Classrooms, videos and stages: the daily life of Eloy Casagrande, drummer of Sepultura

Eloy Casagrande, Sepultura drummer, spoke about creative process, technology in favor of art and challenges of the online courses market; read the entire interview.

Classrooms, videos and stages: the daily life of Eloy Casagrande, drummer of Sepultura

Eloy Casagrande started practicing drums at the age of eight; at 20, he became the drummer of Sepultura, one of the world's biggest metal bands. On the road with the group for a decade, he is still divided between teaching and Youtube producing, accompanied by almost 300 thousand followers in his social media channels. In an exclusive interview for the Moises team, Casagrande spoke about the use of technology in favor of art, challenges in the online course market, study routine, creative process and much more.

Check out the entire chat:

MOISES - You started playing drums as a child when access to technology was very different from today. Tell us: how has your learning process changed over the years?

ELOY - The issue of music education has changed a lot. There was a significant and very important change, a good change in general. When I started playing, at the age of eight, it was complicated to access the information. I had to look for local musicians and take classes with these drummers. Still, it was usually complicated to have access to these musicians. They did not always pass on their information because it was considered  “valuable information”.  I used to study through specialized magazines, buy educational DVDs from great drummers, import DVDs that were too expensive - and I usually didn't understand it, because I didn't speak English by then. Sometimes you spent months with a problem, with a difficulty that would be resolved in a few moments if you had the right, correct, quick and easy access guidance. Today, everything is easier with the Internet. People can study remotely, with whomever they want.

But there is a point too: people need to be careful with the opportunists because, as it is an open and exciting market, anyone can say anything. There is no magic in music, immediacy. Studying an instrument takes years, it is an intense artistic contact. I hope that people look for musicians who effectively play, make music, have a band, accompany artists, because this kind of musician can teach music to their students.

M - You have a solid presence in the digital world and even launched your own drum lessons website ("Bateria para Subversivos"). Has distance learning presented challenges? On the other hand, what facilitates this process?

E - I started teaching online through my website  “Bateria para Subversivos”, which has been an incredible experience. I always wanted to have this contact with other drummers, even if it was online. Now I am lucky to connect with Brazilian, Argentine, Colombian, Chilean, Mexican, American, Spanish musicians ... And it is fantastic.

I see in students difficulties that I had in my evolution process. I try to solve this for them in a straightforward and pragmatic way, demystifying some drums' issues and always cherishing music. My biggest goal is to get students to reach their primary objective. I respond to my students daily and also learn a lot from them. For example, there is a really cool thing that happened recently: a student asked me a question, I answered it for him; then I asked myself the same question and realized that I wouldn't know how to answer that for myself before, but I managed to answer for the student. By analyzing other people's problems, I can solve my questions too. That's so crazy! (laughs)

I think the biggest obstacle in online classes is the issue of sound. Drums are an acoustic instrument. Sometimes the student needs to be in the same room to really understand the sound.

M - We launched the Moises app and we are delighted to have you as a user - and an enthusiast! We realize that each person ends up creating a unique experience based on their own needs. How is Moises part of your daily life?

E - When I discovered Moises and had my first contact, I looked like a child with a new toy! The first thing I did was upload my favorite bands' tracks on the app and listen to artists playing isolated.

I thought: “I want to hear a specific part of the drums, which I was never able to identify what the drummer was doing”, so I went there and reduced the volume of other instruments. Or also: “I want to hear the isolated voice of this guy, just the vocal track. Wait, let me take out the other instruments” (laughs). I looked like a silly child there, touching everything, clicking everything. I was really scared by the practicality, it is very easy to move.

Moises has had a very positive impact on my life because it embraces all of my projects. I can teach through the app. A part of my teaching process is that my students learn music, make music. This is the app's main objective: to empower the student's (or musician's) creative process. The student can identify what is happening in a song, learn better from his favorite artist and then play with his band.

I also use Moises to make cover videos that I publicize on my channels, on my social media. Even some Sepultura songs, which sometimes I don't have the stems, I can separate the drums and play on top of the tracks.

Everything I have done includes Moises. I'm sure it will reach many people. It is a product that I have waited for my whole life. It would have made my life a lot easier if Moises had been around for 15, 10 years.

M- Well, the following question comes to expand on the previous answer: what do you think about the use of technology in music, either in studies, production, or in any other aspect of making music?

E - I believe that we should use technology in favor of music. It is a handy tool to, mainly, expand our artistic possibilities. I always insist that we should use technology consistently as a facilitator to increase our creative or communicative power. It is a pity that people sometimes use technology to simulate something they can't do with an instrument to achieve results that would never be achieved organically. This is very sad, we need to respect our personal and musical limitations. Technology has come to help us. It is a powerful tool and we need to use it in favor of art.

M - You have been the Sepultura drummer for ten years. Before that, you played in several bands, prioritizing subgenres of metal. Does each project require a different creative process? How does it happen at Sepultura?

E - Yes, each project has a different creative process. At Sepultura, it is vast. Songs can come from the drums, for example. I like to keep close contact with the instrument. I am always doing experimental studies and, sometimes, an interesting idea appears. Immediately, I think about how I can use this idea in the band. So, I record this piece, develop variations thinking about the song, the chorus, verse, guitar solo, bridge... and I send it to the guys. After that, they start composing the rest of the instruments.

Songs can also be born from the guitar in the same process. Andreas [Kisser] records a riff or some idea and sends it to me. Then I add to his riff, maybe finding new solutions, new paths ... The songs can be born through jams. We get together, start to play something randomly. From this, an exciting idea is born and we begin to develop.

It is very open, spontaneous, natural. There is never any pressure of needing to do something. Sometimes we get together and nothing just comes out. We need to respect that. It's horrible when you have to compose under pressure, with a need for something to come up. That's when things don't happen! The creative process has to be light; of course, you have to have an urgency, a need, but not physical pressure, pressure from the musical market or the environment for this to be an obligation. I was lucky because, in all the projects that I went through, the creation was very free, without any interference from the label, producer or entrepreneur.

M - You are a composer, musician, teacher, YouTuber… the agenda must be tight! Is there a study and rehearsal routine when you are on tour?

E - Yes, studying on tour is very complicated, practically impossible, due to playing drums' physical factor. Although I have a drum setted up every day on stage, I can't just go up there and play because people are working, like staff from other bands or from the venue. It is also not always easy to find another drum somewhere for me to study.

Another factor is also that on tour we are always exhausted. We usually do shows every day, apart from trips, flights ... There are days that I really wouldn't have time to study; sometimes we don't even have time to sleep or eat properly. Studying would still be impossible. But I try to maintain a basic routine of doing the drumming rudiments or getting on the kit and playing a little bit on the soundcheck when I have the chance. I still use a practice pad, a tool that drummers use to study, and I practice a little in the dressing room every day, while I'm warming up for the show.

I really miss studying in those periods because I like to keep a routine when I'm home. It is tough to study and evolve on tour. I try to really enjoy the shows, absorbing the maximum of the people who are there watching you, having this energy exchange and enjoying life! Enjoy life! (laughs)

M - Drums are considered a very complex instrument, so many people are "afraid" to start playing. What would be the golden tip for beginners?

E - The first factor is that drums are not a complex or super tricky instrument. I want to break this wrong idea. Of course, the drums can scare people initially because you need to coordinate the four members, but this is something that we develop gradually. There is a process for doing this in a not so painful way. For me, the most serious difficulty for the person to start playing drums is the instrument itself, because it is an expensive instrument, an instrument that requires space. It is an acoustic instrument, so it is loud, it makes noise. One can start playing through an electronic drum, a practice pad. Still, the acoustic drum is essential because it is the instrument itself.

From the moment that the person has the conditions to play the instrument, he needs time and dedication, like everything in life. You have to be close to that, have constant and daily contact with what you want. Works like when we have a problem: you have to want to solve the problem, you have to be close to it, befriend the problem. It's the same thing. Not that learning an instrument is a problem (laughs), it is not that, but if you want to evolve, communicate better through the instrument, you have to be in contact with it daily, constantly.

It takes the whole life to reach a result that we want - or we would need lives to get where we want. What counts is the day to day, the evolutionary process, the process of change. This is what we have to enjoy and this is what I enjoy today: respecting the now.

Author: Gi Ismael - brazilian journalist