Name: Juli Steemson
Hometown: Maple Ridge, Vancouver but live in Victoria ( British Columbia, Canada )
Nickname(s): Rad Juli
Current band: Tremblers of Sevens
Tom Tom : In your own words; write a brief description of your band:
Juli : Electric guitar & drum duo, reinventing early blues and traditional klezmer with huge drums and heavy guitar tone to create heavy surf doom blues. We’re both influenced by all kinds of music, from all over the world, and we bring those rhythms and tones into our arrangements.
When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?
I had a crush on the drummer in the jazz band at middle school…he made it look so easy, I figured I could get him to teach me. I quickly lost interest in him as I got more into learning beats.
Have you ever taken lessons?
For the first 2 years I played, I studied with this great drummer who could play everything. He was in a pipe band, a Latin band and some rock bands. It was super awesome to learn from someone so versatile.
What was the first song you learned to play on drums?
While learning , I only ever played in original bands, so I think the first song I arranged the groove for was called “Mr. Tortoise” by the Liminals
Describe your gear
I have a very lovely 1973 mahogany Ludwig kit, 20” kick, 13” rack & 16” floor…if you know how to to tune them , they sound huge! I have a Yamaha Custom snare 14” x 6”, 13” Avedis Zildjian hats (tight!), a big heavy 20” HH ride, and somehow I scored an 18” K dark crash.
Can you write music/ lyrics ?
Not including such musical activities as arranging grooves, developing dynamics and creating the punctuation within a song, I have written lyrics. My favourite was a song for Black Rice about a werewolf.
Do you play other instruments or sing ?
We’re adding a tune to the new set that I sing, but generally I sing in the car, and occasionally play a musical saw rather unmusically through a pedal rig & amp.
What is in your own musical collection?
The first 10 lp’s on the stack are AC/DC -Jailbreak ‘74, Joey Wright- Country Music, a Pelican 10’ single called Pink Mammoth, The Meters- Look-Ka Py Py, Dr. John- Locked Down, a collection of Turkish Village Music, a Nonesuch Explorer series on West Indian Parade Music, Dead Quiet- Grand Rites, ZZ Top- Rio Grande Mud, and the Clash- Combat Rock. I’m listening to Alice Coltrane as I write this…
What is on the walls in your room ?
I collect vintage landscape photographs, so a few of those; artwork from friends, such as a print above my bed that says “BE FIERCE”. The door is covered in Tremblers gig posters.
Do you have musical idols? Bill Ward from Black Sabbath, Danny Carey from Tool, Jason Dana from Dead Quiet…and I wouldn’t really call them idols, I just really love how they play. I rarely pay attention to what musicians get up to when they’re not playing music. It’s important to not expect anything extra from a person just because they’re considered famous. I do look up to Carolyn Mark though, who is the most self directed musician I have ever met. She’s constantly on tour, writes everyday, and maintains the most amazing network of awesome musicians across the country and internationally. She can still find time to come over for dinner with me.
Who are the bands that inspire your band’s sound?
We listen to everything. Right now we’re stoked on Mississippi Fred McDowell, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Lil Green, Jason Molina, and Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4
Where do you practice / how often ?
I practice at practice. I don’t have a great set up at my place for just jamming, but I THINK about playing all of the time.
What have you taken away from playing live?
All of the beer back stage.*laugh* but the best is when you have one of those magic shows when the audience is right there with you every step of the way and you get that magic floating feeling of a shared experience.
What does pre show preparation involve?
We like to test out the local craft breweries and write a really killer set list
Are you exhausted after a show?
Depends what time we had to get up to drive
What’s the most unusual/funny thing to ever happen to you at a gig?
Touring with Carolyn Mark, we played a Hallowe’en show in Olympia WA and we all dressed up as Muppets. I was Animal, for obvious reasons. There are a lot of cover bands in Olympia and several people asked us if this was our regular thing, dressing up like Muppets.
Do you have an aggressive style in your drumming ? (do you hit hard ? )
Let’s just say that soundmen in Victoria know not to mic my snare.
What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom?
Having access to a forum with a community of drummers and percussionists around the globe. Growing up, the only way I got to meet up with other drummers was at gigs. It feels great to know I’m not the only one!
Tell us about the first show you played in front of an audience as a drummer?
1994, Starfish Room. The Liminals, my first band, were opening for Sugar Candy Mountain. I played my very first show at a bar, 2 days before my 15th birthday. It was exhilarating and I was SO nervous. The soundman was amazing and super patient, and explained how the monitors work (you can ask to hear more of the guitar if you want!) My cousin (also underage) snuck in the back door with all of our friends from Port Moody High. hilarious.
What are your goals as a musician ?
To inspire others to play, and to be respected by my peers regardless of my gender.
What’s in the future for you musically?
Tremblers are booking summer shows, and putting the finishing touches on our first studio recording. We currently have a bunch of sweet live recordings up on Bandcamp (tremblerofsevens.bandcamp.com) that you can download. We give 100% of the proceeds to Doctors Without Borders.
What has been the biggest change in your life since lifting up the sticks?
Playing music has allowed me a way to communicate that is so much easier than verbal conversation. It IS a language; one that allows us to reach across language, gender, colour and international boundaries, etc. to communicate & learn from each other and just really get down, you know? Everyone understands a funky groove or a sweet riff. No words required.
What should people know about you?
I am in love with rock and roll. Everything else is secondary.
Do you have advice for young women starting out in music?
Listen to all the music. Don’t pigeonhole yourself in genre. You can learn from everything. Definitely don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t because you’re a girl. That’s the dumbest fucking thing ever.
How would you describe the local scene for bands like yours?
A person has to go to shows to meet musicians. This is ok. If you go to their show, chances are they will come to your show.
What are your interests away from drumming?
Are there things other than drumming? 😉
At the end of the day; when all is said and done …you play the drums because …..?
I would explode if I didn’t
Any last thoughts ?
1, 2, 3, 4!
Story/Photography – John Carlow. Finding Charlotte Photography
Story /Photographs : John Carlow/Finding Charlotte Photography