Debarati Das is a metal and hard rock drummer based out of Pune, India. She has been drumming for the past six years, and currently plays in groove metal band Ephemeral. She has played in the thrash metal band Sephiroth in the past. Her influences include Igor Cavalera, Bill Ward, Ian Paice, and Marco Minnemann. When not drumming, Das is a lawyer and has also written for the webzines Metal Wani and Indian Metal Scene.
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 was born and brought up in a town called Silchar in the state of Assam, India. I currently live in Pune, India. I am 26 years old.
What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
I use Mapex Mars P600TW double bass pedals, and Soultone NOA Series 13″ hi-hats, 16″ crash, and 19″ ride. Besides these, my set-up usually consists of a snare, three toms, and a cowbell. I don’t have a drum kit of my own.
Do you have endorsements?
Yes, I have been endorsing Soultone Cymbals since July 2018. I might be the only woman drummer in the country to endorse an international percussive instrument brand.
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
I play in a melodic death/groove metal band, Ephemeral, and a hard rock band that is yet to be officially announced. I have also played in a thrash metal band, Sephiroth, in the past.
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
I always loved the sound of percussion. Although I wanted to learn drumming as a child, I couldn’t really make it happen until I moved to a big city. Since there were no visible female drummers around in my hometown of Silchar, I found little to no encouragement. The idea of a girl playing a physical instrument like the drums was remote to us. After I moved to Pune to study law, I began taking drum classes without informing my folks back home. I bought pedals second-hand and made a makeshift set-up at home of practice pads, pillows, and pedals.
However, I could afford drum classes for only about a year. So, once I learned the basics, I discontinued the classes and learned from YouTube. As much as I loved it as an art form, drumming was a way for me to channel aggression. I didn’t want to stop due to limited resources/exposure. Eventually, I came across like-minded people, and we formed Sephiroth. Since then, I have explored various sub-genres of metal and hard rock.
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
It’s difficult to name just one favorite drummer. To name a few, Bill Ward, Ian Paice, and John Bonham for their organic drumming, Marco Minnemann for the amazing energy and joy with which he plays, and Igor Cavalera for ferocity, speed, and tribal elements.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
Since I don’t have a drum kit, I practice basic techniques, limb independence, and speed on practice pads, pedals, and pillows on the days that I work my regular job. On weekends, I practice dynamics and techniques on the drum kit.
Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum readers?
One basic tip that always helps me is, “If you can say the groove, you can play it.” I also think good musicians are good listeners first. I think it is important to listen to music every day and carefully enough to observe its elements—dynamics, synchronization with other instruments, rolls, time signatures, etc. Every drummer has their own style, but I believe posture is more important to us than we think. We must try sitting upright as we play because it helps us hit hard and reach all the elements of the kit with maximum ease.
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 in deriving joy from playing music. I don’t believe in “success” or “failure” in music. I don’t have any list of things that I want to achieve, nor any specific long-term goal that I can define as “success.” I believe in spontaneity, letting it flow naturally, and exploring the infinite possibilities that the drums have to offer! What I am certain of is that I want to play drums all my life and keep learning.
When you sit down to make music and are starting with a blank canvas, what’s your process like?
I first gather my thoughts on the sound I want to create—the dynamics, the speed, and the feel. Then I explore the kit and figure what parts of it I can use in the sound I want to achieve and how, and then go with the flow. If I am writing music with other musicians, I first try understanding the sound they are looking to create and listen to the story they want to tell in the song. And then it’s all about sharing ideas and deciding what sounds best.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
To all the girls/women reading this who want to drum: You are fierce and beautiful, and I believe in you. To step into an arena where women are severely underrepresented and to reclaim your space is an act of courage and resistance. More power to you!
If you had to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?
I believe in understanding the basics first—everything else is attainable with time and practice. It would include routines of basic technique, limb independence, and time-signature exercises, listening to a lot of music, sharing ideas with each other, watching the best drummers play, and creating new grooves and new music.