Hey Drums: Documenting Australian Drummers

2019-10-09T22:27:20Z (GMT) by Nat Grant
As a young teen and twenty something non-male drummer I was no stranger to being confronted, even accosted, in drum shops and at gigs, by cis men who felt the need to either point out or challenge the fact that I was a drummer and also not a cis man. Having had (only a few but very influential) incredible female mentors – very established artists in their own right in their 30s and 40s - I wondered what it must have been like for them at my age. I wanted to do something to counter the incessant feedback that ‘girls don’t play drums’ with some kind of project profiling all the non male drummers I could find.

I began the Hey Drums blog as an acknowledgement of the people I already knew, and to learn about others. As it stands I have interviewed more than 100 drummers and percussionists, and I have more still to publish, and people still to follow up with.

What’s unique about this project, I believe, is that it didn’t start from the point so many ‘women drummers’ projects and articles do, that “girls can play drums too”. I think this is a bit insulting, frankly. Nowhere in the blog or the interview do I ask a question about gender. If the artists themselves want to bring it up it’s up to them. The work has always been about drumming, and about promoting and profiling all the wonderful and diverse humans in this country doing it.

This paper was presented at the ‘Gender Diversity in Music and Art’ conference at the University of Western Australia and comprised a 30 minute presentation that began with a talk about Hey Drums and ended in a collaborative improvised performance with 5 other drummer/percussionists who were in attendance at the conference. Some of the performers were WA locals (Genevieve Wilkins, Cissi Tsang, Flick Dear) and some were visiting from interstate and overseas (Vanessa Tomlinson: Brisbane, Robyn Schulkowsky: Berlin). All the participants, with the exception of Schulkowsky, had been previous interviewees for Hey Drums and were keen to be involved to promote the work being done by the blog.