Laura Moakes is a 27-year-old drummer who does deps, sessions, and tours. She’s currently drumming with the female-fronted rock band MOLLYANNA, and lives in Sheffield, UK.
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What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
I tend to play the same setup wherever I go for a number of projects. My current kit is a DW Performance in white marine pearl sizes (20″ kick, 10″ tom, 16″ floor). I have various snare drums for different genres and styles but the two I tend to stick with the DW Collectors concrete (14” x 5.5”) and the DW Performance (14” x 6.5”).
When it comes to cymbals it has to be Meinl — they’re so diverse and produce such cutting tones. I have a mixture of different Byzance cymbals, from bright crashes to extra dry hi-hats. I’ve been playing Meinl for a few years now and absolutely love them!
I also use Hardcase to protect all my gear and DW 9000 hardware — that stuff lasts a lifetime.
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
I’ve been lucky enough to perform with a lot of fantastic musicians and bands over the years, including deps, sessions, and bands. Currently I play with a female-fronted rock band called MOLLYANNA and various other bands. I also work with some fantastic people in a function band, which is also super fun.
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
I come from a musical family. My grandad was a jazz musician, so growing up I’d gone through all the woodwind and string instruments, but never really stuck with any of them until someone donated a drum kit to my primary school. From that moment, every break we had, me and a group of lads would sit and play the drum set (badly) until we got told off or until the break was over. Eventually after sticking with drums for some time and nagging my mum she caved and bought me my first drum set. That was 17 years ago now and I haven’t looked back since!
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
There’s so many! I love Travis Barker and Taylor Hawkins, as they’re both really super tight and just boss at drums. Recently I’ve been digging a lot of stuff that Anika Nilles has been doing. She’s such a great player and inspiration. This is a tough question really, as every drummer I see is either well-known or is someone to admire and take away new things from.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
I used to have a routine but as of late I must admit I’ve become a little slack. I practice by setting little challenges for myself — both long-term and short-term. For example I might set myself a challenge of learning a really hard pattern that I can’t get my head around or something simple but at a particular tempo. I have a spreadsheet for practice and normally allow myself 30 minutes of freestyle stuff, like playing along to songs, and then focus the rest of the time on trying to get better. Recently I’ve been getting into a lot of unusual time signatures, which is super fun and challenging too.
What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?
That drumming keeps you fit! I mean, I’m not the fittest person on earth but my friends all think I’m crazy when I try to explain that drumming is actually a great form of cardio.
As artists, the goal post for “success” is always moving. There’s not one “I made it!” point. How do you think about and define success?
To me success is simply achieving something you never thought you could achieve before. I’m a firm believer in making things happen, and if you want something, then you don’t stop until you get there. Every success I achieve unlocks another goal. Who knows how many of those there are?
When you sit down to make music and are starting with a blank canvas, what’s your process like?
I decide first on the time signature and the feel that I want to go for. Depending on whether I’m writing alone or with a band, then we’ll just try a ton of ideas until there’s a total beast of an idea that makes sense. Sometimes it’s good to just get creative and write something that doesn’t really make any sense whatsoever and keep building and building until you end up with this part that you’re really proud of. You can’t beat that feeling when you’re writing a song and everything suddenly comes together and it’s like a musical happy place in your mind.
How important is failure in making music/performing?
I don’t think you can fail in music. Every hurdle and knock helps you become a better player and person. We’re constantly striving to make ourselves better people, and “failure” (not that I like that term) is another step to success.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
Just got for it! There are so many versatile platforms out there now that enable us to showcase our talents, such as the “Hit Like A Girl” contest and articles like this. We’re starting to get recognized and we’re kicking ass.
Where else to find Laura
Facebook: Laura Moakes – drummer