Diana Llerena Vasquez is a Peruvian drummer, percussionist, and teacher who was seduced by the beat starting at age five. It took ten years to get the drum set she’d always wanted, but once she did, she was unstoppable. She studies at the Luis Duncker Lavalle music conservatory, and has played in many different groups throughout the last five, including the Chapillacs, with whom she recorded a playlist session in Lima’s Ministry of Culture.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org telling us more about you.
What is your city, country, and age?
I’m from Arequipa, Peru. I’m 20 years old.
What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
I use Pearl: 22″ bass drum, 14″ snare, 12″ and 16″ toms, 14″, 16″, 17″, 18″, and 21″ Zildjian A Custom cymbals.
Do you have endorsements?
Yes, Rever Gel (Drum Damper Pads). It’s a 100-percent Peruvian brand.
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
Since I was five years old, I was seduced by drums and percussion in general. In those early years it was very difficult for my parents to buy me a drum set, however, because it was very expensive for our financial situation. After wishing it for ten years, on my 15th birthday, they finally could buy me one. It was a bit strange at school because I studied at a women’s only school. My friends were engaged in other “girlie” things, but that never stopped me.
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What bands do you play with, if any?
I have played in different groups throughout these last five years in my city. One of the groups that I am most proud of having belonged to is the Chapillacs, with whom we had the opportunity to record a playlist session in the city of Lima in the ministry of culture. They will always be part of my career and the experiences will always be grateful to all my brothers in the group.
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
Aaron Spears. He is a very strong influence for me. I admire his style and his versatility. He is just incredible.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
I usually study at night for an hour and a half, approximately, and I am always using my practice pad during the day.
What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?
My friends always think I’m crazy for carrying drumsticks everywhere with me on my purse. Even if I’m not going to play that day.
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?
Success for me is to be surrounded with the people I love and be able to make a living from what I love doing, which is music.
Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?
“Unless someone like you really cares, nothing will ever improve.”
This phrase makes me move every day.
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How important is failure in making music / performing?
Failure is part of the process to be able to do something better. It makes you learn from it and teaches you to keep going on your journey to success.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
Girls! The world of percussion could be tough for us, but totally exciting at the same time! Be strong as we always have been and move forward, because there is nothing impossible for us.
Did you have to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?
For me, music goes beyond technique, versatility, and even beyond talent. I think that the values, the attitude, and the desire to change something in the world through music is more important, inspiring the new generations to be better, not only as musicians but as persons. I would love to impact lives in this way with my music.