PET POLITICS: Drummer Diana Kinscherf on Bashing Kits and Cuddling Rescue Cats

I first saw Diana Kinscherf slamming the kit during an excellent set backing Hamish Kilgour of The Clean at The Glove in Brooklyn. The next time I saw her play live was in Manhattan at Pianos when she made an awesome impromptu appearance in Nick Rogers’ (of Holy Tunics) solo set. Before meeting Diana, I had also heard some recordings of her both playing and experimenting on the kit with fellow musicians. I was impressed by the force behind her drumming and her ability to jump on the kit at any moment alongside any other instrument – whether it was guitar, saxophone, vocals, or otherwise – and immediately find a compatible and consistent beat for the song. When I got to know Diana on a personal level, I was introduced to her wicked sense of humor and we bonded over our mutual love of music and animals (specifically cats). I learned that Diana was not only a fellow cat lady but a regular volunteer at animal shelters.

Diana moved in with some friends of mine and the first time I paid them a visit with their new resident, I almost accidentally sat on a an enormous and friendly brown tabby smush sitting on an antique chair. His name was Toki, and he was happy to let me stroke and hug him (but he clearly wasn’t going to give up “his” chair). Just when I thought I was going to die of a cuteness overload, another equally adorable and giant feline came slowly crawling down the stairs.  It was Scrambles with her chubby orange belly charmingly draping through the gaps in the staircase. I could tell the entire household was smitten with these two kitties, and I could understand why!

AF: Please introduce your furry friends!

DK: Meet Scrambles and Toki – both nine year old rescues! Five month old Toki arrived first from a litter of kittens being fostered at a Bayside, Queens vets office, and a few months later Scrambles came to me via a friend who took her in from the street in Bed Stuy but couldn’t keep her. They became best buds immediately!

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Scrambles & Toki (All images courtesy of Diana Kinscherf)

Toki and Scrambles have very strong personalities. Toki is well known for his forward friendliness and his love of being handled – he’s a giant baby that loves to be held! Any attention is good attention for Toki. Scrambles has a more introverted personality, but still loves attention… though she is less forward than Toki, she WILL (vocally) let you know when she wants something!

AF: You volunteer at animal shelters. Can you recommend any for those looking to adopt a new fuzz love?

DK: I’ve volunteered and worked for BARC (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition), an independently run no-kill animal shelter in Williamsburg. I’d volunteer to walk dogs and worked with cats. I’d definitely recommend adopting from BARC, [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][or] another no-kill shelter, like Sean Casey in Park Slope. I’m a strong supporter of “adopt, don’t shop” so any animal shelter is a great place to save a life! No-kill shelters are a great to support in general, as vetting and animal care is costly and if you can’t adopt, shelters always appreciate a donation!

Diana cuddling up with Toki & Scrambles

AF: When did you move to NYC, and where did you grow up?

DK: I was born in and raised in Queens; my high school was in Manhattan so I spent a lot of time hanging out on St. Mark’s Place, spinning the cube on Astor Place and haunting the local record stores (I later ended up working at one of them, Kim’s).

Diana playing with Hamish Kilgour at the record store she currently works at: Earwax in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

AF: When did you start drumming, and can you remember the moment you decided to hit the kit?

DK: I wanted to play drums most of my life, but I didn’t give it a solid start til around early 2012 – I began playing small gigs with anyone who’d let me play with them almost immediately after. I began lessons around that time from a friend (Michael Evans – an excellent and versatile drummer) and Oneida’s Kid Millions. Kid’s best advice to me as a beginner was “Don’t wait until you’re ready – get out there and play!” This resulted in a few shaky first shows, but you gotta start somewhere!

Diana playing with Loop Diary for their “Sun Ra Remix” cassette release for Personal Affair at The Glove this past October. Photo credit: Ben Jaffe.

AF: Can you give us a rundown of all the projects you are in now?

DK: I’d say my current main projects are Giggle The Ozone, The Unnamed (we’re working on a name!) a trio with organ, drums, and bass/guitar (we haven’t played out just yet, but hoping to play soon), and occasional backing for Hamish Kilgour (The Clean) in his solo sets.

Flyer for a Hamish Kilgour show Diana played this past November featuring art and design by Diana.
Diana playing with Hamish Kilgour at Secret Project Robot last August. Photo Credit: Jordan Bell.

AF: What was your first band? How many bands have you played with since you started drumming?

DK: My first band was duo (sometimes trio) Pulcinella, with largely improvised sets. One of my first on-stage performances was playing with several other drummers for Man Forever at Death By Audio for Thrill Jockey’s 20th anniversary show. Since then, I’ve also played with one-off projects or as fill-in in Caring Foxen, Straw Pipes, electronic dubbers Loop Diary, Brooklyn theatrical noise band BBW, with Sugar Life at the kit for half of one show (that was unplanned but exciting!) and a couple of jams with Eighty Pound Pug. There’s probably more, as I rarely turn down a gig when offered!

Diana playing a Bushwick Rooftop with Giggle The Ozone in September 2016. “Not a doom metal band, contrary to the aesthetic” says Diana. Photographer unknown.

AF: Who was your first pet? How many have you had over the course of your life?

DK: My first pet was technically a budgie named Genaro, but I was like 3 years old and barely remember him. Genaro went to a relative as at five my family adopted a pair of kittens from North Shore Animal League in Long Island; Louie and Ricky were my best remembered childhood pets. I was very close with Louie and he made it to almost 20 years old! We also had two dogs, two iguanas, and two garter snakes (although reptile expert Ben Jaffe told me they were probably ribbon snakes) in my childhood household in the course of about 15 years. There was a fish tank at some point, too. Later on, I had adopted an older adult cat (also from North Shore Animal League) who I’d only gotten to know for a year, as he passed away shortly after I’d adopted him. As sad as it was to have such a short time with him, it’s beautiful to let an older animal be able to live out their last days in a loving home rather than at the shelter.

Young Diana with her First Major Fur Love: Louie.

AF: What was it that drew you to your current kitties? Did you choose them, or did they choose you?

DK: Although Toki and Scrambles are both rescues, there was not a lot of choice involved! Toki was one of many near identical tabbies in a litter, and the vet opened the cage and told me “Have a look!” All the kittens scattered out of the cage except for one that preferred to stay put and continue eating. I picked him up to look at him, and he immediately kissed me on the nose! There was no decision to be made, I was taking this little guy!

Toki and Diana snuggling up

Scrambles’ adorable face was on a flyer in the window of the shop next door to my workplace at the time I was looking for a buddy for Toki with the words “FREE KITTY” – excellent timing, I needed a free kitty! As previously mentioned, Scrambles was found on the street and taken in by someone who wasn’t able to keep her… I remember going to Bed Stuy with my empty kitty carrier at night to get her, not knowing what this cat would be like; I heard her loud meows before I even saw her when we got to the door. Scrambles was a little aloof the first few years, but is now my best (fuzzy) friend and incredibly close to me!

AF: You are now working with GP Stripes. I loved your recent flyer for their Northside showcases! What would you say your role in this label is and how did you begin working with them?

DK: My involvement with GP Stripes is kind of a “right place at the right time” sort of deal… I had just left a less than great living situation and moved in with friends… so my part in GP Stripes snuck up on me! I’ve been able to get a bunch of GP tapes into a couple of the shops I work at and online, and have assisted in organizing a couple of shows. Of course there’s always the actual tape production that always needs a few hands on board; dubbing tapes, cutting J-cards, packing tapes… QUALITY CONTROL! Toki has been glad to “help” too!

Toki testing out a GP Stripes cassette
Toki “helping” Ben Jaffe fold some Holy Tunics shirts

I guess my role in GP Stripes aside from production of the tapes is distribution – the tapes are in a few shops in NYC and in the works for being stocked in some stores in Tokyo – a few are on their way to Dunedin, NZ as well! Psyched you liked the flyer btw! It’s one of my favorite things I’ve done recently.

The GP Stripes Northside 2018 Flyer by Diana Kinscherf

AF: If Toki and Scrambles started a band, who would be the drummer?

DK: Scrambles would definitely be the drummer; I’ve caught her tapping her tail to the rhythm of music I play at the apartment! She’d be a singing drummer… Scrambles loves stoner metal!

Scrambles rocking out on keys

AF: What instrument would Toki play?

DK: I could see Toki potentially play keyboard, but Toki appears to be indifferent/dislike music, so maybe he’s more of a fan of John Cage’s 4’33”?

Toki not giving any fvx about jamming

AF: What are your pets’ favorite human foods?

DK: They don’t have any real interest in human food (I’m not upset about that!). Toki will want a bite of cheeseburger here and there, but Toki’s interest in food instantly declines as soon as I try to give him any.

AF: How do Toki and Scrambles influence your creative side?

DK: I’d say they’re very supportive of me; when I work on flyers or any design stuff, I’m often up at all hours of the night (apparently the only time these things get done). Scrambles will sit and sleep by my side as I work – Toki may try to sit ON my work!

AF: Can you share a funny memory you have with your cats?

DK: Scrambles enjoys licking my high hat stand (for reasons unknown). There’s a whole video of this, but a picture will have to do for now …

Scrambles also has an owl beanie that she loves – she stole it from me and I just couldn’t take it away from her! It looks suspiciously like her…she’s thrown it at me (only when I’m not looking) with incredible force!

Scrambles relaxing with her Owl

Toki never has a dull moment – he’s very possessive of a particular chair and will try to push whoever’s sitting in it off. And Toki doesn’t actually “meow” or make normal cat sounds. He makes a sound that can best be described as “MAGUB.” I found out about this when Ben insisted Toki was saying “magub” and I thought he was messing with me. Soon after, everyone else in the apartment has heard “magub” and I have no idea what they’re talking about until Ben records Toki making his notorious “MAGUB” noises – my best guess is that’s what Toki calls everyone that’s not me!

AF: Where and when I could see can we catch your next set?

From Diana’s most recent set with Hamish Kilgour at The Glove this month. Photo Credit: Anthony Procaccino.

DK: My last set was backing Hamish Kilgour at The Glove July 15th. I love playing with Hamish – we rarely (if ever) rehearse, and the cast of characters is subject to change from gig to gig when I play with him… the set tends to be a mix of Hamish’s solo compositions, songs by the Mad Scene, and sometimes a Clean song here and there. Hamish is one of the handful of people I can play with intuitively, so there’s never much of a struggle to “find the groove” in our set. As Hamish is a drummer himself, his rhythmic guitar style allows me to change between a motorik drive to a painterly, less pulse-based sound. Violinist Marija Kovacevic and tenor saxophonist Greg Vegas joined us for the show Sunday night at The Glove; both Marija and Greg are fun to play with as well as they both have a good sense of space and dynamics during the semi-improvised set. The four of us have played together before – it’s always exciting to see what direction we’ll take!

The Glove. July 15th, 2018. Photo Credit: Anthony Procaccino.

I was delighted to have many people tell me after we played Sunday night how much they loved our set! That’s always a good feeling, when audience members give you that positive feedback. sometimes I’ll get on stage and behind the kit super last minute – you never know where I’ll pop up!

Diana backing Hamish Kilgour at Earwax Records in November 2015. Photo Credit: Alessandra Maria Iavarone.

TOP PICKS: Record Store Day’s Black Friday Releases

Record-Store-Day-Black-FridayHere’s another reason to love the holidays: Record Store Day’s Black Friday event—an opportunity to snag special vinyl and CD releases, re-acquaint yourself with your local record stores, and get a head start on the season’s general merrymaking. This Nov. 29 will be RSD’s third annual Black Friday celebration, which aims to subvert the prototypical, corporate-run Black Friday model by providing us with “pieces of art in the form of limited special editions” and “an excuse to celebrate both the pieces themselves and the special indie record stores who carry them.” Basically, it’s a chance for an ethically justifiable vinyl shopping binge, and a perfect way to stock up on some truly unique gifts for your friends and family (and yourself). Here are our top picks for this year’s Back to Black Friday bash, and our recommendations for where to find them:

Mystical Weapons — Crothesque


A rare recording of an improvisational collaboration between Sean Lennon, Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier, and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, originally captured for WNYC show “Spinning on Air” and featuring original illustration by Sean Lennon himself.


Nas — Halftime


Nas’ debut single, “Halftime,” was released in 1992 under his original moniker, Nasty Nas. This reproduction of the original 12” LP includes the song’s LP version, instrumental version, and a remix version.


Chocolate Milk — Action Speaks Louder Than Words


Released in 1975, Chocolate Milk’s debut funk/soul album was later sampled by some legendary hip-hop artists like Eric B. & Rakim, the Geto Boys, and Stetsasonic, among others. Now the classic album is returning fully remastered and in limited edition colored vinyl (chocolate colored, of course)—a definite gem.


Dawes — Stripped Down At Grimey’s


A 6-track live recording of Dawes’ intimate performance at Nashville’s Grimey’s in March 2013. Includes four tracks from the band’s third full-length album, Stories Don’t End, released earlier this year, and the LP comes in a pretty orange color!


Anti-Records Fall 2013 Compilation — Hot Wacks


Designed after classic “loss leader” LPs of the ‘70s, this compilation offers an intro to a few of Anti-Records’ new artists as well as demo versions and unreleased tracks by some of the label’s well-established acts (Dr. Dog, Man Man, Mavis Staples). This is a fun purchase at a very low price ($5.99!).


Elvis Costello & The Roots — Wise Up: Thought — Remixes and Reworks


Produced by Elvis Costello and ?uestlove alongside Steven Mandel, this collection of remixes is sure to take Costello and The Roots’ collaborative, genre-blending album, Wise Up Ghost from earlier this year, even further than it already went.


Sondre Lerche — Rejection #5


This 12” single is the first of the Public Hi-Fi Sessions, a series of limited edition releases from Spoon’s Jim Eno’s new Public Hi-Fi Records. Eno plays drums on the single as well as B-side “Screen Door.” Once the series takes off, this debut is sure to become highly sought-after.


Our picks of participating record stores:

Rough Trade NYC

64 North 9th St., Brooklyn NY

Cake Shop

152 Ludlow St. , New York NY

Rebel Rebel

319 Bleecker St., New York NY

Academy Records Annex

83 Oak St., Brooklyn NY

Earwax Records

167 North 9th St., Brooklyn NY