Wednesday 22 October 2014

Valentina Magaletti-drummer extraordinaire!

Photo by Cris Andina.

In the 2003 film 'School of Rock' someone is asked to name 'two great (female) drummers', the answer comes back Sheila E and Meg White (1), fair enough but in an updated version that answer should include Valentina Magaletti. Valentina was drummer on Blackest Ever Black releases; Raime and Moin. She also played and recorded with Shit and Shine and is drummer with London psych band The Oscillation and Tomaga. After a recent gig in Hackney she agreed to an interview.

Q. When you play live (with The Oscillation) you look like someone who is in their element, doing what you love-how did you get into drumming and develop as a drummer? On your 'Facebook' page it says you studied Law in Italy, do you run these two activities alongside each other or are you a full time musician?
VM. I am a full time musician. I enjoyed studying and I am very happy about my qualifications, they might come handy when we'll need to sue Bon Jovi or someone like that for copyrights infringement!

Q. You play in, and with, quite a range of bands. Do these different collaborations change the way you have to play and interact with the other musicians?
VM. I guess I have my own drum style which I try to adapt to different musical adventures.
Interacting with other musicians is the most important part of my job.You never stop learning and sharing which is the essence of what music should entail. 
Q. Tomaga's second album 'Futura Grotesk' is out soon, how does the recording process evolve? Is it the capturing of improvisation or is it more structured? Do you find playing live or recording more satisfying?
VM. Futura Grotesk is the first studio album.We only had a cassette called "Sleepy Jazz for Tired Cats" before this but it sold out in few weeks. Tom and I have different approaches when it comes to recording. I am very intuitive and I base most of my work on improvisation. Mine is like a rhythmic and dynamic stream of conciousness.

On the other hand, Tom likes planning and scheming. He loves structures and he did a fantastic job editing most of our sessions that subsequently made it onto the album tracks. I find both recording and playing live very satisfying in different ways. 
Q. Tomaga's music is experimental and instrumental, would you see it as the musical equivalent of abstract art, the transposing of ideas and concepts, experiences and emotions into another form?(2)

VM. I won't be calling or defining what we are doing "art". It is a mere expression of how we feel transposed into frequencies, pulses and drones.
Q. A few years ago two TV pundits were sacked in the UK for saying that women were incapable of being soccer lines people due to being women! Do you come across that sort of attitude in the music world, that women are suited to/incapable of certain things due to their sex?

VM. That sort of attitude doesn't interest me or affect me in the slightest. In the Western world women have no limitations as to what they can or can't do. I only think it is a shame there aren't as many female drummers as there should be!
Q. Social theorists suggest that gender is something we are socialised into rather than it expressing 'nature', that gender is from the outside in. Do you think women are finding more freedom to explore and express themselves or are gender stereotypes still very constraining?

VM. It is a complex question. It entails an elaboration of what is meant by gender. Physical attributes shouldn't be a limitation to freedom of expression. You are the only one imposing limits on yourself. If you feel like expressing yourself playing the drums or any other instrument you should simply go for it and avoid frustration.
Q. Often in music and wider society women are presented for men's gratification. What role models and cultural resources have you drawn on or do you see around that can help women resist a sexist, patriarchal culture?
VM. I don't have any role models and my cultural resource is my extensive record collection. I am not interested in sexist or patriachal culture, it is a laughable matter as far as my possibly privileged and open minded background is concerned.
Q. Who has inspired you both musically and more generally? A while ago you posted an article about a female drummer Viola Smith. Could you elaborate? 
VM. Viola Smith was a great drummer and an inspiring woman. I guess her success was mainly due to the fact thst she was one of the first woman to play drums in an orchestra. Her set up was fab! She used temple blocks mounted on the kick drum which is something I am currently thinking of doing. She is into happiness, drums and wine- a winning combo!
There are so many great musicians and drummers who I worship. I am a big fan of Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, Steve Nobles, Charles Hayward etc.
Q. Which current musicians and bands interest and excite you?

VM.  My musical taste is very eccentric. I listen to pretty much everything that is violent and beautiful. Some examples of stuff that I love are The Necks, the thing, Charles Cohen, Silver Apples (who we are currently touring with),The Heliocentrics, Gnod, Shit and Shine. Alessandro Alessandroni, Terry Riley, Steve Lacey, Delia Derbishire, Stereolab, Man from Uranus etc etc....

Much thanks to Valentina for the interview.

(1) IMDb 'School of Rock' 2003 'Quotes'

(2) Hands in the Dark website.

* School of Rock, 2003,  Paramount Pictures Corp.



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