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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