Lauren Brown is a Boston gal, who has been tap-dancing since she was around six. She always loved it, beginning as a 42nd Street fan, then morphing into a Savion Glover fan over the years. She ended up at NYU’s Tisch School studying performance art and experimental theater, and training with some of the most radical, brilliant thinkers she’d ever been around. From there she traveled to Los Angeles, where her friends (the Kolar siblings) were starting a band called He’s My Brother She’s My Sister. They asked Brown to join as a tap dancer—filling out the rhythm alongside a drummer. But then the drummer quit. Without much thought, Rob (her then-bandmate, now husband and current-bandmate) said, “Why don’t you be our drummer, but keep all the tap dancing?!” Almost a decade later, Brown tap-dances the hi-hat rhythm with her feet on a specially built bass drum (put together by her friend, the artist Nick Nackahara), while she simultaneously plays a standing kick drum, floor tom, marching snare, and two crash cymbals with her arms.
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What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
Each one of my drums is from a different kit, and slightly tweaked and rebuilt to support how I play. I have both Ludwig drums and Gretsch.
I tap dance the hi-hat rhythm on top of a giant bass drum on its side, while simultaneously playing a standing kick drum, floor tom, marching snare, and two crash cymbals. It’s like octopus drumming.
Do you have endorsements?
No! But I’d love some.
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
KOLARS is my main band. I used to do this with my previous band, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, as well.
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
Sheila E! That rhythm with those high heels? Wow. To be able to collaborate with her in my lifetime would be a dream. She is a drummer with style and grace, femininity and power. True goals.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
I pretty much practice every day when I’m not on the road. I’m just trying to get better and also keep thinking up new beats, new ways to incorporate the tap, new ways to push myself. I’m not even close to where I want to get to.
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What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?
I truly think when someone drums they are tapping into their higher self. I feel like I look crazy when I play—my tongue wags all over the place; everyone must think I’m on some strange drug trip. But something just takes over when I start the beat that makes my brain stop thinking and my body and heart just take me over.
All my neuroses have left the building. It’s the best part of my day.
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?
I honestly just want to be happy and make others happy. I want to feel empowered and I want to do the same for someone else. That’s it. If I can make that happen in a day, I’ve made it.
Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”—Maya Angelou
How important is failure in making music/performing?
Essential. Failing is everything. I fail every day—no joke!
Failing is a part of the learning process, the rehearsal process. It’s how we get better. If we aren’t failing in the practice room, we aren’t challenging ourselves.
When I learned to do my weird drumming, it was mistake after mistake. But each mistake taught me something new. The mistake is the beginning of the solution.
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Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
We need you! I spend 80 percent of my year on tour, playing alongside band after band. How often do I meet another female drummer? Maybe three a year?
Please come out here and join me! We need more of us at the party.
Where else to find Lauren
Lauren: @lbrolar and @KOLARSmusic on Facebook and Instagram.
We’re on tour now and will be for the rest of 2019. Hope to see you there.