Photo by Adele Nicholas

April 2023

I was invited to bring my gong to the Jefferson Park Library branch of Chicago Public Libraries (an honor in itself!) by the curator of the Library Experimental Series, Keith Helt. If you scroll down, you’ll see that I have participated in this series before, but it was during the pandemic so the recordings were streamed/recorded rather than live in front of an audience. This installation of Library Experimental was a return to the series’ original format: live performance in a neighborhood library branch. On a Sunday afternoon!
For me, a return to live performance was daunting; not just that, but this was my first trip out of the basement with my gong/looper/synth/bongos/etc. I was both nervous about the execution of my plan (which I developed and practiced for weeks prior) and excited to have that feeling of playing music in front of people again. I tried to remember that once I have a plan, I do always feel at home once I get situated with my instrument/s because I know what to do at that point. Everything turned out as well as I could have hoped, chairs were occupied, and I let a handful of children (and a few adults!) play my gong between sets. When will they have that opportunity again? I would have relished the chance to summon the sound of the earth’s interior when I was young.
This was not only my return to live performance, but the beginning of what I can only call my 10th Birthday Season — I am about to celebrate my tenth birthday as a drummer! More on that later. For now, a taste of the performance. This is one of my favorite pieces of the five that I played. The other ones are also streaming, and I may do something with the full recording at some point. Huge thanks to Keith for inviting me, Helena Ford for performing with me, the Jefferson Park Library for taking a chance on us, and everyone who showed up — I am grateful for the opportunity, the support, and the knowledge that complete strangers young and old joined us in that room. Magic!

Library Experimental April 22, 2023. Set 1. Amanda Kraus. Part 2. from pan y rosas discos on Vimeo.

February 2023

Tomorrow will mark six months of me & my gong. The most recent set of songs feel more song-y to me, so I gave them proper names. My recording setup remains the same Now is the time for me to get back out there after three pandemic years; if you think my gong songs would fit into your bill, LMK! The time to plan for summer is NOW!!

My third set of songs dedicated to a tiny prickly adorable animal.

December 2022

Some news below on the gong front!

Surprise! We now have 10 additional gong songs to add to the repertoire; I am partial to 11, 19, and 20. Am unsure/on the fence about the one featuring my voice, but sharing it anyway. Enjoy the noise for the holidays!
My first 10 gong recordings/bonding period with my very own symphonic gong.
* all tracks recorded live in my basement by me on my phone
* gong/synth/looper/drumset/recorder/maraca
* all sounds made by me

September 2022

Incoming news: I am now gong-enabled. Gong-rich. A custodian of a 26″ symphonic gong that channels the sounds of the inner Earth and brings them to the surface for all to enjoy.

These songs are the first 10 gong recordings I’ve made, and I hope there are many more in my future. Now that we’ve bonded, I welcome my gong to the broader listening world outside of my basement. Thank you DK for the best birthday gift ever.

December 2021

New music!!

I am pleased to announce that Arc Pair, my longest-running musical project and collaboration, has produced our third EP, Momentum, released Friday December 3, 2021. 

Momentum was recorded and assembled remotely, same as our other releases, only this time everyone else was doing it too. We saw remote recording take a leap into the mainstream during 2020 for obvious reasons; having started our recording journey this way, it was interesting to watch how other people managed the distance in space and time. 

I hope it sounds as urgent as it felt to make it. My listening recommendation is to think of a task that will take you 15-17 minutes to complete if you could just bring yourself to do it. Put on our EP, begin the task, and listen to it while your task gets demolished, completed at last. 

The cover art was done by Maggie Nowinski, whose illustrations draw me in every time I look at them. I will always be mesmerized by the combination of organic, natural-looking forms with imaginative unnatural twists that come out of her pen. My collaborator Matt Weston also released a solo album in May 2021 that blew me away — it’s like a soundtrack in search of a movie, one with a sense of humor and playfulness. The music of Jason Lescaleet, who mastered the EP, is also infused with a playful sprightly spirit. It’s an honor to work with all of them, and I am proud of our latest release!

November 2021

My musical life is in a state of flux at the moment; in some ways, I am back to the drawing board. In other ways, I like to think I am making progress. The recording below was improvised and recorded by me live in my basement, alone. It was inspired by memories of the phones (multiple lines) in my childhood home ringing constantly. Life before caller ID was total chaos, especially in my house. This is an ode to that.

Recorded live 11-5-2021, all sounds improvised by me.

July 2021

Greetings from the middle of the year! If you would like an update on what I’ve been up to, check out the new blog portion of my website, Unsolicited Thoughts. I will continue to put my thoughts that literally no one asked for there. Sounds will continue to be added here!

I have been recording some new stuff lately thanks to a much-needed surprise upgrade to my amplification system. All sounds made and recorded by me in the basement. Next week I will be teaching drums at Girls Rock! Chicago, and I’ll be playing some shows with Impulsive Hearts next month (most notably with Ovef Ow 8/11 at Beat Kitchen). I went to my first show post-pandemic (Jaimie Branch & her fantastic band at Constellation), which really reinvigorated my love of music in every conceivable way. Enjoy the new tune! It is inspired by the feeling of picking oneself up and moving on.

January 2021

I recorded some new stuff at the end of 2020, including these two tracks, which are A and B iterations of the same idea: layer & loop small percussion, play and go where it takes me. Not unlike the set I played 1/8/2020 at Tritriangle, only less spare. I’m not even sure these tracks are fully cooked but it’s a crispy bottom layer at the very least.

Late 2020 live performance:

On Sunday 11/1/2020, I participated in the Jefferson Park EXP performance series with P.M. Tummala. Recommended listening environment: headphones, prone or engaged in a repetitive/meditative task like painting your nails, doing yoga/stretching, prepping foods, making a craft, or, if you prefer, napping.

About Me:

My name is Amanda. I’m a drummer in Chicago. Here are some things about me at the time of this website’s creation. 

Additional news & music will be added above for the time being.

What do I want? I want to play music. I do not need to be a permanent part of your musical outfit, and I feel comfortable improvising as well as playing composed songs. Most of the music I like to play is instrumental, but I have no problem with your voice or mine. 

Why me? I am a responsible, reliable, professional adult. I have a lot of energy. I have references and my own transportation. I am not afraid of anyone and have an interesting life story. I am clean and have a good sense of humor. My drumming is sensitive, responsive, consistent, and informed by decades of listening. I am a human jukebox. I am a good dancer. 

What have I done? Let me show you some things that I have done:

The Quarantine Concerts

One of the few things I’ve liked about 2020!

Impulsive Hearts

Arc Pair

Long distance recording project with Matt Weston. Noteworthy on the following points: we had never met in person while making these recordings, I recorded my drum parts on my phone because that was all I had at the time, Matt Weston is an accomplished and creative musician who studied with Milford Graves and plays with Arthur Brooks. Check him out!

Sabertooth Dream

Guitar-drums duo with my stalwart buddy and frequent collaborator, guitar player, librarian, and family man Nick Ammerman, our first & only show! Very elusive project, not likely to make a comeback but who knows?! 

Boob Sweat

Bouncy fun improvised music for keys and drums – on bandcamp we have a live show + some demos recorded live in my basement with Natalia Smirnov, who is a scholar and a genius as well as a scholarly pianist. We sold unbranded homemade (by me) deodorant. Recommended track: $A$$Y 7

and two live tracks recorded at Club Soda in Pilsen (summer 2018):

Plan Quartet

Here is another one I assembled with a particular sonic vision in mind. The recording is from our show 1/16/19 at the Empty Bottle. Do not skip part 2 – we really started to cook and it was all one long improvisation in spite of what bandcamp wants you to think. Someone after the show said we sounded like Albert Ayler with NEU! Ok! IDK about that, but I’ll take it.


Jam leadership: These are two sessions of fresh new improvisers playing together for the first time, led by me. 

Beginner improviser jams 2017 (this is the Friday of a weeklong camp; many campers do not know how to play their instruments on Monday)

I played auxiliary percussion (toms/snare/cymbals, bongos, drum pad) for two shows with Kent Lambert’s project Roommate in 2018 – at Sleeping Village and the Hideout. It was super fun and we sounded great, but I don’t have any recordings of it. I do have witnesses, ask me!! 

From May 2016-August 2017 I played standing up with a floor tom/snare (most of the time) with superstar civil rights lawyer/guitar player/songwriter/producer/label owner Adele Nicholas in her Axons project. We didn’t release any recordings, but we did go on a short tour where we played in Rochester, Brooklyn, and Akron. We played Adele’s originals + a Devo cover (“Gates of Steel”). Fun fact; we played at the Burlington the night the Cubs won game 7 of the world series. 

From May 2019-present I have been playing local shows with Danielle Sines’ Impulsive Hearts. Pre-COVID we were playing out 1-2x monthly throughout the city and were about to celebrate a record release show when the pandemic struck.

Solo: I have played solo (with recorded accompaniment and unaccompanied) twice in 2018, once in January 2020 with my looper and again in March for ESS’s Quarantine Concerts. I have also recorded a number of synth + drums and drums + voice jams. I do them because they’re fun and practice does genuinely lead to improvement in at least a technical way, if not a creative and expressive way as well (in varying amounts).  

In sum,

If you would like to talk with me about playing music, email me at hola@ this website. If you have my #, text or call me! Let’s talk!