Kristen Gleeson-Prata

Kristen Gleeson-Prata

Artists worked with: BORNS, Trixie Mattel, Mike Taylor, Wilder Woods, Emma White, Tigertown, Morgxn, Bay Ledges, Mario Jose, Kenton Chen, LPX, Fox Wilde, @kaygeepee

How did you become involved in music?

My dad took me to see the legendary fusion drummer Billy Cobham when I was 10. I immediately started lessons. I’m not sure how he had the foresight to do so, and I wonder where I’d be today if he hadn’t.

Can you describe your songwriting technique?

How does that change with a band vs. solo? I’ve done minimal songwriting, and only in a band. It’s proven very important to me to be very comfortable with the people I’m writing with and to respect everyone’s individual strengths. I hope to do more because it’s a super rewarding experience

What has been your biggest challenge touring?

My biggest challenge regarding touring is the dichotomy of being on tour and being home. When I’m on tour I feel like my best self and I feel like I have so much purpose. A small but important group of people, not to mention all the fans, are relying on me and trusting me with a big and important job. While I’m on tour, the small world in which we exist seems like the whole world to me.

I have a fantastic and supportive husband and wonderful home life in the wonderful city of LA, so I’m always so happy to come home when tour is over. There is a week or so of honeymoon-like guilt-less relaxing and rediscovery of all things home, and then soon enough I start to worry about where the next job and paycheck are coming from. I dislike the feeling of needing to leave town in order to feel like a productive member of society. Eventually Los Angeles realizes I’m back and available, and I re-discover my purpose and how to be my best self as a whole human, not just a touring drummer. Overall I’ve found that the process of re-integrating into non-tour life takes a bit of time for me.

How much studio work do you do?

I do way more live work than studio work, but I greatly enjoy it. Being in the studio appeals to my type-A and slightly perfectionist personality. I love the process of getting that money take, and how a record can be a timestamp of a very special moment in time. I also love the feeling of having had an important role in a piece of art that can be enjoyed forever.

How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band touring?

I try to remember that I am an artist. I can do many different things, but what all those things have in common is me and my drums. If I can be confident in who I am and what I love to do, I can compartmentalize the different specific jobs I give my time and energy to, and at the end of the day take comfort in the fact that it’s all really me.

What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? How did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

I’ve been underestimated, taken advantage of, and have had to work harder to prove myself. We are constantly dealing with these challenges, but the one thing I have control of is my work ethic. I can’t control what other people expect or don’t expect from me, but I can control the effort I put in and the good work I do. This kind of work is what gives my career longevity. I want to work with the people who see me for who I am and the way I play. Everyone else doesn’t deserve my attention. As for whether those challenges increase or decrease when touring, I think it depends on who I’m touring with. If the artist or band I’m touring with hired me for me and because I was the best person for the job, not for my body, then there should be very few (if any) challenges related to my gender. However much respect the artist has for their band and crew, everyone else involved follows suit. It starts from the top.

What one thing would you change about the music industry?

I wish there was more support for musicians on all fronts. The reality of our jobs is that work comes and goes. There’s no retirement plan for hired guns, so when we have work, we need to be treated well and paid well. Benefits and 401ks should be commonplace. When we play cover, restaurant or wedding gigs, we need to be treated with respect instead of like the help. Musicians should never be something to skimp on. There are places in the world where musicians are paid a salary by the government to be full-time musicians. Though this may seem small, there are places in the world where specified curb-side reserved-for-musicians parking spots exist. Furthermore, on a personal level, and because of all of the above, mental health is a very common issue in the music industry. I wish there was more support and awareness.

January 21st, 2020