By Jasmine Bourgeois
Fun and light on the surface, T-Rextasy makes music that’s rooted in complex harmonies and catchy lyrics. Their music has a punky ethos, but there’s something a little more magical to it. With lyrics like, “you said I’m like a little nugget/soft and sweet and full of lovin’/but you are dead wrong/if I were meat/I’d be filet mignon,” it seems like they produce the type of music that doesn’t take itself seriously, but they’re anything but silly. Their songs are comical, sure, but ultimately political and truly, undeniably good. The riffs are creative and genuinely intricate, the vocals charmingly eccentric, and the coordination between the four is highly tangible. Ébun’s drumming is what keeps the band rooted and keeps those of us listening grounded in each track. She’s the kind of drummer that you can’t stop grinning at when watching — she has a cool and effortless style, but still beams with energy. Tom Tom talked with Ébun about drumming in T-Rextasy, “girl bands,” and plans for the upcoming year.
What’s your full name, how old are you, where are you from, and what pronouns do you use?
My name is Ébun Zoule Nazon-Power and I am 22 years old. I am originally from New York City and I use she/her/hers for pronouns.
How did you get into drumming/playing music? How long have you been drumming?
My journey as a drummer began when I was about 12 years old and I attended Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls in Brooklyn, NY. I had already experienced playing guitar and piano and yet, neither of those instruments felt right to me and I hated practicing those instruments. So when I had the chance to choose which instrument I wanted to play I was immediately drawn to the drums. In fact, my very first drum instructor at Willie Mae Rock Camp was Mindy Abovitz! She was awesome, super helpful and supportive. I have been in multiple bands ever since that first summer at Willie Mae. I guess I have been drumming for about 10 years!
Are you in any projects outside of T-Rextasy?
T-Rextasy is my main gig at the moment but I have been in other bands in the past. For instance, last year I was the drummer/lead singer of a band called Bitch Spit. I think we have a couple videos on youtube actually. We have a sick cover of “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child. I do hope to play more music outside of T-Rextasy in the near future. I also plan on embarking on a DJ apprenticeship; I have a feeling I would be very good at it.
“I generally receive positive feedback from people. Folks are always super excited to come across female drummers. It is still really rare to come across not cis dude drummers, and it’s even rarer to find POC not cis dude drummers. Someone once told me that I was a unicorn because 1) it’s really rare to witness drummers who can sing at the same time and 2) I’m a black femme percussionist.”
You all have some pretty fun and unconventional sounds — What’s it like writing drum parts for you? In general, is writing songs a pretty collaborative project?
Yeah, our sound is very unconventional. We like to call ourselves a “New Wave” band because we don’t really fit in with a lot of the sounds in the New York DIY music scene. Writing drum parts is generally easy for this band but I think that is because we all work so well together. We are really good at communicating what we want and what our visions are without stepping over each other or putting each other down.
We are super collaborative when it comes to song writing. We each have our own gifts to share; Annie is an amazing song writer and bassist, Vera is a music technicality wizard, Lyris is an incredible lyricist and zany performer, and I help bring forth harmonies and some melodies for songs while also playing drums. Working together with these women is a pleasure. We create magic.
What’s going through your head when you’re playing/performing?
Good question! Usually when I play I feel like I go into a slight trance where my body is present but my mind isn’t quite 100% there. It is a visceral and spiritual experience for me. Drumming has always been a spiritual experience for me because I grew up around Afro-indigenous and Lakota ritualistic drumming practices and traditions. But when my mind is present when I perform, it is usually to focus on Lyris (the lead singer) or the shenanigans of my other band mates.
What’s the coolest thing that has happened to you on tour or at a gig?
This may not be the “coolest” thing but it is pretty funny. So at the very beginning of tour last summer we played a show in D.C. and the next day we went to a restaurant to get some food. As soon as each of us entered the restaurant, a woman who was working there noticed that none of us were wearing bras and she publicly commented which alerted the rest of the patrons of the restaurant and we all just ended up laughing. That day, our mode of transportation was declared the “Boobie-mobile” by one of the people who worked there.
A lot of your songs seem like they play with femininity and the way its performed. I’m curious about your thoughts on the idea of “girl bands,” and how you feel you’re perceived, specifically, as a not-cis-dude drummer?
I have mixed feelings for the term “girl bands.” I think that it is a term that potentially minimizes the musical complexities of bands that don’t have cis men in them. However I also see the power in claiming the term “girl band,” but at the end of the day why can’t we just be a “band?”
Being in an all female band, that term along with “Riot Grrrl” gets thrown around a lot from fans and people who barely know us. We hate being called “Riot Grrrl” because our songs are not related to that genre of music. But because people see us as a bunch of girls on stage with guitars and drums, we automatically get placed in that category. We adore “Riot Grrrl” and all that it offered but it was also a super problematic movement.
I generally receive positive feedback from people. Folks are always super excited to come across female drummers. It is still really rare to come across not cis dude drummers, and it’s even rarer to find POC not cis dude drummers. Someone once told me that I was a unicorn because 1) it’s really rare to witness drummers who can sing at the same time and 2) I’m a black femme percussionist.
You guys are touring soon, yeah? Any other exciting (T-Rextasy-related or personal) plans coming up for the summer?
Super excited for tour this summer! We are going to Canada and I have never been so I am stoked to travel through the Great White North. We recently released a single called ‘Girl,Friend‘ via Danger Collective Records as well as a music video for the single that was directed by Annie Fidoten (our bassist) and Emily Cohn. Hopefully we will write some new tunes this summer before we kick off our tour in New Jersey.
T-Rextasy Summer Tour
7/26 Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Park Brewery
7/27 Cambridge, MA @ The Lilypad
7/28 Burlington, VT @ Sidebar
7/29 Montreal, QC @ Casa De Popolo
7/30 Hamilton, ON @ The Casbah
7/31 Toronto, ON @ Baby G
8/01 Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s
8/02 Chicago, IL @ Grandmaster Warehouse^
8/03 St Louis, MO @ Foam^
8/04 Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge^
8/06 Denver, CO @ Your Mom’s House^
8/07 Fort Collins, CO @ Surf 7
8/08 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Underground
8/09 Boise, ID @ Funky Taco
8/11 Seattle, WA @ Black Lodge
8/12 Vancouver, BC @ Stylus Records
8/13 Portland, OR @ TBD
8/15 Reno, NV @ The Holland Project
8/16 San Francisco, CA @ TBD
8/18 Los Angeles, CA @ The Smell
8/19 Phoenix, AZ @ The Lunchbox
8/21 Austin, TX @ Cheer Up Charlie’s
8/22 Dallas, TX @ Transit Bicycle Co.
8/23 Little Rock, AK @ Stickyz
8/24 Nashville, TN @ Two Boots
8/25 Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
8/27 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
8/28 Washington, DC @ TBD*
8/29 Philadelphia, PA @ Everybody Hits*
8/30 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere (Zone One)*
^= w/ Blacker Face
*= w/ Honey Cutt