MUSIC | Liz Draper, a Black Blondie whose Hips Don’t Lie

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Black Blondie are one of those bands there’s no such thing as being ready for: killer songwriting and musicianship so monstrous it’s almost a shame. Akin to the likes of Janet Jackson, Regina Belle, and Teena Marie—yet distinctly original—this is state-of-the-art stuff, showcasing sultry vocalist Samahra Daly, who, make no mistake, is all about pure seduction. Listen to Daly long enough and you’ll find yourself sitting there in such a daze your wife or girlfriend will haul off and, without so much as a word, smack you into the middle of next week.

Samahra Daly’s joined by Tasha Baron (keys), Kahlil Brewington (drums), and bassist Liz Draper, who helped make last year’s She Rock Festival—a raging success—possible. Black Blondie trusts the tried-and-true fundamentals: strong melodies, tasty arrangements, and searing passion. Can’t beat the combination with a stick. Put their debut Do You Remember Who You Wanted To Be on the box, sit back with a tall, cool one, and that’s all she wrote. Style, class, grit, and grooves so smooth you’ll want to dance ‘til your feet fall off. Long story short, Black Blondie are cold-blooded.

As if Liz Draper doesn’t have enough to do, she moonlights in the band Hips Don’t Lie. She took time out of a hectic schedule, gearing up for the Do You Remember Who You Wanted To Be release event April 17 at the Triple Rock with Chastity Brown, M.anifest, and DJ Turtleneck, to answer a few of my questions.

Just what is Hips Don’t Lie?
[It’s] a group I have with keyboardist Tasha Baron. We compose original instrumental music that is very much groove- and improvisational-based.

Where’d the name come from?
Tasha and I needed a name and the Shakira song came on so she suggested it sort of as a joke, but somehow we liked it and decided to stick with it.

Who are the respective driving forces behind Black Blondie and Hips Don’t Lie?
I would say that each band is driven by all our members. We work very much collectively.

Who are your composing/bass playing influences?
Absolutely everything.

Any plans to work solo?
I have done solo improvisational bass sets in the past and performed classical solos, but part of what drew me to the bass in the first place is its role in ensembles. So, I am getting a lot of satisfaction playing in various projects at the moment. I really enjoy making music with others. Eventually, I’d like to develop something, but for now there isn’t the time, [which] is totally cool.

The bass is not an instrument one generally thinks of a woman playing. What got you interested in it?
I grew up in a family that never made me feel like I had to be a certain way or be interested in certain things because of my gender. It just wasn’t an issue. I could be or do whatever I wanted. My father is a drummer, so I was constantly surrounded by music, musicians and instruments. I played piano and violin when I was three, but, as I got older, gravitated towards guitar ‘cause it just seemed way cooler. Once high school came around, I started getting into jazz and avant-garde classical music. I started playing bass in the school orchestra, and the rest is history.

What’s next for you?
Black Blondie are officially releasing our album, so I am working hard getting all that prep work in order. I also have a fairly new all-girl gypsy band called Carpscale Orchester that just finished a full-length. I will be doing some touring with both those projects this summer.

Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.

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