Mindee Jorgensen is a teacher and drummer for the hard-hitting three-piece Dangerously Sleazy and the electro-dance band Modpods.
Women are underrepresented in the percussion world. Our weekly series, Women 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.
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What is your city, country, and age?
I am 35 and living in Los Angeles, CA. I moved here from Sioux City, Iowa eight years ago.
Tell us about your gear.
I currently use a Yamaha Stage Custom set, including the snare. I play a Tama Iron Cobra double bass pedal, and use Promark Kashi Oak 747, a.k.a. the Neil Pert signature stick. I have a collection of cymbals, but mainly use a Zildjian K custom dark ride, an A custom fast crash, a Paiste 2002 crash, and Zildjian Z3 hi-hats.
What bands do you perform with, if any?
I have two projects I play with consistently, and also take paying gigs and give lessons.
Dangerously Sleazy is a hard-hitting three piece that has hints of rock and roll, early hardcore punk, thrash, and even blues. This is the band where I really get to push the limits of my drumming abilities, and show my personal style.
Modpods is a unique electro-dance band fronted by a very talented female singer, Myriad Slits. There is always an electronic beat, and we switch off instruments, which is really fun. It gives me a chance to play guitar and bass as well.
I have recently been working with Dale Crover, drummer of the Melvins, to perform live for his solo project. He is a major drumming influence of mine, so I am really grateful for this opportunity and looking forward to this in 2018.
To me there is no real end goal to reach, because you can always improve, learn, and grow.
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
I knew I wanted to be a drummer as early as six. My favorite song was “Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones. I would listen to it over and over, and the drums really spoke to me. My father played guitar, so I grew up with music. The only drum thing he had was a Yamaha electric drum machine: It had four pads and a pair of sticks, and I loved to play with that way more than the guitars. When school band started at ten I wanted to play drums, but that required two years of piano. So I took up saxophone. In seventh grade at parent teacher conferences I told them I wanted to switch to drums, but the teacher said “maybe next year.” I actually quit band at the end of middle school, but the summer before high school the band teacher randomly called me and said he saw I had been in band before and asked if I wanted to join up again, that they had a fun year planned with a band trip to Canada. I said “Only if I can play drums!” So they put me on the cymbals in drumline, but I got promoted to bass drum the first day because I was good at reading music. Drumline is a major influence on my style.
I started playing the kit at 14 when I got promoted from bongos in jazz band because the drummer was never on time to rehearsal. The teacher asked if I thought I could play drums and I was so stoked! She taught me the jazz beat and how to read the sheet music right there while the rest of the band was waiting, and I picked it up really fast. I wanted to play for so long, and had the music background already, so once I finally got to start drumming it came very quickly to me.
I got my first kit at 16. It was a Ludwig Rocker, and I insisted on getting a double bass pedal because I was really into metal at the time. I tried to start bands with no luck for about a year. Then at 17 I found the right people and we started a punk band, Forever Donkey. I have been performing live with bands ever since.
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
I have a so many influences and drummers I respect and love. If I have to pick just one favorite I would have to say Joe Ross. He currently plays in a handful of bands out of Seattle, including Convictions and The Beggars. We both come from Sioux City, where we met 17 years ago and became great friends. He is an amazing drummer. He was super supportive and encouraging when I first started playing in local bands, and we really pushed each other and learned together. He also introduced me to so much good music and great drummers.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
I do warmups and speed exercises almost every day on a practice pad. On the kit I usually spend the first half focusing on learning new things or songs I may be working on, and then end my practice with some free jamming time where I just improvise and play whatever I am feeling that day.
Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you would like to share with Drum readers?
Warming up is so important. I start at a slow tempo with wide, full-range strokes, and slowly speed up while keeping the strokes as open as possible.
Drumming is very physical and it is important to take care of yourself, especially your cardiovascular system. Before a performance, do something to get your heart rate up, such as jumping jacks, so the blood is already pumping when you hit the stage.
What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?
I always tell new students that drums are like a snowball effect. The first lesson you may only learn one or two things and it may take a while, but the more you learn and practice the easier it becomes to pick up new things. By the fifth lesson you may be learning ten things and grasping them quickly.
I feel some beginners get discouraged when they don’t get it right away and think they don’t have what it takes, but you just gotta focus and play through that initial frustration.
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?
My personal goal is to evolve a unique style that is recognizably my own, and be regarded as a noteworthy drummer. To me there is no real end goal to reach, because you can always improve, learn, and grow.
Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?
“Competition kills creativity.”
When you sit down to make music and are starting with a blank canvas, what’s your process like?
When I’m by myself I usually just start messing around and if something clicks I will go with it. A lot of it will depend on what I am feeling that day. I also really enjoy improvised jamming with other people.
How important is failure in making music/performing?
The more you fail, the more you realize that you’re not really failing at all. I see success as having the willpower and drive to stay on your musical journey no matter what roadblocks life may throw your way. As long as you’re doing it, you’re succeeding. Use whatever you perceive as a failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
When it comes to anything in life, stay focused, and do not care what other people think. Have confidence in yourself no matter what.
Always keep learning and gain as much knowledge as you can. Be open to advice, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Look to other drummers for influence and ideas, and never limit yourself to learning just one style.
Don’t let anyone tell you you’re a gimmick for being a girl who plays drums. If the drums call to you, then you’re a drummer and it doesn’t matter what sex you are.
There will be people who try to criticize your playing and discourage you, but that is just a reflection of their own insecurities. Those people don’t matter. At all.
If you had to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?
Rudiments are so important and I always start teaching them right away. For an hour lesson I usually spend at least 15 minutes teaching one or two new rudiments and sticking exercises to go with them. You can learn to play the set without learning the rudiments, but it can only get you so far.
I would really push sticking exercises and getting proper technique down from the beginning. Also, discovering a student’s individual strengths and weaknesses is important, and I would give take home exercises focused on what that particular students needs to help them grow.
Where else to find Mindee