Who: Boyanna Trayanova
Where: Musician’s Village in the Upper 9th
Artist’s chosen location for interview: We met in the studio at WWNO, but if she had her choice we would have met in the Marigny or Bywater
Q: What’s the worst travel adventure you’ve ever been on?
A: Back in the day I used to tour around with my college band in the early 2000s. We toured all over the place in a 15 passenger Dodge van, and it was old and beat up. The van would breakdown all of over the place. We had lots of hairy experiences where the van broke down on the sides of mountains in Colorado.
One time we had to drive through a blizzard on the way to our gig in Denver. Of course, we’re from the south, so we didn’t realize that when blizzards happen they cancel gigs.
We couldn’t see a thing as we were driving, but we kept saying, ‘We gotta make this gig. We can’t miss it.’ It was snowing horizontally at us, we put snow chains on the tires, and we got there. We made it to the club, and the people at the club looked at us like we were nuts.
They said, ‘What are you doing? It’s a blizzard out there.’ And the show was cancelled.
Q: Who do you like having your picture taken by?
A: Everyone. I’m an entertainer, so I have to be pretty comfortable with pictures. There’s only a minor worry that people taking videos or pictures in the audience will throw it up on YouTube, and I won’t get credit for it, but everyone has a video camera in their pocket, so that’s kind of a fact of life now.
I figure, I’m up on stage, so that’s kind of my job.
And all my family and friends can take my picture. Whether the picture turns out good or not really just depends on the lighting, so anyone can take my picture.
Q: What do you think about when you think about your arms?
A: I try not to think about them because the more I think about my arms when I’m playing, the harder it is to play. There’s a big difference between performance and practice.
When I sit down to practice, I think more about independence of my limbs and such, but when I’m performing I like to let muscle memory take over and think more about artistic concepts.
I’ve been playing drums for 25 years, so it takes a lot of practice to get there.
It’s tough being a drummer. It’s great, and it’s tough. I definitely get a lot of attention because I’m a female drummer, but it’s not always the attention you want. I prefer to be noticed for spending a lot of time with my instrument. Instead, I get noticed for being female, and that was just how I was born. I have no control over that.
I get noticed because there aren’t that many female drummers. I’m trying to change that because I think the only way peoples’ perceptions will change is to have more female drummers. I’m trying to teach more girls how to drum because playing the drums is so much fun. I tell them, ‘Pick up a pair of sticks and hit things, ladies.’
Your parents will love you.
How did your parents respond?
They were very supportive. At first they didn’t know what to think, but when they saw that I was going to stick with it, they bought me a drum set. Then I played it for the first time, and I wouldn’t say they were really happy about me choosing the drums, but they were always supportive.
And now I play jazz, blues, ska, Balkan, and anything in between. That’s New Orleans for you. I’m a New Orleans drummer first and foremost, so those New Orleans traditions seeped into my blood. You have to diversify to stay alive in this town because you never know who’s going to call. In a week you can be called for a jazz, African, Brazilian, or Balkan gig.
New Orleans has always been a diverse place. We’re a port city, so you get a lot of different cultures that mix, and with that comes a lot of different music. That’s one of the reasons I love it here. We have everything here.
Q: If you had a parallel life, what would it look like?
A: I guess I’d be a shepherd in the Balkans somewhere. That’s what I dream about doing when I retire. I’d let the sheep graze on the mountainside and I’d walk with them. Maybe a dog or two would be with me, and a whole bunch of nature.
It’s a fantasy.
To hear more about Boyanna Trayanova, as well as her music, you can visit her website as well as follow her on Facebook. You can also here her live this week on Friday at the Ace Hotel with her Bulgarian band (Mahala) from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM, and she will be leading a drum circle at Bayou Boogaloo in the Kid’s Tent from 4:00 PM until 5:00 PM.