Julianna Mascia began her drum journey when a grumpy English teacher asked her to stop tapping on her desk and “go join the band.” She did! Joining her high school concert band that year and falling in love with the instrument. She’s since toured internationally and continued to pursue her career, one highlight being a finalist in the 2016 International Hit Like A Girl Contest. Mascia puts out weekly drum videos with her own twist, (Wii remote, anyone?) and has developed a strong and growing online following. Her mission is to not only inspire other musicians to focus on their craft but to have a blast while doing so.

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 located in a town called Brick, New Jersey in the United States. I’m 22 years old and living the dream—being able to share my passion with thousands of people each day.

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

I currently love the gear I am using, including a Tama SilverStar drum set, Zildjian Cymbals, DW Hardware, Vater Drumsticks, a mix of Evans and Remo drum heads, Roland SPD-30, my chrome SnareWeight, DrumLites, DrumTacs, and my VRATIM drumming shoes. My studio set up also includes a range of Audix microphones, Shure i215 in-ear monitors, a PreSonus Studio 1824 interface, a GoPro Hero 4, and a Macbook Pro (13.3”). I use Logic Pro X and Final Cut Pro to edit my videos.

Do you have endorsements?

I currently endorse Vater Drumsticks, DrumTacs, DrumLite, Snareweight, and VRATIM and am in the process of another. I am blessed to have the support from these companies along with representing such remarkable brands.

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

In high school, my freshman year English teacher would constantly yell at me to stop tapping on my desk. Later that year, I tried explaining to her that I wasn’t doing it on purpose and she proceeded to yell at me to “go join the band.” Sure enough, I took her seriously and joined my high school’s concert band that year, meeting one of the most influential people in my musical journey—my band director. I was a shy kid, always afraid to go that extra mile and he helped me challenge that. By the end of that year, I sat behind the kit for the first time and fell in love. I was no longer that shy kid, for I found a way to challenge myself, grow, and speak through my instrument. Now, I could talk for hours (beware).

Who is your favorite drummer and why?

A favorite is hard to pinpoint, however, I have been highly influenced by Aaron Spears (Independent), Zac Farro (Paramore), Billy Rymer (The Dillinger Escape Plan). These three aren’t just shredders, but have developed their own recognizable concept that has encouraged me to develop my own. My favorite drummer is a drummer who shows their full self and isn’t afraid to express it. My favorite drummer is more than a drummer that keeps the beat, but one with flow and passion. There are a lot of “favorite drummers” available to us all: to learn, to grow, to prosper from.

How do you practice? Do you have a routine?

With being a full-time student along with my job, most of my time is spent listening to various styles of music. My ears help me grasp the concepts of flow, listening to groove ideas, rudiment placements, and polyrhythms in each song. Once growing upon these ideas, I then sit behind the kit and let the magic happen. As always, there are practices involving strategic rudiment, speed, chop, and other developments. However, my favorite way to practice is to play with other musicians, to let the ideas come to life that we may not even know we have.

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

Listen. I suggest you try taking a minute away from thinking about a specific rudiment, a double bass part, a beat, whatever it may be, and focus on the tune. Listen to what’s going on in the background, what the bass is doing, what the vocalist (if there is one) is doing, etc. Sometimes we are too focused on being perfectionists, when in reality, the true perfection is continuing to develop ideas and grow.

What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?

There’s no shield that could ever hide my overall craziness about drumming. In other words, if you watch my videos, you know that I do not hide my facial expressions or physical expressions about the parts that I am playing. Some think my faces are crazy, but most people see that I am truly enjoying myself, encouraging them to do the same. That, in my opinion, is what it’s all about: inspiring each other. Us drummers, we are a community. We are universally encouraging and a community of love, and we should show that, whether it be making the craziest faces, pulling out a Wii remote in the middle of your drum cover, or standing up on your drum stool for the final crash hit of the song. As some of you know, I’ve done all of these “crazy” things. However, I know I have inspired other people to think outside the box and beyond the beat.

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 believe that drive is always moving, even in technical terms. My personal drive keeps me moving and motivated to put out content, get better at my craft, and inspire others along the way. Success is what you make it. For me, success is knowing that I have changed someone’s life when I receive the positive reinforcement of drummers telling me I have given them a sense of hope, inspired them, or that I am their favorite drummer. The kind words I have received over the past few months of posting my videos have strengthened my drive, and to me, that is my ever-so-appreciated success. I challenge you to take a minute to stray away from focusing on the end goal and ask yourself, What is my drive? With focus on your drive, you will achieve success. Follow your dreams, drummers.

How important is failure in making music/performing?

Well, I literally start each moment I’m making music with a “black canvas,” aka my black curtains behind my drum kit. Upon sitting down, my mind goes blank from the rest of the world. I used to go into playing with a specific mindset on what to accomplish. However, that just led to frustration and added stress that hurt me in the long run. Now, I set no specific boundaries, and instead, focus and practice on the things I want to accomplish to naturally flow. For example, if I’m thinking about the fill I want to do, I probably will not play it with as much power as I would if I felt it naturally through practice.

Failure is important in developing a thick skin. Failure makes you appreciate the positives in your career. You won’t always get things first try and you won’t always get every gig. However, failure in itself is an opportunity—an opportunity to further extend your drive to push even harder.

Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?

First, I would say it’s an arena of opportunity. It all starts with a mindset; I suggest immediately taking away the idea that you are not as capable as a male drummer. We are all drummers; we all have the opportunity to develop and perfect our craft. My drummer girls, we have the aptitude to demolish this underrepresentation, we just need to be fearless. We have to bring each other up together, spread the success, spread the love, spread the support. Hit hard, smile, groove, and show that love you for the drums—that, my ladies, is what unites us to powerfully push away these stereotypes. Do not let anyone tell you that you are not capable or not as good, because I promise you, you are. We have the power to continue to change this drumming world and together, we can build the power to be the future of drumming.

If you had to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?

A playlist of multiple different genres for a drummer to listen to with headphones on. When listening to different genres of music, a person can expand their playing by opening all doors of opportunity. I like to do this with headphones on because it really makes me focus on all elements of the songs. Why limit yourself to one style of playing when you can learn multiple? Not only does this make you more marketable for a gig, but can create endless ideas in the mind of a drummer. Each song has its own flow, melody, beat, style, and these differentiating elements will make you a better overall player, stress-free.

Where else to find Julianna

You can find most of my drum videos on my Instagram (@julezdrumz), Twitter (@julezdrumz), and Facebook (@juliannamasciadrums). I plan on hitting 2019 with a bang (pun intended) and share with you all content that is fun, creative, and inspiring with hope that you will join me on my journey to do the same.