Just Being With Steve Anthony B

Just Being With Steve Anthony B


Thirty-three year-old drummer Steve Anthony B caught our eye when we caught a video snippet of him on Youtube, promoting his new record. He was wailing on the drums so I shared the video with friends. As one of them said, "He's the real deal."

The 33-year old drummer hails from the island of Guadeloupe and moved to New York City in June 2004 to study. Growing up, he studied drums under a teacher he calls amazing, Raymond Grego Then he studied classical music at Sorbonne university in Paris, France. But America beckoned. He applied to Manhattan School of Music and studied there with Justin Dicciocio. Finances intervened, as they often do. When the money ran out, he finished his degree at City College of New York. But the instruction was great there, too, as he took rhythm classes with famed bassist John Patitucci.

DRUM! Why the B?

Steve The B. stands for the first letter of my last name. Belvilus. The story is whenever I had a gig and was meeting new musicians on the scene most of them had trouble pronouncing correctly my last name . So I decided to just say "B" to make everyone life easier.

DRUM! Why are you making this record at this time?

Steve This has to do more with where I am right now in my life. I am in a place in my life where I am comfortable with myself and ready to present what is inside of me. When musicians are really, really young they tend to do stuff to try to impress people. This recording is not trying to prove anything. I am just bringing something unique which is me.

Drum! What is the basic concept of Sum for you?

Steve The concept of S U M is based on the idea that we should be allowed to be our self without fear, rejection or oppression. S U M (pronounce soom) is a latin word that means "to be" or "I". By making this album What I want people to get from this album is it's ok to be you: be yourself or be "SUM". S U M is an example of that and this is the mission statement of my band.

Drum! What's your compositional style or strategy? Do you start on piano? Or start with rhythms and bass? How do you build up the pieces?

Steve Well it all depends, but I rarely write a tune starting on the drums even though I am a drummer. I play piano as well so I spend most of my time in front of my upright piano in my apartment to compose. Most of my ideas start either with some chord changes that I found interesting or sometimes it's a melody that I start singing like "Last Prayer for a change" which is on the album. As far style, I believe if you master your craft, technically, you should be able to play anything, styles of music. The thing is in USA it seems like everything has to be in a box: you are either a jazz drummer, a funk drummer, pop drummer and the list goes on...I don't believe in that at all! First of all as a musician, I listen to a bunch of different music, even some music you would not think a drummer will appreciate. For example, I LOVE "bluegrass/country music". Alison Krauss is one of my favorite singer and I would love to work with her. Therefore, I picture music as a giant painting. Each colors of the painting represent the different styles in music. If somebody asks me to focus on one style, I will tell them: well basically you want me to get very close to the painting and just appreciate the color yellow for example. I believe in order for me to appreciate music, I need to step back and appreciate the whole painting and not just a color.

Drum! How do you approach playing the drums when you are the composer and bandleader? Is it any different for you?

Steve This is totally different. Actually, this experience taught me a lot. On this project I am the drummer, bandleader, arranger, producer. It is a lot of hats to wear at the same time. I spent so much of my time worrying about everybody else part that, the day before the recording, I realized I had not studied my own part yet as a drummer. Lol!! Also The day of the recording, everybody had a great time, except me: as a band leader and producer my brain was working at 200 percent of its capacity, worrying about time, getting horns right etc. You have to have strong shoulders to be a band leader.

Drum! How did you record? Live in the studio? Overdubs?

Steve We recorded the rhythm section live and some horns part as well were recorded live. We overdubbed the vocals and some horns as well and I did some post production on keys and the keyboard player added his part later on.

Drum! What was the drum setup for recording?

Steve Because I am really picky as far drum gear, I brought my own drum set to the studio for this recording. I play Sonor drums since 2001. I used the same kit my father offered me when I was 17 years old. I bought this drums in France and brought it with me when I moved here in New York City in 2004. What makes this set sounds amazing is the heads I use: I use the Black Suede Emperor by Remo. Those heads are just the best for me: I can play anything with those: Jazz, fusion, pop, funk and they are amazing for recording. As far cymbals I mixed Zildjan and Sabian cymbals. I just used two crash cymbals, one ride and hi hat. In order to have some consistency I did not want to switch gear for every tune on the record. So I kept the same set up and I decided instead to change the texture of the drums through mixing. I even added some drum plugin on my kit for example for the tune "Test The Waters" cause I wanted to have a more "produce" sound and less natural feel.

Drum! What's the most interesting drum tune on the record?

Steve Think the most interesting tune as far drum tune is "S U M thing" because of the drum solo and the groove that is in odd meter. However I really did not want to and was not interested in doing a recording with a bunch of drum licks, just to show off my techniques to say "how great I am" or "listen to how fast I can do this roll." What I hope is that whomever listen to this recording will have one track he will choose to listen to depending on his mood and wherever he might be. I am hoping that this recording will be one of those CDs people want to have and listen to when they are driving.

Drum! You've got great people on the recording and a band with younger cats like yourself. Are you guys going to gig with the record?

Steve The band will play live and we will play the tunes on the record and as well some other tunes not yet recorded.

Guest musicians on SUM
  • Jacques Schwarz Bart: Tenor Sax, (D’Angelo voodoo tour, Erykha Badhu)
  • Brian Donohoe: Tenor Sax, (Progger, Snarky Puppy)
  • Daniel Sadownick: Percussion, (Dennis Chambers, Michael Brecker, Christian Mcbride)
  • Brian “Raydar” Ellis: DJ, (Esperanza Spaulding, Chris “daddy” Dave, Robert Glasper)
  • Core band on the record:
    • Joel Desroches: Piano, Rhodes, (Rakiem Walker)
    • Olivier Rambeloson: Key, Synth, (Florent Pagny, Big Ali)
    • Gil “Excel” Defay: trumpet (Eric Bennet, Rachel Brown)
    • Andrew Gould: Alto Sax (Wallace Roney Jazz Orchestra, Fifth Harmon)y
    • Francesco Beccaro: bass (Monifah, Dennis Chambers, Kdrew)
    • Patryce Williams: vocals (Finian’s Rainbow show, The Unveiling show at the Apollo)
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