YA’EL DRUMADDICT: I’d have to see the interview content but, in today’s society, I think we are all living in the middle of a massive data explosion and heaps of backwards thinking. It’s a shame. If people still have to come up to me after gigs and say “I was disappointed at first when I heard it was a girl on drums and then I was surprised and then blown away after seeing you” then maybe they are simply still fighting the average belief protocol. I have been guilty of that myself on a performance level. Society still expects women to dress and sound a certain way in America. But get out of the USA and female drummers and athletes are everywhere and considered equally badass (Brazil, Morocco, Israel, Africa etc.) without any question.
I have had several encounters with companies for ads or for commercials that I absolutely turn down because I’d rather have my dignity than look like some ass clown in the “marketing for other ass clowns” platform. Sorry, that’s how I feel. Maybe I should meditate a bit more on that one.
I think transforming the anger to a spiritual place isn’t always easy. It’s boring to deal with the obvious assumptions and simply rad when nobody even notices and you and them coexist happily living right in the moment. Rocking and kicking ass, whether you are male/female shouldn’t matter. Have you seen the Olympics? This gender thing is insulting to consider as a handicap…Don’t ya reckon? Oscar Pistorius…enough said.
What’s your favourite thing about your documentary The Love Project Journey (trailer featured below)?
YD: I am proud that I worked with two guys that I respect in life and love in music more than I can ever put into words—Nik Chinboukas and Yury Anisonyan, my dream team! Two unbelievably talented beautiful creatures in this lifetime. They can produce sound out of a paper bag and make music out of it. I am equally proud on the film side with the ridiculous talent I was working with, well past the recording of the music bits in the editing… f/x…maya…directing…cutting… reviewing… and the list goes on and on… rendering hours and days and weeks into years with Alain Vasquez and Cory Strassburger. It’s a massive undertaking. The musicians and friendships and the bonds we made in those years will last a lifetime for all of us. I am grateful to have learned so much and to have had something I started to work on in a very unexpected difficult period of my personal life turn out to be something so special.
What was one of the biggest things you learnt about yourself during the project?
YD: I actually taught myself how to digitize film, edit and direct a story/film, living breathing and being this project day in/day out with an incredibly supportive group of mates. Final Cut Pro became my new addiction after the drum set was put down for a while. It is the most time consuming job known to man to sit and edit anything. It takes enormous patience and so much time that you forget that there is a world out there. So, I’m still learning about that balance.
Were you comfortable with cameras around/being filmed for the project?
YD: To be honest most of the time. I was ‘the cameras’ so no worries for me. At DrumChannel when there were seven cameras shooting at once – we were also working with Terry Bozzio. He is known as Zappa’s drummer but he is a legend. I first got turned on to his crazy performances with his work with “Missing Persons”. He could have been more to worry about than any cameras but the entire process was organic and so natural. I was also way floating about at that point on a personal level.
What does love mean to you?
YD: Love is the key to everything. It is compassion…at work. Acceptance of everything as it is and the epitome of “it is what it is”—I love it. Even when I don’t dig what’s happening, if I can find love in it, I can try to understand it.
I’ve read that you’ve started your own company and are working on developing new artists “The Love Project way”; tell us about it.
YD: DrumAddict LLC is my own company that I had to start in order to have a business account here in the States. It was a catch-22 that costs a ton of money for an independent artist trying to make a living and get off the top ramen noodle diet. You can’t sell DVDs without a company name and you can’t have a website with a shopping cart without a company name so, it started because of that. After we released the film, we started receiving the laurels and accolades that gave us some exposure. You need an investor or someone to get your film out there to the masses when you’re indie. You need a publicist. You need cash.
There is so much delusion in the words ‘success’ and ‘rock star’ that it’s hard to explain openly. I’m no rock star, never have been in my book. But from the outside looking in, when you sell out the Grammy Museum or play with ‘big names’ in the biz, you are a rich rock star? Well. Guess what? No. Actually, you are more broke than ever because every time you ‘win’ by receiving that letter that says: Congratulations your film has been chosen out of 500 or 800 submissions for our film festival -as amazing at that is – now go pay and fly 5-10 people out to the festival; get food, hotels etc. on your dollar! Just so you can sit in a theatre somewhere and enjoy the fact that people are actually enjoying your film that you worked on for the past 4-5 years? It’s kind of nuts. But, it was a learning process for me into the film world. I went to Austin’s SXSW. I went to Cannes. I went to Atlantic City and luckily I live in L.A. so you only had to fly Nik and sum peeps out here for those events. Nobody covers you. You gotta do it. You gotta make it happen, until the machine steps in.
That’s only a very small part of the big picture. Hence….when I say it was “a labour of love” it was but, it was and still is a very expensive labour of love. No regrets. It will pay off someday. We are stoked we did it no matter what the final outcome is. It affects people and moves and motivates them so that’s good enough for me.
Who have been some of your biggest musical mentors along the way? How have they helped your playing evolve?
YD: That is a long list. One of my biggest influences and mentor/teachers is, was and always will be, Phillip (Fish) Fisher. I started off with Motown influences (Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, MC5) and John Bonham/Led Zeppelin. The Drumming Community of good players are always influencing me. It’s hard to pick all the names because you always read back and realise you forgot to mention this or that person. I love all the lifers for different reasons. Roy Mayorga even though he’s kind of like my brother and my bestie is incredibly influential. Outside of drummers, I learn constantly from the players I work with; most recently with Sonny Mayo, Klaus Eichstadt, Cordell Crockett and Whit Crane (Ugly Kid Joe). We did some heavy touring over the summer and played some massive stages so locking down the energy with crowds like that and having chemistry within’ the circle, was a wonderful experience for me. You evolve nightly when you are on tour. You learn to watch the musicians’ bodies move and keep focused on the band and find that zone. It can feel like magic. Maybe it is.
What’s something that challenges you in regards to drumming?
YD: It’s challenging to be freelance and yet it’s awesome! I play different kits and electronics depending on the gig. You pray for a good soundman and a good monitor mix, yet you have to know the material backwards and forwards, in order to be at ease up there.
Recording has always been a rad experience and playing with DJs or programmers is a great way to lock down your grooves.
You may be rushed for time to learn material and just like any other relationships in our lives, it’s nice when you are in it for a while together and get to sort it all out warts and all. Whatever kinks there are – if any – need to be discussed out in the open; put your inhibitions and ego at the door and please enter. Always remember to have fun. Life is too short.
Tell us about your affiliation with A Case For The Cure.
YD: I first met Jan (owner of Jan-al Case Company) at the New Film Makers Film Festival. The Love Project doco was invited to show our film in L.A.’s Sunset/Gower theatre. Jan and us, hit it off immediately. He later attended some gigs I did in town and I was invited to the factory where I met Muffie and his family. We all hit it off and eventually discussed making some rad pink drum cases. This lead to the Campaign with Music Connection and they ended up getting a few artists together (Kelly/Foreigner, Bootsy Collins and myself) in January at NAMM Convention to do a signing and a few giveaways to raise money to help find a Cure for breast cancer. This year one of my aunts passed from cancer and unfortunately quite a few relatives and close friends also suffer from this awful illness leaving us all with a helpless feeling.
The good news is Jan and his company along with other companies and artists, are all getting together to raise money for this cause and to raise awareness, utilizing the pink handles and pink cases we get to use on the road that spark and stand out; to say hey we care and we want to do something about this! I am proud to be a small part of helping out and hope that one day a cure will be available and that health care in general improves in the U.S.
Have you ever had a truly life changing experience?
YD: Oooofa… Who hasn’t? Yes. Most of those stories entail losing my loved ones way too early in life. I was not ready for that on two specific occasions that absolutely changed me and changed my entire outlook on the world. Car accidents, strokes and cerebrovascular accidents are not my favourite things in the world.
This woman says it all a lot better than I can so I will quote her if that’s okay: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.
What are the things in your life that you are most thankful for?
YD: Kids blow my mind. My nephews are boss. They always light up the room for me. And now, little Nico (Roy and Cazzies’ baby girl) my warrior princess has finally arrived and is a light that just ignites me from within; my sis, my brother in law, life and my dad’s health and recovery. I am grateful for everyone I’ve met and known up ’til now. I look forward to discovering as much as I can while I still can on this plane. Nothing is forever. Gratitude and blessings are not to be taken for granted or it’s all useless.
Do you create every day?
YD: I try my best but I also try not to create every day. Currently editing Ugly Kid Joe tour stuff for fun and for a music video; messing about with some GoPro cameras and some new adventures. Writing a lot, reading a lot, absorbing information so when I do create, I don’t think.
Of late, whose music has been moving you?
YD: On this last tour in July, we got to open for Faith No More in Romania. I would definitely say I was moved by their performance. [Mike] Patton like [Jack] White is forever evolving and doing such different projects every time, from Peeping Tom to Fantomas to opera with Mondo Cane – very impressive, very out of the box.
I am also super into everything Jack White has put out there in the last few years. The Dead Weather is killer live. Raconteurs are rad and the Blunderbuss is a brilliant undertaking. The Peacocks and the Buzzards (all female/all male) touring bands out there together as a family spreading the goods. That’s pretty moving. I’m digging on my DW brothers, Daru Jones, hoping to see them with Carla next run. It’s all about moving energy and the vibe for me. It’s magic.
What is next for you?
YD: If I knew, I’d tell you! Anything can happen. I’m open.
*Photo credit: 1 – by Rudy Dedoncker / 3 – by Dave Philips