How I became an Online Session Drummer plus gigging on a chair!

4 Dec

I get a lot of people asking me how I got into doing online sessions, so I thought I’d tell you how it came about.

There I am in 2010, a drummer whose CV included playing for Robyn (Island Records), Ex-‘Sneaker Pimp’ Kelli Ali (One Little Indian) and American Blues Guitarist Carvin Jones (check him out on youtube, he does crazy stuff like playing the guitar with his feet!!). Then I did something really clever….. I was abroad staying with family for Christmas and it was lovely and snowy. It turned out not to be such a good idea to go sledging (big sledge, sanded metal runners!) down a big hill on Christmas day. I managed to break my right ankle (bass drum foot), clever for someone who earns their living playing the drums. Plus, it REALLY hurt.

Forced to sit at home with my leg up for weeks, I had time to do some thinking, dangerous! As a drummer, I was very reliant on other people to get me work (bandleaders, agents etc.). I was always one step removed from the client/ customer/person with the money. I wanted to be in control of my work more directly and was prepared to work hard in order to be doing the things that musically I really enjoy. I’ve always enjoyed the creative process, sharing ideas with other people and I love being in the studio. Then I saw something online (thanks Tim) about Online Session drumming and everything clicked. Something where I didn’t have to rely on others (my success/failure was entirely in my own hands), could be creative, collaborate with people and spend lots of time in the studio, perfick 😉

I started out by buying a few mics and an audio interface. I set up my website (luckily discovered I like SEO and website building, although I’ll admit my first site was a bit basic) and recorded a drum cover of Star Wars to show my wares!

What started as a steady flow of customers in early 2011 (and my basic knowledge of recording remembered from my Uni days) has grown rapidly in 2012. I’m finding myself busy recording/mixing drum tracks most days and I can feel myself slipping dangerously into the murky waters of studio geekery!

Along the way I’ve accumulated lots more gear and there’s been the small matter of building my own studio. Equally importantly I’ve found out how much I enjoy finding out about other people’s music/projects, the ideas they have and becoming friends with many of them. Early on I realised from my clients that everyone’s different so they have different needs, so I try to make my service as bespoke and personal as possible and go the extra mile. For me it’s not about settling for average results and doing it just for the money, I really enjoy helping people make their song the best it can be. It’s really worth it when someone sends you a glowing testimonial saying how delighted they are and how I’ve helped improve their music – always brightens up your day!

In fact I’ve even got my own band that I record remotely with. We used to all live in London and had released stuff through a couple of small labels, but then our singer/piano player moved to Canada. Instead of stopping, we now all record and collaborate via email/file sharing from our own studios across the world. Far from holding us back, we’ve found this way of working really productive and enjoyable. It works a treat and we’re currently writing our next album. My clients appreciate having a creative person to bounce ideas off and opening their emails in the evening to find the latest drum tracks recorded, and I enjoy contributing to loads of different musical projects and different players all over the world.

So in short: break ankle, decide to start Online Session drumming, move house, build my own studio, record lots of drum tracks, enjoy life!

The incident with the chair!

Thought this might amuse you to finish with. Through no fault of my own, I ended up playing a snare on a chair for the first few numbers of a recent gig (lots of brush work!). It’s funny now, but wasn’t at the time!!!

Chair doubles as drum stand...

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