Kate Kuziakina is a 10-year-old drummer from Ukraine. She started playing drums in 2014 when she was just six years old. Kate is self-taught and has accumulated an impressive collection of awards, winning Grand Prix’s in the US and Spain, as well as placing first in Finland’s International Festival “Christmas Star.” She also participated in the Hit Like A Girl contest this year and placed in week one in the under-18 drum set division. On her YouTube channel, she’s posted more than 50 drum covers of rock, heavy metal, and pop songs. She has also performed with a variety of bands, including Mad Heads, Vopli Vidopliassova, Tabula Rasa, and Viktor Pavlik, and was the subject of a short documentary.
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(These questions were answered with a little help from her team: Valerie, her manager and older 16-year-old sister, and Kate’s parents.)
What is your city, country, and age?
I live in a village near Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. I’m 10 years old now.
What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
Drums: Таma Starclassic Bubinga with a 22″ bass drum, 14″ snare, and 10″, 12″, and 16″ toms.
Cymbals: Paiste (this is a new set) and Zildjian (which is an older set), with 14″ hi-hat, two crashes, and one ride
Pedals: DW 3000
Drumsticks: mainly Vic Firth
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
I have performed with many Ukrainian rock bands: Mad Heads, Tabula Rasa, Vopli Vidopliassova, High Score, Numer 482, and Ot Vinta. Also, when I was in the US two years ago a local band invited me to play with them, and so I did, without any rehearsal. It was a real pleasure!
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
I can’t say exactly what was the initial impulse. My parents sometimes recall that, five years ago, they were walking with me in the park and we stopped near the stage where a band was playing. At the end of their performance the drummer gave me his drumsticks. I remember this being something very special in my life. It was as if that drummer gave me my destiny. After that, I started drumming everywhere — on chairs, tables, and so on. Two years later my dad bought me a real drum kit. I was six years old.
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
My favorite drummer is Max Malyshev. His drumming is just incredible! In my opinion, he is the coolest drummer in Ukraine. He has worked with the legendary Ukrainian rock singer Svyatoslav Vakarchuk (in the project Brussels), as well as with many other musicians. He was an endorser of Paiste and the first endorser of Tama drums in Ukraine. For me it’s very important that he has achieved everything in life and drumming by hard work and dedication to his dream.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
I play drums almost every day for about 3–4 hours, usually in the evening. This includes individual drum lessons (when we have money for them), drumming exercises, rehearsals with other musicians and concerts (for example, with our girl rock band The Sixsters), as well as playing along with my favorite songs. As for a routine, my older sister Valerie is my main manager who helps me a lot to plan my time and organize my practice. So drumming is never boring for me, it’s a great fun.
Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum readers?
I just play my favorite music. This is my “secret” tip and technique. If you love it, you will find ways to play it well.
What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?
For many people, the idea of a very young girl on a drum set is absolutely crazy by itself.
But, in seriousness, I think that drummers are very different from other people. On my website we have a post in where we have been collecting interesting facts about drummers and drumming (“What Makes Drummers Different from Other People?”) This post gets into, for example, how drumming is very useful for mental and physical health.
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?
It’s like a road by which you go forward step by step. Every new step to your dream is success. Now my dream is to play with The Foo Fighters and Okean Elzy.
How important is failure in making music/performing?
I think that without one such failure, nobody would have even known about me. Three years ago we tried to participate in a talent show. But I didn’t pass the audition. My sister Valerie decided that it was a mistake and posted a video of me playing drums on the internet. The next day, my dad’s friends called him and said: “Do you know that everyone is talking about your daughter’s video?” This was the start of recognition for me.
So, failures can be very important and stimulating, even though they may be not so pleasant.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
This year the Hit Like A Girl contest has included regional contests. In China there were so many participants! There are a lot of skilled drummer girls in some other Asian countries too. In the US and Europe, fewer girls think about drumming as a career or even hobby. But regardless of where you live, playing drums takes a lot of time and effort. You should be a bit of a drum nerd or persistent drumtrepreneur like Sina and Kristina Schiano in order to succeed in this field. You should also love drumming very much and perceive it as a very important thing in your life. Drumming should be your real passion. Without all these, it may be just a lost time and disappointment.
If you had to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?
I’m a self-taught drummer and I have been learning drumming with the help of the internet. It just so happens that I don’t have favorite resources. On YouTube, there are a lot of great channels and single videos about various aspects of drumming — for every taste and skill level. This sounds a bit trivial but it’s true.
Where else to find Kate
Patreon, where she hopes to raise some money for drum tuition fees.