Name: Doug Yowell
Playing with Suzanne Vega: from
2001 until now
Photo by Mark
Doug Yowell was one of the drummers
participating in the recording Suzanne Vega's 2001 album
"Songs in Red and Gray", becoming her touring
drummer from September 2001 onwards, until 2004.
|How did it happen
that you joined the Suzanne Vega band?
What, according to you, did
your way of playing bring to the live performance of
When I play live with Suzanne I am
very conscious of the dynamics on stage. It's important
to begin with her feeling comfortable sonically and
to then blend together as a collective sound around
her, always keeping in mind that the audience is there
to see her, hear her voice and feel her lyrics. For
me it's about serving the music. I like to stay focused
and aware of Suzanne in order to maintain a flow within
the show and provide a certain consistency night to
night. The fact that I love her music and respect her
as a person means much more than just playing the right
notes. Feeling that way about someone you work with
makes me grateful and that translates directly through
Photo by Dave Hammar
her producer, Rupert Hine, called and asked if
I would come and play on a few tracks for the
"Song's In Red And Gray" album. Rupert
heard me in another situation and I was grateful
he remembered me. I had been playing with Suzanne's
long time bass player Mike
Visceglia as well as Gerry
Leonard in many other projects and it seemed
as though all of these elements came together
in the right way at the right time. I was then
asked to tour with Suzanne and I am proud to say
I've been doing that ever since.
What are your main music influences,
and musicians you look up to?
My main musical influences are constantly
growing but i tend to love music that has a lot of soul
and feel. I grew up listening to The Beatles, Joni Mitchell,
Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Chet Baker and so on. I
come from a large musical family who were all into different
kinds of music and that helped me to have a large perspective.
The musicians that have had a direct impact on me have
been Peter Erskine, Duncan Sheik, Mike
Visceglia, Gerry Leonard,
David Lasley to name a few. Indirectly Steve Gadd, Steve
Jordan, Bill Evans, Marvin Gaye, The Meters, (there
are so many it would fill pages) Suffice to say, my
musical mentors tend to be people who's instrument is
a vehicle to the inner core of their spirit.
Apart from playing with Suzanne,
which are the other projects, you have been participating
in, that you're more proud of?
I work a lot with Duncan Sheik and
that includes not only his records but other artists
that he produces, movie soundtracks, musicals etc. I
have done many albums that I am proud of and there is
a listing of selected discography on my website (www.dougyowell.com).
I am really excited about Duncan's new record which
is due out in the Spring or Summer. He has also written
music to a musical called "Spring Awakening"
and we will be performing that at Lincoln Center in
NYC on Feb. 2, '05. Duncan is constantly evolving as
a musician and I have learned so much from being around
him. He has a great sense of song structure and is very
in touch with what it takes to bring his vision to it's
What are the projects you will
be involved with in the near future?
the characteristics of Suzanne's music that attract
you the most, both as a musician and as a listener?
As a musician Suzanne's music
has so many levels that make it great to be a
part of. There's the shape of the songs and melodies
which have a very natural flow to them and she
is a master at illustrating emotion. She truly
understands the craft of writing great songs and
has always done that without fail. I have always
loved the sound of her voice and been so taken
by her lyrics. She's regarded as one of the best
and having the chance to work with her really
gave me a sense of depth to her music and talent.
Her music allows me to draw on so many textures
and dynamics. That's so important to a musician
because it keeps you from playing parts and puts
the focus on listening.
I am currently
working on two interesting projects. The first
involving software development for M-Audio that
will be out in the late spring. Without going
into detail, it has opened up my whole world to
computers, technology and the organic way in which
I am integrating them. It's been a year in the
making and it will involve some pretty amazing
people and concepts. The second is a collection
of old reel to reel tapes that my dad recorded
in his apartment (New York City) in the early
1950's of Charlie Parker, Zoot Simms and Gerry
Mulligan. This was fascinating because of the
historical value as well as the learning process
in preserving the original tapes. I am currently
working with Blue Note Records as we speak to
put this series out and I am excited to see my
dad become a part of jazz history.
interview by Josť Carlos Maltez (January 2005)
Last Update: December 10, 2006
Copyright © 2004 José Carlos