Where are you from and/or where do you live now?
Born in Perth. Still here and loving it!
How long have you been playing drums? And what initially drew you to the instrument?
I probably never would have found percussion if I hadn’t auditioned for a special music school on piano. When I found out that I had been offered a percussion scholarship I was curious. I took to it straight away. I think I enjoyed the challenge of rhythm, a challenge that I have since found to be ongoing and ever-evolving. My first percussion teacher, Nicole Turner, was a super cool lady, very patient and encouraging. Since then, my other teachers have been really cool too.
Do you play any other instruments?
I think percussion is all other instruments. So no, not really, apart from piano on which I have very basic skills!
What bands/projects/collaborations are you involved in right now?
I am currently in a band called the Milford Street Shakers, in which I mainly play congas and tambourine among other small instruments. We normally play soul covers from the 60s and recently we’ve branched into songwriting as a group which has been a really cool experience. Everyone in the band has something to bring to the table which is really special.
What else have you previously been involved in (bands/shows/projects etc)?
Early this year, I was really fortunate to tour Australia with the amazing drummer Daniel Susnjar and his Afro-Peruvian Jazz Group. Playing cajon alongside Dan and the other guys was a mind-blowing experience and really grew me as a player. I still hang out and jam with them from time to time and get to hear how they create their music.
Do you write music or develop your own shows? What are they about/how have they come about?
I am writing some music at the moment; it’s a mash of Afro-Cuban music and jazz. It’s really challenging me as I’m not trained in jazz harmony at all so it will definitely end up being a collaborative effort. It came about because I wanted to play more Afro-cuban percussion with other musicians.
What are your thoughts on collaboration in music and in the projects you’re involved in or the projects you run?
Collaboration is really important - for me it’s because I know I don’t know everything about everything so another person’s knowledge is going to help me make something sound better even than I thought it could. It’s also really fun, and a celebration of differences which is so important in a band who like to get along!
Who are you listening to/whose music are you enjoying right now?
There are two albums which have been on the top of my listening pile for several months; XXI Century by piano player Gonzalo Rubalcaba and 90 Miles, a collaborative project between David Sanchez (saxophone), Christian Scott (trumpet), Stefon Harris (vibraphone), Cuban composers Rember Duharte and Harold Lopez Nussa and heaps of other Cuban guys.
Do you have any favourite drummers? Or other musicians who inspire you? Why? Pedro Martinez is a percussionist who has inspired me a lot lately. He’s on the XXI Century album and he just plays really great rhythms on congas that carry a lot of melody as well. I was fortunate to see Luis Conte play (with James Taylor) not long ago and the musical ease and flow with which he moved between instruments inspired me to practise playing with more musical fluidity. All my teachers have been inspiring to me as well, both in my playing and in the way I teach my students.
How would you describe the kind of music or projects you’re mostly involved in? And what kind of unique perspective/sound do you bring to these gigs?
I play in a variety of musical settings but most of the time my aim is to add textures to the overall sound and/or to link the melody to the rhythm played by the drummer. When there’s no drummer I try to tie in more to the rhythm of the bassline.
Do you have a particular warm up or practice routine? Or favourite exercises?
First make tea. Then I decide what I’m going to play, usually congas or cajon to start with. Then I just put on a song and play along to it, find a lick I like in that song and practise that a bit, tie it in with some other rhythmic concept I’m working on...etc. If I have nothing specific to work on for a project, this can go on for a while! So it’s not a particular routine, except for tea which helps me to actually do practise in the first place!
Does social media play a big part in how you promote yourself as an artist and your various projects? Do you promote your work in other ways?
I don’t really use social media a lot. I want to do better at it but in reality I can’t really be bothered! I prefer to just ask someone I know to play with me. Most music that I’ve been part of has been a result of that. Being in the Milford Street Shakers is an exception though, I replied to a Facebook callout for that one! But definitely face-to-face experiences has been more productive for me. And it doesn’t make me feel like I’m conducting business!
Do you make a living from music? What different types of work does this comprise?
Yes I do, but I also teach 2.5 days a week at two lovely schools. Recently, my band went up north (to the red-dirt-and-wildflowers region of WA) and we had gigs on two weekends but to make some extra income we did school workshops in the middle. I think it is good to have a bit of teaching - for me it takes the stress off living but not packing my week full leaves enough time for my music.
If you could give your younger drumming self some advice what would it be?
Record yourself playing and listen back to it! It’s like having a lesson with yourself and all the teachers you’ve ever had. It’s something I still don’t do enough!