Welcome to another episode of the DrumGAB Podcast! I am pleased to introduce this weeks’ guest, Elie Bertrand, who hails from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is the final guest for our exciting October podcast series that I call, Chicks with Sticks.
Who is Elie?
As a young child Elie describes herself as “crazy” and had to hit something other than her sister and thus turned to drums. She was only five years old when she received her first drum set and as she puts it, “it was my therapy” to deal with her anger and frustrations as a young girl. Fast forward years later and Elie has continued to pursue drumming as her career and has become well established as a “hired gun” for hard rock gigs all over the world.
Key Moments in this episode
- We begin with some typical DrumGAB banter and we discuss her feature in Batterie Magazine, which is the largest drum magazine in the world that is published exclusively in French.
- When Elie turned 17 she and her Father drove from Montreal to Toronto to get Elie setup in her new living space that she would share with twelve other people. She had 500 dollars, a single mattress and some of her belongings. She had no idea how she would survive but the stories she tells about her early years in Toronto with Scarlett Sins is very entertaining.
- Elie talks about the differences between being a band member versus the freelance approach that she now takes. She reveals real world pros and cons to each and provides valuable insight to what people can actually expect in this industry.
- Elie has eluded to this “American Thing” a few times here and there but hasn’t really revealed what that actually meant. She is currently in a transition phase to try and broaden her opportunities in this industry and the challenges she will face reaching a new market.
- Finally, we talk about what would happen to her career if she became a Mother. Strange to ask in a sense but it is an interesting conversation.
Elie is a fun loving person with exuberance for life and lives by the seat of her pants. She travels often and is never quite too sure what her life will consist of month to month. This is a common story told in this industry and while it is exciting to hear about, it cannot possibly be for everyone. However, I feel young musicians who haven’t quite begun the process of living the “rock and roll” lifestyle, really don’t understand what is truly gained and lost by being involved in this profession. There is a lack of stability and your next paycheque only arrives if you can deliver the goods and hustle to make the opportunities happen to prove your worth. Elie is standing proof of all of this and has done this for a decade professionally and she has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
Music by Sticks and Strings
Join me next Monday for another episode of the DrumGAB Podcast!
Elie’s Social Media
DrumGAB Social Media
It was a little over a year ago when I met Sarah Thawer for the first time. I was at D’Addario speaking with the AR rep for Canada, Larry Davidson, about some ideas for my brand at the time. This was in the very beginning of DrumGAB. It was a trial season for the podcast and I had a few episodes up, that are no longer online. At this point I was still experiementing to find the direction for the brand. Anyways, after speaking with Larry for the better part of a half hour, in walks Sarah. Larry introduced us and Sarah and I chatted for a bit about what each of us were doing around that time of our careers. After a tour of the D'Addario headquarters Sarah and I left the building and exchanged our social media handles and I haven’t seen her in person since then.
When I got home I loaded up Instagram and looked up her profile and immediately I was blown away. I had no idea that the girl that I had just met in Larry's office could play like THAT! Ever since then I have been checking in on her career and making mental notes because from that day forward I knew that we were going to collaborate on something at some point in the future. That brings us to the present with Episode 46 of the podcast and all I can say is that this episode is absolutely incredible.
The past year for Sarah has been a rollercoaster of opportunities and as a result of those opportunities, major growth in her career that is taking the drum community by storm. After seeing multiple reposts from Drum Talk TV, major endorsement announcements and some prestigious events that she is performing I knew all too well that this was the perfect time to catch her for a session on the show.
The week that we recorded this session was in fact a week of many firsts for Sarah. This week has marked her first drum solo show, her first clinic and she has now assembled her very own band as band leader for the first time and this was her first podcast interview, which I am still in disbelief considering the quality of our conversation. It is an exciting time for her. It is abundantly clear to me, and many others who follow her, that she WILL be a recognized professional in this industry in no time. It could be argued that it is already happening even. Now, I am not suggesting that she will be world famous and a star, because I don’t have a crystal ball on my table, but it is certain that with her work ethic, musical knowledge and dedication to her craft big things will continue to happen for her.
I typically don’t outline my episodes in these articles but instead provide an overall impression of the person I spoke with and how I internalize the conversation. Many people who have appeared on this show have bright futures but many of the podcast episodes aren’t quite at peak timing for the artists, unlike this one. I feel that this episode is one that Sarah and her peers will reflect on in a year or two and recall how all the stars were beginning to align and that we all knew that something big was in store for her but we weren’t yet sure what it would become.
This is easily one of the best shows in the history of the podcast purely for its humility and honesty. I have never once had a guest be so honest with me on the show. So as I listened to this episode once I was finished producing it, I felt a great sense of happiness for her. I hope that you connect with her on this level too when you listen to this incredible podcast episode.
Sarah Thawer's Social Media
DrumGAB Social Media
If you have internet and social media, you know who Anika Nilles is. An artist who started professionally late in life and yet in a small time frame has captured a wide audience all across the globe with her high level production quality drum videos, original compositions, tireless work ethic and touring. It was an absolute pleasure and honour to feature her on this podcast and the results of our conversation are terrific.
Some of the particulars about her that I find fascinating is how widely recognized she is in this industry. She, along with a handful of others, discovered the power of social media and producing high quality content distributed through YouTube before it became a saturated platform and I believe this is a major contributing factor to her success. I certainly don’t want to discount her amazing abilities, attention to detail and innovation, but had she started last week I cannot assume she would have had the same level of fortune in her career. It is this topic that I find most compelling about her.
We discuss this at length as well as her transition from a regular working life to full time professional drummer. The incredible advice and council that she received when she was 21 years old from the renowned drummer Benny Greb. It all comes together to shape this incredible journey she has had and to hear it first hand is great listening.
Some other points that we talk about are whether she finds it hard to keep her performance levels high when she is travelling so often in different countries. I recall a time when I saw her on Drumeo and she had talked about having jet lag and she seemed very tired. You have to wonder, how do you keep your performances at a high level when you are experiencing so much exhaustion?
Another subject is how she feels about her fanfare. What is it like to be recognized and admired across the globe? Anika, for the record, is a genuinely humble person who is incredibly friendly. She was one of the nicest people I have ever had on the show and she was gracious towards the invitation to be on the podcast in the first place. She talks about how she views the fans who appreciate her and that she feels so appreciated that she can only give that back to her fans. Her attitude towards life seems to be consisting of hard work, appreciation for herself and others and to focus on what brings joy and value to her life.
We also had some great questions come in from fans. Here is what the fans wanted to say….
- Jamie from Greenfield drums: What was your dad’s background as a drummer and how was he an influence to you early on?
- @Ethangarofalo: Why do you utilize quintuplets so often in your music?
- @Travisonthedrums: What is your song writing process?
- @Man_francisco - Is it possible for music to be technical and still have as much heart as a Motown classic like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough?”
- Mike at Predator Percussion - What was your inspiration in creating your own album and do you write the parts for the other instruments?
- @Davidszieber - This fan was actually at your Expo in Hungary and he wants to know how you tune your drums.
- Jared Falk wanted me to ask Anika about her ping pong skills. (The response to this is priceless!)
All in all, this interview was a dream of mine when I started the podcast and I am a huge fan. I feel this interview holds a great story and advice within and I hope listeners feel like they got to know her as a little bit better because of it. Enjoy DrumFam!!!
Song performance by Anika Nilles - Those Hills
Watch the YouTube performance **HERE**
Anika Nilles Social Media
DrumGAB Social Media
Are you ready for blast off? The second edition of Chicks with Sticks is a stellar episode. It follows a recent podcast with Earl Talbot, who is Jessica Burdeaux’s instructor. It becomes quite clear after watching Jessica’s videos that Earl can produce some amazing musicians through his teachings. I don’t want to discount the fact that Jessica has poured her heart into her craft, because it all boils down to personal diligence to succeed with most things in life but when you combine hard work and a resource like Earl Talbot, Jessica is the product.
The players that I have on the show this month are all very unique to one another. They all have their own unique voices and background with music and Jessica is no exception. She came onto the Instagram scene by learning about the hashtag #VF15 and decided to make a video based on the paradiddle and created a groove using this common rudiment. Much to her surprise, Vic Firth had shared this on their page and it created a lot of buzz and it really acted as a sign that she should develop her social media platforms and use them to forge new opportunities for herself, which she has certainly done.
Recently she became an official Destroy a Drum artist and earlier this year she was featured in Drum! Magazine, which is really quite impressive and as she describes, “a surreal experience.” We talk a fair bit about how incredible it is that we can make world wide connections with people throughout the industry by creating content from the comfort of our homes and that while it is a saturated platform, if you are consistent and create quality content, anything is possible.
In each episode of the DrumGAB podcast, I focus my interviews along a theme. The theme to this episode is that content creators need to stick with it. We use the time frame of six months specifically in a particular part of the interview. The example was the following……if you post daily content for six months, it can seem like a long time and it can feel especially long if nothing major is happening and your growth is happening at a snail’s pace and that it is within this time frame people start to feel like nothing will ever come of their efforts. It is hard to describe how a person’s attitude should be in order to MAYBE get a breakthrough that will help their name become recognized, especially when it can take a long time for some people and not so long for others. One thing that people DO respect, however, is persistence. Just don’t quit. You have to allow a space in your mind that believes that anything could happen at any time and that people WILL notice you over time.
The truth is tough sometimes to come to terms with. The music industry is famously unpredictable for better or for worse and sustaining a career is even more challenging than getting it started in the first place sometimes. If you truly believe in yourself and you really love what you are doing, just try to enjoy the process and the journey. Don’t get hung up on the fact that some accounts are massive and get tons of exposure and yours doesn’t. Remember and tell yourself that those massive accounts didn’t just happen overnight. Many of those people went through the same trials in their first months and years and likely have spent several years developing their exposure and influence.
I hope that listeners take this away from this episode. Jessica has over 50,000 followers on Instagram BUT that was realized through her amazing content, her persistence and her belief that anything could happen if she applied herself. It is a valuable message and it is something I believe many people need to hear and internalize. All in all this was a terrific episode that covers a lot of ground and delivers a strong, positive and useful message to listeners.
Jessica Burdeaux’s Social Media
DrumGAB Social Media
First up for the “Chicks with Sticks” month is Nashville drummer, Kayleigh Moyer. The idea to do this series came from my friend Kenton Bell who had recommended that I check out Kayleigh and Elie Bertrand for podcasts. It started off as that only, until I started to consider the fact that I had not had a series in quite some time and the times I ran a series I really enjoyed having a common theme throughout. So with that I decided that I would put together a month of female drummers only and I decided to call it “Chicks with Sticks”.
Kayleigh has quite a history with drums as it turns out. She studied with Chester Thompson since she was twelve years old and maintains the relationship to this day. Kayleigh shares her stories about what it was like to have him as his instructor, how it played a tremendous part in her moving to Nashville and even how he supported her outside of drumming as a true genuine friend as well. Chester Thompson is one of those drummers that I personally quite admire, for his playing abilities but also his storied career. For Kayleigh to have the opportunity to study with him for so many years is instrumental in her growth as a player and she attributes who she is on drums to his influence and direct tutelage.
At 24 years old, Kayleigh carries a very solid career and she is a true musician in every sense of the word. After speaking with her, it seems that her focus with playing drums, is what I personally feel they do best and what makes the biggest impact overall, is supporting a band. It isn’t to say that she can’t blow chops and play flashy stuff, it is just that she doesn’t see that as being the main purpose for the instrument and it’s role musically. She has a great deal of sensitivity and wisdom with how she carries her playing and it makes sense that it is due to Chester’s great teaching and Kayleigh’s willingness and openness to grow into the player she is today.
This interview also wanders into current events with passion projects and her current gig for hire in China. It turns out that she is quite enamoured by stringed instruments and finds herself in this musical landscape more times than not. She is also classically trained, so she has no issues with performing in an opera pit either. Overall, she is very well balanced in her knowledge and approach and it lead to some very interesting conversation.
This is a fine first instalment of what will be a very exciting series for the podcast. Music provided for the special intro is performed by Oli Bernatchez.
Kayleigh’s Social Media
DrumGAB Social Media