Jessica Goodwin is an LA-based, heavy-hitting drummer with a passion for performing live. She began her musical journey in the school band, and eventually went on to major in percussion at Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts high school. She has performed with a number of artist in Los Angeles and has toured with the artist Big Black Delta, as well as Misfits all-female outfit, She Demons, put together by Misfits bass player Jerry Only.
Goodwin has also brought her talents into TV and advertising with her drumming in national TV commercials, been the face of Guitar Center’s Drum Off ads, and has appeared on Ellen playing percussion with Troy Sivan. She is currently playing with three groups: Cowgirls, Glam Skanks, and Kate Clover.
Women are underrepresented in the percussion world. Our weekly series, Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW), aims to recognize, celebrate, and inspire female percussionists of all stripes. Each Wednesday we’ll feature a profile of a drummer, who will share tips, advice, and videos. Want to be featured yourself? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org telling us more about you.
What is your city, country, and age?
I am originally from Las Vegas, NV, and I am currently living in Los Angeles, CA. I’m 31 years old.
What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
Battlefield drums with a 12″ x 8″ mounted tom, 16″ x 14″ floor tom, and an 22″ x 18″ bass drum, and a 14″ x 6″ Ludwig Black Beauty snare. I use Vater 5B wood tip drumsticks, DW 9000 pedals, and TRX Cymbals (15″ DRK/BRT hi-hats, 18″ MDM crash, 20″ X crash, and a 24″ MDM ride).
Do you have endorsements?
Yes, Vater drumsticks and TRX cymbals.
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
I am playing with Cowgirls (@cowgirlsband), an indie/goth/country band, Glam Skanks (@glamskanks), an all female rock and roll band, and Kate Clover (@kate_clover_) an indie/punk artist.
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
I honestly feel like drums found me. I remember wandering into a music store one day and buying a pair of drum sticks for no particular reason. From there, I started banging on boxes until I convinced my parents to buy me a drum pad so I could join the school band. I got lucky because my mom happened to work with a guy who was a drummer, and he sold my mom my first drum kit at a really good price. After I got the kit, my band teacher gave me a photocopy of Mel Bay’s beginners drum set book and I tried to teach myself how to play the kit over that summer. That’s how it all started!
I feel like I am the most complete version of myself when I am feeding my creative soul in that way.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
My routine depends on what I have going on as far as gigs, etc. Right now, my routine includes working exercises from the Syncopation book, some play-along warm-up videos I find on YouTube, followed by learning new songs for upcoming gigs. I also really love playing along to drumless tracks on YouTube. It is especially fun to play along to songs I’ve never heard before because it really helps with my listening skills.
Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum readers?
My advice would be to play with other musicians as much as possible, and to play gigs as much as you can. Playing live is one of my favorite things in the world. Also, practice with a metronome!
What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?
I have gone through a lot of periods in my life when I have stopped playing for extended periods of time — a lot of times because of getting discouraged or from self doubt, but I always find my way back to drums. It isn’t until I start playing again that I realize that something inside of me feels whole or complete again. It’s hard to describe, and it might sound crazy, but I feel like I am the most complete version of myself when I am feeding my creative soul in that way.
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?
When I was little, I discovered my favorite band. They were different in the sense that they made me feel something that I had never felt before listening to their music. They deeply affected me with the music they were creating. I remember when I started playing music, that was my goal to one day be able to have other people feel that way about my music that I felt listening to that band as a child. That to me is success. As a musician, if I get to play for people that enjoy and love what I am creating, then that is the best thing. I have been lucky to have toured and made money as a drummer, and that is pretty amazing. Any time I get to do what I love for work, there is a degree of success in there for me. I guess I would say that I think of success in really simple ways in moments that I’ve gotten to experience as a musician.
Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?
Well, I started saying YOLO as a joke several years ago, and I think I have now adopted it as my life motto!
When you sit down to make music and are starting with a blank canvas, what’s your process like?
When my band brings me song ideas, the first thing I do is listen for the vibe or the mood, and then the rhythms I am hearing within the guitar, bass, and vocals. From there, I just start trying different things to see what sounds or feels good. My bandmates and I in Cowgirls are writing new songs right now, and we really like recording our rehearsals and listening back to see what we like or what sounds good. I try to just let it flow and not think too much about it at the beginning.
How important is failure in making music/performing?
It is essential. Everyone will experience failure in some form at some point. If you channel that energy into working that much harder, it makes you stronger, builds character, and really makes you appreciate your successes.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
My best advice is to keep at it no matter what, and don’t let anyone make you think for a second that you are incapable or not good just because you are a woman. Also, it is important to surround yourself with people that support your dreams and lift you up. I am lucky to live in Los Angeles and be friends with so many incredible female musicians. We all support and encourage each other. Find those people wherever you are, and if you don’t have that, then I will personally be your cheerleader!
If you had to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?
I would say first and foremost, if you attend a school that offers a music program, absolutely get involved in that. You will learn all of the basics and proper techniques that will be your forever foundation. If you don’t have access to music programs at school, there are tons of free online resources especially with sites like YouTube. I am a huge fan of Drumeo videos. They have tons of free lessons online and lots of resources. Also, listen to all different types of music. Listen to the drums and see if you can figure out what it is they are playing.
Where else to find Jessica
Instagram @jessthedrummer and Twitter @jessgthedrummer