Not the White Stripes: Shay Hayashi of Phono Pony

Story / Photography : John Carlow

Name: Shay Hayashi
Age: 25
Hometown: Lloydminster, SK
Lives in: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Current Band: Phono Pony
Side Projects: wedding karaoke
Favorite takeout: Budgie’s Burritos

Tom Tom : In your own words, describe your band

Shay Hayashi: Phono Pony is a duo experiment. We aren’t classical. We aren’t pop. (We aren’t The White Stripes). Some call us rock, others punk. Some call us indie (whatever that defines). I call us Michael & Shay.

Tom Tom: When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?

Shay Hayashi: My parents met by playing in a band together. My father was the drummer and my mother, the vocalist. Neither the band nor relationship lasted, but the passion for music did. Later down the road when I (of four daughters) showed interest in drumming, my father was quick to fan the flame. Both my parents and all of my siblings have (tolerated) and supported my choice to pursue drumming since I was a teen.

Tom Tom: Have you ever taken lessons?

Shay Hayashi: I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by some amazing friends in my life, whom are also talented drummers. Whether it be knowledge in gear, technique or performance, I am a sponge around these humans and am constantly learning from them. Thanks to: Hayashi, Watson, Kerrey, Proznick, Ruiz, Couto, Siadat (and anyone else who allowed me to pick their drummer brain).


Tom Tom: Describe your gear

Shay Hayashi: It’s funny; I have actually reverted back to my very first kit. I’ve tried out some pretty impressive setups and found I was always trying to make it sound like my original kit.

My current setup is:
Kit – Rogers R-360 (thanks Deb!)
Skins – Remo Vintage Emperor Coated
Snare – Yamaha Nippon Gakki
Ride – Zildjian 22″ K
Crash – Zildjian Avedis vintage 20″ & Paiste 18″ PST 7
Hats – Zildjian Avedis vintage 14″

Synthesizer – Korg Triton

Theremin – self built by my genius band mate


Tom Tom: What would we find in your musical collection?

Shay Hayashi: Everything…from Cab Calloway to the band I saw up the street a few weeks back.

Tom Tom: What do you like about playing live?

Shay Hayashi: I like the vulnerability that you are giving and receiving from your audience. You feed off them as they feed off you; one can’t be hungrier for the other, otherwise the performance aspect is shit.

Tom Tom: What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom ?

Shay Hayashi: When John introduced Tom Tom to me, I researched it thoroughly before making a decision. In all honesty, I was skeptical to be featured before I had explored the magazine. It’s a strange reality but as a musician in today’s media, you share a look with your music, which you need to protect from exploitation, sadly, a bit more so for female artists. At first glance, I was glad to see that Tom Tom could not be mistaken as the special edition “Vogue” magazine I had initially feared. I read one issue to get an idea of it, and then found I couldn’t stop. The advice from the interviews, in combination with pages of transcribed grooves and hell, even topics on the spirituality of drumming, proved me to be a grateful (subscribed) hypocrite.

Tom Tom: What’s the most unusual/funny thing to ever happen to you at a gig?

Shay Hayashi: The room broke into a cake fight. It was actually a gig hosted at my music studio (The Woods Studio). A few friends in the other bands had birthdays that night. In good spirit we decided to have entry by donation or…cake. We were running out of room to put the cakes by the end of the night. As soon as the first piece got thrown, there was no stopping it. Everyone left covered in birthday flavor and it luckily started to pour rain outside. Months later, I am still finding traces of icing in odd places around the studio. It was the first, only, best and last cake fight The Woods Studio will ever have…and it was one for the books.


Tom Tom: Play any other instruments?

Shay Hayashi: I manage a community music studio in Vancouver, so there are always musical instruments and opportunities around me. I dabble in every instrument I can get my hands on really. I enjoy playing the saw. I began playing the synth and Theremin in Phono Pony.

Tom Tom: Do you have any drummer idols?

Shay Hayashi: “Idol” is such a dirty word. I’ve been inspired by Patrick Keeler’s style of drumming. It sounds like he thinks differently than most drummers. I really respect how he can make a minimal kit sound infinite, and he rocks a traditional grip too.

Tom Tom: What’s in the future for you musically?

Shay Hayashi: In the near future, Phono Pony will be releasing our album. In the not too distant future, we will tour that album. In the far future, I hope to be looking back at that album, thinking it is amateur.

Tom Tom: What would be a dream billing for Phono Pony?

Shay Hayashi: It’s difficult to answer that question without biting off more than I can chew in a statement. One serendipitous billing was our last tour…we stopped through my Dad’s hometown and played on a bill with his current band.

Tom Tom: What was the first song you learned to play on drums?

Shay Hayashi: “Take the Money and Run” by Steve Miller Band

Tom Tom: Advice to young women starting out on drums?

Shay Hayashi: My advice to anyone starting out on drums – don’t pass up an opportunity to play based on insecurities/expectations. Genitalia doesn’t hinder or benefit one’s skill and dedication. You either want it, or you don’t…that’s the only catalyst.

Shay Hayashi and Michael Kenyon of Phono Pony backstage at Legends Valley Music Festival 2016

Story : John Carlow/ Photography : John CarlowFinding Charlotte Photography

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