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Calsey Criosa Tory is the 2018 winner of the Hit Like A Girl contest in the 18 and over category. She’s been drumming since she was in the fifth grade, and has previously played with bands Something Wrong and Captain Jack, as well Magenta Orchestra and Aubrey And Friends Orchestra.

Women are underrepresented in the percussion world. Our weekly series, Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW), aims to recognize, celebrate, and inspire female percussionists of all stripes. Each Wednesday we’ll feature a profile of a drummer, who will share tips, advice, and videos.

Want to be featured yourself? Send an email to anna.pulley@stringletter.com telling us more about you.

What is your city, country, and age?

I’m 18 and was born in Monterey Park, California. I’m currently living in Indonesia but will be moving back to Los Angeles this September.

What has your experience been like doing Hit Like A Girl? Were you familiar with the contest before? Had you entered in previous years?

My experiences in HLAG had many of ups and downs. I participated in HLAG five years ago, in 2013, and I didn’t make it to the finals. As the years passed, I decided I should give it another try. The results are actually really shocking! From not ranking to placing as the champion, it’s really a blessing to get this far.

What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?

I like to go simple with my gear. I use an acoustic one-tom drum set, with a hit-hat, ride, a China, two crashes, and a stack, which is just a pair of splashes I stacked. Recently, I’ve added an Indonesia percussion instrument called the “kendang” from West Java. I believe combining the two cultures that I’ve grown up with brings a new sound to what we’re used to.


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What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?

At the moment I’m not in any bands. I usually perform individually as a DJ with a side of drum percussion mixed into my performance. In the past, I’ve played with Indonesian bands such as Something Wrong and Captain Jack. I’ve also played drums for Magenta Orchestra (the MOX Concert as Rising Star), and Aubrey And Friends Orchestra.

What led you to your instrument? What’s your drumming origin story?

My interest in drums started in elementary school. I joined marching band and my heart was really into it. I never wanted to be late for marching band classes! Then, one day my dad brought me to watch a drum launch concert. There was a little drummer boy and ever since I saw him, I knew I wanted to be like him. I kept on asking my dad for drum lessons until he caved [laughs]. Playing the drums really changed my life. It just gives me a peaceful and relaxing feel that I can’t get anywhere else.

Who is your favorite drummer and why?

I definitely have a bunch of drummers I idolize, but Mike Portnoy has been my inspiration since my early years. The first time I saw a video of him, I really got into his technique and style. What I really like is his unique and complicated fills that challenge me to learn more.

Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum! readers?

Practicing drums doesn’t mean you have to own a drum set. During my early years, I practiced everyday using my imaginary pillow drums and a cardboard box as the bass drum. So as long as you have your heart in it, even [playing imaginary drums] can sound like the most expensive drum set you could ever own. Don’t let any excuse stop you from practicing and honing your skills.

What I also learned from practicing drums is don’t overpractice. Your mental and physical health is just as important. They say that you have to practice until you bleed to be rad, but make sure your heart is also into it. It’s common to feel bored if we do something over and over. Take a break. Go try that new place down the block, or hang out with some friends. When you come back, you’ll feel more refreshed.

Any advice for girls contemplating getting started in the drumming world?

For girl drummers, show the world some girl power! Don’t let anything or anybody let you down. Fall down once but get up ten times more. Never stop chasing your dreams, girls.

What’s next for you? Upcoming projects? Basking in the glow of championship?

I hope winning HLAG can bring a positive future for my career. I hope I can be a blessing for other people. I also hope moving to Los Angeles can help open a wider door for my drumming experience and that I’ll be able to learn from drummers around the world. I’m looking forward to be able to be in a band or be a drummer for somebody I look up to.

Where else to find Calsey: YouTube and Instagram

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