Ten Questions With Terry Gotham: Sabina, Seattle Drummer Extraordinaire

(This week, I’m breaking my rule of focusing on NYC based artists for a good cause. A friend is raising money to fund music programs for at-risk & underprivileged youth in the Seattle-Tacoma, Washington area. She’s a drummer/musician extraordinaire, so I wanted to get the scoop on punk, live music & the scene out in SeaTac. Hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!) Sabina

1. What’s it like being in the minority of lady drummers in Seattle?
It’s both intimidating and exhilarating. Intimidating in the sense that since the vast majority of drummers and rock bands in general are male, I have experienced my share of patronizing comments and extra scrutiny from ensembles I’ve played in that were all male. Throw in the fact that I’m older, and have not been playing drums for very long as compared to the guys who have been playing in bands since their teens, I can say that for someone who is very confident in most other aspects of my life, coming into this scene certainly forced me to develop a thick skin. On the other hand, since there are so few female drummers, I feel like I’m in a very elite club – a unicorn of sorts. I’ll be honest, I also came into this knowing that people find chick drummers to be extremely bad-ass. I suppose that’s due to the fact that drums have tended to be considered a “guy” instrument. There are many female vocalists and guitarists. Drummer chicks, not so much.

2. Were drums your first musical love, or have you hopped instruments over the years?
My musical experience started when I was 5. I started out playing piano, because my mother is an accomplished classical pianist. I learned to sight-read music at a very young age. But I remember, when I was 6 years old, for the first time hearing a song on the radio by Aerosmith, and from that moment, I fell in love with rock and roll. Growing up in a home where rock was considered garbage, it was tough to stick to an instrument. My parents finally let me learn guitar, as long as it was classical guitar. I had the skill to play, but the passion wasn’t there for me because I wasn’t playing the music I wanted to play. Growing up in NYC in the 80’s and 90’s I also spent a lot of time at dance clubs, and my ear and body gravitated towards rhythms. I became really fascinated by percussion and in awe of the musicians who were able to coordinate their 4 limbs to do different things at the same time and create a single groove. Eventually I ended up dropping piano and guitar while I was in graduate school – which is something I have always regretted. The desire to learn drums was always there though. And finally, 4 years ago it dawned on me – I’m all grown up, I have my own house, my own space, my own income and my husband’s old drum kit sitting in storage. I found a Groupon deal for 4 drum lessons at a local shop in Bellevue WA, bought it, and now 4 years later, I’m still with my same teacher, and still taking lessons every week. The drums are where I belong.

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Monday Music: Greyhat, Ghostchant, Mickey Kojak, SBTRKT & Bobina

Freeman KittyThe last Monday in March will be celebrated with Morgan Freeman, a black cat & 5 of the most legit things I heard last week!

Greyhat coming at you from Maine, with some soothing, almost vaporwave chillout. I say almost because there’s an indie punch to the track that’s much appreciated. It’s got a Blockheads classic psychedelic rock feel to it. Never too overpowering, but most certainly guitar-focused and liquid. Speaking of liquid, it pulls into a breaking, almost d&b tempo, before melting back into this lush indietronica that deserves roaring congratulations. It feels like driving through one of those rainbow 80’s videogame .gifs.

Ghostchant is one of my favorite UK artists. His fusion of garage, ambient, downtempo, trap & ethereal beats is second to none, and this kind of remix needs to keep coming. Pulling even more echo & melancholy into The Weeknd, this six minute rework is a giant made of clouds. So much work went into creating the atmosphere that The Weeknd’s vocals soar through, I hope he sees in. Ghostchant is one of the best producers in the game, and totally needs to do some work for huge pop artists. Bieber remix next perhaps?

I mentioned Mickey Kojak a little while ago, and when I said I’d keep my eye on him, I meant it. This one is hard to classify but makes me happy, a track that gives me hope for the future. Forward looking, while almost paying homage to Disclosure, this funky house track hits all the right notes. On point vocals, a surprisingly round & well produced bassline, decidedly non-tropical sounding pad work, and melancholy come together wonderfully. As it fades away, I’m left wondering, just like the last time I wrote about him, what’s coming next from this guy.
 Hadn’t anticipated new SBTRKT, but it’s always welcome. THE-DREAM shows up to provide some euphoric hip hop fusion with potent indie bass. It’s a frenetic, tense build, but that makes the drop/chorus even more gratifying. Well put together, with all of the elements playing their position, as it were. The auto-tune is minimal if used at all, and the almost euphoric break rounds out the 3:48 nicely. Quick fun & unassuming.
 This is dope. While it’s the most festival ready shit I’ve ever posted on this blog, I have my reasons, those being, Trainspotting. Any track that uses samples from Trainspotting doesn’t get turned off immediately. And I’m glad I didn’t. The first build is EDM as fuck, but the 2nd, real build is euphoric trance that we need more of. The samples remain useful throughout, and the music video is well edited. The build puts you in a crazy, serotonin filled place, which I hope to hear more of as the US festival season warms up. Bomp this ish loud, your music junkie friends will thank you. Big ups to Bobina for making this happen.

Bonus! A friend’s tune that he only hinted at existing, one of my tracks of 2015, is finally seeing official release! Yellow@TheLight has been killing it in the whispered quiet spaces of the Lower East Side and Bali, strangely enough. His vibe can’t really be described, so I’ll just let the track speak for itself. Metal drums, deep vibes, and a techno back bone come together to feel like a beach party from the X-Files. Half deep, half almost metallic, it really shows off the breadth & depth of the production competence Yellow@TheLight brings to the table. So hopefully you & I can convince him to do it more often. If you’re feeling this, he’s got a new mix out of similar depth.

Ten Questions With Terry Gotham: The New Tarot

I was lucky enough to speak to some emerging talent by the name of The New Tarot recently. Always a fan of lady-fronted acts, this one took me by surprise. There’s a bit of melancholy, a bit of indie, a bit of alternative and a whole lot of rock here. Take a listen, you might be surprised when you see them on the lineup at Gov Ball 2017. If you can’t wait for that, head to Le Poisson Rouge on March 26th to catch them live. )

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The New Tarot – Interview by Terry Gotham

1. How is Brooklyn treating you? Are the reports of the death of the borough greatly exaggerated?
Brooklyn is awash with the prickly pine cactus leaves of February’s desert – chewed up pine needles, sticking like burrs to the bottom of bored, lavished tongues lashing out

2. Now that you’ve got a supporting cast of musicians, do you ever mix up performing/production duties, or are your roles pretty fixed from tune to tune?
Our roles are pretty snug, but there’s plenty of room to grow. I hope we’re a great production team one day; right now recording the shit we hear in our heads is our music school and every time we walk in the studio or into a gig, we’re there to grow and to learn. Maybe that’s why we haven’t released a full length yet; we’ve been focused on the quizzes, and, yeah it’s about time to take the test.

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Monday Music: Seven Lions, Jazzinuf & Keeno, What So Not, GRMM & MUTO

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In case you hadn’t heard, it’s Monday, so here’s the Music! New hotness from Seven Lions & Keeno, chilled vibes from Jazzinuf, liquid D&B from Keeno and two surprises from down under, so let’s get into it!

Seven Lions is back! He brought it back to his roots, with this trancey, dubby delight for ASOT 755. This remix of Illenium ft. Joni Fatora is exactly what made Seven Lions one of my favorite emerging artists in 2013. Thise
Old school representation with this chilled out funky gem is Jazzinuf. I stumbled on this artist on a sprawling playlist that someone put together years ago. I don’t know who you are Kev Ken Shibayama, but blessing to you for this 443 song playlist.

Coming at you with a full hour of liquid drum & bass delights, Charlie Tee featured Keeno, one of the superstars of Med School Records. Cinematic, Symphonic, liquid gold is what he’s bringing you. No stupid MCs, no dubstep, just perfect fast slow & funky vocal work when there’s even words at all. Glide away on it.

What So Not came out of nowhere on this one. Innerbloom, the well-received single by RUFUS has earned its share of remixes, but I can’t say I expected the Flume compatriot to be anywhere near this. The re-work has a bit of that Aussie Chill Trap feel to it. Spacey instrumentals, stuttering bass, and a dollop of syncopation gives the tune a decidedly off-kilter feel. Great work from What So Not as usual, and can’t wait to see this style of production sink into LA & NYC so peeps like Louis The Child & others can get better bookings/more ticket sales.

Last but not least, a stunner from GRMM & MUTO on Of Leisure. This forward-looking electronica label from Sydney is launching a new compilation called Game Set, Match Vol 1: An Of Leisure, and using this single to promote it. A leisurely stroll it is, but produced correctly, to whet my appetite & peak my interest when it comes to this new label. New tracks coming soon & you can sign up for a free DL here if you’re so moved.

Monday Music: Aether, CHVRN, Ray LaMontagne, neftone & Sekai Selects!

9kieHIzThis week, I’m back to focusing on the relaxed end of the spectrum. These tunes are great for kicking back, driving slowly up the coast, or even just post-gaming with your friends after a dope night out. But enough from me, let’s get into the music!

Aether features Enzalla, who provides a stellar vocal focus that the chill/ambient feels are layered under. Soothing piano & pad work mesh with the exquisite chord rolls that dot the song. Kick back & relax to enjoy this one.

CHVRN took me by total surprise in the mix that I’ve linked below. This is exactly what we need more of. Massive chilltrap that’s ethereal, bombastic and massive. It’s so rare here in NYC, and frankly, I’d be happy as a pig in shit if someone threw a 6hr event and dropped nothing but this. But, it won’t happen without your help. Show CHVRN some love on this and other dope chilled artists, so we can get them booked on this side of the pond.
Subsets never tries to be anything what it is best at being. Smooth ambient, continuing the padwork and soft bass theme I’ve been digging on recently. Great example of the backbone of any legit Sunday morning chill out set, and really hope inducing when it comes to emerging artists on the downtempo side of things.
neftone wasn’t someone I’d heard of before some sonic exploration this week, but I gotta say, there’s some great work here. It’s more on the old school funky hip hop side of things (imo), rather than instrumental chillwave, but if you get angry that I’m misclassifying this, I think you might be missing the point.

Ray LaMontagne came from a very unlikely source this week. I read a blog written by industry insider & critic Bob Lefsetz, and if you don’t, you really need to. Especially if you’re under the age of 25. This guy’s been watching the game for longer than Martin Garrix has been pooping in toilets. He turned me on to this new, Pink Floyd sounding release by LaMontagne. Not something I usually come across, so I absolutely have to signal boost this.

Closing out is a mix that caught my attention and repeated plays over the last couple of weeks. Sekai Selects dropped this dope Future Chill/Trap compilation, and I’m so glad they did. A particular favorite part is 21 min in, great example of what this aural aesthetic can sound like. When you run a music blog you get a lot of embedded music in emails. Sekai Collective is one of the few that never get deleted. Every single tune gets listened to, and they’re usually the bomb dot com. Drift away with this mix, and may your week be smooth.