Front and Center: Drummer, Vocalist, Songwriter and Roland Product Specialist, Jordan West

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Drummer, Vocalist, Songwriter and Roland Product Specialist, Jordan West

By Leslie Buttonow

Once in a while you meet someone with so many abilities you wonder if they snuck back on line when the talents were being handed out. Jordan West is one such woman. In her LA-based band Trackless, West makes use of her talents as a drummer, vocalist and songwriter, and she uses her business savvy as the group’s manager and booking agent.

Her original music has been featured on a handful of radio stations, and she has won several music industry songwriting contests. The band’s newest, self-titled album can be found on iTunes and Spotify, and they are currently recording their first single with Bob Clearmountain (Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen) in LA, scheduled for release in summer 2017.

West also travels to festivals and trade shows as a product specialist demonstrating Roland drum and percussion products, and conducts clinics. Her gig as a Roland product specialist has taken her to the NAMM Show, CES, Starry Nights, SXSW, Gearfest, and PASIC. She also recently traveled to Roland’s headquarters in Japan to perform and demonstrate new products, and participate in some research and development meetings.

For more information, visit jordanwestdrums.com.

WiMN: You’re a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist. Please share with us the progression of things—how and when you came to discover each of those talents and interests, and what musical training you had.

JW: I went to a fine arts magnet school where they made each student choose an instrument to begin playing in third grade. I wasn’t sure what I wanted my official instrument to be, so my parents took me to a musical aptitude test. Basically, there was one of every instrument in a room and I got to try everything. The woman running the test told me I should highly consider playing drums and percussion. So naturally, I chose french horn! After a year of whole notes and running out of breath, I switched to a drum set. I was lucky enough to continue on to a middle school with an excellent music program. I was trained mostly in jazz throughout middle and high school and began gigging professionally in college, all the while taking private lessons once a week.

Around the time I was 21, I enrolled in a songwriting class for fun. I didn’t really know music theory at that point, but the class forced me to go outside of my comfort zone. I started my band Trackless so we could play original music, and now that is one of my main professional focuses. I drum, sing, and write songs in the band, and I love how it utilizes different aspects of my musicality. I also play piano and guitar – mostly to accompany myself at solo gigs or to write.

WiMN: Did you have any musical influences growing up, either from people around you, or through musicians you admired?

JW: My parents have always loved a wide variety of music. I grew up listening to everything from System of a Down to Cher to Bob Marley to Tool and everything in between. Much of my training on drums was centered in jazz, where I learned about legends like Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Joe Morello, and Tony Williams. I love listening to innovative drummers like Steve Gadd, Jeff Porcaro, Mark Guiliana, Sput, Steve Jordan…the list goes on forever. In terms of songwriting, I love Bill Withers, Carole King, Karen Carpenter, Amy Winehouse, and countless others.

WiMN: When did you clearly know that music was what you wanted to do for a living?

JW: I think I was 12. Middle school was really where I felt like music was something I wanted to center my life around.

WiMN: Drums are your main instrument. As there are considerably fewer female drummers than there are male ones (although they seem to be catching up slowly!), were there ever any instances where you were faced with discrimination, and if so, how did you overcome it?

JW: There have been plenty of times over the years where being a woman seemed to matter more than anything I played – for better or for worse. Some people are impressed that I know how to hold sticks and play quarter notes; others accuse me of being (or use me as) a novelty item. It used to make me mad — really mad. I was letting it get to me and forgetting about the fact that when it comes down to it, all I care about is the music. If I am working hard on what I love, and proud of what I’m doing, that’s all I can do. And other musicians who are focused on being their best will gravitate to that. The rest is just noise.

WiMN: You’ve had a wide array of performance experiences, including recording sessions, live club dates and jazz festivals, and trade shows/clinics. What do you like about each? Any favorite(s)?

JW: To me, there is nothing better than playing live for a great audience. Whether at a huge festival or a club or hole in the wall show, I love that feeling. The energy is amazing. I really enjoy being in the studio, too. It’s fun to build a song and add what you can to it; that can be a really creative atmosphere.

Clinics and trade shows are fun because they challenge me — it’s half performance and half public speaking and teaching. I love interacting with other musicians and showing them cool stuff they can use. I think I like the combination of each of those experiences. It keeps me on my toes and forces me to think in different ways.

WiMN: As a Roland product specialist, you demonstrate percussion products and teach people how to use them. What do you enjoy most about teaching others?

JW: I especially love teaching young people who are just starting out. Their excitement is contagious and they’re like sponges. They don’t have any preconceived opinions so they are usually open to trying everything and come up with some really creative stuff. I also like showing drummers how to integrate technology into their setups. It can be intimidating to try to enter the electronic world, but it opens up a whole new set of possibilities.

WiMN: What advice would you give to young girls who are looking to possibly pursue a career in music, either as a performer or in some other aspect of the industry?

JW: Stick with it. Music isn’t an easy career choice and can be unstable and discouraging at times. There is no one way to be successful, no clear path to take. But that’s also exciting and freeing. If you want to be a player, focus on the music, work hard, and always stay true to who you are as a musician.

My private instructor told me, “You’re never going to be Steve Gadd, and he’ll never be you.” If you want to be in the industry, know your stuff! Be up on the latest products, music, festivals, etc. Whatever aspect of the industry you’re interested in, know about it. Live it. Breathe it. Become a part of that world.

 

Front and Center: Drummer, Singer-Songwriter & Composer, Nicole Marcus

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Drummer, Singer-Songwriter & Composer, Nicole Marcus

By Lina Bhambhani

marcus_nicole_album1

Nicole Marcus is a Los Angeles-based drummer, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer. She holds a Bachelor’s degree with honors in studio music and jazz drum set performance from University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.

After completing college, Marcus moved to New York City and launched her career as drummer for the original off-Broadway production of Dear Edwina. In addition to playing drums for other artists, Nicole began performing her original music around the city, singing and playing guitar in various venues.

She later moved to Los Angeles where she played drums, guitar, keyboards and percussion on the first season of Glee, and moreThroughout 2013, Nicole travelled around the United States, Canada and Japan playing drums for the international tour of Hair.

Upon returning home from tour, Nicole started recording her self-titled EP, which was produced by Fernando Perdomo and mixed/mastered by Grammy-winner Zach Ziskin. Marcus played all the instruments and sang lead vocal on every track. She is currently performing around Los Angeles in support of the release, as well as drumming with many other artists.

In addition to her drumming and songwriting career, Marcus is a composer and producer, available to score projects for film, television, theatre, commercials and more. She delivers the product complete with lyrics, melody, arrangement and instrumentation. Her recent credits include scoring a scene in the web series Words With Girls and composing an original song for the Hollywood Fringe Festival play, The Load-In.

Check out Nicole Marcus’s interview below to find more, and visit her online at nicolemarcusmusic.com.

WiMN: Where is your hometown?

NM: I was born and raised in a little town called Tamarac, Florida.

WiMN: Can you tell us about your introduction to music?

NM: You know that line from the ABBA song, “she said I began to sing before I could talk?” That was me. My parents always had music playing in the house growing up. The Beatles, Beach Boys, Carly Simon, Judy Collins, CSNY, Bob and Ziggy Marley, Carole King, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen. Always something great coming through the speakers in the Marcus household.

WiMN: Who are some of your biggest influences?

NM: Joni Mitchell is at the top of my list. To me, she exemplifies what it is to be a musician and a writer. Her lyrics, melodies, harmonies, arrangements, performances on the records and on stage are all incredible. Everything I value most in a musician, she does at the highest, most sincere level.

WiMN: What was the first instrument you learned to play, and how did you fall into learning others?

NM: The first instrument I played was piano. In fifth grade, we were allowed to join the school band. Since there isn’t a piano in concert band, I decided to pick a new instrument. I chose drums and fell in love with them. I picked up the guitar in college when I started to get really into songwriting and playing my original music live. And all the other instruments spawn from the songwriter/producer side where I want to play whatever it is I’m hearing in my head. Also, I love the sound of a mandolin!

WiMN: How would you define your style?

NM: The album I have out now is in the alt-country/folk-pop genre.  Anyone who likes Sheryl Crow, Maren Morris, Cam, Michelle Branch would probably dig my music. I love every genre of music and am always writing in different genres and playing drums for others in different genres, so the audiences I’d like to attract are anyone and everyone who enjoys the music!

WiMN: Any last comments?

NM: Thank you so much for choosing me for this interview! You can find me on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music and at the following social links:

nicolemarcusmusic.com

facebook.com/nicolemarcusmusic

instagram.com/nicole_marcus

twitter.com/nmarcus

youtube.com/nicolemarcusmusic

 

 

Sheila E. Pays Homage to Prince with New Custom DW Drum Kit

By Pauline France

Renowned drummer, percussionist and 2014 She Rocks Awards winner Sheila E. played a custom-made DW kit during a tribute honoring Prince at the BET Awards on June 26 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Sheila E with Prince Tribute custom drum kit by DW Drums at Center Staging, Burbank, CA on June 23, 2016 at rehearsals for BET Awards. Photograph by Rob Shanahan

Sheila E with Prince Tribute custom drum kit by DW Drums at Center Staging, Burbank, Calif., on June 23, 2016, during rehearsals for the BET Awards. Photograph by Rob Shanahan.

Sheila E. played a personal tribute to Prince on a gloss white drum set and matching timbales manufacturerd in DW’s Custom Shop. The kit features Prince’s iconic “symbol” decked out with different-colored butterflies and finished with gold hardware. The art for the drums was inspired by Sheila E.’s recent tattoo commemorating Prince, who passed away on April 21st.

Sheila E. performed a variety of Prince classics, including “Erotic City,” “America,” and “Baby I’m a Star.”

Learn more about DW Drums at www.dwdrums.com.

Hit Like A Girl Awards Show To Feature Past and Future Champions on Webcast, LIVE on 4/13

girl-logo-cropped-630-80A star-studded cast of of the world’s top drummers (Kimberly Thompson, Mona Tavakoli, many more) and drum industry executives the world will appear — and the winners of the 5th annual Hit Like A Girl Contest will be announced — during the Hit Like A Girl Contest awards show. The event will be webcast live exclusively on drumchannel.com on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at 4:00 PM Pacific time.

Top Female Drum Stars to Perform 

Along with crowning the 2016 Champions and Runners-Up in the under and over 18 divisions of the international drumming competition, the event will feature performances by Mona Tavakoli (Jason Mraz), Riesha Fayson (2014 HLAG Champ) and Melanie diLorenzo (Billy Gibbons) as well as Kimberly Thompson (right, Beyoncé/Late Night with Seth Meyers) premiering a track from the Kimberly Thompson Quartet’s upcoming CD release. The show is being hosted by drummers Mona Tavakoli and Jordan West and will also include appearances by Sarah Hagan (Zildjian), Louise King (Rhythm Magazine), Lindsay Artkop (2015 HLAG Champion), Kalonica Nicx (2015 Champion) and Val Sepulveda (2013 Champion).

Forty Eight Finalists Winnowed Down To The Champs

The show is the culmination of the 2016 Hit Like A Girl Contest. Hundreds of girls and women from nearly 50 countries participated in this year’s competition. Following six weeks on online entry, 48 finalists were chosen by judges, sponsors and public voting. These finalists’ videos were then reviewed by top professional drummers, including 2016 Hit Like A Girl co-spokespersons Hannah Welton and Anika Nilles along withKimberly Thompson, Emily Dolan-Davies, Emmanuelle Caplette, Jess Bowen, Karin Gandhi, Yissy Garcia, Terri Lyne Carrington, Senri Kawaguchi, Nia Lovelis, Allison Miller, Didi Negron, Venzella Joy, Alicia Warrington, Gina Schock, Mona Tavakoli, Cherisse Osei, Samantha Maloney, Val Sepulveda and special guest judges Steve Smith, Aaron Spears and Chad Smith. (Please visit www.hitlikeagirlcontest.com/contest/judges for additional information.)

The Hit Like A Girl contest was started in 2012 by Phil Hood (DRUM!), David Levine (TRX) and Mindy Abovitz (Tom Tom) with the goal of showcasing female drummers and encouraging more girls and women to play drums. This year, former editor of Rhythm magazine, Louise King, became a fourth member of the production team. The contest is sponsored by an elite group of musical instrument companies, including Evans, Pro-Mark, Zildjian, Mapex, Sabian, Vic Firth, NFUZD, Sonor, Drum Channel, School of Rock, Musicians Institute, TRX Cymbals, Vater, Innovative Percussion, Dark Horse Percussion, and SJC. Media sponsors across three continents include Music Radar, DRUM!, Alfred, Alternative Press, Rhythm, Percussive Arts Society, Enter Music Network, Digital Drummer (Australia), Drum Guru, Hudson Music, Not So Modern Drummer, Drummers Resource, Drummer Café, Performance Drumming, Online Drummer, The Black Page, Digital Drummer, Wikidrummers, Swinghouse Studios, and Sick Drummer Magazine. (Please visit www.hitlikeagirlcontest.com/contest/prizes for additional information.)

Log on to www.drumchannel.com on April 13 at 4 (PT) and don’t miss this exciting event that is a high point of the year for female drummers and the drumming community at large.

facebook.com/hitlikeagirlcontest
hitlikeagirlcontest.com

Front and Center: Singer, Guitarist, and Drummer of Ultrahazard and Melomaniac, Violet Staley

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here

Violetwguitar

Front and Center: Singer, Guitarist, and Drummer of Ultrahazard and Melomaniac, Violet Staley

By Dawn Perreault

There is a bit of a movement happening on the south side of Chicago. A group of younger bands that have rejected their peers love of computerized music are embracing the old school styling’s and methods of playing real instruments; writing songs that echo some of the best of our punk and alternative musical history.

It was said that rock n’ roll will never die, but while those of us who love the genre are waiting for it to either gasp its last breath, or resurrect like Lazarus, the heart of Punk Rock has not grown weak. Like the Tell Tale Heart, it’s under the floorboard letting you know it isn’t dead yet.

One unique twist to this little group of bands in Chicago is that the driving force behind many of them are the women that play in the bands. Nothing replaces the raw and brutal energy of youth than Violet Staley, and “Bruised Violet,” as she calls herself, is letting nothing hold her back. Check out both Facebook pages for Ultrahazard and Melomaniac, as well as the Band Camp pages for Ultrahazard and Melomaniac.

WiMN: Tell me about both Ultrahazard and Melomaniac, and why two bands?

VS: Ultrahazard is a Chicago-based political punk band. We would describe our sound as being ska punk crust-pop fun. We stand for unity and equality. We sing about topics ranging from feminism, solidarity amongst artists, class war, roller derby, and revolution. All four of us come from different musical backgrounds such as Riot Grrrl, jazz, punk, and reggae, but our music sounds like a mix of Star F*cking Hipsters, Bomb! The Music Industry, The Distillers, and We Are the Union.

The lineup of Ultrahazard is Eli, Nick, Saffron and I. I play guitar and sing, Eli plays bass and sings, Saffron plays guitar and sings, and Nick plays drums. The band started in a Girls Rock! Camp, which is a super amazing camp that I recommend every girl between the ages of 8 and 16 go to while they can! You form a band, learn how to play the instrument of your choice, write a song and then perform it at the end of camp show (all in one week). After camp we decided to keep the band going and take it further. The band has been growing up with us and it’s really cool to look back and see that.

The more we expand our taste and knowledge of music the more you can hear that in the music. It’s been one of the greatest things ever in my life – to be in a band with my best friends, grow up with each other, have our music to listen back to, and hear and feel that change.

Melomaniac is a 3-piece horror rock and roll band based in Chicago. We have been a band since December 2015. We formed because our friend Jessica was telling us about how she missed playing music after being done with her time at the School of Rock in Chicago. The thought of being in an all-girl band with two of my best friends was super exciting. So far, we’ve been writing songs about horror movies and true crime bass.The lineup of Melomaniac is Saffron, Jessica and I. I play drums and sing, Saffron plays bass and sings back-up, and Jessica plays guitar.

WiMN: What has been your experience in the music scene as a woman? Do you feel an advantage/disadvantage?

VS:  I’m grateful that my interest in playing music sprung out of attending Girls Rock! Camp, because that really prepared me for the experiences I have encountered in the music scene as a woman. I learned about Riot Grrrl and the history of women in rock and beyond.

Learning about Riot Grrrl and feminism opened so many doors for me. It made me stronger as a person and as a musician. I have experienced discrimination at shows, because of my gender. Guys assume I’m just the “merch girl” instead of one of the actual band members, being asked stupidly ridiculous questions like, “How do you play guitar with your finger nails?” by some guy in one of the bands we were playing with, or watching guys in other bands greet the two guys in my band all excited and bro-like, but then looking past me, as if they can’t talk to me the same because I’m a girl.

I don’t want to say that being a woman in the music scene is an advantage or disadvantage, but I will say that I have been ignored or thought of as lesser of a musician because of my gender.

WiMN: If you could change anything about being a woman in the scene, what would it be?

VS: If I could change anything about being a woman in the music scene I would make it so that it doesn’t matter what your gender is! Whatever you identity with, you have the right to express yourself and make the music that you want.

I wish that I wasn’t ignored or thought of as lesser of a musician because of my gender. I don’t want the main focus of my music to be my gender – I want the main focus of the music that I make to be the passion and love that drives it, and I want the outcome to be filled with unity, equality and fun.

WiMN: Who is your main musical role model and what made you want to be a musician?

VS: It’s really hard to pick one person as my main musical role model. I think my biggest musical influence isn’t a role model, but a movement. Riot Grrrl really changed the way I think about music and the way that I play music. It was really empowering to discover all of these amazing all girl bands, because most of the bands that I listened to when I was younger did not have women in them.

I am a musician because I want to make a difference in the world, and the best way that I know I can reach people is through my music. Through my music I can share ideas, I can express my feelings with more than just words, and I can show the world that girls can do anything.

WiMN: What does 2016 hold for you?

VS: Ultrahazard’s biggest goal is to finish recording our first full-length album. Melomaniac is also working on recording, so we can put out an EP. I think the biggest goal that both bands have is to just really get our music out there and play even more shows. Both bands have yet to tour, but we have been talking about making a tour happen really soon, especially with Ultrahazard because of our new album coming out soon.

Dawn Perreault lives with her husband Mark and their boxer Scooby, in a suburb of Chicago. When she is not busy chasing her grandson around, she loves to write about local bands and musicians and also sings and writes original music.

Former ‘Rhythm Magazine’ Editor Louise King Joins the Hit Like A Girl Team

0104-2016-louise-kingHit Like A Girl Contest co-founders Phil Hood and David Levine are proud to announce that Louise King, the former editor of Rhythm Magazine, has joined the contest management team as a senior director. While Louise’s main responsibilities will be to solicit and manage HLAG judges and ambassadors, she will also be involved in planning and promoting many other aspects of the international drumming contest for women and girls.

Comments Louise, “I’m thrilled to be working on this, the fifth Hit Like A Girl Contest. What Iwant to see— and what I’ve always wanted to see— is more girls playing drums. Not only does the competition provide a fantastic platform for female drummers from around the world to showcase their talents, it’s also incredibly inspiring to see previous contestants such as Anika Nilles, Val Sepulveda, Venzella Joy, Louise Bartle and others enjoying great professional success.”

“Hit Like A Girl has always been considered an international contest so having a person from outside the U.S. in a high level position is an important step for us,” contest co-founder David Levine says. “And when that person is as knowledgeable, respected and connected as Louise is, it increases the reach and the strength of the program even more.”

History Of Innovation
With a background in journalism and graphic design, Louise King joined Rhythm in 1994 and proceeded to work her way up through the ranks; becoming editor of the magazine in 1999. Before leaving the magazine to start a family in 2007, Louise helped make Rhythm one of the most influential and important drum magazines in the world by balancing its coverage of legendary and up-and-coming drummers from the UK and the rest of the world with top-flight educational columns and the first-ever, cover-mounted tutorial CD.

2015-Awards

2015 Awards Show (L to R) Jess Bowen, Kiran Gandhi, Alicia Warrington, Val Sepulveda, Don Lombardi, Chad Smith, David Levine, Cobus Potgieter, Elijah Navarro, Bianca Richardson, Mindy Abovitz, Phil Hood, Bobbye Hall, Phil Jaurigui, Christian Stankee.

About The Contest
Now in its fifth year, since the Hit Like A Girl Contest began there have been more than 1,600 entrants from 45 countries and more than 8,000,000 web impressions. Previous sponsors have included D’Addario, DRUM!, Drum Workshop, Mapex, Yamaha and Zildjian as well as many other leading drum, percussion, hardware, electronics and media companies. For 2016, Hit Like A Girl is expanding its activities with the Power Pack education bundle and live drum festivals in Los Angeles and New York.

The 2016 Hit Like A Girl Contest opens for entries February 1, 2015. For information visit www.hitlikeagirlcontest.com and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Front and Center: Professional Touring Drummer, Cortney DeAugustine

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Drummer, Cortney DeAugustine

Cortney D

By Gabriella Steffenberg

Cortney DeAugustine from Sacramento, Calif., is a kick-ass drummer constantly on the go.

She’s opened for acts like Def Leppard, was the only female drummer in this year’s renowned Led Zeppelin tribute concert, Bonzo Bash, and is currently the drummer for her band, Razor Queen. She’s also a loving mother of three, and one of the biggest John Bonham fans.

Keep an ear out for new music from her band this year, and follow her on Twitter here. You can check out her chops on her YouTube channel.

WiMN: How old were you when you got your first drum set?

CD: I had been begging my mom for drums since I could talk. After years of air drumming to my favorite records, I finally got my first drum set for Christmas when I was 12. I’ve been playing drums for about 25 years now and hoping for at least another 50 years of rockin’.

WiMN: Did anyone in your family play music? Did they support your passion for drumming?

CD: Unfortunately I didn’t grow up with my biological father, but it turns out he was also a drummer from the San Francisco Bay Area in the ’60s and ’70s. He had a band called Of An Ugly Nature, and gigged around the Bay Area. Their biggest gig was opening for Jefferson Airplane in San Francisco.

Although my mother is in no way musical [laughs], she always supported me as a musician along with all of my music interests. Thank God she tolerated me playing drums every single day in the garage for hours on end. As soon as it was too late to play drums, I would go up into my bedroom and practice playing guitar and bass. That is pretty much how I spent my entire adolescence and home life until I moved out of the house.

WiMN: You have three kids. How do you balance your life as a mom and a musician?

CD: Haha!! Great Question. My life is basically a crazy existence full of chaos, kids, love, and rock ‘n’ roll. There isn’t much balance for me personally as a woman at this time in my life with all that is constantly going on around my house, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I truly believe in fate and the future and its looking pretty damn good!! Anything that’s really worth doing in life has never been easy in my experience, which makes it that much sweeter when there is success.

WiMN: You cite John Bonham as your biggest influence. What is it about his style that you like?

CD: John Henry Bonham just has this “thing.” Maybe you could even call it magic when he’s behind his drum kit. Whatever it is, it has always mesmerized me as a drummer and a musician. His meter is so amazing; it’s almost like he’s able to naturally groove just behind the beat which translates into a sort of feel that most drummers usually spend significant amounts of time during their careers trying to mimic or figure out. He’s always able to come up with the perfect drum part and crushing grooves for every Led Zeppelin song, not to mention many signature “Bonzo” licks, beats and fills that continue to influence and inspire not just new drummers starting out in their garages, but especially veteran professional drummers of all genres.

That’s pretty much how “Bonzo Bash” was born. Brian Tichy is an amazing drummer, good friend of mine and fellow Bonzo fan. Brian created Bonzo Bash to celebrate the life, music and drumming of John Henry Bonham of Led Zeppelin. Brian has played with Foreigner, Billy Idol, Whitesnake and many other great musicians and bands. He has been a really great friend over the years and was cool enough to offer me a spot on Bonzo Bash in 2014 and 2015 which has been one of the greatest honors in my drumming career. Considering the lineup which consists of many drummers that have influenced me during my career, it was definitely amazing sharing the stage with those guys! Pretty surreal!

WiMN: You were the only female drummer in this year’s Bonzo Bash at NAMM. What was that experience like?

CD: There are a lot of shredding female drummers out there right now, so to be the only female on the show was really special to me. I was also the first drummer to sing my Zeppelin song while I was playing drums, too, which added a whole new level of nerves to my performance!!

I feel like I’m at home every time I’m behind a drum kit; it has sort of become second nature to me at this point. However, I wouldn’t say I’m quite as comfortable with myself as a vocalist, so I definitely spent a lot more time doing my homework before the performance. When I finally got up on the Bonzo drum kit that night to play, I looked out in front of me and saw a sold out room which was overwhelming but so freaking cool, too.

When I looked behind me, all I could see were legendary drummers and rock stars all waiting to see what I was gonna do. I chose to perform “No Quarter” which is definitely an eclectic choice in Zep tunes, but one of my favorites. Once I heard the song begin, my nerves sort of disappeared and I went into my rock ‘n’ roll trance mode and everything turned out better than I could have imagined. I am very blessed.

WiMN: Have there been any challenges being a female drummer in the music field?

CD: I would have to say yes and no. Ironically enough, the only time I didn’t get a gig because I was a woman was actually an all-female band that turned me down. They said because I had kids they didn’t think I would be able to do out-of-town gigs which was a little shocking to me. I have usually found that being a female drummer playing rock and metal usually takes people by surprise, but then they get into it and are usually really really cool and want to talk with me after shows and stuff. I would say being a female drummer has actually been a good thing for the most part. I would say it helps to set me apart.

WiMN: Are there any other ladies you look up to in the industry?

CD: Absolutely. Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart have been blowing my mind since I was a little girl listening to my mom’s classic rock albums on my record player. There is something very mystical and real about their music that people really love and can relate to, which is why they are still killin’ it four decades later in this crazy music industry. That is what I call success!

I think Sheila E. is a major bad-ass, too. When I saw her doing her drum solo in 6″ heels on Letterman, I was totally floored!! I also really dig Bonnie Raitt, Amy Lee, Lzzy Hale, Grace Slick, Nikki Minaj, Annie Lennox, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Laura Branigan, Lita Ford, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Joan Jett, Lana Del Ray, Madonna, Gwen & Lucy Giles of Dog Party, Sass Jordan, and more.

WiMN: You’ve toured with bands over the years. Can you name a few and share what you’ve learned from those experiences?

CD: My first time on tour was in 1998 when I became the drummer for a band called Moon Dog Mane which featured Frank Hannon of Tesla. We were signed to Eureka/Polygram records and had two top-20 singles on rock radio off our album Turn It Up. Our first run was with Judas Priest, then Cinderella. I really learned a lot on that first tours about what it takes to really be a pro drummer and backup singer.

Life on the road isn’t always glamorous when there are 12 people living on a tour bus together. I learned how to adapt to that kind of living because I love rock ‘n’ roll that much. My front of house sound engineer taught me to be courteous during sound checks, and how to tune and mic my drums for live arena rock. I’m glad I paid attention to those details because they came in handy when we landed a tour with Def Leppard in 1999.

When I was playing my opening set for Def Leppard, I would look to my side and see Rick Allen watching me play most nights which totally blew my mind since I was only used to seeing him on MTV. Moon Dog Mane was an amazing experience that I’m very grateful for! I got to perform on a great record, I was signed and riding in a sweet tour bus and playing arenas with Def Leppard for a living. I was really living the dream at age 22.

Since then, I’ve gotten very involved with songwriting and sound engineering, but have also performed and/or recorded with some really great artists including George Lynch, Hootie & The Blowfish, Tesla, Rick Derringer, Pat Travers, Dickey Betts, Dave Meneketti, Gary Hoey, Vic Johnson (Sammy Hagar), and many more. More recently, I’ve also been touring with Michael Lee Firkins and Montrose.

That was another amazing and life-changing experience, but it ended in so much heartache and tragedy when Ronnie Montrose took his life in March of 2012. That really shocked me to the core. When I found out that he was gone, I was never the same. I was so inspired by Ronnie and the time that I had with him, so I decided to name my new band, Razor Queen in honor of a song that Ronnie performed with Gamma called Razor King. I feel like Rock N Roll has taught me a lot about how to be a super solid drummer in just about any situation and how to record and perform live, but it has also taught me a lot about human nature, relationships, love, hate, legends, tragedy and anything and everything else you could possibly imagine in between!! Once you’ve really lived and tasted rock ‘n’ roll life like the stars you see on MTV, it’s really hard to not always crave playing music at that level, but no matter if I’m playing an arena or an old ass club, it’s still like home every time I sit on my drum kit. Once the music starts, it doesn’t matter where I am anymore. I close my eyes, get into my head and become immersed in the music. At that time I’m not thinking about arenas or clubs, I’m just doing what I do. Playing drums and making music.

WiMN: Who are some artists you’d love to share the stage with?

CD: This is an easy one… Ann and Nancy Wilson for sure. I’d really love to play with Dave Grohl, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Paul McCartney and Snoop Dogg.

WiMN: How active are you on social media? Do you find it’s an effective way to connect to fellow musicians and your fans?

CD: I think social media is a really great way to network and reach out to musicians that you would not necessarily have access to without social media, so I think its great in that regard. YouTube is also a great way to be seen which has helped me get gigs a number of times. Facebook and Twitter are other great places to communicate and keep fans posted about shows, CD’s, and stuff like that, too, so yes, I think the internet is a must when playing music in this day and age.

WiMN: What’s in the books for 2015?

CD: I am planning on playing some festivals in the West Coast over the summer with Michael Lee Firkins which is always super fun. I am really focused on getting Razor Queen established, too. I will be releasing some music soon which will be available on iTunes, Amazon, etc.

I think that the sky is the limit for me in music. It’s been an amazing ride, but I still think the best is yet to come in my life! I saw a quote in a drum magazine that Mike Mangini was on when he got the Dream Theater gig that said, “The long road to overnight success.” That really struck a chord with me; I can’t wait for it to be my turn to use that quote!

I’m looking forward to breaking into the rock industry with Razor Queen and working with more of my favorite artists! My dream is to walk the red carpet at the Grammy Awards and to hear my music on the radio!! I want to take care of my family doing what I love most. Making music. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to do everything on my list in 2015, but trust me, I’ll get it done!

Survey on Impacts of Gender Stereotyping on Female Drummers

Image from Polyvore.com

Image from Polyvore.com

A student from Leeds Beckett University pursuing a degree in Entertainment Managing is researching the effects and pressures of gender stereotyping that female musicians face via a survey.

The study intends to analyze the motivation and attitudes of aspiring female drummers and identify their own opinions and experiences on the subject area.

To voluntarily participate in the survey, click here. All answers must be received by March 13, 2015.

Gemma Hill Becomes Editor of Drummer Magazine

Photo from Music Industry News

Photo from Music Industry News

Exciting news in the realm of percussion! Veteran drummer and percussionist Gemma Hill was appointed editor-in-chief of UK-based Drummer magazine, taking over former editor Nick Carter who is focusing on his career as a musician and educator.

About her new position, Hill told Music Industry News: “I’m really excited about taking on the role of editor at Drummer and joining the team at Blaze Publishing,” she said. “The drum industry is such a special place to be a part of, and I am extremely grateful for all the support I am being offered.”

Hill has been playing drums and percussion for over 20 years and graduated from the Academy of Contemporary Music with a first-class honors degree in contemporary popular music. She has worked her way up to become a high-profile session drummer, playing on television for the X-Factor and having played with Cee Lo Green.

 Watch Hill’s skills in action below:

Public Voting for Hit Like a Girl Drumming Contest Closes Today

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The global drumming contest for female percussionists Hit Like a Girl closes its public voting window on Friday, March 21.

When the Hit Like A Girl Contest was first conceived, the goal was to promote female drummers but also to make it easy for more young girls to play drums. Now in its third year, Hit Like a Girl receives thousands of submissions from female drummers worldwide.

The WiMN hosted a clinic last year with 2013 Hit Like a Girl contest winner Val Sepulveda along with TRX Cymbals, where she discussed how to incorporate Latin rhythms into  percussion.

Learn more at hitlikeagirlcontest.com, and don’t forget to vote!