Juliana Novo is living proof that perseverance pays off. The metal drummer doesn’t have her own kit or a place to practice, yet that hasn’t stopped her from playing for 19 years, along with touring and gigging with the death metal band Crucifixion BR, which she helped found in 1996. Novo started playing drums at the age of 19 because Crucifixion couldn’t find a drummer (she played guitar at first), and loved it so much she never stopped. They’ve opened for bands such as Dark Funeral (Sweden), Gama Bomb (Ireland), and Krisiun (Brazil). They’ve also toured Europe and performed live on the Brazilian TV show Radar. Their album Human Decay comes out in 2019.
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What is your city, country, and age?
I was born in Rio Grande/RS, Brazil. I’m 39.
What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
I don’t have much money so I use as many cymbals as I can afford. I have this basic set: two 16” Chinas (Meinl HCS Series and Orion Revolution Pro Series), two 16″ crashes (Anatolian Ambient Series and Karpius Effeso Series), and two 8” splashes (Orion, Solo Pro Master Series). I would like to have one more China, maybe a 14″. I love their epic sound. I have used Tama Iron Cobra P900 double pedals with direct drive conversion, made by ACD Unlimited, but I’m going to buy a Pearl Demon Drive soon because this pedal helps me get faster on double bass. Also, I use a Roland Sound Module TD-11 and DDrum bass drum trigger. I use hard and long custom drumsticks by Vic Firth, Rodrigo Oliveira signature series. The snare I use in concerts and in the studio is a Mapex 14″ Aluminum Piccolo Snare Drum. And I use Remo drumheads for recordings in the studio.
Do you have endorsements?
Nope. I wish I did. In 2015 I received two cymbals from Orion because they watched my first drum cam made back in 2014, and felt moved by me playing with broken cymbals, but they said they couldn’t give me an endorsement. Soultone offered me a kind of endorsement this year, but their cymbals were too expensive for me to buy even with a discount, so I gave up.
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
I’m the drummer for the Brazilian black death metal band Crucifixion BR, which I helped form back in 1996.
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
Drums weren’t my first instrument. I started to play classic guitar and guitar in 1994, and started to sing as well. Then I tried to form an all-female thrash metal band in 1995, but had no luck—I couldn’t find focused girls.
In November 1995 I met Marcio Guterres, who was a drummer and singer at that time. In March 1996, we formed Crucifixion, with the purpose of creating black metal songs. He started to play the guitar, and I ended up playing drums after a couple of years, because we couldn’t find any good extreme drummers in our area. I must say it was much easier for me to learn drums—it was like I had finally found the right instrument for me. I’m basically self-taught, but had some help from Marcio as well, mainly because he has the idea for the songs, then he shows me his ideas for the drums. I show him some beats as well, sometimes transforming them for the song, and so on.
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
I have lots of favorite drummers—Igor Cavalera and Pete Sandoval are some of my heroes. Gene Hoglan as well. Igor has the brutality and speed, a great punch. He’s self-taught so I think it contributes to his creativity and his feeling, one of the best metal drummers of all time. Pete is one of the fathers of brutal death metal. He started to play blast beats with ultra fast double bass back then, and has created wonderful songs with Morbid Angel. To me he is always a master. And Gene Hoglan is another icon for death and thrash metal. He is ambidextrous, so he plays open handed, kind of what I do because I’m a lefty. He has developed both sides so well, and he is another brilliant and creative drummer. I love what he did with Death and what he does nowadays with Testament.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
I don’t have my own drum set, nor a place to play, so I only play when we rent the studio once a week for two hours. That’s when I put all of my effort to develop myself, practicing to get always faster and as brutal as I can while creating new songs. I also go to the gym to practice Pilates, and do exercises in order to help me build more resistance and power. It’s not easy to play extreme music [laughs].
Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum readers?
I try to use my wrist and fingers more when I play in order to get faster, and I tend to stretch my body before playing. I use long and hard drumsticks in order to get more punch, and it seems difficult in the beginning but with time it gets easier. Or if you prefer to use soft drumsticks, then practice some of the time with hard drumsticks. Then you’ll see the difference in speed.
What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?
Hmm, maybe the thinking that I want to get more and more brutal on drums, and having the goal to scare people at live shows [laughs]. People are always surprised when they watch us live for the first time, and tell me they have never seen a girl playing extreme music with that much punch.
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?
I define success as being recognized by metal media, known musicians, and metalheads all around the world. Also, as getting a deal with a major label. I am hopeful. I think I’m near there, possibly after we release the next album, which shows my evolution in more complex songs, and getting more into death metal style.
Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?
I’d say: Give it a try, at least you have tried. And: Make a difference in this world.
When you sit down to make music and are starting with a blank canvas, what’s your process like? Marcio usually starts playing some riffs and I play the drums along with him. Sometimes I also start to play random beats and then Marcio plays along with me. We have a good musicianship, from decades of working together.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
My advice is to go for it, if that’s what you really want. And work hard for it, be focused and don’t think you’re not able or different just because you’re a girl. Learn with other men, treat them as equals. Never mind people who say bullshit to underestimate you. After all, what really counts is your will and passion to drum!
Where else to find Juliana