Yoyoka Soma has been playing drums since she was two years old. And now, at eight (!), she’s been on more than 100 stages. Her favorite drummer is John Bonham, so it’s no surprise she chose a Led Zeppelin song for her Hit Like A Girl contest entry, where she earned a spot as a finalist this year. Since age five, she has performed with her family’s band, Kaneaiyoyoka, where she not only bangs it out on the drums, but also plays keyboard, sings, and composes.
Though Soma didn’t win the under-18 category, her video entry went viral, garnering almost 3 million views on Vimeo at the time of this writing.
Not only that, the eight-year-old earned praise from Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant himself, who said of Soma’s chops, “That’s a technically really difficult thing to do. I think [Bonham would] be amazed. I think he’d be so chuffed. It’s great.”
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What is your city, country, and age?
My place of residence is the city called Ishikari city in Hokkaido, Japan. I am 8 years old.
What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
I play on a Pearl Maple Fiberglass drum kit, in sizes 22”, 10”, 12”, 13”, and 16”; a Sonor “Hideo Yamaki model” signature snare drum; Tama H7A sticks; cymbals from Zildjian’s K series; a DW double bass pedal; a Danmar drum beater; and Shure’s sound-isolating earphones.
Do you have endorsements?
I wish! Come on!
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
I haven’t collaborated with any famous bands yet. I’d like to try it though! Right now I play my songs with my family band, Kaneaiyoyoka, which I’ve been doing since I was five years old.
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
My first encounter with the drum was very natural. We had a studio at home, and there was a drum set. So that’s what I learned on. When I was one year old, I was already tapping out beats.
It was fun to match with my father’s bass and guitar.
How has your experience with Hit Like A Girl been? Was this your first time entering the contest?
In Hit Like A Girl, I was happy that I could put a smile on the faces of people from all over the world with one of my favorite songs! Of course, I would be even happier if I could win next time.
This is my second time entering the Hit Like A Girl contest. The first time I did not get to the second judging round.
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
My favorite drummer is John Henry Bonham, along with Chris Coleman, Benny Greb, and Hideo Yamaki. I like their heavy grooves and aspire to be like them because they have something that I do not have.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
I don’t have any particular daily routine, but I do make a point to have some freedom in my practice and to work on original songs. When working on original songs, I try to produce a “natural” drum sound.
Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?
Music is free! Enjoy it!
How important is failure in making music/performing?
I think that it is important to laugh. When something you’re playing fails, then it fails. Laugh and keep going.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
Female drummers are on the rise, but I hope to further encourage them with my own playing. I’d love to help bring female drummers together from around the world.
What’s next for you?
Regarding future plans, there are many things in the works that I can’t speak of just yet (stay tuned!), but here are a few I can talk about. I am not yet well known in Japan, so I’d like to create a one-woman concert in Sapporo in October. I would also like to be an artist who can make every part of the song — to play all the instruments, record, and mix by myself. And, I would love to collaborate with many other wonderful musicians around the world.