Drummer Candace Hansen Teaches Girls the Value of Being Loud

Categories: noble causes

candace1.jpg
Jessica GZ
Candace Hansen
By: Anna Escher
Candace Hansen is the person in the room who everyone wants to hang out with. She wears skinny jeans and square sunglasses above a silver Monroe piercing. The Garden Grove native has the restless, forward-driving presence of the punk rock drummer that she is, and the agenda of someone who wants to change the world.

"You play drums like a man," Hansen was once told after playing a gig. Ironically, since the beginning of 2013, she's taught that same confident musicality to girls and women at Rock Camp for Girls OC.

See also: Not Just A Camp...It's a Passion for "Girls Rock Camp Orange County" !

"For girls and women, it's really empowering to actually produce sound on an instrument," Hansen says. "You'll see that typically men are more comfortable making noise and drawing attention to themselves."

Hansen believes that the drums especially are a way to understand and overcome your fears and that percussion gives people a nonverbal voice through the instrument. Even in this day and age, women aren't always socially encouraged to have a voice. It's people like Hansen and those who work with Rock Camp for Girls who fight against those ideas. Rock Camp for Girls is a Portland-based feminist organization in which volunteers teach the basics of rock music to girls and women. Ladies Rock Camp (for women) can be a weekend-long intensive experience, and Rock Camp for Girls is a two-week long camp that is held during the summer.

On a relentlessly hot Sunday morning inside El Centro Cultural in downtown Santa Ana, Ladies Rock Camp is in session. Hansen jumps into the air with her tattooed arms above her head and karate kicks a red punching bag, nearly knocking it to the floor in this community-center-turned-studio. In addition to rock music, self-defense is also taught at Rock Camp.

About 45 women--20 volunteers and 25 campers--attend the all-female Rock Camp, which will be held again in the spring and fall of 2014. On a sparkling gold seven-piece drum set, a camper with turquoise hair plays a basic 2-4 hi-hat, snare, bass drum beat. Her fingernails, covered with chipped blue nail polish, clutch Zildjian drum sticks. Women passing in and out are careful not to trip over amplifiers and extension cords that snake across the wooden floor. Five other women and an instructor congregate in a separate room for the drum students who run through beats and take turns improvising. They talk drum fills, volume level and learn the "one and a two and a" jazz cymbal rhythm. Ankle high boots stomp on bass drum pedals and sticks fearlessly clang against reverberating crash symbols.

"Its like they're jumping into cold water," Hansen says of the women who start out afraid to hit the drum. She perches on a black amplifier in a practice room. Her arms are colored with tattoos, most notably a blue skull in front of a rose, a red drum on her left tricep and a pirate flag with crossed swords on her left forearm. "But its really about knowing that its okay to express yourself and be organically who you are and unashamed of it. To have a release and to have fun, and to connect with people. Women need that. Girls need that. Everybody needs that."

Hansen grew up in Garden Grove, California. She got into drums at a young age. She played in the school band, but it wasn't until she was 15 that the passion started to take hold in her life. She bought a drum set for $50 off a guy from school. From there, it was persistence that propelled her forward.

"I made a drum set out of boxes when I was a little kid. Not even little, I was like 13. What a nerd, right?" Hansen recalls. "I would tape myself playing the boxes trying to be legit." Her first love was punk. She learned to play '90s punk records and was in a ska-punk band for awhile. She then went on to expand to learn about jazz and the blues and shuffle. "I always am trying to stay tasteful and compliment the other musicians," she explains.

See also: Ask Exene: How Girls Rock Camp Changed My Life

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36 comments
BobboFallenStar
BobboFallenStar

Candace you rock!  Not only is the work you do for the Rock Camp for Girls awesome but you're a kick ass drummer as well.  Keep up the great work.


As for Mr. Bird, Paul and Mike - one can only wonder how they would react to their own comments if they were posted about their loved ones, or children or even on their own facebook photo.  



Sarah Riggs
Sarah Riggs

We love you SO much Candace Pk Hansen!!!

Eric Bootow
Eric Bootow

This is an awesome article! I've never heard of this Candace girl before but I am totally stoked to see someone doing something positive and teaching music!!! To the douce bags leaving lame comments about this rad girl on here, you're all a bunch of cowards and trolls.

rpowell86
rpowell86

Great role model for young girls! Take out that aggro on the drums!

Jessica Laura Drake
Jessica Laura Drake

"Let's totally negate every amazing thing this person has done to try and insult her based on her appearance". Way to miss the point. But on that note, she's looks great and you have some nerve to try and make her feel otherwise. Now talk about the cool shit she does and not about her face.

Dawn Thomas
Dawn Thomas

And that comment right there, Candace, is why you are such an important figure in our community. Keep on keepin' on.

Candace Pk Hansen
Candace Pk Hansen

Thanks everyone for all of the support! Ignorant comments immediately commenting on my perceived feminity or masculinity instead of something discussed in the article further prove that there is a lot of room for our community to grow when it comes to representations of women in media. The sad thing is that these feelings and actions don't just stay on the internet but impact the way that we all relate to each other in real life. If you don't like the way I look-that's great and I respect that- but it's the nature of these very comments that prove feminism is relevant in our community.

Mike Quiroz
Mike Quiroz

Hard to take you seriously dressed like that, but since it's your job to beat people up, I guess I owe you a couple bucks for the foreplay.

Jed Spellum
Jed Spellum

Get your fellow women to never fuck them

MsLilithe Magdalene
MsLilithe Magdalene

Hard to tell if you have shit for brains or are just a generalized asswipe - because obviously YOU NEVER grew up.

Dawn Thomas
Dawn Thomas

Keep up the amazing work, Candace. You are changing lives. Inspired and honored to know you. ❤

Hannah Atkinson
Hannah Atkinson

Seems most of the men commenting on this post mentally never left the 6th grade.

Jed Spellum
Jed Spellum

Paul, you probably have bigger tits than her

Tosha Jones
Tosha Jones

Good for you, Candace Pk Hansen! Kicking a$$ and taking names!

Hugo Castro
Hugo Castro

I worked with her at GC she is way cool and a great human being. Way to go Candace

Shawn Kevin Carr
Shawn Kevin Carr

Stopped reading article after "Portland-based feminist organization".

Shannen Maas
Shannen Maas

The men in this comment thread need to be eradicated from the gene pool.

Mike Quiroz
Mike Quiroz

uh... is that Isaac, Taylor, or Zac? Hard to tell now that they grew up.

OCLover
OCLover

I love this article, very well written. Great spotlight on Candace!

nicoalrsheen
nicoalrsheen

I am so proud of your work Candace! You were a such a powerful influence as a fellow punk and one of the few female drummers like me in the OC. All the good times hanging out at Bixby and GGHS. :) My dad actually brought this article to my attention. He believes in what you're doing as he taught my sister and I the art of music and never stopped us from reaching our goals. He is the first feminist I ever met. Keep on rockin girlfriend this so incredibly postive and necessary!

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