel like there is a lot of flexibility and that is why I also like the electronic element, because I can’t make a composition in the same way, if I was playing on a drumset by myself. I used to play a lot of acoustic instruments and I was always frustrated because, as my friend would say, “you need a robot named Friendship to help you with this.” That robot is these synthesized sounds, and I am able to compose in a different way and utilize these different aspects of “what is sound?” and “how can I extend that range of what we consider a basic beat, into something that is a little more poetic?”

CAN YOU EXPAND ON HOW YOU SYNC ALL OF YOUR PERCUSSIVE ELEMENTS FOR THE LIVE SHOW? JP: It’s all about tempo, and starting at the same time. When you’re dealing with precomposed sequences that you want to come in at certain points of the song it’s important for that lock up. When it lags, things get confusing. DK: There are always ghosts in the machine that happen when you’re doing it yourself sometimes— JP: Yeah, MIDI is tricky and frustrating but can also be really cool, and you can do a lot with it.

SO YOU USE THE MIDI EXTERNAL SYNC OF YOUR GEAR TO QUANTIZE ALL OF YOUR SAMPLES? JP: Yeah, definitely. DK: Yeah. JP: I feel it is pretty imperative for the music that we make. DK: There are so many complex layers. There are percussive sounds in these songs, which are not necessarily part of the beat. A lot of the synthesizers on your record Blessed Be play with syncopation, or arpeggiation. What lead you to incorporate such a strong rhythmic quality to the melodic instruments?

JP: I had this moment in the winter of 2013, where I went to my friends’ party called Invocation. She played a lot of dark wave, industrial, synth-pop, and underground songs. They had these really driving haunting arpeggiated synth lines under chanting vocals. These were mostly artists from the 80s. I heard that, and thought “this is what is missing.” For “Nubile Nubians” where that arpeggiation comes in—I started playing around with that more because it lines up with the kick drum and is so rhythmic. That kind of stuff brings the song alive to me. When the synth can kind of mimic the rhythm of the drums. I started writing that more and more—even at the end of “Marshmallow Meadows” for example—80s darkwave, synth-pop pushed me to do that. It made it all dance more, so that it is not just buzzing synth pads. Dynamics is everything. The record was a big learning process about dynamics and what makes a song come alive.

A LOT OF THE TIMBRES FIT SO WELL TOGETHER. NOTHING REALLY FIGHTS WITH ANOTHER. I FEEL LIKE THAT IS SO IMPORTANT, SUCH A COHESIVE ELEMENT. JP: Yeah, and now I am even thinking of more songs like “Parabola” [mimics one of the rhythmic synthesizers]. I didn’t even add that until way later in the process where I thought, “it’s missing some driving thing that makes me feel excited.” Otherwise it is just a pad, and that is all fine, but there is something that we are trying to convey, that we can’t unless the synth is talking to the drums a little bit. There’s got to be a conversation going on. DK: I feel like when those parts were transformed and added throughout the recording process, we would hear it and we would start dancing, and that’s when I knew. JP: You Just kinda start moving— DK: Yeah, we would start moving, because you would listen, and you would sit there, “ok, we’re listening, we’re listening” but then you would start moving and we’re like “Ok, we got it.” JP: When your shoulders start doing this [dances], you know you’re going in the right direction. “I’m really tired and exhausted, but my shoulders are moving, so I know I’m doing the right thing.” DK: I feel like it is one thing when you play live, because there is an energy you’re working with, with an audience, and everything pumping, and you tweak something as you’re going. But then when you’re recording it becomes this stationary feel because you are just in this room together, doing this over and over again. Well, how do I get myself excited? And that’s when I feel like the magic tweaks would happen. I feel like these parts that Jade would add in, are a continuation. It’s ensemble. It’s not just us in this room, it’s a bunch of invisible, digital beings. JP: Yeah.

HOW DID IT COME ABOUT TO INVITE THE AUDIENCE TO PARTICIPATE WITH PERCUSSION? DK: The audience is really receptive. They get really into it. JP: Almost too into it, where they just do a four on the floor, with shaker, the whole time. DK: Just give us a minute. So now if I do that, we’ll just pass them [instruments] out during certain songs. It is nice because it is part of the creation in that moment, and they’re dancing, and they’re feeling it, but we’ll tell them “Ok, for these songs you guys can go.”

JP: I know when I go to shows, I love the interactivity, visual art, anything, and being included in the experience. When Dominika started doing that, I thought it was really great. The experience is more enjoyable.

I RECENTLY SAW YOUR MUSIC VIDEO FOR “CRYSTAL CITY.” YOU WORKED ON THAT IN CONJUNCTION WITH A COLLECTIVE THAT YOU [DOMINIKA] ARE A PART OF. CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THE PROCESS? DK: I’m an artist also, and I make videos and I work in sound, and am part of this collective called HowDoYouSayYamInAfrican? My friend Sienna [Shields] said “send me your album, I want to make a music video” and I said great! She said “I’m making one for ‘Crystal City!’” she went to Alaska and she said she was so inspired by this. Her and Richie [Adomako], Kirikoo Des, and Luvinsky Atche, they were

doing movement in the video, and put it together and sent it as kind of a surprise.

You can check out audio and visual art from

The images that you see in the video are part of this show we did at the P! gallery called Post Speculation, in September. and so we had all of these [display] monitors that Sienna took out and laid out and made this amazing dance piece.

find up to date information on their debut release

Holotropik at as well as Blessed Be. More information on HowDoYouSayYamInAfrican can be found by going to

So that’s how that all intertwined. I actually asked a couple other video artist friends who are interested, and told them “Sienna picked this song,” so they have to pick something that they are inspired by, and to see, what moves them. So it was really free, in terms of how it was conceptualized. It was like “I trust you, I know you’re an amazing artist, share your magic with us.” So the magic happened in that way

BORN TO DRUM By Tony Barrell Dey Street Books / March 2015 Have you ever wondered why the most vibrant, dynamic member of the band (the drummer, of course) is relegated to the back of the stage while the other performers get to soak up the glory? Tony Barrell, although not a drummer himself, pays homage to the often misunderstood, the sometimes mocked, and the hardest to photograph—the drummer.

We were very appreciative at Tom Tom that our Publisher/Founder, Mindy Abovitz, was quoted at length in the chapter, “She Plays the Drums.” Barrell attended a talk that Abovitz gave in London and came away with one of the magazine’s main objectives, that we aim to normalize the girl/ woman drummer experience so that the focus is more about the instrument and the music rather than the gender of the player.


He investigates the many stereotypes about drummers: we’re crazy, we’re obsessive, we’re stupid, we’re comedians, we’re peacekeepers, etc. Interviews with drummers like Clem Burke, Sheila E., Patty Schemel, Nick Mason, and Debbi Peterson shed light on what it’s like to bang on the “world’s oldest instrument” in today’s musical climate.

—Rebecca DeRosa

GIRL IN A BAND By Kim Gordon Dey Street Books / February 2015 When I checked our PO Box this past month and saw Kim Gordon’s new book addressed to our Reviews Editor Rebecca, I had intended to skim the book and pass it on to Rebecca later that day. After the first few chapters though, I couldn’t put the book down. I found myself texting Rebecca every day asking her for one more day with the book until finally she said, why don’t you review it. So here I am. Reviewing a book I can safely say is one of my favorites I have read this year. Not only is Kim’s writing style so personal that you feel you are her best friend but her extensive knowledge of the art scene, the music scene and language makes you feel like this best friend is the coolest and the smartest best friend and is not dissimilar from the feeling I got from Patti Smith and her book Just Kids. There is a decent amount of name dropping in Kim’s story which is my single critique of the book. My favorite parts of the book can be described best in Kim’s words alone when she talks about her approach to song-writing in Sonic Youth: “...women aren’t really allowed to be kick-ass. It’s like the famous distinction between art and craft: Art, and wildness, and pushing against the edges, is a male thing. Craft and control, and polish, is for women. Culturally we don’t allow women to be as free as they would like, because that is frightening.” And then when she talks about why she got started writing about music and her attempts to find her way into the male bonding sport, “I wanted to push up close to whatever it was men felt when they were together onstage—to try to ink in that invisible thing.” If you love Sonic Youth, if you love writing about music, if you love an honest feminist life story, get Kim’s book. —Mindy Abovitz ISSU E 21: GIRL B AND S




by Andrea Davis

Tackle Instrument Supply Co. was created by drummer Scott McPherson (She & Him, M.Ward, Beck). McPherson co-founded Portland, Oregon’s Revival Drum Shop with Jose Medeles in 2009. Revival Drum Shop carries amazing vintage gear like classic Slingerland and Ludwig kits, and McPherson wanted to create a bag that reflected Revival’s uniqueness. He has developed a beautifully handcrafted line of signature kit accessories. Tom Tom was lucky enough to snag a few of Scott’s products: the waxed canvas roll-up bag, drum key case and a clip on accessory pouch. The waxed canvas roll-up bag ($69.99) is made from cotton waxed canvas and measures 29.5” x 18”. The lightweight material is durable and easy to manipulate when loaded with different types of sticks. There are four spacious pockets that fit any type of drumstick, mallet or brush, and the two circular straps make it easy to carry while rolled up. The outside of the bag features a suede string to tightly wrap everything up, and a pocket for extra accessories. The leather drum key case ($14.95 - $17.95) is another beautiful product. The drum key holder is made from hand dyed veg tanned leather and comes in an assortment of colors: british tan, natural leather, horween, and black. All the drum key holders are handmade and paired with a brass clip and snap. The holder is extremely durable and will fit most drum keys. Tom Tom also reviewed Tackle’s leather clip-on utility gig pouch. The bag features one sizable pocket for accessories along with a sturdy metal clip so that you can hang it from your stick bag. It also features a built-in drum key holder with a brass clip, enabling the drummer to remove it easily from a convenient place on the kit. Tackle Instrument Supply Co. makes one of a kind hand-crafted accessories for the serious and stylish drummer. Their focus is to create unique and beautifully crafted accessories you can’t find anywhere else. Built to last, these products will hold all of your drumming accessories for years of playing. You can find Tackle’s products online at or These products are also available at Revival Drum Shop in Portland, OR. Be sure to check out special bundle packs available online!








4 1. The lightweight Waxed Canvas Roll-Up Bag is made from cotton waxed canvas and is durable and easy to manipulate when loading with different types of sticks. 2. There are four spacious pockets that fit any type of drum stick, mallet or brush and two circular straps which make it easier to carry while rolled up. The outside of the bag includes a suede string to tightly wrap everything up, along with a pocket on the outside to store extra accessories. 3. The outside of the bag includes a suede string to tightly wrap everything up, along with a pocket on the outside to store extra accessories. 4. The Leather Drum Key Case features one sizable pocket for accessories along with a sturdy metal clip to hang on your kit. The bag also features a built-in drum key holder with a brass clip, enabling the drummer to remove it easily while clipping it on a convenient place on the kit. 5. The Leather Drum Key Case is made from hand dyed veg tanned leather and comes in an assortment of colors (British tan, natural leather, horween, and black.) All the drum key holders are paired with a brass clip and snap.