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On The Beat with Tess Jehle

 

Tess Jehle's recipe for drumming delight is simple: a dash of metronome, a serving of fun, and a big-ol’ helping of listening. Whether listening to different styles and new music, or listening to bandmates and the audience, listening is the key ingredient. The result is Tess’s sublime combination of rhythms and textures with a tangy, yet delicately measured, zip. This St. Charles, MO native came to UMKC in 2005 and has been drumming – and listening – in the KC music scene for 3 years.

The Deli: Who are you playing with these days, and what makes them worthy of your skill?

Tess Jehle: I currently play in two bands. The B'Dinas, which I started with four of my friends at UMKC in 2009 and Dream Wolf, which I joined about a year and a half ago. After seeing them perform and really liking their music, I was lucky enough to be asked to join.

Honestly, I have the privilege of playing with some of the best musicians in Kansas City. I feel like I'm not worthy of them sometimes.

The Deli: Tell us about your process. How do you create your drum parts?

TJ: I definitely have a connection with my guitarists. I know there is supposed to be a bond between drummer and bassist, and don't get me wrong I love my bass players (Peter Lawless and Brent Jamison), but I really connect with my guitarists. I almost always use guitar riffs and melodies as the inspiration for my beats and drum parts. And I am fortunate enough to play with two of the best guitarists I have ever seen: Katy Guillén in The B'Dinas and Chris Tady in Dream Wolf.

The Deli: How did you get started on drums?

TJ: My parents encouraged me when I showed an interest in music. They are the reason I was able to start playing. My dad signed me up for drum lessons at a local music store when I was 11. I loved drumming from the minute I sat down at the set. I begged for my own drum set and he told me if I stuck with the lessons for 1 year then he would buy me one. Sure enough, he bought me my first kit a year later.

I took lessons for 3 years until high school. Then I joined the marching band. Oh yeah, I was a total band nerd. My drumline coaches in high school, Mark Thomas and Mike Davis, were amazing drummers and taught me so much not only about playing, but also about performing.

The Deli: Would you rather be a cymbal or a drum?

TJ: I think I would be a bass drum. It's always been my favorite. It's the biggest and the baddest.

The Deli: Of the music you've recorded, what's your favorite song? Did you have any particular inspiration for it?

TJ: “Movin' Movin” off The B'Dinas latest EP, Morning Party. I mainly used the guitar licks of the song to develop the beats that I play. Katy Guillén wrote that song; it has a great feel to it, and I had a lot of fun with it. 

These sounds tend to pull me in and out of being present. At times they distract me from the task or conversation at hand, and at other times they serve as reminders to stop, take a moment and remember that I am alive. I guess I hear them as an invitation to slow down.

The Deli: Obligatory question…drumming heroes?

TJ: Chris Coleman – he plays with amazing style and precision. Benny Greb – he's an awesome, grooving, funky drummer out of Germany. Carter Beauford – he's just an awesome drummer. I loved Dave Matthews Band when I was younger, and he has always been a drum idol of mine.

The Deli: When are you happiest?

TJ: When I can balance my playing and time with my fiancé, family and friends.

The Deli: Studio or live show?

TJ: That's tough. I like recording because there is something about being in the studio that makes me focus…because you know what ever you play that day will be the way people will hear the song over and over. It throws me into intense focus. I also really love playing live. There is a spontaneity in the playing that is always fun. There is nothing like the energy you get from a crowd of people dancing to your music.

You can be one of those people dancing to Tess’s music by catching her in action at The Brick with The B'Dinas on June 22 and with Dream Wolf on June 23.

 -Sergio Moreno

Sergio is a drummer drone for The Hillary Watts Riot and a contraption set buffoon with Alacartoona. He wishes he could get paid to practice meditation, do yoga, and drink white tea all day long. But in the meantime he earns his keep making greeting cards in Spanish.

 

 
Tess Jehle
 

 
 

The B'Dinas
Morning Party

Morning Party

Dream Wolf