Name -Lace Shaw
Age – 36
Hometown – Calgary Alberta, Canada
Favourite place for takeout – anywhere mayonnaise is involved.
Tom Tom Magazine covered Sled Island Festival in Calgary, Alberta Canada last summer. This is the fifth of several featured drummers from that festival.
Tom Tom Magazine : In your own words; write a brief description of your band
Lace: Stripmall is my endless summer camp. We write music about our world. Geneva, Martine and Rob are my friends. We come from the biggest small town city. We grew up with western influences but yet we are surrounded by the oil and gas industry and conservative ideology. It’s a strange place to grow up centered by capitalism and yet underneath all that is still a small town feeling, full of heart.
When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?
I started dancing when I was young; rhythm was just something I’ve never not understood I guess. When I was 9 my parents signed my brother and I up for cadets. I saw a lone drummer playing while 100 kids marched to the beat and decided I wanted to be that guy. I stopped drumming when I left cadets, but 10 years ago I was working with a few female musicians at a bar and I told them I played drums. I didn’t specify what type and then they asked me to play.
Have you ever taken lessons?
The cadet program offered music instruction to anyone who wanted to join the band. It meant giving up my Sunday morning cartoons but it also gave me something that made me different from my brothers and sisters (4 of us). At 9 years old that was really powerful.
What was the first song you learned to play on drums?
To be honest I don’t really remember. I was more excited about the drum line patterns than the songs. But it was probably some military song of some sort.
Tell us about the first show you played in front of an audience as a drummer
I think in marching band settings I was always in front of people. In my first band though I remember being quite nervous because I didn’t feel confident. I knew what I was doing, it sounded good but I was super aware of my self taught style. I have grown to love that most about my drumming now.
Can you write music/ lyrics ?
I write rhythms but not sheet music or lyrics
Do you play other instruments or sing ?
I’ve been slowly teaching myself some piano and I really want to dive into that more as life slows down. Not very well, I used to scream some back up vocals but it was as just so exhausting to do while playing.
Where do you practice / how often ?
It changes a lot but at the moment I jam 2x a week. Summer was very busy playing shows almost every weekend and touring. I keep my muscles strong by doing rudiment exercises at least once a week on my own outside of jam.
Describe your gear
I’ll play anything, I haven’t really cultivated a huge understanding of gear specifics. I go mostly by what I like the sound of. I have Mapex pro M shells with Evans heads. I really only like Paiste cymbals. I have a 22 inch ride cause I love the wompyness of it. I recently got a Yamaha direct drive pedal and I love it. As a dancer it is important my body feels connected to what I’m doing and getting rid of the chain pedal really helped me feel more connected.
A dancer ? Tell us more about that.
I grew up doing Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Highland and Irish dancing. I competed in all disciplines and loved to dance. I still do dance and I find part of my process for writing songs comes from the way I feel like moving.
Thoughts on musicians endorsing brands . Would you like to eventually sponsor a brand as a drummer?
I never really thought about sponsorship in music but I guess like anything of course it exists. I like adding different heads and cymbals depending on the sound I’m trying to get, so I think having to stick to a specific brand of cymbal or heads would be difficult for me personally. I think it’s great to share your preferences with other musicians and I don’t see anything wrong with endorsing equipment you really enjoy. Saving a few bucks never hurts.
Do you have musical idols?
Coming from a childhood spent in cadets, bagpipe bands and dancing I really didn’t have a lot of time to investigate music or pop culture. I’d say my peers are my idols. Local musician Warren Oostlander of No Problem is one of my favorite drummers. He is so supportive; so I guess he is probably my biggest music idol.I really appreciated meeting Andrew from Mean Jeans who again is so talented and fun to watch. The drummer from NuSense and Woolworm both really blow my hair back.
Who are the bands that inspire your band’s sound?
Dead Moon, Gun Club and Midwest punk.
What have you taken away from playing live?
So much. I live for playing live. I like creating energy and excitement with my friends for people to enjoy. Connecting with my band mates on stage is so awesome. It’s like the best hug which is awesome when times in life are great and better when times aren’t so great.
What would be a ” dream bill ” for you ? Who would you want to play with ?
Trixi Mattel – she’s an amazing drag queen who plays country music and just personally, that would be a dream come true to share a stage with her. I always love playing shows with my friends bands; it’s like a big party and everyone is super supportive and having fun. Festivals are great too; playing to people who don’t know who you are is always pretty exciting cause it’s a chance to surprise and excite people.
What does pre show preparation involve?
Mostly just about getting my body ready, drinking enough water is key for me to be able to get through the show.
In the interests of mobility and keeping cool ,what are the best/ most practical clothes for drumming?
Believe it or not I love playing in a dress. I don’t like having my movement restricted in anyway.
Are you exhausted after a show?
No way, I’m so energized after a show. My body is totally spent but I feel so happy and usually very sweaty.
What’s the most unusual/funny thing to ever happen to you at a gig?
I’m lazy about gear so I always just share if I can. At this one show at Tubby Dog with my previous band Shematomas, the snare stand wouldn’t lock and the feet like flipped up like a tulip somehow, so I was basically playing a snare on top of a stick. I had to hold my snare between my legs. I had 2 massive leg bruises from my hands hitting my legs the whole time. We only had 20 mins to play so I couldn’t stop and fix so I just had to deal. It’s a good exercise to struggle and survive sometimes.
I’ve also fallen backwards off the stage before and got back up so fast the band didn’t stop. When they couldn’t hear me and turned around, I was already climbing back up to keep playing. I had cut my the back of my head (not badly). I didn’t notice , but after the set was over I had splattered blood all over my drums and the back of the the singers shirt. I guess that was a pretty wild moment on my journey.
Do you have an aggressive style in your drumming ? (do you hit hard ? )
It is the number one comment I get from other drummers and spectators. I’m 5’2” 125lbs but I feel like a giant when I play.
What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom?
I think it’s really important to share our stories. I think it’s really important for others to hear that you don’t have to start as a child or take classical lessons your whole life to play music. There is so much more to music than just technique. Passion, perseverance, and courage are really good muscles to exercise often. Tom Tom has created a platform to share with others who may not have visual access to female percussionists. Some kids may not think they could become a drummer because maybe they have never seen anyone like them do it, although that’s maybe less now with the internet etc.
What’s in the future for you musically?
My old band Shematomas is reuniting for an amazing fest in Calgary called Femme Wave and I am really excited to be back in the jam space with some amazing women. Stripmall is an incredible music project with my best friends. All of them inspire me and I love to be around passionate artists. We have begun writing our second album and are developing our style and sound. We hope to tour Japan, Australia and Europe in the future . I plan to start a few small projects with people I enjoy spending time with. I think I will always be making music with friends for the rest of my life.
What has been the biggest change in your life since lifting up the sticks?
I realize I need space to be creative, away from my day to day life. It’s a challenge sometimes juggling my two businesses while maintaining a healthy relationship with my partner who is so supportive and still carving out time to practice and play shows.I guess overall the confidence I get from playing music has probably affected all areas of my life in a positive way.
Do you have advice for young women starting out in music?
Nothing happens overnight and nobody is going to come find you. You have to get out there and make things happen. Do not be afraid!! This world full of people who will support you but you have to take the first step and then just keep stepping . Your music will always have a place because it is art, but art is subjective. Not everyone is going to love what you do but many will and that’s what matters.We need people like you.
What are your thoughts on streaming music and its effect on bands?
Streaming….. In a way it removes the financial barriers allowing more people to explore and access music they couldn’t just a few years ago if it wasn’t at their local record store. I think it’s difficult to know how it impacts musicians and other bands on a broader scale but I hope the pay off for everyone is more exposure and opportunity.
How would you describe the local scene for bands like yours?
I am lucky to live in a city like Calgary. Sure a lot of amazing musicians and artists leave to join focus cities and the culture in our Calgary ebbs and flows, but I think creating art in a city that some might say is lacking in “scene” is so important . Art culture is bigger in other cities. Most artists don’t have the financial luxury of leaving. Its out of this oppression that underground culture is created. Calgary is a privileged city and we are lucky enough to have amazing arts programs to develop talented people. I love the people in our scene; the ones who stay and keep pushing to create culture. That’s what punk is to me.
What are your interests away from drumming?
Wow, loaded question. I have so many passions and interests. I am constantly curious and always adventuring. I love surfing, dancing, bike packing, growing vegetables, inventing and creating things, talking to people, listening to people, pottery, language, travel, and science. I’m obsessed with history and can usually be found spending my TV time watching documentaries on subjects others would find incredibly boring. I guess overall I am a bit of a “nerd”.
What is in your own musical collection?
I listen to a lot of Jazz and Old Country music at the moment but I also really like new wave and electronic stuff. Bands on rotation right now are Molly Nilsson, First Hate, Diät, Choir Boy, Waylon Jennings, Blaze Foley mixed with some Errol Garner and John Coltrane. Really just depends what I’m doing, but most of my listening time is on long bike rides or walks, when I’m cleaning the kitchen or making food.
What would we find on the walls of your room ?
A painting Geneva the singer in Stripmall painted of my partner and I. I also have another painting she did of my late pet hedgehog Poe. I have lots of photos and never enough plants.
What should people know about you?
Everything I do in life I do with my whole heart. I have honoured all my opportunities in life and created an amazing dental clinic in Calgary called Citizen Dental Hygiene. We focus on education and creating accessibility for everyone in our community. Being a musician/waitress for most of my early adult life I was on the other side… no insurance, no access, and no understanding. I hope to change that for as many people as I can. I guess my dreams of being a rock star might have led me led me here but my passion for change is what keeps me going.
At the end of the day; when all is said and done …you play the drums because …..?
I play drums because it is the only time in my life where nothing else is on my mind. Everything goes quiet and I just disappear into the music and nobody can change that. Its my safe space.
Any last thoughts ?
Thank you so much for noticing me.. Thank you Tom Tom Magazine and John for making me feel seen. I hope my story empowers others to step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to make music, even if they haven’t classically trained since they were young or had professional lessons. Even if you don’t have lessons or money to buy a kit, drumsticks, or a practice pad, passion will be enough to get started.
Lessons just direct passion but passion is what creates the best music.
Story/ Photographs : John Carlow/ Finding Charlotte Photography