Giovanna Takaki Bottai is a 16-year-old Brazilian drummer with chops to burn. She has played and studied drums for six years, and wowed the judges at the 2019 Hit Like A Girl contest. Her drum idols are Buddy Rich, Neil Peart, Mike Portnoy, John Bonham, and Eloy Casagrande.
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 email@example.com telling us more about you.
What is your city, country, and age?
I’m 16 years old. I live in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
My drum set is a Black Pearl SoundCheck with five pieces. My double pedal is a Mapex P600tw. I use a TRX cymbal kit with 21 “BRT Ride, 19” LTD Crash-Ride, 17 “ALT Crash and 14″ DRK / BRT Hi Hats. I have a splash 10” by Orion cymbals. When I play rock, I use a snare drum by Nagano (Big Beat Nagano NC – 14′′x8′′).
Do you have endorsements?
I do not. I play with different brands of drums, cymbals, drum sticks, etc. At the moment my focus is on becoming a better drummer. I have a lot to learn. The opportunities will come at the right time.
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
I participate in many projects on the internet. I’ve played with the composer and pianist Deniz Inan from Germany, Lynsey Blair from the UK, and my most recent work was with Peruvian guitarist Charlie Parra del Riego. I created the drums of the song “Diet” from his last CD, Chaos And Redemption.
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
Initially, I wanted to learn to sing. When I sat on the drums and started “playing,” however, I fell in love with the instrument. At that time I was eight years old.
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
There are a lot of great drummers around the world. But today I admire the work of Sepultura drummer Eloy Casagrande. He is a complete musician. He plays powerfully with Sepultura but can play various Brazilian rhythms or those from other countries. He has a great musicality.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
Yes I do. I study five days a week. My routine is simple: 1. stretching. 2. I warm-up by practicing rudiments. 3. Exercises with double pedal. 4. Lessons given by my teacher. 5. Despite playing metal songs, I need to learn new rhythms. I am learning Samba. 6. Improvisation. 7. A new project.
Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum readers?
Listen to all possible rhythms to enrich your notion of music, challenge yourself, and don’t
forget to use the metronome.
As artists, the goal post for “success” is always moving. There’s not one “I made it!” point. How do you think about and define success?
One thing we need to understand from “success” is that it’s not in the end, it’s all the things
you get along the way that bring you unexplained happiness. “Success” is not just about fame
but about the satisfaction of doing what you enjoy.
Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?
Be focused when you play, worry more about the quality of your study than the time, and have fun.
When you sit down to make music and are starting with a blank canvas, what’s your process
You have to understand what the project needs. In my most recent work the focus was on
the guitar, so I couldn’t create something very complex. Each scenario requires a different
How important is failure in making music/performing?
Failure is inevitable, but if you take away lessons from it and plan, the chances of it happening again are smaller. Learn from your mistakes.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
Women are showing increasingly that we have the same potential as men to play drums. It’s
a problem that will improve little by little but I’m pretty happy we are reaching it day by day.
If you had to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?
I would like students to be introduced and deepened in the history of music, to know about
the existence of the rhythms worldwide, musical movements, and the important musicians of each era.