Full name: Eilis Kiera Frawley
Nickname/pseudonym: fish, mama lish
Born: Adelaide, South Australia
Lives: Seoul, South Korea
Musical instrument? I play the drums, by choice a Pearl Export. I also tinker in a little ukulele and keys.
Bands past and present: Currently playing with Verity & Ava and BaekMa have played in a lot of ensembles from Brazilian to symphony orchestras and anything in-between.
Originally born in Adelaide Australia, Eilis Frawley has been infiltrating the Seoul music scene with her tight and catchy beats. Classically trained, Frawley has managed to drum in two different bands in the Seoul area, both of which give her room for expression and creativity. Tom Tom Magazine had the opportunity to feature this talented drummer and learn more about the Seoul music scene and discuss what her future plans are behind the kit.
How did you get into drumming?
I started drumming when I was 14; soley because my music teacher told me I had good rhythm (to that teacher where ever you are in the world, thank you). He asked if I could play a (really lame) glockenspiel part in the school orchestra, I was ecstatic. I learnt violin from a young age and had begged my mum to let my play trumpet but when drums came along I never looked back. I quickly started playing in ensembles and then went to The Elder Conservatorium of music to studying Classical Percussion. I focused on percussion for the past 8 years and have recently re-found my love from drum kit playing.
How did you become involved in the music scene in Korea?
I moved to Korea for a change in lifestyle, but I didn’t know what to expect musically. A month after I arrived I was at a dress up party and the newest kid on the block (fresh off a plane from Canada) arrived… sans costume because his luggage was lost in transit. When I over heard him mention his guitar was somewhere around the world and hopefully on its way to Korea, I made a proposition any clever newbie wouldn’t turn down. Wanna start a band? Thankfully he said yes. Turns out he’s also quite a talented lad.
Do you think living in a new environment has helped or hindered your drumming career?
It has most definitely helped. I’m not sure if its because I’m living in a place where 80% of what goes on around me I don’t understand or because being in a new place is inspiring but I can see (and hear) a good improvement in my skills since this time last year. Seoul is full of young people and there’s so much going on all the time, the fast pace of Seoul and its youthfulness are definitely inspiring me to practice more, play more shows and think more about my art form.
What’s the greatest aspect of being a drummer in Korea?
Hands down the greatest thing about being a drummer in Korea is gear. Every venue has a drum kit – some quite nice, and all practice studios have great drum gear, there’s also no shortage of studios and they’re reasonably priced. There’s no need for a car, and you can have a few beers like the rest of your band after the show. Secondly I think good drummers are in demand in Korea, the music scene its quite close knit, everyone helps everyone. If you’re a good player and an all right lass there’s no shortage of opportunities here.
You play in two bands, where do you see them going?
They’re probably going to stay right here in Korea! Members from both bands all come from other countries and are calling Korea home now. I love playing with both bands; they both challenge me in completely different ways.
Verity & Ava allows me to play more like a percussionist, there’s a lot of room for expression. We’re currently working as a two-piece so I take it as my responsibility to make up 50% of the sound. BaekMa is helping me work on my technical skills and try different beats I wouldn’t usually use, those girls can play fast!
I hope that for the rest of my time in Korea they both keep going strong and play as much as possible. Verity & Ava hope to put out an EP before the summer, so if that happens it will be a really cool product of our time together. Both bands are constantly evolving and meet 1-2 times a week.
What is it like to be in an all foreigner girl band in Korea?
It definitely has its advantages. The girls in BaekMa are fantastic. It’s still a relatively new project but I like the direction it’s going in. BaekMa means white horse and this is the year of the horse after all!
Sadly there aren’t many females in the music scene here (from what I’ve seen) so I think its great to have a powerful, energetic band representing all the lasses on this peninsular. Being a foreigner isn’t something I think about as a drummer, music is music right?
How would you describe your style?
Its still developing but I tend to build everything around the snare. That’s probably because of my classical training. I like to play funky and danceable beats. But I also try to incorporate mixed time feels and non-conventional pattern groupings. I like nothing more than for an audience to expect a similar beat and at the last minute you change it, the spontaneity and over all effect of keeping it fresh is something I strive for in both bands. (I’m not sure if they like it as much as I do, but it’s here to stay.)
What’s something you’d like to add to your drumming style?
I’d love to be able to play faster (don’t we all) without my forearms burning to pieces, maybe I should join a punk band! I’d also like to add more fills with confidence. I’m also starting to work with loops and would love to bring a electro element to my playing.
What goals do you have for your time in Korea?
Right now all I want to do is play, play, play. I have recently taken an ESL job with less hours so I can focus on practicing daily. The music scene here is very encouraging and supportive so I hope to play live as much as possible and do some more recording studio work. 2014 is shaping up to be a big year!
Would you recommend living abroad as a developing female drummer?
Absolutely. I never envisioned moving to another country to have inspired me musically so much. But pick your country wisely where studios are readily available at a feasible price! Sometimes you have to go into the unknown and experience a new environment to push your boundaries. To all the fellow female drummers out there, if you ever find yourself in Seoul, lets jam.