I recently started a Newsletter to send out important information about all things drumming and iDoDrums, to help keep you inspired and practicing. I love nothing more than finding out more about the things I love. One of the greatest things for me is finding out a little more about Drummers and Percussionists that you admire.
I got hold of a lot of people and got a great response for interviews for my newsletter, I began thinking I’d start my own magazine! I love to dream big! But then I realised that other than the great interviews, there wasn’t too much more to add, so I thought, why throw away such great interviews on monthly emails, when they can be stored here forever.
For our first interview, we have a great percussionist, Heidi Joubert. I have been a huge fan of Heidi since I heard of Fernando’s Kitchen a few years ago on YouTube so I was so happy when I got this interview. So please take some time to read these incredible answers.
Let me introduce Heidi by inviting you to check out this video from YouTube Fernando’s Kitchen
Q: It’s quite unusual for a percussionist to be able to take front and centre stage! Have you always been up front or was Fernando’s Kitchen the first time?
A: I have always been a singer (before I played drums) and loved being a performer since I could remember! I did loads of things during my school years (and I always wanted the main part yes). I am not shy and I like to consider myself a leader, not so much a band leader, (we all work really well together in the band, even though I am full on managing it and arranging everything from gigs to interviews, to photoshoots to answering fan mail and writing the music along with Sebastian Diez, the Guitarist) but when you are centre stage, you are leading the audience, and it’s up to you to take them where you want to! I love people and connecting to them, especially in music…. So this is something comes quite naturally for me and I do not recall being part of a project without being front stage, although to be honest, I would not mind a few projects where I could solely work on my percussion skills without worrying about the centre stage thing. Fernando’s Kitchen was my first real band (and up till now the only original band I have worked in apart from my own solo stuff, I find it hard to find time for anything else), I have performed in a few small projects before FK started up, took part in worship leading at churches and youth camps, did the occasional ‘corporate’ gig in South Africa before I moved here, but my cajon playing-and-being-front-man experience was born along with Fernando’s Kitchen, they kinda developed together!
Q: Do you think you could be more experimental with your playing if you didn’t have to sing at the same time, has it ever held you back from something you wanted to play live or in the studio?
A: YES! VERY much! There are stages I wish I could just be focusing on one or the other, and I certainly practise my cajon apart from singing when I am home, but it really does limit one to try and sing and play at the same time. For the first 2 -3 yrs of playing cajon and starting up FK, I did not sing at all when we played, so FK really started out as an instrumental band for quite a bit…. it was only once I got kind of ‘mechanical’ with the grooves and songs that I introduced singing to my cajon playing experience, and I still have a looooong way to go! This is heavy co-ordination, and to sing, never mind sing NICELY is hard enough already, never mind when one has to keep the rhythm and time for a whole band! 🙂
Q: What musical influences do you have in the style that you play? What songs do you like to listen to or practice along to?
A: Oooh, there is so much! I think in terms of our band and the music we use a variety of influences from all over the world, thats why our music is different, and each musician adds a different flavour from a different aspect and or point of view on music, but at the same time it all fits really well. But initially our music was really influenced by Vincente Amigo (cuidad de la ideas), Paco de Lucia (cositas buenas), Carlos Benavent (aguita que corre), Pepe Habichuela (hands) Ojos de Brujo, Richard Bona, Buena vista social club, Various african, North African, indian, Jewish, latin and cuban music as well as touches of contemporary music ranging from Rage against the machine, Tower of Power, Al Green, Bobby Mcferrin…. And of course the Jazzers that has also influenced us are Miles Davis, Pat Metheny, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jaco Pastorius, Bill Evans…. the list is almost never ending! These days I am practising to a lot of Flamenco music, it really depends what style I am into. I am also doing some congas on a lot of latin music!
Q: What did you do to land worldwide recognition for your band Fernando’s Kitchen? Any tips for our aspiring band drummers?
A: Hard Question but a very important one! Firstly before anything I believe that God has given us a lot of favour, the very fact that we are alive and have these talents and love for making music, the fact that we met and came to London at the same time, the fact that it was all perfectly timed regardless of our own silly ‘time wasting’ is his fault entirely! 🙂
Then, well, It’s a mixture of different things, done at the right time and at the right place with the right people, but like I say this is most times impossible to arrange yourself, so it;s a good idea to start believing in something more than just yourself for these kind of scenarios! 🙂 BUT First you need to have your project that you TOTALLY believe in, a Project that YOU LOVE TO BITS like a child! And of course its the music aspect that will determine this! Then it has to be your VISION, your LIFE, your PURPOSE, even if just for a period, but it must be the centre focus! Without this you can do a lot of things but YOUR faith is contagious, that is what will convince each and every person that you are worthy of recognition!
I can tell you a few things that I know helped our band a lot, things that bands overlook A LOT, because they prefer to go the commercial and conventional way that has been done before as opposed to being a pioneer…. you gotta think outside the box! Forget everything that you have been told to do as a band to ‘make it’…. do something else! For instance, many bands don’t even THINK about this as a possibility, but a large part of our success is due to busking or street performing. If you have something great that catches people’s attention, and you go and play it to people on the street, you have the element of surprise as a weapon and a free audience of thousands to play to, as opposed open mike nights with 1 or 2 friends turning up! And we have literally had millions of people all over the world who have seen us AND NOTED US during our heavy busking period in London. We have been busking pretty much daily all day in central London for the first few years, and this has given us an immense boost! It’s been the greatest exposure (AND great for the pocket if you have something good to give)! Another thing that brought us great exposure is my free video lessons! The first time I posted up a vid I didn’t even think anyone would watch, I just did it for fun because I wanted to, I also thought that perhaps someone can learn something from me as I never had a teacher to show me things, and it took me a long time to figure it our myself…. I figured I could maybe save someone some time, I don’t know but I recall being passionate about giving others something I never had, some tips on the cajon! Next thing you know I had loads of views and people were asking me to make more videos, asking me to sign CD’s, train the faculty at their school in Denmark, be part of the BT team building project for their managers etc… Crazy!
It’s important to note though that we didn’t start out thinking ‘ok let’s start this band that plays really different kinda music, and then make oursleves famous with busking and videos on youtube’… we were just a duet who were in love, and did what we wanted to do, we didn’t think too much or try too hard, we played on the street because that was the way to pay our bills….. and also a way to play music and have an adventure getting to know this exciting new city from the streets! We were new on the scene and didn’t have any contacts in the music world to get paid work or anything, so this was the solution, and it turned out to be more than just a way to sustain ourselves, it was the means to develop our music, our fan base and to make a living.
My point is this… sometimes we are way too technical about things and we forget that at times it’s ok not to have total control (yip, we actually have very little control over the development of things like this), because while we were just ‘busking’, enjoying London, just having a good time getting to know London (we were not strategising anything at all those days), God was working behind the scene, setting a table for us that we are just starting to feast from now!
Do what you love to do… and trust God to do the rest. I really take no credit for the amount of recognition we got, at the end of the day I know it was only by my Faith in His love for us that bought us favour everywhere we went.
Q: How do you write your songs, what kind of processes do you go through when it comes to writing? Do the lyrics come first, or the music, and how does it develop?
A: Oh this is a hard one to answer. There really is no set method as to how the songs develop and come about. Each song has it’s own way of being born and developing. Some songs are totally just written like that within a few minutes, with bridges and breaks and melody and harmony, other songs have developed and taken shape over a period of years, some of them I write, others Sebastian writes, and I put my own vocal melody in the parts he has assigned for the melody, we kinda write it and arrange it together, but every song certainly starts with one idea that we instantly fall in love with, and then the song develops from there. I firmly believe the Holy Spirit plays a huge role in the creation of our music, after all music is a spiritual language and when you as a creator is connected to the creator of all things, there is no limits and the stuff that comes out is just amazing! Music is much deeper than just a few notes and therefore I always look for the spiritual experience in each song or part that I write, it has to touch my insides, I have to feel moved by the song itself before I am satisfied with it!
A huge thank you to Heidi for taking so much time to write such great answers, and I definitely didn’t take it easy on her!
Please take some time to check out Fernando’s Kitchen I bought the album a long time ago and absolutely love it, my favourite song is Cara Mala. Be sure to check them out on YouTube too!
Also take some time to check out Heidi’s own website Cajonbox.com you may even be asking for Cajon lessons before long!