Spotlight : Tristan Kelley
We asked Tristan Kelley to come by the shop, set up his drums, record a few videos for his insanely popular "Beat a Day" series and answer a few questions from our friend, Ian.
If this isn't the first time you're hearing his name, you're likely one of the 30.5 thousand people who follow him on Instagram (That is, of course, at the time of this writing, it has likely gone up exponentially since then). Known for his expansive "Beat a Day" videos, in which he performs a new, original drumbeat for the masses. This being my first interview for the shop, I expected to be introduced to a serious and talented musician who would likely make me feel rather inferior. Instead, I spoke to an incredibly kind father of three who are, as his wife explained, "Out of the toddler age and not quite yet to the teenage years" (a moment of peace, as my mother would say). Currently, he is trying to support his family through music, which you can help by donating to his Patreon page right here - https://www.patreon.com/tristankelley.
In your opinion, what role does fashion play in music?
It's a symbiotic relationship, it can really make or break your act. If you see a band in which the members aren't put together, you immediately judge them as such. However, if a group focuses more on the look than the music itself, they don't really draw you to seek out their music. It's a fine balance, but it's definitely an important one.
You have over 30 thousand followers on Instagram, how do you think social media platforms help/hurt the modern climate of music and art in general?
It has leveled the playing field, you no longer have to follow the traditional route of making it big, you can have anyone receive the same amount attention regardless of their background. I've been drumming for 20 years, and I've never received this level of attention until the "Beat a Day" videos. I don't think it would have been as explosive without the "Beat a Day" videos. It's had a positive effect on music in a big way.
Do you ever receive negative feedback on the "Beat a Day" videos?
Not on Instagram, the people there are incredibly kind in their comments. I try to respond to every comment and build a community for those who follow me. The commenters are interesting too, you can get comments from High School boys who are just picking up the drums, to middle aged guys who are trying to rediscover it. Youtube, however, is different story (laughs).
What kind of things to you offer on your Patreon site?
I do these requests for custom beats over songs. Say a band records a song but they don't have the money to afford a day at a professional studio and also pay a drummer for one song. What they can do is send me the song without the beat, and I record what they want in my own studio and then send it back to them. I get about a half dozen or so of these a month and I've been doing it for about 6 or 7 years. And, while it is definitely fun, it's also not my creation. I also do covers of songs on the site but they run into the same issue. Which is why I created "Beat a Day," so I can sit down for an hour and get 4¬6 original beats.
What's in your head when you play?
I always think of this random, unknown song that just loops in my head. I always want a new beat to fit all within the same song. I guess I kinda check out mentally when I play and just focus on the song.
This is definitely evident in your appearance, as Nicole mentioned (employee at A&Mc), your drummer face is "On point."
Yeah (laughs), I guess that's me trying to figure out the song and what comes next. The beat always evolves into what I'm experimenting with, becoming something cooler than I initially expected.
What did you listen to on the way over here?
My Wife's gonna be embarrassed, but Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me on NPR.
You can view Tristan's Patreon page here: https://www.patreon.com/tristankelley
Join his Instagram community here: https://instagram.com/tristankelley
Written by Ian Farmer for Armitage & McMillan - https://instagram.com/ifarme