Siddhi Shah is a drummer and percussionist in India, who grew up immersed in dancing, painting, and making various arts and crafts. In 2019, she was a finalist in both the drumset and percussion categories of the Hit Like A Girl contest. She’s been a rock and metal music fan since her early teens, and bought her first drum set at the age of 18. She then pursued a degree in Music Performance through Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music, in Chennai, India. Currently, she plays with several local groups, in addition to teaching drumming in private and public settings as a full-time drum teacher at Singapore International School, Mumbai.
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What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
I use a Mapex Mars series drum set, Zildjian Master series hi-hats, Zildjian A Custom crash and ride, Zildjian S series crash, Istanbul Agop China and splash, and Pearl Eliminator double pedals. I also use a Roland SPD-X sampling pad and some percussion instruments, including a djembe, cajon, and hapi drum.
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
Currently, I am freelancing and am playing several local gigs around Mumbai and Pune with independent artists.
I have also been composing with my band Reverie (instrumental metal) and will be hitting the studio to record my drum parts soon. Our music has a dominantly instrumental and dynamic approach with elements like odd time signatures, ambient aspects, samples, and effects.
Other projects I’ve been involved in since 2009 have included: Queens, founded by Ms. Lavanya from the Saxophone Sisters; The IRA, India’s first all girl band, consisting of popular Bollywood singers and expert musicians from all over the country; Egotrip Project, alt rock/experimental rock; Orcus, a black metal band; and Quasar, a cover band specializing in artists like Pearl Jam, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Ozzy Osbourne.
What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?
During my early teens I started listening to a lot of rock and metal. And it was always the drum beats that captivated me. And since I also danced a lot as a kid and performed several shows as a dancer, I think it definitely was the “rhythm aspect” that led me to playing the drums.
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
Ah, there are so many! But I would always choose Jojo Mayer for his microbeats and sophisticated playing.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
I try to keep an interesting variety for my practice routine. I do some exercises for warm up, play-alongs for fun, and some composing. I also like to cover songs and read sheet music.
What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?
I believe it’s a way of life, that many people don’t understand.
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?
Yes, I completely agree. You can be successful every day of your life. Some are fast successes while others take a while. Perseverance to overcome failure itself is a success.
Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?
Stay motivated, act consciously. Inspire and be inspired.
When you sit down to make music and are starting with a blank canvas, what’s your process like?
Sometimes I sing a song and come up with a new beat or pattern I could work with. Sometimes I have some ideas I need to sit down with and implement. I also try to incorporate things I’ve learned, and try to put them together to create something out of it.
Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it.
If you had to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?
A lot of books and instructional videos, a neat space with good gear and equipment where aspiring drummers can research, share ideas, and shed.