Name: Samantha Landa
Hometown: Richmond, BC, Canada
Nickname (s): Sam
Chat and images : John Carlow/ Finding Charlotte Photography
Tom Tom Magazine : In your own words, write a brief description of your band (s)
Conquer Divide is like pop-driven hard rock meets metalcore. The Anti-Queens are edgy, upbeat rock n’ roll with a sassy punk vibe. Dead Asylum is melodic death metal meets thrash.
When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?
I was a Zac Hanson fan as a kid, but then I decided to take up the drums myself when my elementary school band teacher said it was one of the more challenging instruments in the band to learn and that my mom wouldn’t have to buy me a kit at home.
Have you ever taken lessons?
I’ve never taken regular lessons with any one person. I’ve taken a few one-off lessons to work on specific skills. These days, despite not having any kind of formal arrangement, my buddy Alex Cohen has been pivotal in helping me work through some challenges and I’m forever grateful!
What was the first song you learned to play on drums?
Technically it was playing the rhythms from ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ on a snare drum. We also played “We’ve Got The Spirit” in grade 6 band. But the first popular song I learned was probably by Green Day or Gob.
Tell us about the first show you played in front of an audience as a drummer
School assembly with the school band. Awkward drum solo in the middle. Sounded terrible.
Describe your gear
I play a Mapex Saturn V with a Sledgehammer snare, Sabian AAX/HHX cymbals, Evans heads (mostly EC2s/EMAD2), Pearl Demon Drive pedals, and Los Cabos 5A Intense Red Hickory drumsticks. I also love my Roland TD-20 vdrums – the digital snare and ride are especially realistic!
Who do you endorse as a drummer? Who would you like to endorse?
Can you write music/ lyrics?
I can, but I don’t with my current bands.
Do you play other instruments or sing?
My first instrument was classical piano. I don’t sing but I can keep a tune, so maybe one day I’ll take some singing lessons.
Who are the bands that inspire your band’s sound?
This is a pretty diverse answer for all three of my bands, so I can’t really answer it without getting everyone else’s input. I think each member/writer brings in their own personal influences.
What have you taken away from playing live?
I love the energy from crowds, and that’s what really gets me stoked playing live! It’s an amazing experience to share your music with an audience and with other musicians on stage. You can’t replicate the feeling. Playing live and the adrenaline you get – it’s amazing.
Researchers have studied ‘runner’s high’ in athletes and some have found drummers can experience the same feeling during and after a gig. It’s happened to me. I’ve had horrible migraines before a show that completely disappeared once we started playing and didn’t come back after. Live music is a natural painkiller!
What does pre show preparation involve?
Drinking lots of water, stretching and warming up on the pads (as long as there’s time), and trying to relax.
Are you exhausted after a show?
Absolutely. It’s a workout. It’s funny how badly you can feel the urge to sit down after you’ve been sitting down the whole time.
What’s the most unusual/funny thing to ever happen to you at a gig?
I can’t honestly remember anything unusual happening. I’ve had people flash me. I guess that’s something?
In the interests of mobility and keeping cool, what are the best/ most practical clothes for drumming?
I typically wear stretchy jeans or leggings and a tank top or crop top. They’re comfortable for me and I don’t find that I get too hot in them. Other people might prefer a looser fit, but it’s all personal preference.
I never wear light colored clothes, though. Too sweaty. Too risky.
Do you have an aggressive style in your drumming? (do you hit hard?)
I’m a moderate-to-light hitter, and this comes from me trying to improve my technique a few years ago. I was pushing myself too hard and I was worried I’d injure myself over time, so I started working on being a more efficient player. Needless to say, I don’t break stuff often.
What are your goals as a musician?
How would you describe the local scene for bands like yours?
I’m not currently part of any of my bands’ local scenes – I’m a fully remote band member! I’m not familiar with the scene in Michigan (Conquer Divide), but Vancouver (Dead Asylum) has a good scene – just not enough good venues, and I know it’s been tough keeping rehearsal spaces open over the years. Toronto (The Anti-Queens) has a lot of excellent bands as well.
I live in Montreal right now and I can’t say enough great things about the music scene here. It’s world class.
Where do you practice / how often?
I practice at Cite 2000 in Montreal on my acoustic kit twice a week, and I practice all other days on my electronic kit. I play anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours at a time.
What is in your own musical collection?
It’s 90% local metal bands from Vancouver!
Format of the majority of your music.. ( tape/cd/vinyl ) and what do you prefer ?
Digital…haha. I have a bunch of CDs but most of them have never been opened. I buy CDs to support bands, but since I don’t have a CD player I end up streaming their music instead.
Whats on your walls in your room?
A few cool paintings we got during a trip to Vietnam. They’re black, white and red and have abstract faces on them.
What should people know about you?
I’m really friendly and approachable. I love giving advice and talking about drums. I will also interrupt a conversation to meet a dog – sorry.
I love talking to interesting people! These days I interview cool drummers for Drumeo, but I used to interview metal bands for Abort Magazine and as a member of the Olympic News Service I interviewed pro athletes like Shaun White at the 2010 Olympics and international figure skaters at the 2009 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.
What are your interests away from drumming?
I love writing fiction and used to be really into art but haven’t had much time for either these days. I’m an admirer of nature and love to travel and explore new places. I’m interested in languages and diving deep into Wikipedia holes on random topics.
Do you have musical idols?
I wouldn’t say idols, per se, but I do have influences and inspirations. As an up-and-coming drummer I was inspired by drummers like Martin Lopez, Mike Portnoy and Chris Adler. I have many friends and acquaintances in the music industry whom I admire and look up to, but it would take several pages to name and thank them all. Maybe one day I’ll have the time to type it out.
What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom?
I like that Tom Tom highlights many drummers and topics that other publications miss. It includes social issues as well as covering all the drum goodies we expect, and I think Tom Tom is great at bringing attention to the underdog.
Do you have advice for young women starting out in music?
Listen to the encouragement. Take constructive criticism into consideration. And ignore the rest. Do it because you love it and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Take risks, work hard and have fun. Reach out to other musicians if you need help or have questions. The community is strong and there’s absolutely a seat for you at the table.
What are your thoughts on streaming music and its effect on bands ?
I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, streaming music and playlists can help artists get reach they may not have had otherwise. It makes music extremely accessible. On the other hand, most streaming sites pay pennies to artists, and many fans don’t simultaneously support the artists directly by buying albums or merch or concert tickets. You have to get millions of streams to make any meaningful income. But you lose out as an artist not having your music available for streaming. It’s a tough line to walk.
Your thoughts on arena shows versus smaller venues?
I prefer mid-size venues myself, but I haven’t played any arenas yet so I can’t say if I’d prefer it as an artist. While small gigs can be cool because you can connect more with the audience, I actually get more nervous when there are fewer people and you can see their individual faces. I like a good sized stage and a big crowd and lots of room to breathe.
Has social media helped local music?
Definitely. If you aren’t on social media, you’re going to have a tough time gaining traction. It’s like bands who don’t do any online marketing or content; you’ll find it very hard to grow these days. Social media being global means local artists can branch outside of their communities and reach people around the world – something no one used to do without touring, tape trading, or getting radio play in other markets.
What would be a ” dream bill ” for you ? Who would you want to play with ?
What was one of the more memorable bills you’ve played on to date?
What’s in the future for you musically?
Lots more touring, pandemic permitting. I’m also hoping to start doing some drum clinics with Mapex.
What has been the biggest change in your life since lifting up the sticks?
I started drumming when I was 11 years old, so there have been plenty of life changes. Travel, relationships, work, health – and the one thing that’s been there for me through it all is my drums.
At the end of the day; when all is said and done …you play the drums because …..?
It makes me happy and feels right!
Any last thoughts ?
Thanks so much for the interview and for doing features like this. It’s an honor to be included.