Bio: Fernanda Terra

Photos by Marcelo Rossi (1, 8), Paulo Villar (2, 3 and 4), and Tiago Farina (5).

My name is Fernanda Terra and i’m a drummer since 1992, and in August I’ll complete 19 years as a musician.

It all began when I moved to Brasilia (Brazil’s capital): my brother’s band lacked a drummer, and we had a neighbor who happened to be a teacher. That’s when I decided to play. Early on, when my brother wanted to play the drums, our mother didn’t let him, because it is a noisy instrument. And since she didn’t know about the rimshot (the technique to play it loud), she let me have lessons. At that time it wasn’t a common thing for a woman to be a musician, or even a drummer. The band L7 had just become famous in Brazil and my teacher told me not to inspire on Dee Placas (L7’s drummer), because she didn’t play the snare along with the cymbals, but there was a Brazilian drummer that he loved, and I should look up to her: Vera Figueiredo. Until then, they were my only references as female drummers. Although Dee Placas had an unusual style, she was still a reference just for being a woman and a drummer. The girls from the neighborhood kept saying that I was just teasing, that I only wanted to play the drums to stay close to the teacher, who was a handsome guy (in fact, I had a crush on his brother, who was always at my place for being friends with my brother). I thought this kind of behavior, coming from women, was unbelievable. But I didn’t argue, because I knew that it was just a matter of time for them to swallow their tongues.

In Brasilia, I’ve had two bands: one with my brother and one with my former sister in law, who was the only girl I knew that played an instrument. Our dream was to have a band with other girls, but both bands never left the garage.

In 1994 I came back to São Paulo and went on to study drums with Duda Neves, while also having classes with Vera Figueiredo. Duda was another one that my former teacher kept talking about, and his school was closer to my home. One day I was going to the school with the drumsticks on my hands and some girls invited me to play. I was thrilled, but didn’t go well because we had different ideas. Right after that I started a band with some boys from my school, but that went nowhere. Then I formed another band and we even recorded a demo with our songs. Later on, I formed Food4Life, but I was forced to stop playing for some time, because I hurt my tympanum and had a complicated surgery, I didn’t even know if I would be able to play again.

But that was really the beginning of everything for me: after two months of recovering from the surgery, I started to perform a lot and also met the girls from Baby Scream, which was my first band exclusively with women. I played throughout Brazil and started to get noticed. During that period, I met the girls from the band Dominatrix and formed another women-only band with the guitarist, called No Fashion. But it only lasted for a gig, because we all had several other bands. At that time, I was playing in three different ones.

Since I joined the university and Food4Life was doing fine, as we were about to record our first album, I decided to focus on one band. And we played a lot, in many cities in Brazil. But I had personal issues with one of the members, who kicked me out of the band in 2002. After that I was asked to tour the US with Dominatrix and started another band, Hellas.

I’ve also played with Touching Lips, Gutter Cats, Final Fight, Lyrex and now also with Nervosa, a thrash metal band with only women.

Last year I started to give drum lessons at Bateras Beat and perform workshops. I also take part on a monthly drummers meetings in Sao Paulo. I’m an endorsee for RMV Drums, Alba drumsticks (last year they released my signature model during the Expomusic fair in Sao Paulo), Batera Store, Hellocases and now I’m the new endorsee for Paiste cymbals. I’m using the Alpha Brilliant series products, that were released during NAMM Winter Show in the beginning of 2011. They are very durable, perfect for my style. With their shiny finish, the crashes are really strong, hi-hats are very accurate, rides have a beautiful design with a warm, full sound, and I’m delighted with my 16″ china!

Every day that passes by, every show I play, every achievement, gives me more strength and will to carry on studying and playing drums.

All text by Fernanda Terra

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