Yasmin – Myndsnare (April 09)

  • Interview by: Vilasini Muralidhar
  • Date: April 6, 2009
Picture courtesy - Vinay V

Rebellion is her middle name…well, in metaphorical terms atleast! In an exclusive interview with Headbangers India, Yasmin Claire, drummeress from Myndsnare and Stranglehold talks about her love for music, infuences, her growth as a musician, side projects, future plans and more.

HB: Somebody had once said that the drums are a man’s musical instrument. What do you have to say about that?

Yasmin: 🙂 That actions speak louder than words! But seriously, in today’s world I doubt there is any male-exclusive profession. The same was said about a lot of the things women do today and take for granted, but times and mind-sets change.

HB: Has being a female drummer affected you in one way or the other?

Yasmin: I don’t think it has essentially affected who I am. I think it’s the other way around, in fact. I think I chose to play the drums because I am the person I am. Being a certain way affects your choices, not vice versa. Apart from which, drumming for me has been a very challenging, very interesting path of self-realization. For me it is an instrument not just of creativity, music and joy, but it keeps me grounded and present to who I am. Each time I play, or even resist playing, I learn something about myself and about being human. I think drumming has been the best gift I gave myself ever! 🙂
HB: Going back to the beginning… when did you start getting into metal, and the drums, of course?

Yasmin: Well, growing up, being a lifelong singer, I was always into some form of music or the other. I started with the usual stuff and funnily enough, my debut into metal was actually with Deicide. When I was 14 or 15 my friends and I were into the whole tape trading scene, and one of my friends gave me Deicide’s new album back then, Legion. I tripped out on it, but nothing really sank home! After a trip of a lot of heavy stuff like that which I mindlessly liked, I got into metal the “proper” way, through Maiden and Priest a little later on. But what got me hooked onto the intricately woven beautiful madness of metal was Death. The first time I heard them I knew that it was possible to explore so much more than I had thought. That there were another few dimensions to metal than I had previously found. And then I heard Cynic and the deal was sealed. As a listener the total brutal thing was great some times, but as a musician and composer I wanted to say something different, play more, explore more and most of all grow. And these two bands showed me the glimpses of a path I instinctively loved.

As for drums, I was a singer like I said, and there came a time when I was way too bored of singing. It completely stopped inspiring me. I didn’t know how to really use my voice to express anything I was going through back then, which left me with an empty feeling every time I sang. It felt like I had no instrument to explore music and thus myself with. I was looking for an instrument through which I could find release and feel fulfilled. I tried playing guitar and keyboards, but neither of them felt right. Then I sat on a drumkit and played a few beats and it was like coming home. The choice was made for me it seems like!

HB:  Knowing our chauvinistic and highly judgemental society, tell us… How did your family react when you told them you wanted to become a metal drummer?

Yasmin: My brother was cool with it, being a huge metal head himself! We both grew up on the same music, tripped out together day in, day out on the beauty of a well-crafted verse, or “that pinch in that totally weird place!” So our early musical influences were the same, and he understood my choice totally and has been extremely encouraging about it. What depicts it best I think is that when he was down for a visit last year and MyndSnare had a show, he was my drumtech! That was the most amazing thing for me, to have my brother work with me in this and see his face light up when he saw me play! My Dad, being the amazingly open-minded and patient person he is, did not understand the music I was into, but always listened and gave his critical opinion on my work when asked for. He has been incredibly supportive about it too, financially and otherwise and when times in music got really tough for me, he was always there to pick me up and hive me sound advice. My family has always encouraged me to go after my dreams, and in short, I couldn’t have asked for better or more support. 🙂

HB: A lot of metalheads must be wishing they’d been born into your family, I’m sure! Moving on, tell us about the first time you played on stage…

Yasmin: It was with a band called “Three Piece Suite” that a couple of very close musician friends of mine and I formed just for a while, as we were all band-less then. It so happened that the day we started pratice I broke my right foot in a biking accident and I was put in a cast. So, I practiced playing the bass drum with my left foot! I also sang some of the songs in that set. It was actually a lot of fun and didn’t seem that effortful at all! 🙂

HB: Who were some drummers you looked up to when you started getting into metal, and who are the current drummers and bands you admire?

Yasmin: Well, the list keeps evolving. I used to trip on Bonham, the Rainbow drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta, Vinnie Paul, Carter Beauford, Lars Ulrich and a lot of drummers I can’t even remember right now! As of now, I’m a total Cyinc head, being an old fan and what with their reunion album blowing my mind away! I’m a big Tool fan, I’ll always be a Death fan and I like Arch Enemy, Lamb of God, Slayer and stuff. Other than that, favourite drummers now include Sean Reinert, Gene Hoglan, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, Danny Carey, Dave Lombardo, Carter Beauford, Chris Adler, Bjorn Frykland, Tomas Haake, Antonio Sanchez, etc, etc… It’s a long list!
HB: Now, about the “evolution” from being the vocalist for Angel Dust to being the drummer for Myndsnare.

Yasmin: It was quite a challenge, having to change my entire perspective in music. My listening evolved, I started to hear more then just notes and vocal melodies. Fat rhythms became familiar sounds on the drumkit which I could recognise, imitate and eventually just see how it’s being played in my mind’s eye. That was one of the things I remember clearly. What also happened is that my mind evolved the ability to listen to more tracks. I was listening to music very differently and as a whole, but with the choice to tune in to one instrument or aonther. The perspective broadened and narrowed at the same time. And of course the co-ordination efforts on the kit as I took on more challenging rhythms! How could I forget those spastic attacks!? 🙂 Another thing I do remember is changing my listening outside of me. I wouldn’t say it was an easy thing to slowly alter how people around me viewed me as a better singer than a drummer, but it was a natural progression. Now people see me as a drummer first. In fact a lot of people have been asking me incredulously if I can actually sing! That’s fun too!
HB: How do you manage to juggle time between work and jams and shows?

Yasmin: I used to have a day job earlier, but almost a year ago I took the plunge into a life of bliss but penury! 🙂 Kidding. Earlier I used to make time almost exclusively for MyndSnare and any other specific project I was working on. So it was manageable somehow. Also, having Kp and Sandy as very supportive team members helped make my task easier. They would always help out if I was pressed for time. Now though, I have time to do most all the musical things I’ve been wanting to do. I play as a sessions drummer for live acts and studio recordings, teach drums and do vocal sessions live and in the studio. I have the time and space to practice my own stuff, rehearse, compose and arrange songs with MyndSnare, arrange gigs, compose for other projects I’m working on, and I finally started an acoustic latin/ jazz duo – Blue In Green, which I’ve been meaning to do for a long time now. So life’s pretty good and fulfilling!

HB: We heard that you may be leaving the country soon. What lies ahead?

Yasmin: Well, Kp, Sandy and I are working on our plan to study music together at the Musician’s Institute in LA. Since we’ll be shifting together, MyndSnare will be in full swing, and Sandy and I have plans to resurrect Stranglehold. From what we have created for the future, we see a lot of shows, more albums, a lot of musical learnings, lots of practicing, and all things bright and musical in the future.
HB: You’re almost like the perfect rebellious role model to a lot of others around. Any inspiring parting words for minions?

Yasmin: Hahaha! Yeah, I was quite the rebel and I guess in some ways I still am and always will be, especially when it comes to what I choose to believe in. But for the most part, a lot of instrospection has gone into the last 15 years or so, and today I find rebelling that causes myself or others hurt a pointless and energy-wasting way of being. But I also understand that everyone has to go through whatever they need to go through, and I couldn’t have been where I am today without taking the journey I did. My path took me through a lot of rebellion, and I can fully understand the need for it in the “minions”, as you put it. 🙂 All I can say is, be happy wherever you are in life!