A Quizzical Drumbeat

GLadys Lazer2

Think of drummer Gladys Lazer as an indie rocker of jazz. Experimental yet sonorous; embracing the abstract, yet rhythmically followable; unexpected dips and swells from chord change to chord change, yet, dreamy.

“Candy World” is brand new, check it out: https://gladyslazer.bandcamp.com/releases.

Keep an open mind; it teeters on a new definition of jazz. Refreshingly and totally different.

What age did you choose music as your path?

Music has enchanted me since I can remember. I started playing drums when I was 5 years old, but took it more seriously in high school.

Who are your favorite composers in classical and jazz?

In jazz – Mingus, Coltrane (John & Alice), Pharoah Sanders and the list goes on. Classical – Debussy.

Where did you receive your musical training?

I took private lessons on drums when I was a kid. The rest of the instruments I taught myself through the years.

Drums is my primary instrument as I’ve been playing it for more than 20 years. I also play piano, guitar, bass and synth.

Which subgenre fits your music best?

It’s really hard for me to put a title on sound. I’m trying to make new creations, new sounds, expand the boundaries while respecting and using some foundations of past creations that I love. Those past creations come from the genres of jazz, Krautrock, break beats and electronica. People have been telling me that what I do “punk-jazz.”

What was the music scene like in Tel Aviv while you were there?

I didn’t feel like I got a lot of inspiration out of TLV’s music scene while I was there, and that’s one of the reasons I moved out. There was only one guy who really made me feel things, his name was [Tel Aviv singer] Charlie Megira.

Where have you performed in NYC?

I performed in a lot of spots in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I really liked going to see shows and performing in Death By Audio, which no longer exists. I think that the biggest venue I played in NYC was Webster Hall.

Where did you travel to and how did you sustain yourself with music?

I used to play 200 shows a year with a former band, always on tours. Many places in North America, Europe and South America, more specifically Brazil, which is where I recorded a part of my debut EP.

Are the other musicians (Jonas, Ivan, Anthony and Sergio) part of your permanent band?

They aren’t. I met these guys while touring in Brazil. After tour was over, I had a few days off, and I decided to book a recording session and invited my then new friends. These musicians are featured on “Veronica,” “Crime of Passion” and “No One Needs to Be a Genius.”

What themes inspire you when you compose/arrange?

It varies. In the Brazil session –  I was thinking about the joy of music, about fun, I was thinking about the sensations I felt when I was a baby looking at a picture book of instruments, and how powerful they were, and I tried to bring this ingredient to the recording process. This non-thought, non-goal, non-ego place.  

I hear some Eastern influences in “Veronica” along with very cool percussion and a hook-y time signature.

Veronica is a trans woman I met in Brazil. She sang me a gorgeous version of “My Way” and then kissed me in Roosevelt Square in Sao Paulo.  It was created in the Brazil session, so the same themes as I’ve mentioned. I don’t remember how long it took, it was all recorded really fast and then worked on. The video turned out different than I initially intended it to be, but it conveyed Veronica the person.

What was the response to this song when you toured in Brazil?

People really loved it!

When was “Candy World” released? Is it your first single?

It was released on July 20th 2017, and it’s my debut EP!

Talk about the most memorable performance.

Playing SXSW 2016 had me do 17 shows in five days. It really pushed me to the edges physically and mentally, and was intensely challenging. I feel like an artist is an astronaut, an explorer who goes to unknown territories in order to find his discoveries. Then the artist who is a performer will become a portal that exposes the crowd to these deep unknown places. That’s how I felt in one of these shows; I became a portal, channeling my feelings to everyone watching.  

What is your biggest challenge as a musician?

Being on time.

Plans for your music for the rest of 2017 and then in 2018?

I’m currently working on my next album. I perform often in other musician’s projects. I’m also working on composing music for a modern dance company and a film.

For more information, visit https://gladyslazer.bandcamp.com/releases.

Photos courtesy of and with permission of the artist.

(c) Debbie Burke 2017

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