Jordyn Blakely of Butter the Children
Posted by Tom Tom Magazine
June 10, 2013
Jordyn Blakely drums for Brooklyn’s Butter the Children. She describes her drumming as fast, intense and sometimes busy and still feels like a kid. We like her already.
How would you describe Butter the Children and your drumming style?
The groups I’ve played with in Brooklyn have all had fast, intense, and sometimes busy music, so my style has developed into a similar vibe; lots of quick fills, syncopation, heaviness, and hard-hitting. BTC is melodic, poppy, very loud and the songs are short and fast. But I listen to and play tons of different music besides rock, like avant garde jazz, hip hop, R&B and electronic, so my style reflects those too. I try to use the language from those genres and not separate them too much, but only if it fits for the song. My most difficult challenge is trying to avoid overplaying, or distracting from the core of the song by playing something too out there.
What led you to playing music?
I played guitar a little bit because my stepdad played and he taught me a few things. When I got into Jimi Hendrix and heard Mitch Mitchell, I had never realized anyone could drum with such a mix of chaos and precision and it made me want to play. I begged for a drum set and finally got one for Christmas when I was fifteen. My stepdad passed away shortly after that, and it was rather sudden. Music was our biggest connection, and after that happened I played as much as possible because it was something to do to pass the time, it helped distract me, and it was something that felt right and put some meaning into a really difficult and confusing time.
Where did you go to school for music? What was your experience like?
I applied to Berklee College of Music, not expecting to get in. It felt like a series of transitions and growing pains. At first I was discouraged because I had only been playing for two years before entering, and I worried I was in over my head or had been overly confident in choosing that road. The classes and environment were competitive and intense, but eventually I realized I could either give up or use the challenges as an opportunity to figure out if this was right for me, and I proved to myself that I really care about music. I also had several inspiring teachers and met such talented musicians that I identified with. I remember teachers asking me, “Why do you want to play? Why?” That really pushed me to improve and work on myself and think about my musical expression and technique.
What do you look for in music collaborators, co-conspirators?
I don’t feel like I look for anything specific, I just know when I find the right fit. I always see playing with someone new as an opportunity to communicate in a way I haven’t before, figure out their style and understand what they have to say.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet local musicians whose work I’ve always loved (for example Ray Weiss of BTC, formerly the frontman of Le Rug, and Steve Hartlett of Ovlov). But I look for openness- somebody who doesn’t tell me what to play too specifically and lets me contribute my own ideas. I relate to those who are passionate and believe in what they are doing, but are self-critical enough that they don’t put their egos first and they want what’s best for the song and the listener’s experience.
What about drumming interests you most?
I like that it requires your whole body- when you get it right it just feels so good. When you’re in it and you’re putting forth every ounce of energy you can, you aren’t thinking about your problems or your doubts or anything else in the world and it’s a true escape. There’s nothing better than playing a song or a beat you totally love and knowing that it also sounds really good, and hopefully moved or inspired someone else. It’s also a place where I can go to let out lots of aggression or confusion, since it’s so physical and almost violent in a way.
Any other cool projects you’re currently working on?
I have a few bands that don’t play out as much- Scherzo with Rob Karpay (Life Size Maps), where he plays synth and I get to be a living drum machine. Heeney, which is a grunge band with Mark Fletcher (Shapes) and Max Kagan (Le Rug). My friends opened up a recording studio at Silent Barn, which I’ve been helping to build and promote. I’ve started to do show-booking, I want to try writing, and I’m trying to improve on bass and guitar. I just want to learn stuff. All kinds of stuff.
Most memorable tour moment? Show?
It’s hard to choose…the best shows are when lots of friends show up, the other bands rule and are friendly, and your band plays well. On tour it’s awesome when you meet locals in a new city who are welcoming and make the trip feel worthwhile.
Most memorable show is when Life Size Maps played NRMAL Festival in Mexico. The audience was so excited because I guess in Mexico rock shows don’t happen all that often. Kids wanted pictures with us afterwards- I’m definitely not used to that.
Most memorable tour moment is in Indiana, when me and Ezana Edwards (Night Manager) left the house where we were staying to get something to eat but got incredibly lost, for over an hour, in the middle of nowhere, Bloomington, Indiana. Our phones had run out of batteries and we thought we were going to die out there for sure.
Favorite live video to share?
I briefly subbed in Ava Luna while their drummer’s foot was broken. I love them and their music and it was fun learning their catalog- this is a video from a memorable night when we played with Krill, who also happen to be the friendliest guys ever.
Learn more about Jordyn’s projects at: jordyndrums.tumblr.com
Photos and words by Julie Jamora for Tom Tom Magazine