Welcome back to another episode of the DrumGAB podcast! This weeks episode goes international with Polish drumming sensation Wojtek Deregowski. For the first time ever Wojtek’s unique story is told through a podcast interview and we go through all of the stages of how his career is forming and what exciting things are to come for him.
Who is Wojtek?
This twenty-two-year-old drummer hails from Poland and has only been playing for eight years. While he took private lessons early on he later decided to utilize the internet to continue his path of learning the drums and has continued to search and develop on his terms by using YouTube and Instagram for material to inspire himself and learn from over the years. He attended Berklee for one semester before finding himself having to return to Poland, however, this was good enough for him to use his experience at Berklee to his advantage. Currently he is developing online lessons that will be released sometime this year.
Key Moments in this episode
- Wojtek unravels the story of how he found drums through the popular “Rock Band” video game and shortly thereafter received a drum set for Christmas. With noise restrictions from neighbours and his parents, Wojtek spent the first two years playing very little. Eventually he and his father built his practice space with soundproofing to isolate the racket and Wojtek then began taking the drums very seriously. He would seek private lessons initially but later found that learning on his own through online resources was his preferred method to learn.
- At the age of eighteen, Wojtek travelled across the world to the coveted music school Berklee to study. Leaving his family, friends and girlfriend behind was a challenge for him and Wojtek explains some of the hurdles he had to overcome to adapt to his new environment. We also learn why he had to return to Poland after one semester of school and what followed.
- So after returning to Poland the opportunities for Wojtek became quite steady and it was apparent to him that there was an impressive “perceived value” associated with going to Berklee. Then came Instagram where he used originally to record his ideas, use his followers to help him determine whether something was cool or a good idea or not and eventually develop a massive following.
- A social media account with the proportions of Wojtek’s and also the incredible surge in popularity I must wonder “how do you manage that and is it really addictive to receive so much praise and be that popular?” We discuss at length how social media triggers us and how it can become very distracting and addictive but by managing ourselves and our socials we can remain productive in our “real” lives while still adding value to others with our content.
- We conclude our chat with some information about Wojtek’s new lessons plans that he is going to release very soon and how he is coming up with a creative way to distribute this content and package it for consumers. We also discuss how important it is to leverage our accounts to promote our own products for fans as well.
There are a few European “Instagram Drumming Stars” in our midst, and I plan to interview at least one other as well. These people are the next generation of young entrepreneurial thinkers that are passionate about drums and education but also realizing that with large Instagram profiles, they can focus on a specific goal and attempt to make it their job.
It is great to see young people apply themselves in a thoughtful way like this. They utilize their technological strengths along with their incredible drumming and popular socials to create opportunities for themselves. Session work and touring may be more scarce but it also just may not work for everyone. It is becoming increasingly popular for drummers to create content online and find ways to create their own path with music through utilizing the internet instead.
Welcome to another episode of the DrumGAB podcast! This week we are speaking to J-Rod Sullivan from the Atlanta based jazz fusion group, The 4 Korners. J-Rod is also the man behind “Got Pocket” apparel. We talk about creating opportunities for yourself, how education can serve a player, diversifying within your industry and influencing others in a positive way.
J-Rod plays Pearl Drums, Zildjian Cymbals and Vic Firth drum sticks.
Who is J-Rod?
J-Rod began exploring rhythm and drums at the very young age of two years old and stuck with him ever since. Over the years of playing church services, his roots in music are R&B and gospel music. Currently he is the drummer for the Atlanta based jazz fusion group The 4 Korners.
Throughout his experiences with this band, he has found a way to apply what he already understood musically and refine his approach and sound to meet the high demands of performing jazz fusion. J-Rod also studied at AIM to further his understanding of music. J-Rod studied during the time that Tom Knight was faculty, who is a past guest and dear friend of DrumGAB. Overall, J-Rod possesses the spirit of music and wishes to inspire as many people as possible with his gift.
Key Moments in this Episode
- J-Rod explains the story behind how he became the drummer for The 4 Korners. A trip to Best Buy lead to a call which lead to him to join the band. It is a story that shows that opportunities are created and earned, not gifted.
- J-Rod spent most of his musical life not understanding how to read music, knowing what it was he played or why he played it. He decided to change that by attending AIM. J-Rod explains how attending school served him well and how it was also a significant challenge for him.
- We get back to The 4 Korners and the bands’ writing process for new compositions. J-Rod breaks down their organic and open formula to create their music.
- Besides being a musician, J-Rod also programs live shows and produces artists under the name “J-Rod Sullivan Productions”. J-Rod talks about how he began doing this type of work and what programming a live show is.
- J-Rod also teaches drum lessons online and so I ask about the challenges with instructing a Skype lesson and the benefits and deficits of an online lesson versus an in person lesson.
- We talk about how it is his hope to inspire people all over the world with his music. I ask him if there is anything else that he does in life that can affect people like his drumming does.
At the end of the day you have to recognize your passions and keep them a priority in your life. Once you develop your craft you then have to begin creating opportunities for yourself and somehow make it your career. Jerrod had a strategy in mind when he asked Clarence and Isaac to help him out with a gig. He wanted to put himself in front of the people that he admires and if the opportunity ever happened, be in the band.
Between that milestone and the fact that he went to AIM to up his theory and learn how to read music, constantly diversifying in other areas of the music industry and teaching online….J-Rod is cornering his success. J-Rod is living in his purpose and spreading positivity around with the gift that he has.
Music by: The 4 Korners
Order of tracks:
Table for 2
Portal of Gold
Opening interview sample “The Pace Report” with The 4 Korners
Welcome back to another episode of the DrumGAB podcast! This week is a very special interview with one of my personal favorite modern drummers, Eric Harland. In this episode the discussion is deep. We break down some components of drumming in an interactive exercise that I also explored with Aric Improta recently, being in the moment with music and if there are influences unrelated to music that inspire Eric’s playing, to name a few. Then in the second portion of our interview, we explore spirituality, why we are here and self-perception. This is a very insightful episode and ranks as one of the best episodes to date, IMO.
Who is Eric?
Eric Harland is a multi-grammy nominated drummer and is one of the most in-demand drummers of his generation. Already in his career, he has been featured on close to 200 recordings, including Joshua Redman’s “James Farm”, “Prism” from Dave Holland and Kevin Eubanks and his very own group “Voyager”. Overall, Eric is an incredibly ethereal musician who has inspired players all over the world.
Key Moments in this Episode
- We begin by examining 8 components to drumming. Creativity, Timekeeping, Endurance, Independence, Coordination, Groove, Chops, Technique. Eric’s interpretation is far different from what we heard previously on Aric Improta’s episode but each player expresses very convincing points of view that opens up our own minds towards this question.
- Next, we explore nonmusical influences towards his music making. Eric explains that everything acts as an influence. As our minds process our surroundings, our moods, and personal circumstances, it all affects how we create music.
- What follows is the moment of music. Eric expresses how this varies for him. Sometimes he is hired to fulfill a role musically and how it is not always a situation that he relates to internally and how he wishes to convey creativity through the instrument. Another component of this discussion is subconscious listening and how we can enter “the zone” with music and be on another level of listening.
- To wrap up our discussion with music and performance, we talk about musical freedom. How do we obtain freedom on the instrument? Eric breaks down how time is simply a measurement. Anything can happen within time as long as you have internalized it. He encourages people to understand that we as players do not need to lock into time with our playing but rather internalize the space of time and play within that in order to be free.
- The second chapter of this episode deals with life and spirituality. We start things off with the beginnings of his spiritual quest, where he grew up in a very religious household and would eventually study theology and become an ordained minister. However, after some time he began to feel that he could do something wrong and ended up leaving the church to explore other spiritual possibilities. To this day he remains open to receive and process what is possible with spirituality.
- I ask Eric, “If someone were to approach you who struggled with inner peace, how would you respond?” Eric in all his wisdom replied to me with “What is so important about inner peace?” Now that may seem like he disregarded my question, but believe me, his reasoning behind that statement was what blew my mind in this interview.
- Eric had recently received an award from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and he selflessly gave his award away to someone he felt deserved it more. In his speech, he talks about how we don’t really know how we see ourselves, instead we just experience life. So this made me want to ask him his opinion on self-perception and whether we know how we truly live as people. Again, another part of this interview that is so deep and so wise.
- To conclude, I ask Eric what the most impactful advice he had received in his life was. At first he had difficulty recalling something specific but eventually, he recalled elderly women telling him “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Simple but very true and he elaborates a bit on that to bring more substance to the point.
Eric Harland is a musician that I noticed quite a number of years ago and instantly enjoyed how he played. While I wasn’t incredibly familiar with all of the work he has done, the preparation for this interview really allowed me the chance to see more into his life and his values through all of the interviews I have watched or listened to before speaking to him. So typically for me, my favorite conversations are ones that surround spirituality, the beauty of life and music and Eric is all of those things and a perfect guest to explore these topics with.
This was definitely one of my favorite interview experiences as a host and how it translated as a listening experience, it encapsulated the essence of my podcast. Eric is a truly wonderful human being and I am very thankful that he took some time to speak with me and explore some interesting subject matter on the podcast.
Music featured in this podcast is from Eric Harland's Journey.
Album is titled Vipassana
Other music is from Eric Harland's loop pack from The Loop Loft
Welcome back to another episode of the DrumGAB podcast! This week I spoke with Etienne Mason from Montreal, Canada. We discuss his process with making a daily video series that he calls “Night Improvisation” and the trials, the successes and the overall vision with this series and what he hopes to achieve with his efforts.
Who is Etienne?
Etienne is a fellow that I met through interesting circumstances. Back in 2016 I competed in a drum solo contest for the Victoria Drum Festival and through those efforts DrumGAB was born. A year later I checked 2017’s winners and Etienne was one of them. After looking at his Facebook profile I decided to reach out to him and make a connection. This started a friendship and I have been very interested in his journey since then.
Etienne is a jazz enthusiast that goes about his own way in learning about music, making videos, recording audio and using social media to distribute his content. Through his efforts he has created a very unique sound and visual aesthetic to his videos. He also incorporates keyboards into his music and controls everything live. I have heard several times that people find Etienne to be mysterious and so hopefully this podcast will allow people to understand him better.
Key moments in this episode
- Etienne begins by explaining how he developed his drumming abilities, which for the record are impressive. After one year at McGill University, Etienne dropped out because he felt he couldn’t have fun practicing anymore. Etienne prefers to learn his own way and likes to explore and mess around to learn new things. He used the money saved from leaving school to find his own place to rehearse.
- Next we discuss the level of composition that goes into a musical piece. We debate a little about whether he a drummer first or a composer first. Etienne walks us through how he goes about creating his music and what is revealed as a very lengthy process that he does every single day.
- So how does Etienne make these videos? What exactly did he have to do to make it happen daily? Well, the story to that may be the most important aspect of the interview. He literally had to set up and tear down every single day. He would ride his skateboard for twenty minutes with all of his gear in his hands to get to the space that he only had access to from 10 PM to 5 AM. He didn’t sleep much to say the least and whenever he had band rehearsals, he didn’t really sleep at all. I have never really heard of a story like this of how difficult it would have been to uphold a daily routine like this for the first eighty videos he would make. He had to make a change to survive the winter and continue with this series.
- Before these videos and his EP’s, Etienne played in TWENTY bands! All original music and it was up to him to keep it all organized. When he told me this, I was impressed with his will to work. It is nearly impossible for me to imagine how difficult that had to have been. He eventually burned out and had to remove himself from that situation and so he began making his own music again to fix himself.
- We then discuss what brought him to the Victoria Drum Festival and how that experience changed his outlook with his career that he is now trying really hard to establish.
- Our final point that we discuss is the topic of failure. Why is failure so important to personal growth and whether Etienne feels regret for any of the decisions he has made up until now.
I think the thing that people will take from this conversation is that we as artists and musicians need to approach our projects and develop our skills from an internal perspective. There is nothing wrong with referencing other people to help inspire us, but ultimately we have to be okay with who we are and what we want to create. Once that is identified, we have to push as hard as we can to become noticed. There will be many times when we all question our efforts and whether they are a waste of time, but every once in a while a wave will come by and introduce us to the next stage of our journey.
It is the hardest part of doing this. The not knowing part. Believing that we are moving in the right direction and whether anyone really cares or not. Etienne is not quite halfway through his daily series and it will be interesting to see what comes of his efforts. But whatever the case may be, it cannot be denied that what he is doing is unique, good quality and is a testament to what he is prepared to endure to see it through.
Tracks featured (in order) all performed by MaySun
2. Black Silver
3. White Peafowl
5. One Sky