(photo credit: BGproOnline.com)
Our next interview features GRP DJ instructor and Ladies Rock Camper, Rashida! In her interview, Rashida talks about trying new things and falling in love with a new instrument!
Location: West Philly
How did you get your start in music? I’ve had a whole lot of “starts!” As a kid I took a few piano lessons, then later a semester of violin, and then, in high school, a semester of acoustic guitar. I regret not sticking with any of those instruments but I appreciate having a parent who was willing to let me try lots of different things. In adulthood, I fulfilled a longtime dream of learning how to DJ and even co-founded Girls’ DJ 101 to teach women and girls the basics of vinyl djing. That was a lot of fun, especially the after school programs we did for teens and the weekend crash courses for adults.(Another GRP volunteer was a graduate of our bootcamp. I won’t say who, but her DJ name is ‘DJ Teriyaki’) However, it wasn’t until participating in Ladies Rock Camp in 2011, at the very tender young age of 40, that I felt like I finally found the instrument that I want to play forever: the drums!
What kinds of music do you like to play? Right after LRC, I managed to find the perfect teacher for me. She’s a metal drummer but also a classically trained pianist and she knows her music! Our lessons vary and we practice all kinds of grooves: rock, punk, jazz, hip hop, funk, bossanova, and even some Afro-Haitian rhythms adapted for the drumset. I really enjoy exploring the depths and richness of the African and African-derived rhythms and the power and speed of heavy metal. I would love to eventually create music that fuses the two! In fact, if anybody wants to form an Afro-Metal band, I’m game!
How did you get involved with Girls Rock Philly? After my profound experience as an LRC participant, I knew I wanted to contribute to camp in whatever way I could. Much of my life’s work has been in youth development, fostering leadership and providing outlets for creativity and expression to teens. GRP represents all the things I am passionate about so there is no way I would not be somehow involved.
Why do you love Girls Rock Philly? I went to all-girls camps every summer as a kid. I often think about the fact that I owe a large part of my confidence, independence and resilience to the foundation that those experiences laid. In some ways I get to re-live those experiences seeing the camaraderie between volunteers, the lifelong friendships forming between campers, and the memories being made. I especially love listening to the sweet songs about ‘summer fun’ from the younger campers and the angsty-in-your-face songs of the older girls. They all have so much to say. How often do girls get to actually *make* their own soundtrack to their lives and create musical ‘snapshots’ of where they are developmentally and emotionally at a precise moment in time?
Tell us more about your Ladies Rock Camp Experience! I knew it would be a blast, but I was skeptical that a group of strangers could come together and learn an instrument, and write, rehearse and perform an original song in 72 hours. But guess what? That’s exactly what happened. All of the teachers, staff and volunteers were so cool. Like cooler-than-the-other-side-of-the-pillow cool. They coaxed the best out of all of us. We were exhausted but in a way that felt really good and accomplished! I think our band’s song had a piece of each of our personalities represented. It was one of the the purest, most satisfying collaborative efforts I have ever experienced.
What have you been listening to lately? Lately I’ve been going back to the archives, listening to a lot of Minnie Riperton, the singer/vocalist/songwriter known for reaching those really high notes in the famous song “Lovin’ You.” It’s not commonly known that before her solo career she was the lead singer for a psychadelic soul band called Rotary Connection. Right now I can’t stop listening to their cover of “Respect.”
What do you do when you’re not rockin’? I’m thinkin’ about rockin’ or fantasizing about having this one specific super-expensive yellow drum kit. Right now I just practice with drum pads. I worry a lot that my tapping away on my desk and the floor might be annoying to my downstairs neighbors. When I’m not thinking about the logistics of drumming in city dwellings, I keep myself busy with my small personal assistance business.
Do you have any advice for younger musicians or younger folks who want to be musicians? I’m always lamenting that I didn’t start drumming when I was, like, say, a toddler. Haha. Oh the level of proficiency I would have now with nearly 40 years of drumming experience! But it didn’t happen that way. I do get frustrated with myself at my progress sometimes. Learning to play does not come easy to me. But giving up is not an option because it’s just too much fun and it’s such a powerful feeling when my coordination and muscle memory finally take over and I’m playing in the zone! By starting now, a younger musician has the wonderful advantage of a lifetime to practice and hone their skills, play, experiment and evolve as a musician. Use time to your advantage!
Why do you rock? The first time I got to drum along with a rock guitarist in my teacher’s basement, I totally understood why people live and breath this art form. I was just so full of nervous, excited, elated, creative energy. The adrenaline rush of it. That’s why.