Drum and dance with Dekdrum

October 20, 2015

David from Dekdrum is performing at Federation Square Ampitheatre for our Sing for Good Community Singalong this Friday 23 October. We chat to David about his exciting career as an interactive percussionist, his favourite performance and the African inspired beats you can expect to hear on the day.

  1. How did you start your career as an interactive percussionist and entertainer?

I started playing drum kit in primary school and added percussion when I was 14. At my first percussion lesson my teacher, David Hewitt, wouldn’t let me touch the bongos until I could dance salsa with him. I enjoyed the music and the atmosphere the drums created. I also loved African “djembe” drumming and found that drums moved people. I found it fascinating how drums were so central to African culture and how they were used as part of their language and for all kinds of tasks including hunting, ceremonial use and entertainment.

While at school, I played in both a stage band and a classical orchestra with Melbourne Youth Music. I’ve been in a diverse range of bands, including rock, Latin and calypso and have learnt heaps from other musicians.  I studied music full-time at JMC Academy. I had a number of formal lessons from various specialist teachers on percussion, teaching me special instruments like darabuca, Latin percussion and Indian percussion. I remember having a lesson on Balinese percussion from a man who spoke no English – it was amazing to converse with him in musical terms only – showing music is a powerful language!

  1. What do you love most about playing the live percussion?

I love the energy that the drums give off. I love how my drums are also an instrument of one’s self, meaning, I can express the sounds and my thoughts through the instruments. Much more fun (and creative) then hitting a pillow, too for stress relief! I love making others happy, teaching them new rhythms and I particularly enjoy the challenge of  involving people who may not have seen themselves as drummers before. I want to bring world music and beats to the forefront of popular music and hope to educate on their sounds. I love getting into “the zone” as a drummer – when in that zone, you feel like you can play whichever beat you want – a very natural and entrancing state where I feel free!

  1. Where is your favourite place you have performed and why?

I have performed overseas in Thailand. I really enjoyed performing there as it’s so picturesque and the weather is fantastic – I played at some amazing festivals including one in Thailand to over 10,000 people. I have also toured Australia. I really enjoyed playing at The Hard Rock Cafe as part of a corporate tour which was one place I have always wanted to play as a child! I really enjoy seeing the world through my music as I love to experience different cultures and meeting new people!

  1. We are excited you to see your perform at our Sing for Good community singalong on Friday 23 October. What can sort of beats we expect to hear on the day?

I look forward to playing some African rhythms including North African beats. I am so excited to be playing for Sing for Good as singing with one’s voice is similar to singing with our instruments. Drums were originally used as a communication tool. We pass on information, tell stories and learn lessons via singing and drumming. I will also be involving the audience on the drums AND using our choir to join in singing some African chants.

  1. Do you rehearse before a show or improvise on the spot with the DJ’s?

Rhythms come from the heart. All the rhythms that I play when performing with DJs are improvised. I try and create sounds that work well with the genre of music played. I sometime mimic what is on the track or play different beats which form part of a “remix” of the track. I do spend a lot of time in the rehearsal studio coming up with new riffs. Once I find something I like, I am able to include that sound in my repertoire and solos. I highly recommend ongoing practicing, no matter your level or ability. At this stage of my career, I do not do any rehearsal with a DJ and the music is made up, on the fly!

  1. How many hours can you perform before your hands and wrists give way?

I once performed alongside DJ Promo who attempted the Guinness world record for the longest DJ set. He performed at Federation Square for 87 straight!! I performed with him for 10 hours!! I don’t recommend playing that long!! I use a lot of stretching techniques and I use Shea butter on my hands to keep my skin in good condition.

  1. Can you play any other instruments besides the percussion (singing included!)?

I can sing a little however I really need a few more lessons. I am a professional MC and love to encourage my audience to have fun and engage them. I also play recorder, a little piano, bass guitar and tuned percussion. I also started on the drum kit and still love to give it a bash!

Join Dekdrum, our With One Voice choirs and Sing for Good Ambassadors Dolly Diamond and Alan Fletcher between 1-2pm on Friday 23 October at Fed Square Amphitheatre.

Click here for more info about our Sing for Good community singalong. 

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