Last year, I won an international drum competition to join the next generation of Scrap Arts Music. So I moved up to Victoria, BC, got a loft in the downtown area and all, and began rehearsals with drummers I later would discover to be my "Canadian family." It has been an absolute joy deep diving into a new world of explorative percussion, combining many different sides and interpretations of what this career field entails, and musically communicating with percussionists from very different backgrounds.
For example, Masako and I are orchestrally classically trained, even if I did spin off into the marimba singer/songwriter world, and she is an active section percussionist in the symphony here; Chris is very much new music & composer centric from Vancouver, while Alex is a solid drum set player that grooves hard here in the local Victoria community, and Greg...well, no one's quite sure where he comes from (just kidding - his background in world percussion is amazing, but his hunger for continuing to learn is what's truly impressive, imho). I share this because, while we all have our "stereotypes" of how the musical community can try to categorize us, we are all so much more than that - and the level of musicality that we bring to the table, in combination with our willingness to share and learn and grow, it is personally quite inspiring. You know the guys in sessions, right, the ones that can't check their egos at the door - the ones that don't want to admit that they don't know as much about what another musician might be playing, but are too scared to open up and ask in order to learn. That fear doesn't exist in this group. The "fake it till ya make it" is not there; it is much more about, "hey, I actually don't know that rudiment in the way you're sticking it with this combo, can you show me?" or, "ya know, that bell pattern you're hinting at in your left hand actually corresponds to this conga pattern from a different genre, and it's pretty groovy, want to see how?" The answer is always YES. It's an openness and sincere interest, and the common goal is clear.
Funny moments though during rehearsals when we're trying to convey though English or writing what we mean musically, well...it definitely magnifies our unique + differing backgrounds. More than once we all have been talking about the same phrase of music, but in either completely different time signatures, emphasis feels, or beat structures. And yet, when it's played - together - it is a total blast. I don't think I've ever more directly experienced "music breaking language barriers" as vividly as I have within "musical language barriers" - ya follow?! Even more humorous: if you were to see our notes and transcriptions for pieces, you'd think they were for different ensembles all together! I like to write out my music pretty systematically and I want it to be score-exact. I also audio record tricky phrases for the bus ride later. Alex definitely video records more of his stuff with a few notes here and there, Chris has a random line of a rhythmic phrase jotted down with no reference to the piece (that would totally confuse me! But he's a wizard), Greg has a giant poster board with lines and dots and 2s and 3s throughout (again, somewhat puzzling for my brain), and while Masako takes notes, they're all in Japanese. Music is remarkable. I can't wait to share this show with more people. We're described "as if Dr. Seuss, Frank Zappa, Igor Stravinsky, Flash Gordon, and Evelyn Glennie drank a lot of coffee together..." (I also feel a bit of "Steve Reich meets a trampoline class" but that's just me - - I mean, have you ever tried jumping in two while playing polyrhythmic-ostinati lines based in three?! Come ON people!) Also, did I mention the athleticism?? I have never been more grateful for my fitness background than I am now! :-p
Anyway, this past spring we had the joy of premiering "Children of Metropolis" on the show's inaugural tour throughout North America. You can watch our sizzler here, and a bit of behind the scenes "day in the life" sillies here. We're back in the studios this summer working on our preview show for fall showcases, and definitely looking forward to the 2018-2019 season!