I have heard the words, “you’re a great drummer… for a girl” at almost every gig I have ever played at. Whilst I will delicately accept the compliment, with a dainty hair flick , I still can’t fucking understand why women drummers still struggle to be taken seriously. I’ll admit that I haven’t grown tired of watching our audience members open their mouths in awe during specific songs with impressive-looking drumming; and yet there are still times when I feel feeble and exposed (particularly when all five foot of me attempts to assemble a kit).
Perhaps it is due to the lack of role models that I am simply not as inspired as my musical peers.
I may not be center of attention but I feel there is added pressure to play well and look good whilst doing it. The advantages of being a small non-threatening female in a band? Once upon a time we needed to borrow some cymbals from another drummer. I asked Sam to talk to the drummer, who declined our request immediately; but when I asked him, he kindly – almost eagerly – allowed me to borrow his cymbals “and any other drum if you like.” Being of the opposite sex can have its perks… to a degree.
The music industry tends to be male dominated, which can work in and against my favour. I was particularly scarred one evening after a gig when a much older, tall male approached me at the bar. I had encountered him before and discussed drumming and music with him, but maybe it was because he was drunk that he deemed it acceptable to tell me that he would like to go home with me that night. I could deal with this since it wasn’t too hard to reject such an offer, however my blood turned cold when he correctly told me where I lived. I’m still reluctant to play at the bar where this event occurred.
I found this painting quite emotionally draining to paint. All three males watching me are painted from my memories of a spur-of-the-moment party which I attended after a gig one night. None of my band mates joined me, and the creep who knew where I lived happened to be there too. Naturally I avoided him. I might have left the party completely if I hadn’t been so far from home. I went to the bathroom at some point, when I encountered a stranger who wanted to offer me cocaine and sex – both of which I declined. In the living room, another guy about my age had taken a drug unknown to him. We tried to get him in a taxi home bur he was so out of it that he couldn’t even speak to tell us where he lived. I’ve bumped into him since then and was honestly surprised he was alive and well.
I’ll confess that the party was mildly terrifying and yet fascinating. To quote Fitzgerald, “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”