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      music Frankie Dunn 10 March 2017

      the undocumented history of female drummers

      Tom Tom is the magazine pushing female drummers to make more noise. This is their guide to the women throughout history who have inspired others to get behind the kit.

      Mindy Abovitz started Tom Tom back in 2009 to give female drummers the recognition they deserve. Initially a blog, she aimed to improve the online representation of non-male percussionists, which at the time seemed to consist mostly of hyper sexualised images of women and drum kits. Described by collaborators as the leader of the revolution, she has created a space for female drummers from all over the world to be seen, celebrated and motivated.

      The likes of Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint, Beyoncé's drummer Kim Thompson, and Palmolive from The Slits have all been featured in Tom Tom, which also organises regular panel talks and events such as The Oral History of Female Drummers which took over MoMa's PS1 back in 2012 with drumming performances. 

      Their latest edition, The Roots Issue, focusses on drummers discussing where they started out and how they've grown since, as well as a drummer's guide to various awesome cities. Prior to that, former drummer of The Prettiots Rachel Trachtenburg starred on the cover of The Money Issue, which was full of really useful tips such as how to get a great kit for cheap, how to do taxes as a musician, and how to ask for a raise. So wise! In need of more wisdom, we turned to Mindy and her team for answers. 

      Hello Mindy! Tell us, where are all the female drummers?
      They are everywhere. They are your neighbour, your mom, your girlfriend and your best friend's little sister.

      What's the most important thing you've learnt through making Tom Tom?
      That starting your own company and growing it is a MASSIVE challenge with a MASSIVE reward at the end if you can endure.

      If you could give one piece of advice to all female/non gender conforming drummers, what would it be?
      Don't give a shit what other people think or say about anything you do. Play your music exactly how you want and with confidence from day one.

      How can we go about helping to transition novelty to normal?
      Representation, permission and intentionality.

      Which features or interviews are you most proud of having secured for Tom Tom?
      All of them! Truly. I have loved our interview with Bobbye Hall, ESG's Valerie Scroggins, Gina Shock, when Jack White interviewed Carla Azar, our resident 11-year-old writer bo-Pah interviewing other girl drummers, etc. It is all so much fun.

      Which other zines are you a fan of?
      I am a fan of the ladies who run Women in Sound, Got a Girl Crush, MATH magazine, She Shreds Mag, Crybaby Zine and so many more.

      Please, lovely ladies behind Tom Tom... teach us about the undocumented history of female drummers.
      While the history of female drummers hasn't been documented as thoroughly as the history of male drummers, with some dedicated researching, one can find quite a bit of information on female drummers throughout history. Check out this top 10 list (in no particular order) of some notable drummers who have inspired other women to get behind the kit!

      1. Ann "Honey" Lantree of The Honeycombs
      Years active: 1963-1967
      Genre: Pop
      Location: North London, England
      Top Tune: Have I the Right 

      2. Maureen "Mo" Tucker of the Velvet Underground
      Years active: 1964-1973, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1996
      Genre: RockLocation: New York, New York
      Top Tune: Sweet Jane

      3. Karen Carpenter of The Carpenters
      Years active: 1969-1983
      Genre: Pop/Soft rock
      Location: Los Angeles, California
      Top Tune: We've Only Just Begun

      4. Sandy West of The Runaways
      Years active: 1975-1979
      Genre: Punk Rock
      Location: Los Angeles, California
      Top Tune: Cherry Bomb

      5. Atsuko Yamano of Shonen Knife
      Years active: 1981-present
      Genre: Pop/Post Punk/Alternative/Indie
      Location: Osaka, Japan
      Top Tune: Pop Tune

      6. Debbi Peterson of The Bangles
      Years active: 1981-89, 1999-present
      Genre: Pop/Rock
      Location: Los Angeles, California
      Top Tune: Hazy Shade of Winter

      7. Sheila E 
      Years active: 1976-present
      Genre: R&B/Pop/Soul/Rock/Funk/Latin Pop
      Location: Oakland, California
      Top Tune: The Glamorous Life

      8. Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney
      Years active: 1994-2006, 2014-present
      Genre: Punk/Indie/Riot Grrrl
      Location: Olympia, Washington
      Top Tune: Jumpers

      9. Meg White of The White Stripes
      Years active: 1997-2011
      Genre: Blues/Rock/Post Punk Revival
      Location: Detroit, Michigan
      Top Tune: Seven Nation Army

      10. Cindy Blackman
      Years active: 1982-present
      Genre: Jazz Fusion, Rock
      Location: Yellow Springs, Ohio
      Top Tune: Are You Gonna Go My Way


      Text Frankie Dunn
      Undocumented history of female drummers Lindsey Anderson

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      Topics:music, tom tom magazine, female drummers, mindy abovitz, zines, music interviews

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