Interview with Rebecca Redman of SOAR

girl drummer soar watercolor

soar-1I am always on an incessant search for new music, especially music made by womxn identified artists.  My search is usually extensive and very tiresome, because despite what some people think, there are still very few bands that are even 50% womxn identified. But the universe had my back, and one day I unexpectedly and without planning ended up at a tiny house show in central Los Angeles and the music that I searched for found me. SOAR is a 4 piece grrl powered band from Oakland, CA (and San Fran too!) whose latest album Wilt brings  reminiscent sounds from 90’s pop rock  anthems intertwined with walls of vocal harmonies.  After being blown away by the quartet, I  of course had to ask their drummer Rebecca Redman about the band, her influences, touring, technique, and what it means to be a womxn musician in the bay area.

Name: Rebecca Redman

Age: 29

Bands you are in: Soar, Drawing Water / Watercolor Paintings, Coherence

Drum Kit Setup: Gretsch Catalina Club Kit, Zildjian crash with a bite cut out of it and Zildjian Avedis ride.

Sticks: Vater 7A

Drum Hero/Shero : Lisa Schoenberg, Adrienne Davies, and Adrian Tenney

 When did you start drumming and what make you decide you wanted to play drums?

I fell into playing drums near the end of college. I had been playing around with other instruments for a few years and somehow ended up trying to play a beat on a song my old band’s regular drummer wrote a bass part for. Is that confusing? I was terrified, but I had always loved the idea of shredding the drums. When I tried it during practice, it came pretty naturally to me. Maybe because I grew up tap dancing and learned about rhythm at a very young age. I stuck with it because playing drums made band practice so much more fun. Now, I am a much more confident drummer than guitarist, even though I’ve been playing guitar longer.

What’s SOAR’s story? How did you all get together?

Soar has been around for a little over a year. My friend Jenna posted something on the internet about her desire to write cool leads in a new band. I don’t usually pay close attention to the internet, but my other friend volunteered me to be the drummer of this new band. It was the best thing I never knew I wanted. Soar is a croony rock band with four part harmonies and momentary sludge.rebecca-redman-3

How about your other projects?

Drawing Water is the more loud and doomy version of a band I’ve been doing for about ten years, Watercolor Paintings. I play guitar and sing in that band. I also play guitar and sing in a heavier mid-tempo hardcore band called Coherence.

What’s next for you and your bands? 

Soar is working on a new album. We plan to record in January at Atomic Garden and we’re pretty excited about getting everything onto tape. We’ve been writing for a few months now and the songs are coming together in a nice way.

I recently recorded some songs by myself and it felt great. I just used my built-in Mac book mic and hit record in Garage band. I felt like I was nineteen again. When I started writing music, I recorded with a cassette deck and everything was super un-produced. I left in all the mistakes and coughs and chair creaks and it feels okay. It was such a relief to forget about all the recording nonsense I’ve learned over the years and remember that I can just sit in a quiet corner and hit record and document everything I am feeling. Those recordings were recently put onto a split tape with longtime friends, Earth of Foxes, from Seattle.

What’s happening in the Oakland music scene? 

Music in the bay area feels pretty good right now. There are a lot of different communities that mostly don’t intersect, but I somehow am part of a lot of them. I think it’s because I used to live in a much smaller town and I set up a lot of shows for the bands touring through town. I already knew a ton of people when I moved up to the bay and I didn’t really realize that most of them don’t know each other. It’s cool to be in this place where people are trying pretty hard to talk about diversity and accessibility. Most of the places that host shows are also living spaces because of the super expensive cost to rent commercial space, but we’re making it work.

Do you have a favorite drum shop/music store in town? 

There’re really only a few. Subway Guitars is a pretty cool place in North Berkeley. This dude has been there for a long time and he has so many freaky Frankenstein guitars. He’s super fair when buying and selling used gear, but he doesn’t deal with any of the drum stuff. He also doesn’t know how to talk to women. He makes a lot of genitalia jokes to the men I see in there. It doesn’t make me feel too weird because he has also never tried to patronize me or mansplain guitars or whatever. He just doesn’t talk much because maybe he only knows how to tell dick jokes. I go to Starving Musician (also in Berkeley) for sticks and various other things. They also do a good job treating women like regular humans. “Oh, you need a cable to plug that guitar in? Yeah, they’re hanging on that wall; help yourself.”

soar-3

Who would be your dream tour mate? 

It would be cool to tour with Screaming Females. Marissa totally shreds and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t get tired of seeing them play every night. I kind of already experienced a dream tour. A few years ago, I was in a band that toured with Earth. We opened for them and saw them play every night for a whole West Coast thing. It was a dream to see Adrienne Davies shred the drums every night; that was the beginning of my obsession with her. We weren’t in the same van or anything, but we did get to hang out before shows. It was super inspiring to see three mature women in the community totally holding down the backbone of Earth. Would do it again//will keep touring until I’m seventy.

What consumes your life? Any  guilty pleasures? 

I’m a professional artist (or whatever) and I’ve been in a big foam rut in my sculptural work. I’ve also been getting seriously deep into a sequin phase. I’m so deep that I definitely spent at least an hour looking for sequin leggings in the internet this morning. They just look so good on stage. Also my lizard. I watch her and she watches me and we’re creeps together.

 Have you ever faced challenges because you are a female musician? 

I have so many feelings about this. My brother and I played in a band together for a long time. We hung out together and were often recognized as Watercolor Paintings in public places. That was cool, but I couldn’t keep count of the times he would text me to say something like, “omg I’m walking downtown with Luna and someone said hi watercolor paintings,” or “haha, so and so thought Mallory was you.” and it felt like he was saying, “hey sis, you’re interchangeable with any other feminine person with brown hair; isn’t it funny?” It’s not like he was trying to be malicious by telling me, and it’s definitely not his fault. He is super recognizable because he wears funny clothes and has very obvious facial hair. There isn’t anything particularly striking and memorable about my appearance, but it made me feel like I was a ghost or a rat or an invisible elephant. People would also mostly only talk to Josh after we played shows. He did do a good job reminding them that he didn’t write the songs and maybe they should talk to me instead. Everything is weird.

What advice can you give a new aspiring female drummer?

When I’m teaching drums to new, young people at Girls Rock Camp, I like telling them to stop counting. Obviously some campers aren’t ready for this by the end of the short week, but some of them are.  I always want them to try feeling the music and the changes. Also, it’s okay to simplify. Fills aren’t always necessary and you don’t have to hit the drums with all your strength on every stroke.

Do you have a favorite drum shop/music store in town? 

soar-1-editThere’re really only a few. Subway Guitars is a pretty cool place in North Berkeley. This dude has been there for a long time and he has so many freaky Frankenstein guitars. He’s super fair when buying and selling used gear, but he doesn’t deal with any of the drum stuff. He also doesn’t know how to talk to women. He makes a lot of genitalia jokes to the men I see in there. It doesn’t make me feel too weird because he has also never tried to patronize me or mansplain guitars or whatever. He just doesn’t talk much because maybe he only knows how to tell dick jokes. I go to Starving Musician (also in Berkeley) for sticks and various other things. They also do a good job treating women like regular humans. “Oh, you need a cable to plug that guitar in? Yeah, they’re hanging on that wall; help yourself.”

You can find SOAR’s Wilt on bandcamp. Follow Rebecca’s Watercolor Paintings/Drawing Water on all social media platforms!

 

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Mayra Cortez is a Peruvian drummer, songwriter and Ramen enthusiast now residing in Los Angeles. Producer of all things music and video by day, Melter of faces by night.

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