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TaRiesha “Riesha” Fayson is the drummer with Daughters Of Zion, and the 2014 Hit Like A Girl Contest champion. The Washington, D.C. native began her love affair with music early, and by age 10 was playing regularly at her church. Fayson still drums in churches, and combines gospel, pop, R&B, and jazz in her playing. She has also performed at PASIC, Girls Rock D.C. Summer Camp, Hip Hop Soul Fest, Drum Like a Lady, and the 2012 Hot Lick Guitar Drum Shop, to name a few.

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?

Washington, D.C. area, 31.

WHAT KIND OF GEAR DO YOU USE? WHAT’S YOUR SETUP?

I go between Gretsch Catalina maple and PDP concept maple. I use a 22’’ kick, 14’’ snare, 8″, 10″, 12″, 14’’, and 16″ toms. I love stacks and fast, trashy-sounding cymbals.

Do you have endorsements?

I endorse TRX cymbals.

WHAT BANDS/GROUPS DO YOU PERFORM WITH, IF ANY?

I currently play with the Daughters Of Zion (DOZ band), three churches on Sundays, and I’m also involved with lots of freelancing gigs.

WHAT LED YOU TO YOUR INSTRUMENT? WHAT’S YOUR ORIGIN STORY?

I credit my mother for leading me to my instrument. My church needed a drummer. My mother attempted to play, but it wasn’t working out for her, so she called me over to the drums and said, “Sit down and play. Just keep the beat like you’re clapping your hands and stomping your feet.”

I really did not want to do that because we were in the middle of a church service and people were watching. It was very frustrating and I wanted to quit many times, but she kept making me play every service.

I didn’t have drums at home so I couldn’t go home and practice, and since I didn’t have a choice in the matter, I would just spend time in between the morning and evening services practicing. A few years later I started to get the hang of it and I actually started to enjoy playing. Then, better musicians came to the church and they kicked me off the drums for about two years.


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During that time I watched the drummers and was able to develop a better idea of how the drums should be played. Even though I wasn’t playing for the church I would still practice in between the services, because we didn’t have drums in our apartment. We barely had enough room for everyone to live in there, with eight people and a cat.

I started to mimic what I saw the church drummer do. Eventually, he quit, and the drummer’s position was back open. I was able to play again and later met people who served as a mentor to me and taught me how to be a musician. And I have been doing that ever since.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE DRUMMER AND WHY?

My favorite drummers are those from my community—too many to name. They had the biggest impact on my playing. They are my favorite because they were not selfish in sharing their knowledge, time, and some chops with me. Some even exposed me to being a professional musician. I had no clue you could make some pretty good money just playing music, until I met some of these drummers.

HOW DO YOU PRACTICE? DO YOU HAVE A ROUTINE?

Typically when I go to practice, it requires learning music for an upcoming gig or Sunday service. Once I learn the music, I’ll have a little fun with the songs. I may pick out a certain part or phrase and play it over and over again to see how creative I could get with placement and voicing.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC PLAYING TIPS OR TECHNIQUES, OR ADVICE, EXERCISES, OR DISCOVERIES YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH DRUM! READERS?

I recently discovered that you can use Roland SPD-SX and drum triggers on the DW Go-Anywhere kit. You can get really crazy and creative with that setup.

Some other tips would be to take good care of your body, stretch properly, and hydrate. Being a drummer is like being an athlete—we have to take the proper measures to make sure we don’t hurt our bodies doing what we love to do.

WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU BELIEVE ABOUT DRUMMING OR MUSIC THAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK IS CRAZY?

I believe that drummers are the most important piece of every band and should be paid more money than everyone else. I also believe that anything could be turned into an instrument.

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 is based on knowing what you want, then going for it, and learning to fight through distractions that try to keep you from it. Success is knowing that no matter what you can’t be stopped.

HOW IMPORTANT IS FAILURE IN MAKING MUSIC/PERFORMING?

Failure is important because it helps us to realize where personal growth is needed. No one really likes to fail, but it pushes us to be better if we view it as an opportunity to get better.

ANY ADVICE FOR GIRLS CONTEMPLATING GETTING STARTED AND MAKING IT IN THIS ARENA?

My advice to girls thinking about playing drums is to do you! Don’t limit yourself and don’t let anyone limit you either. Don’t worry about those who try to box you in or objectify you. Look past what they say we can’t do, then do it and own it.

IF YOU HAD TO PUT TOGETHER A SCHOOL OR RESOURCES FOR WOULD-BE DRUMMERS, WHAT WOULD THE TRAINING INCLUDE?

The training would include confidence, placement, professionalism, and musicianship. These are the things I never had a clue about until a few years ago.

Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?

‘’Opportunities of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity.’’ –Leonard Ravenhill

‘’You only get out what you put in.’’

Where else to find Riesha

Instagram: Rieshadrums