Thrash metal drummer, Yasmin Claire Kazi, the self-dubbed ‘Drummeress,” is now London-based, by way of L.A. and Bangalore, India. She’s a session player, who teaches drumset and Indian vocal percussion, konakol, with a degree in drumset performance from The Musician’s Institute, LA and a Master’s degree in Genetics. Her energetic and precise double bass playing accompanied by slamming metal performances with her ex-bands, Myndsnare and Stranglehold, won her fans worldwide. On top of that, she is also an accomplished singer, arranger, composer, and music director. Tom Tom Magazine was able to track her down, just as she was relocating back to the U.K. from L.A.
Hometown: Manchester, UK + Bangalore, India
Currently Lives In: Hollywood, soon-to-be London
Current Band: Serotura
Past Projects: Angel Dust, MyndSnare, Clockwork Orange, StrangleHold, Blue In Green, and others
Gear: I have two 7-piece kits in two different countries right now. One, my baby, is a Premier Cabria, and the other is a PDP X7 Series. I use a wide variety of cymbals but always use Vic Firth Sticks, only Vic Firth. I use the 8Ds and 8DNs for regular styles and metal, Danny Carey signature series, for really hard hitting/prog metal/not-so-fast metal, and 7A wood tips for jazz/fast Latin jazz. Pedal-wise, I use the Tama Iron Cobra double pedal with the rubber beaters. I’m about to buy a third kit back in England, where I haven’t lived since I was a kid.
Tom Tom Magazine: Your bio says that you are self-taught. How did you go about teaching yourself?
Yasmin Claire Kazi: I started in 2000. I felt like I was unable to fully express myself through singing alone, so I tried out a few instruments. It was love at first beat on the drums! I learned some basics from my then-drummer. From there I just kept working out songs by my favourite drummers at the time. The more I worked out, the more I learned. When I started composing my own drum beats later that year, I seemed to always create stuff that was beyond my skill set. This made me practice even harder to be able to play the beats I imagined. I looked up online technique lessons, bought some books on both the basics of reading music and technique/coordination enhancement, and tried my best to work through the books!
Do you use two kick drums or the double pedal?
Double pedal. From all the live gigs I have seen, I feel like with two bass drums it’s very hard, if not impossible, to make them sound modern and tight. Often there’s a “bunching up” of notes between the two drums. Even a slight difference in the pitch of the skins can amplify any looseness and make it sound awful. I’mma stick with my Cobras, thank you!
Could you talk a bit more about how injuring your right foot helped to develop your left?
Yeah, this was way back in 2000, I think. I had just started drumming (you know, I could keep a 4/4 going and I thought I was the shit!) and my musician friends approached me to do this one-off gig just for fun. Just before we started rehearsing though, I got into a tiny, stupid motorbike accident. Basically, I cut my toes on a license plate sticking out while cruising past at 5mph on my way to buy cigarettes from the corner shop early one morning… sigh. I almost broke some bones in my right foot – this meant cast, and that meant, no pedal with the right foot. So, I did what any future metal drummer would do! I clamped shut the hats & played the bass drum with my left foot instead! That really was fun! That only lasted 6 weeks of course, but it helped develop exclusive independence.
What was the most notable show you ever played?
That has to be this gig MyndSnare played in Mumbai (Bombay). There were about 5,000 people in the crowd. We got on stage, started playing, and then a few bars into the intro of the first song, I looked up and the crowd was parted in a wall of death!! I almost dropped my sticks, I was so shocked! I made it a point to not look at the crowd after that and just play my ass off!
Do you have any recommendations for a practice routine?
I always start with hand technique, followed by simple stretches or involved yoga-based stretches if I’m about to play physically challenging music. I feel like not enough can be said about good hand technique, although I don’t solely believe playing = technique, like some people. Next, I move on to beats, fills, and songs that I may be working on. If it’s a pre-gig practice, I’ll run through each song twice, once with the song, once without. If it’s a more structured genre, sometimes I just use a click. At this point, I “know” the songs and am just checking my memory and command/knowledge of the grooves. This is where I try out all my funny ideas. And finally, a whole set through like I would live.
What advice might you give other women drummers playing metal?
Never give up. It IS hard, it is NOT going to be easy, and if that deters you, good. If it doesn’t, GOOD! ‘Cause to quote one of my Masters , “the life of a drummer is a glorious life!”
By Caryn Havlik for Tom Tom Magazine