Words by Jasmine Bourgeois
Banner photo by Leah Lipson
Lis Viegas has been drumming for the last 12 years. She picked up her first set of sticks while recovering from a knee injury as a way to keep busy, and hasn’t looked back since. Originally hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Lis has spent the better part of her teens and adult life in sunny San Diego, CA, keeping herself busy as a musician and being a full time yoga instructor at CorePower Yoga. Last year, Lis started a non profit/Karma Yoga Project called Sharda Yoga Center where kids in local orphanages coming from Tijuana can do yoga and play games and music. Recently, Lis won a contest held by Beats Antique and was offered the opportunity to drum with them at Lightning in a Bottle Music Festival over memorial day weekend.
Tom Tom chatted with Lis about the contest and her history with drumming.
TTM: Could you expand on how you got into drumming? What about drumming really clicked for you?
I tore my ACL, PCL, and meniscus in high school back in 2001 as I was a basketball player. I kept searching for an activity that was easy on my knee and also incorporated the aspects of being on a team(discipline, training, focus). First I started flying planes; that incorporated a lot of discipline however it wasn’t fully satisfying my drive. When I moved to San Diego to attend SDSU, I met a friend in college who played drums and he showed me a beat and I was hooked! We would get together once a week and play then a few months later in 2005 I bought my first kit! I enjoyed how much work it took to teach all my limbs to play a completely different rhythm at the same time and fit it into a groove-it was (and still is!) a mind blowing concept: my body makes beats. What clicked for me was exactly that, finding the limb independence and once it’s on, you FEEL it. Everything feels right; perfect and aligned and at that point it becomes much more than drumming, it takes me into a spiritual realm of vibrations, patterns, rhythm, and connection to something higher. That’s what kept me going and connected to the drums; that sense of being 100% present no matter what, as drumming takes extreme focus and requires a lot of physical stamina too.
TTM: You’re such an energetic drummer! What’s going through your head when you’re playing?
Thank you! I don’t really know what I’m thinking about when I’m playing! I took a year off music in 2017 so 2018 feels so fresh! Taking a year off was one of the greatest things I could have done for myself. I took that time to clear my past of so much I realized I was holding on to which is so much easier said than done. I traveled to a lot of new countries, deleted my social media accounts, exercised my brain in different ways, learned Spanish, surfed almost everyday, practiced and taught a lot of yoga, and picked up other instruments as well. Then a re-knee injury occurred(twice) and I learned that lesson again…that drumming is the only physically demanding activity that’s easy on my knee. While recovering from my energy, I had a true chance to look inward and a huge wave of inspiration flowed through me and back on the kit I was! This all feels new. I cleared my energetic channel in order to receive guidance from my higher self. When I play, I’m present. There are no thoughts really…it’s that moment and that moment only. I surrender to what wants to flow through me and I just let myself be and move however it moves me!
TTM: You recently won the Beats Antique contest. How does that feel?
Wow, life-changing. Words cannot explain what playing with Beats Antique felt like!!! We all gelled together extremely well despite not having known each other, played together or rehearsed! I was just kinda like thrown on stage and then BAM it was over. We had two drum sets and did a dual drum solo at the end; we locked in so well together. I was reflecting as to why we flowed so well and I realized that it was because I had studied their music, played and practiced the song over and over for the video and again for the performance. Through routine practice & studying, I was able to understand them in an energetic way through the vibrations of their music therefore it opened ME up to receive and understand them as humans and energy. And vice versa, they watched my video and got a sense for who I was through my art and energy. The entire group and crew were all so welcoming and kind. Everything felt right, aligned, authentic and pure. They inspired me so much and we all had a great time post show hanging and chatting. I feel our paths will cross again soon.
TTM: What’s the wildest thing that has happened to you while playing/touring?
Oh man. SO many strange things happen on tour…this one is my top! I was on tour with a band and were in Key West, Florida; mid set-break, 8 cops storm the stage and arrest us for grand theft!! Apparently, we had a bag from the airport that we accidentally picked up. Other band members thought it was my drum hardware and I thought it was their gear. This bag was left near us at baggage claim and we just packed everything into the car and carried on. We didn’t know we had it or what was in it. Later we find out that the bag held a liver transplant patient’s pain med prescription of OXYCOTTON! Apparently detectives were following us and we ‘kept getting away’ because we were on tour and going city to city and this bag just kept getting loaded and unloaded from the car but never opened!!! Long long long story short, we figured out we actually had two bags (I know) gave them back, nothing was missing of course and we were let go(because we didn’t do anything wrong) and went back to finish our set! The audience was like …’wait all of you just got arrested for grand theft and were let go that quick???’ Yes, we were innocent and the bags were untouched and safely returned to their owner. But wow…what an experience that was!
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