Tag Archive: Soultone Cymbals


Tarah G. Carpenter Reveals Her Uncompromising Confrontation with Real Life and Music

Interview with Phil Cartwright, CEO, HorizonVU Music

Tarah G. Carpenter Photo Credit: Anais Brebion

Tarah G. Carpenter Photo Credit: Anais Brebion


The mind, soul, rock’n roll heart beat and operator behind ‘Tarah Who?’ is French / American Singer and Multi-Instrumentalist (drummer, guitarist & bassist) Tarah G. Carpenter. Born in Paris, France, Tarah got her first drum set at age 14. After a short stint of coming to the US to be a high school exchange student in Murray, Kentucky, she was unable to play drums & out of boredom she picked up the guitar & started writing songs as an outlet.

After playing in-and-out of bands around Paris on drums & bass for few years, Tarah got the desire to travel to Los Angeles to explore the music scene. With her bandmates back in Paris and on a last minute whim, Tarah answered an ad on Craigslist “looking for an artist to perform original songs at a warehouse Party Downtown”. When she, for the first time performed singing and playing guitar the audience response was so good that she decided she wanted to do her own music and started playing under the moniker ‘Tarah Who?’ immediately.

With true 90’s spirit, anthemic sing-a-long choruses, a punk edged energetic live show and a load of heart to back it up. Tarah’s song live and recorded jump out and grab at you to listen. The fact that she can rock the drums just hard as the guitar is enough to make any audience member or listener pay attention. Tarah’s been compared to everything from the female Pearl Jam to Sonic Youth, but regardless, Tarah G. Carpenter stands on her own and is someone you don’t want to miss.

Tarah’s song ‘In My Mind’ received an honorable mention for the world song contest by Billboard Magazine and ‘Worst to Come’ has had regular spins on WRCR Rockford, IL College Radio, as well as play on 89.4 FM Radio Libertaire. She has also been featured on numerous blogs including Ustream.tv, Revolutionthreesixty.com (’PEOPLE THAT MATTER’) and Thehangoutgroup.com

Tarah Who? has just released their new EP, “Federal Circle of Shame” available at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/federal-circle-of-shame-ep/id1083959696

HVUM: You are well-known amongst your peers for having a hard-edged DIY approach to your music career. Tell us what’s behind that.

Federal Circle of ShameTGC: I never really thought of it this way, really…

I started playing when I was 14 and I just kept on going. My approach to music or my career is more of a feeling. Does it feel right to follow this path? Or is it fair?

Things don’t always go as planned but you learn and keep going. You know better.

I have my own definition of DIY. I understand and use it more as Do it… Independently from the big labels that do everything for you. What I believe as an independent artist that may be called do it yourself is that you are not famous, but you still want to do and share your music. Why not? Just do it yourself. Don’t wait for the contract, you may not even want any of it after reading it. In that sense you are doing it yourself.

But it is really interesting when you meet other DIY artists. You become friends, and help each other out, tour together, exchange gear, or dates, musicians, studios, ideas and tips etc… It’s this sort of circle of friends, and family that you start building, with artists that are just like you, trying to break through.

017The hard part for a DIY is to stay true to yourself and what you believe in. If you are a DIY musician you are most likely broke or not very wealthy. It is important to not fall into the scams of pay to play gigs for instance. Talking to other bands or musicians is very important to get the best advice to meet your needs. (i.e., you may not have the cash for a recording studio, but need to record: ask around about the equipment you need for a home studio and learn how to do it yourself. Or maybe someone loves your project and would like to help out. The idea is: NOTHING gets in your way)

HVUM: You’ve been working a lot with bassist Ash Orphan. You two come from slightly different musical paths. What led you to work together and how does the collaboration show up in your music?

Ash Orphan

Ash Orphan

TGC: I have known Ash for five years now. We were playing in a project called LED. I was the drummer he was the bass player. I really enjoyed his approach to bass and it really inspired me in playing drums.

We started a side project together to explore the ideas that we had during the smoke breaks our bandmates had. Those ideas became the project we have today called Jane Gray Black Orphan.

At the time Ash was part of another band as well that was getting pretty popular and he didn’t want to start a new project. I really believed there was something to his touch and approach of the guitar now and I really liked his voice. Even though he said he didn’t want a band I kept asking for him to come over “to jam” but of course it all became more serious and before he knew it we were a new band! Now JGBO is a very serious project and we are both really proud of it!

Ash comes from a different musical background. He listens to the dark depressing songs that I usually change after 30 seconds of hearing. I think it’s called post-rock? Not my thing. We tried many times. I just can’t do it! Maybe in a few years!

I am more punk rock, grunge, rock… not pop rock… ROCK! So I enjoy playing with Ash because he writes melodies that inspire me to play grooves he doesn’t expect. It’s the combination of our two musical worlds, I think, that makes Jane Gray Black Orphan.

HVUM: You’re doing a combination of electric and acoustic shows these days. Do you like mixing it up?

TGC: I started Tarah Who? as a solo acoustic performer only because I didn’t have a band! I like playing the electric show better because I get to be loud, I have a lot of fun with the guys and I love the vibrations of the drums and bass and I get to scream as loud as I want!

IMG_1468It is interesting to play solo (or just with Ash but the idea is to play an acoustic set) because I have a different audience and people’s that can’t handle the electric show can appreciate the acoustic!

I hear it all: people that LOVE the electric show, others that are very surprised with the acoustic and could not imagine it but really enjoy it, others that prefer the acoustic etc..

The acoustic is more intimate but still very entertaining and both are a lot of fun. I feed of the audience’s energy so whether it’s an electric or acoustic event, if you’re into it, I’ll give you my best!

HVUM: What you do think each (electric and acoustic) presents you as a songwriter and guitarist?

TGC: I write ALL of my songs with an acoustic guitar. I think that the acoustic emphasizes the rhythmic parts I play.

My songwriting is very “drum” oriented. It doesn’t really follow any songwriting “rules” people may learn. I usually think of the drums first and whatever is fun to play I stick to.

The acoustic show is interesting because there are no drums and I have heard many times from the people that have only seen us electric, they can’t imagine an acoustic show. As of today no one has been disappointed!

So the acoustic definitely shows the rhythm of the songs and you can actually hear my vocals too!

For the electric shows…I think speed… Everything is played faster. Faster than the acoustic show and faster than the album. I think that’s why we started getting this punk label. I never intended to be in the punk scene. I just write what I want really and can’t define it. I have certain emotions while recording that requires a specific tempo. But once it’s out there, available to the world, the live show is something else! We want to have fun, and we want people to jump around and go crazy, so we intentionally play faster, and sometimes as fast as we can!

HVUM: Tell us about your gear setup for Tarah Who? And your acoustic performances.

TGC: Tarah Who? is meant to be a four piece band with a second guitar player, but until I find the “dude” we are a three piece. (booking@tarahwho.com if you are interested.)

Tarah Who?

Tarah Who?


We have the drums, very simple set up: Kick Snare, 2 toms and Floor Tom. 3 crashes, 1 ride, 1 china (essential!!) and HH. Soultone cymbals.

Bass: G&L 5 string bass, Big Muff- Electro Harmonix , EBSMulti Drive. Gallien Kruger Head , Form Factor CAB.

GTR: I have three different guitars and a spare because of my different tunings. On ALL of my guitars though, i have the Ernie Ball Not so slinky set of strings. A friend of mine introduced me to those strings a few years ago, i haven’t stopped buying them since.

Ampeg amp.

Acoustic GTR: my dream guitar is still at the store…I just haven’t had gathered the cash for it yet!

So I still use my old acoustic guitar, with Ernie Ball’s acoustic set. (Medium)
New Album: Barytone and Ernie Ball’s Barytone set. EBS Chorus and Distortion.
Vocals; Shure Beta 58 A.

HVUM: Apart from your own music, what artists are in the top three positions on your playlist these days?

TGC: I actually don’t listen to much music.

I spend my days rehearsing for Tarah Who? or Jane Gray Black Orphan. I also have another punk project with the bass and Barytone that I would like to work on more, so really, when I am done practicing the last thing I want to do is listen to anything.

I actually enjoy silence a lot, and if anything is playing, the people I am with, are usually playing it.

I have more apps on my phone than music, and the music I have is for work, demos: with a very loud metronome!

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Tarah G. Carpenter Will Rock U!

Originally posted May 29th, 2015 by Tom Tom Magazine http://tomtommag.com/2015/05/tarah-g-carpenter-will-rock-u/

Photo by Anais Brebion

Photo by Anais Brebion

Tarah G. Carpenter Will Rock U!

By Phil Cartwright

Full Name: Tarah G. Carpenter

Age: 30

Hometown: Paris, France & Los Angeles, CA

Lives in: Los Angeles, CA

Past Bands: Fräulein (punk/noise)

Current Bands: Jane Gray Black Orphan

Day Job: Musician

Endorsements: Soultone, DC California

The mind, soul, rock’s roll heartbeat and operator behind Tarah Who? is French/American singer and multi-instrumentalist (drummer, guitarist and bassist) Tarah G. Carpenter.

Born in Paris, France, Tarah got her first drum set at age 14. While in the U.S. as a high school exchange student she also picked up the guitar and starting writing songs. With a 90’s spirit, anthemic sing-a-long choruses, a punk-edged energetic live show, the power of Tarah’s songs pull you in and slam you.

Since 2010, Tarah G. Carpenter has released numerous demos and toured Europe many times. She has played at the Festival Europe des Cultures, Gibus, Le Sentier des Halles in Paris. She has been active in the London, Leeds, Amsterdam, Berlin and Hanoi music scenes. More recently, she toured the U.S. playing venues such as the Viper Room and House of Blues in Los Angeles.

PC: Tell us how playing the drums influenced your musical development?

TGC: I think the best thing in being able to play several instruments is that you can experience different positions and feel the music differently. As a drummer, I tend to naturally leave room for others and try not to always play when not necessary. Excepting for drummers, fills are not very fascinating to others. Now, being a drummer, I find it easier to play other instruments as well. For example, I take my guitar as a rhythm instrument. I pay more attention to my band’s tightness. When I play the bass, I like to have fun with the drummer.

In terms of your career, who were your biggest influences?

I first discovered Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl and Vinnie Colaiuta’ drums solos for Buddy Rich’s event. I really enjoyed how they were using the drums. At 15 all of this was new to me.

Then I listened to the Foo fighters and of course I got into Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins. Then I started looking for female drummers and discovered Sheila E. I don’t know many drummers or I don’t look for any in particular. I enjoy drummers that have personality, their own sound behind the kit, that are original, or just know how to groove.

Recently, I saw Keith Carlock at a drum festival in Paris. I really, really enjoyed his approach to the drums. I have also seen Sean Winchester in his solo project called Something Bot Metro. I think his drumming is brilliant and watching the project live is a real pleasure.

What makes a good drummer?

Ha! I think we can all have our own definition!

I don’t think a “GOOD” drummer needs to have all the technique possible. I think practice is important because without technique you are limited. But there’s nothing worse in my opinion than a very good technician who has no feelings or personal touch or sound. Most people wouldn’t notice the difference, but I think you can tell sometimes from a hit, or sound who is behind the drums. Also I find it annoying for instance if I’m playing another instrument and the drummer doesn’t listen to the music and really feel it. I think a good drummer needs to find the right balance, or find the right amount of groove, fill, feel, and of course timing – feel where it feels right to put in a fill or leave it simple. A good drummer should keep the band tight for sure, but also a good band should know how to listen to each other, whichever instrument they play.

PC: Tell us a little about life with Tarah Who?

TGC: Life with Tarah Who? is an adventure! I write all the music and lyrics then send the songs to my band mates. They learn their parts and then we meet in studios to rehearse. What I like is that we can arrange every song for the live performance, and we have a lot of fun doing that. Every show is different.

A very fun moment that sticks in my mind? Yes, I have tons, but a recent one was in London. We were invited to play at this punk Festival (which is really funny to us because we are not a punk band at all…or at least we are not my definition of a punk band). So we are at this punk fest which is very cool. There were five bands and we played 4th. So we got to see the other bands, and I’m starting to sweat thinking, “This crowd is going to hate us so much! We are like the pop band of the night to these professional mosh-pitters with mohawks in every color having toilet paper fights and demonstrating talent as world renowned beer drinkers!” It’s finally our time to go and as we’re setting up I turn to the band and tell them, “ Guys! we’re going to need to give them all that we’ve got!” and told my drummer to speed all the songs up to 200 bpm or follow my lead when I have to start the songs. And no stopping in between songs.

It was a success! We definitely sounded punk, and we had a blast!

PC: What has been the highlight of your career to-date?

TGC: For Tarah Who? so far it has been to take the plunge and go in the studios alone. Make the record the way it sounds like in my head. The rest is to come.

For Jane Gray Black Orphan our first EP is about discovering ourselves and what we want to do in the project. The first album (that we are currently writing ) is going to be a huge next step, that we cannot wait to start sharing.

PC: Thinking about great female drummers, we recall Sheila Escovedo, Georgia Hubley, Teresa Taylor, Kate Schellenbach, Janet Weiss and others… but really there are not that many? Why is that? Do you think female drummers have an especially hard time being recognized?

TGC: We are a few out there and we do have our own community, which is not unpleasant. Thanks to Tom Tom magazine for instance, female drummers have a place to express themselves among others or discover other female drummers, Hit Like A Girl contest makes you realize you’re not the only one and there are AMAZING female drummers worldwide.

I have met a few well-known male drummers that are very supportive of female drummers. I also think it is changing a lot and the more girls/women are going to see other women play, the more they are going to see that they can do it too and dare to make their first step.

From my experience, I have kept it for myself for a while that I was playing the drums, because I was tired of men’s reactions. I travel a lot and as of today I still deal with guys making a face when they see that I am the drummer. I think unless your name is out there, Cindy Blackman with Lenny Kravitz, for example, you’re still going to deal with people’s first judgment and then it depends on us to change their opinion or not.

Drums are for everyone, just like any instrument (or anything in life, as a matter of fact!).

I think people are more open to female drummers in North America than elsewhere. I think girls used to have a hard time, because it was set in people’s minds that drums were for men, but it has definitely evolved and keeps evolving.

Maybe female drummers have had a hard time being recognized, but I know that today things are changing and I don’t know if the male drummers are in special need for some female drummers around all of these dudes! But I have been encouraged a lot by people like Thomas Lang, to just keep playing!

And I keep meeting more and more supportive people. I have just been endorsed by Soultone cymbals and DC California for instance. On social media I have a lot of supportive comments, and everyone I meet at gigs tell me “it’s nice to see a woman play the drums!” Sound engineers also come very often after the shows to show their support. Soon it will be a new trend!

PC: Touring can be particularly tough especially for drummers. There is a lot of gear involved and that means not only setting up and tearing down night after night, but making sure your gear stays safe and in the best condition. Thoughts about touring as a drummer?

TGC: I love touring. As a drummer, I find it difficult at times because you have to think of more things like numbers of stands and toms you really need. Unless you have a lot of room on the tour bus you’re just going to take too much room in the van and stage.

Touring in the States and in Europe ( as an independent band) is very different. In Europe, bands share equipment so that every band brings something and everyone stays for the other band and it’s all fair. In the US, we were really surprised that in the beginning no one lended anything, or if they did, they would actually rent it. In the end, this makes sense. Gear is so expensive you don’t want anyone to play your gear. And lately, I have heard about a few situations where gear was stolen. WHO DOES THAT??

I am very particular with my drums and I know where and how I set up my stuff, so I don’t like anyone to try to help me setting up. As band, everyone should help each other carrying gear from van to stage. But when it comes to setting up, in my opinion you’re better off doing it yourself.

PC: What words of advice do you pass along the young musicians wanting to be rock stars?

TGC: Ha! What is a rock star?! If you want to play music. Get out there and play. Do what you have to do, to make it happen. But I only have one piece of advice: BE YOU! Don’t try to be someone else, don’t learn the drums like someone else, get inspired, or learn a few things here and there from others. Other drummers succeeded because they were doing their own thing.

So do your thing, feel the music, write, play. Do what you have to do, be you and stay clean! You want to be a good drummer? You are first an athlete! Write and play music because you have something to say, something to pass on, emotions, express yourself, share it with the world, not because it looks cool.

PC: One final question… what is Tarah G Carpenter doing now and what are your plans for the future?

TGC: I am currently recording my third album (Tarah Who?). That should come out in 2015. I am also working with Ash on Jane Gray Black Orphan’s first album. Tarah Who? is planning to tour the West Coast in September 2015 and we hope to see you out there!

You can check Tarah’s Facebook and Instagram for updates on all her music!


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