Posts Tagged ‘female drummers’

Laura Conway (NightBus)

At we like to be one step ahead, which is why this month”s Female Drummers feature is on Laura Conway from Island Records” Hackney/LA signing, ”NightBus”. The band have already been tipped for success by being chosen as a ”New Band Of The Day” by The Guardian in April this year and their debut single, ”I Wanna Be You” is out next month.

Tell us your drumming story so far.

Using pots, pans, tabletops and cutlery grew very old, very quickly when I was growing up, so I was lucky to get my first kit when I was 11 years old. I remember seeing Phil Collins drumming on TV and then spent the next year begging for my own drum kit. I have very clear memories of our family day out to Southend-on-Sea to get my 5-piece white “Thunder” kit.

Bands – I guess it’s always pretty much been either dirty rock’n”roll or wicked pop ridden stuff. I’m a sucker for a driving drum beat (e.g. I joined a 3 piece rock ’n’ roll band whilst on holiday in Los Angeles because I fell in love with the two members and their music!)

And so its been quite a journey from Westlife at The Brits, weddings, Bar Mitzvah’s, USA technology TV shows, UK and US festivals, live and studio work with “development deal” pop bands, two near misses with record deals as a member back in LA, rhythm workshops in London and now I”m over the moon to have my first record deal with NightBus.

Who have been the biggest influences on your playing?

I’ve never been set on any particular drummer as an influence. I’d say it’s more the sound of bands/artists like Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, Calexico, Wham, Genesis and Burt Bacharach that has influenced my playing. It’s the overall feel and sound that makes my heart jump with excitement.



Crissy Lee Part Two

In last month’s feature Crissy described her musical upbringing as a Salvation Army drummer from the age of 4, training up for playing in The Ivy Benson Band and her subsequent love for big band music. ‘Female Drummers Part 6’ took us up to the most exciting time of her early career – when her band The Beat Chicks were about to support The Beatles on tour in Spain…

How did you feel when you were told you would be supporting The Beatles?

I went all jelly like ‘cos at the time I thought Paul was the best thing since sliced bread. I thought he was gorgeous! We did four gigs and they had to do the concerts in the Spanish bull rings because there were no other venues big enough for the capacity of people. We flew with them in their private jet and we would be driven in a chauffeur driven car following them in another chauffeur driven car with all the fans screaming at them and us cos we were big out there too.

What happened next?

We did shows with Cilla Black and then we came back to England and nobody knew us! After a while we just pottered about again doing this and that and tours of Germany. A couple of the girls had left and it was coming to the end of its phase. Ivy was desperate to have me back. She was just about to start doing a big tour and lots of TV programmes and she said, ‘Crissy we’re going to need you on this, we’re going to be playing with some big stars’. So I played for 18 months or 2 years with Ivy. When I left Ivy I thought I could form my own band, apart from doing lots of gigs or deps for other people. I’ve mostly set up my own stuff really cos you want to do your own style.



Crissy Lee Part One

I could listen to Crissy Lee talk for hours. She is a pioneer for female drummers in the UK and Europe, recently celebrating 51 years in the music business, and has plenty of anecdotes to show for it. Crissy has been drumming since the age of 4, when she showed a remarkable talent for the instrument. In spite of falling in love with drumming at a time when women drummers were practically unheard of, Crissy’s career has taken her all over the world where she has had number one hits, supported The Beatles, been praised by Buddy Rich, and more recently been one of Frank Skinner’s ‘Skinerettes’ on his chat show, amongst many other highlights. Her story is so unusual that there is even a possible biography on the cards.

It all began in 1940’s Colchester when her factory working father brought home a pair of drum sticks…

What inspired you to play the drums?

It sort of just happened. My father brought home these drum sticks and started doing a little tapping on the side of the chair, much to my mother’s dislike, because they had wooden arms in those days. It was something called ‘The parade of the toy soldier’. And I, a very excitable little girl, wanted a go and picked up the sticks but instead of doing straight single sticking I just put a couple of ruffs in there. He called my mum from the kitchen and it was sheer amazement because I was always tiny, it looked like a two and a half year old doing this. It took me over and from that moment I couldn’t put those sticks down.

You came from a very musical family

My dad’s family were brass players because they came from a Salvation Army background and so as a child I was a little Salvationist. I loved the music; it was jolly. My mum’s side are all pianists and violinists. So at four and a half I was playing the side drum, as they called it then, in a Salvation Army junior band in Colchester. There’s a lovely picture of me at about eight years old standing next to my drum with my little Salvation Army beret on. I was absolutely enthralled because it was quite a big band with trombones, trumpets, horns and things. I loved it and I just naturally did all the rhythms, the 2/4, the 6/8 and the marches because I was brought up with all that. It was a wonderful start for a technique for a drummer because all I had was a snare so you have to work it all. I wasn’t shown or told or had lessons, I just made my own way but that’s never let me down.



Female Drummers Part 5 – Women in the industry

How would you like to help Mark Richardson prepare for his next tour? Assist top drummers in picking cymbals for their next album? Help out on clinic tours, tech for Terry Bozzio or prepare the rider for Aaron Spears? I spoke to three women who work hard behind the scenes in the drum industry and do all of these things as part of their everyday life – Tina Clarke from Zildjian, Felicity Gregory from Yamaha and Juels Thomas from DW.

Tell us about your job and what it typically involves

Tina - I am the International Artist Relations Manager for Zildjian. I am responsible for the Artist Roster in our international territories, which encompasses Europe/Asia-Pacific/Russia and Africa. I target and sign new Artists, provide product support to our current Artists, wherever they may be in the world, and see that we present our Artists in the appropriate manner, whether that be in advertising or by providing information for our website and Z Time magazine.
I attend Music and Trade shows and also assist on various Clinic Tours. In the UK, I have more of a direct hands-on approach with the Artists as I personally select and dispatch all Artist cymbals and work with the drummers in our dedicated Cymbal Selection Drum Room. That can be very gratifying, helping choose cymbals for their next album or tour.
It’s a lot of hard work, but when you love music and the Artists you are working with it’s a lot of fun too. Going to their gigs is the rewarding part. There is always plenty of office admin to be done, or a shipment to unpack, so it’s definitely not as glamorous as you might think!
Felicity –I’m the Artists Relations and Promotions Manager for Yamaha, the pro music division which is drums, guitars, music production, stage synths, all that sort of thing. The artist relation side is obviously looking after the musicians that endorse Yamaha products. The promotion is event organising. We do exhibitions, trade and consumer shows, supporting our dealers with point of sale. We also do the Yamaha Download, which is a monthly pod cast and the main content for that is artists, so I look after that with an external agency. We also do an E Newsletter for the whole company so I bring all the stories together and send it out to a huge database on a monthly basis.

Juels – My title is Education and Events Manager. Basically, I’m in charge of our clinic program and the trade shows, concerts, and artist days we produce, as well as handling our participation in festivals and events all over the world. With regards to the clinic side, that includes booking and road managing our tours, negotiating pricing, liaising with the host, making sure the clinician has everything he/she needs, coordinating the rider, teching, approving contributions for all other clinics that aren’t part of a tour, and reviewing applications for new clinicians. Managing trade shows and events involves everything from the carpet to the lights, including finding venues, designing the layout, sourcing vendors for custom displays, coordinating product, staffing, directing on-site set-up/tear-down, stage managing, etc. And, of course, the budgeting for all of the above.



History of female drummers

I’m Gemma Hill and I’m a female drummer on a mission to party with you. Get your streamers and party hats ready because we are going to celebrate the increasing role that female drummers are playing in contemporary music with six months of interviews and articles on major players and topics.

Since studying for the degree on drums at ACM, I’ve toured extensively with all girl band ‘Robots In Disguise’ (for more see This, as well as teaching, has given me a massive insight into the world of female musicians and I thought it was about time someone wrote about them.