Tom Tom Magazine: When did you start drumming? How did you start?
Katie Fortenberry: I never formally started drumming or taking lessons. I took piano, guitar and violin lessons from a pretty young age, but was discouraged from playing the drums and always thought they were the coolest. They were such a mystery to me, how did hitting stuff with sticks change a whole song from ho-hum making everyone want to bust a move? But, as with with most other instruments, by high school and college everyone was up for swapping lessons, drummers gave me lessons for guitar lessons, etc. I even got lessons for a while from a regular customer at a drive through coffee shop I worked at in exchange for buying his coffee for him whenever he came in.
Where are you from? When did you come to Jackson?
I’m from Jackson, born and raised.
Where do you practice?
In my house.
In Jackson, is a lot of attention given to the fact that you are a female drummer? Or is it just not a big deal?
There’s something really cool about playing the drums, so if a cute girl is dropping a beat everybody is probably going to be crushing on her a little bit. At least I am. In Jackson, everyone just wants to have a good time, hear some music, throw down. I feel very supported no matter what instrument I’m playing that people just want to have a good time, and no one has a better time sans drums.
How do you find it working with your male counterparts in the band? Have you ever wanted to be in an all-female group? Do you encounter much sexism when you play or when you engage with others about your music?
I’ve never played in a band with other girls… that’s weird now that I realize it. The guys might tell me before a show, “wear something hot,” or “don’t wear that ugly shirt you love,” but that’s it. I’ve always been pretty accepted as one of the guys, maybe too much, even. I do feel like I get some pretty backhanded “compliments” usually from strangers after a show: “I didn’t know girls could play drums like that,” “I never like girl singers but you were good,” stuff like that. And even though it sounds, and is offensive, I feel like I kind of get where they are coming from. I’m proud of girls I don’t know when they hold their own behind a kit, so maybe that makes me a little sexist?
Anything else you want to share with our readers that they might not otherwise know about drummers from Jackson?
I think that drummers, and musicians in general, from Jackson find a fine balance between valuing their art and not taking themselves too seriously. Despite being the capital city, Jackson music scene is based around a little-big town, small community kind of scene that is easy to look at condescendingly, although.
Kiran Gandhi for Tom Tom Magazine