Venzella Joy: Faith, Hope And Drums

Venzella Joy: Faith, Hope, and Drums (with Beyoncé)

Venzella Joy

Artist " alt="Venzella Joy">Venzella Joy

Plays With Beyoncé

Gear DW, Zildjian, Remo, Vater, Kickport

Venzella Joy has already hit a few high points in her career, from playing on the BET (Black Entertainment Network) program Black Girls Rock to playing with Nelly on Good Morning America, and performing at Michelle Obama' 50th Birthday Celebration (where she even danced with the President himself). But her playing will be heard by an even bigger audience this September 20, 2014 when Jay Z and Beyoncé's Paris concert (performed September 12 and 13) is broadcast by HBO.

Venzella has been studying music since grade school in her hometown of Buffalo, New York. She played in several bands and the jazz ensemble in high school before going to Canisius College, where she graduated in 2010. After her experiences on BET she developed a female drummer clinic titled "Glamour, Glitz, & Drumsticks" in California, and then also hosted clinics in Toronto, Atlanta, and Rochester. We talked to her in early September.

DRUM! You started drums at a young age and have been perfecting your skills for 15 years or more. Is there one experience that really prepared you for playing with Beyoncé more than any other?

Venzella Joy When I'm home, generally I practice for 6-8 hours daily. If there was one experience, however, that I'd say prepared me for my current gig, it would be playing the Black Girls Rock award show on BET last fall. That was an amazing experience that helped me learn to adapt quickly to last minute music changes. There is where I learned it is either do or die. When a creative idea hits from the artist or music director, you have to be prepared to pick up on the change and seamlessly perform .

DRUM! This concert in Paris is shaping up to be a big event with HBO and all. Will the band be doing anything different for that as opposed to a regular show?.

Venzella Joy I won't ruin it for you. I will say that you will be very entertained.

DRUM! What was the rehearsal process like for this tour?

Venzella Joy We are particular as to details. As for my part in rehearsals, my tech James "Goo" McGregor and I would export sounds from the actual records and import them into the module that I use for pads and triggers. For a song like "Crazy in Love" for instance, we trigger my bass drum with the bass drum that was used on wax. We wanted to stay true to the classic sound that it has. Similar things happen with different patches and sounds. From there we run the material.

DRUM! What kind of setup are you playing on the tour? What's different about that from what you've played before?

Venzella Joy I am using a DW collector's kit. My tom sizes are 10", 12", 16". I'm also using an 18" gong drum, which I absolutely adore. In addition, I'm using a 14" snare and a 13" side snare with a 22" bass drum. My bass drum and snares are triggered for some tunes. Before this setup I didn't play the gong drums or have triggers on the kit.

DRUM! What's the most interesting or challenging tune for you on the tour?

Venzella Joy All of the tunes are beyond amazing. One that is particularly interesting is "Diva". It's ingenious how "Diva" and "Clique" are fused. Two songs have become interweaved in a way as though they are one.

Venzella Joy Kit

DRUM! Has this tour taken all your time lately or are there other projects that you fit in when you're not on the road?.

Venzella Joy When I'm not on the road I spend most of my time either in the studio or in my basement working on pre-production for the studio. Currently I'm working on a mini-project that I would like to release on iTunes this winter. It will be a project that highlights my production and writing as well as drumming. I am going to feature some of my peers who also write and produce. I have yet to decide on a name for the project but it will be searchable with my name.

DRUM! At a relatively young age you started playing clinics. What do you try to impart at clinics?.

Venzella Joy I try to impart faith and hope. I want people to leave my clinics inspired to live their dreams. I've dreamed of being in the place where I am now. I believe that with strong faith in God and hard work, a dream can become reality.

DRUM! How do you view your role as representing the companies you work with like and others?

Venzella Joy My role in representing my companies is to convey my love for them. I endorse companies that I truly believe are the best.

DRUM! Do you get a lot of communications from young girls who are also drummers. Do any of them seek you out?.

Venzella JoyAt times young girl drummers reach out to me. I gladly respond and encourage them to continue pursing their dreams of professional drumming. Also, parents of younger girl drummers will contact me letting me know that they are showing their daughters videos of me. That is really inspiring to me. I really appreciate that.

DRUM! What's your biggest drumming challenge right now? Is there an area you'd like to improve? Is there something you're trying to learn or a new project you'd like pursue next?.

Venzella Joy I am always pushing myself musically. I am working on being the drummer that anyone can call on at anytime to play any style of music authentically.

The Moment A Drummer Never Forgets

Venzella JoyI will never forget Christmas ‘98. That’s when I walked downstairs in the wee hours of the morning to see the best Christmas gift ever, a bright red drum set from Santa Clause (or Mom and Dad). I’ve always been fascinated by rhythms but at age 10 is when I began learning to play drum set in the school band and in the Church of God in Christ. I’ve been playing ever since.