Posted: 4 May 2018

We discuss life as a session musician with Raleigh Ritchie's Drummer.

Read time: 4 mins

How did you get into being a session musician?

I was blessed enough to grow up in church with a band of session musicians. Through some fortune or divine intervention, I became the main drummer at the age of 12. I was way out of my depth but it was a great training ground. Each of the musicians gave me an opportunity to play in the session world. I still work closely with some of them today. They definitely aided my dreams of becoming a drummer as I often got to see them in concert at a young age.

What is a typical day like for you?

It varies so much. This week alone I’ve juggled two local gigs on the same day, had studio sessions, done a gig abroad, and been a full time dad! I love the variety. As a father I sometimes prefer the local gigs as I get to go home. I’d like to get into some pit work soon but I definitely love touring still. The opportunity to travel is always great.

Which artists have you worked with?

I currently work with Beverley Knight, Raleigh Ritchie, Peter Andre and Lemar. I’ve also worked with Olly Murs, Wretch 32, Alicia Dixon and Mica Paris to name a few.

What’s the most memorable recording session you’ve had so far in your career and why? 

The memorable recording session would be for Lemar. We had to pre-record one of the show intros which would be put to VT. It was my first time recording in a professional setting. Hearing it back each night on such a large scale was amazing.

What about a memorable live show?

TV session would be ‘The Graham Norton Show’ with Raleigh Ritchie. We performed his song ‘Stronger Than Ever’. You don’t always get to play live on TV. This track is so epic, it came across great. The energy was amazing, I think the nerves helped.

Live gigs…there’s a few but I think the most memorable was with Beverley Knight. We were supporting Carlos Santana. Dennis Chambers was on drums. It was so nerve racking but also so epic at the same time.

How do you prepare for touring and studio work?

I feel it’s important to learn the material your working with really well. Sometimes you’re required to play the music as is. Other times you’re required to rework or embellish the music, but in order to do so you still need to know the original material very well. If I’m able I’ll try and spend some time around a kit. Pad work is great, but I sometimes need to dust off the cobwebs.

Is it hard to adapt your drumming style to different artists or genres?

If you don’t practice or work on learning different styles and genres it’s very hard. We can feel that because we have heard different styles, we understand it. This isn’t true. Different styles require a lot of attention to detail. Feel, sticking, accents, they aren’t always transferable across different genres. Best to pay attention.

How do you find work?

Personally auditions haven’t worked for me, for different reasons. For me it’s been who you know, repeat business, recommendations, people seeing you on other gigs etc. It’s important to be as ready as possible for when your time might come.

What advice would you give to young people wanting to work as a session musician?

Practice as much as possible, outside of your comfort zone as well. Perfect your strengths but also work on your weaknesses. Also learn to enjoy music, not just your instrument. We are part of a puzzle, a machine if you will. We may feel one part is more important than the other but unless all parts are working together the machine won’t work effectively. If you want to be in the industry try and be as ready as you can, your opportunity may come at any time. Also attitude, reliability, time keeping, adaptability—all these things play a part. You could be the best musician in the world but most gigs don’t require the best musician!