Emmanuelle CapletteInterview by Sean Mitchell // August 03 2013
On drum set, I prefer to focus on grooves (play in the pocket) and get a constant sound. Back sticking and stick tricks are only useful when you want to impress people in a drum solo in my opinion.
Emmanuelle Caplette has fast become an internet drum guru—not only because of her prowess on drum covers, but also for her ability to create a drum mix that is worthy of any producers' skills. She is on the A-list of drummers to hire for festivals and clinics, not to mention she has been busy playing with the likes of The Police's Andy Summers. With the amount of hits on her YouTube channel, one has to assume that the drumming masses may be interested in what makes the Queen of Groove tick.
Emmanuelle, when I was a kid I went to a winter festival in Winnipeg. It was there for the first time I experienced French Canadian culture and met a well known Francophone character named Bonhomme (not to be confused with Bonham). What struck me was how well Francophones had defined their culture within the Canadian culture. What many non-Canadians do not realize is how distinct the French Canadian culture is. Can you give our readers an idea as to how incredible the artistic culture is there? What makes it so vibrant?
Indeed, we (Canadians) have the wealth to have two official languages. So, from one province to another, ideas and ways of communicating are not the same. This is the same for the music! From coast to another, changing rhythms and melodies from the folk "Cajun" from the Maritime and the "French song" Rock to the Eastern. We are also fortunate to have many events where all genres and languages mix, for example, the International Jazz Festival of Montreal.
There are so many great Québécois recording artists. Who are some that you can share with our global readers? Also, there are some great drummers too. Who are some of your favorites?
We have really good Quebecois artists! Like Celine Dion, Arcade Fire, Simple Plan, Coeur De Pirate, Beast, and Ariane Moffatt. We are really proud of them. That’s awesome! We have several great drummers in Quebec, like Paul Brochu (uzeb), Dominique Messier (Celine Dion), Pierre Hébert (did so many TV shows), Marc Laflamme (The Musical Box) and so many others. I have a looooong list.
I understand your dad is a musician. What does he play and how has he influenced you?
Yes, my father is a guitar player. He loves country music. My first gig was with him! Since I started drumming, he always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and goals.
Do you have more family members who are musical?
Yes, my uncle (my father’s brother) is a bass player.
You started drumming with a drum and bugle core. What made you interested in drumming?
I was always interested in rhythm. When I was a kid, I used to take my mom’s cooking pans and play on them with utensils. I started when I was nine years old with the drumcorps. An old friend invited me to a rehearsal of drum corps—and I went. I was interested by the snare instrument; I wasn’t interested in trying the brass/horn section and color guard section. The first time I hit on a snare, I knew right away that I wanted to play music as a living.
What made you want to transition from corps to kit drumming?
For me, it was natural to do this transition after high school. I started playing drum set at 18 years old. I was interested to learn new stuff like how to play different grooves (pop/rock/Latin/funk/jazz and more), how to read music, musical theory.
Did you struggle with the feet technique or the concept of feel and groove? Corps tends to be regimented.
Drum set and marching snare are totally different. Of course, when I started drum set, I had an excellent hand technique. But at that time, I didn’t understand what it meant to “groove.” When you play in a drum corps, everyone must have the same gestures, giving this rigid character. For the groove behind the drums, I had to learn to move differently. But in three years of study I learned a lot. I put aside the marching band and I'm focused on the drum set.
I'd say that jazz has helped me a lot. When you play jazz, you have to be relaxed. I discovered Jack DeJohnette, Tony Williams and Joe Morello. I also spent hours listening to music and of course, playing music with people. When I was at university, I worked on pieces of Tower of Power and the famous David Garibaldi's grooves. This is something I'm still working on.
Are you still active in Corps drumming and is there a large Corps scene in Canada?
I’m still active with my drumline band. Our Name is D-Line. We are produced by FK13 Agency Entertainment. We play for different events all around the world. It’s really cool. The drum corps scene in Canada isn’t really good now. It’s sad because it’s such a great movement for kids and teenagers.
What music do you listen to for inspiration?
I love to listen to so many styles; it depends honestly. I love Daft Punk, John Mayer, Bill Bruford, Black Dub, Bruno Mars, The Police, Sting, Michael Jackson, Pink, Beyonce, and more!
Who are some of your favorite drummers?
In drum corps, I was influenced by some drum lines: Blue Devils, Madison Scouts, Santa Clara Vanguard. And on drums, my mentor is Jeff Porcaro. He had his own sound and style. I love Vinnie Colaiuta, Manue Katche, Steve Gadd, and Steve Jordan.
I have seen many videos of your corps playing and your facility with the sticking and "tricks" is amazing. I have also seen your drum kit playing and you very rarely incorporate any of your corps stick tricks in your drum kit playing. Do you purposely keep these styles separate in your playing?
Yeah, I learned so many back sticking and stick tricks when I was in a drum corps. And you’re right, I don’t incorporate those kinds of chops in my drum kit playing. On drum set, I prefer to focus on grooves (play in the pocket) and get a constant sound. Back sticking and stick tricks are only useful when you want to impress people in a drum solo in my opinion.
You get some great drum sounds on your YouTube stuff. What is your set up for YouTube and what mics and tuning are you using?
I created my YouTube account in 2006 because I wanted to get more exposure. After, I was very surprised to see my videos got so many views and comments. Then, I was really motivated to make other videos and there was a snowball effect. I immediately ensured the sound quality of my videos, so I hired my musician friends and sound engineers.
I tune my drums really low, like a pop/rock sound. I use Evans drumheads (EC2 Clear on top and EC Resonant on bottom). With those drumheads, I found the perfect sound with my Sonor drums. Really easy to tune! And I’ll be honest with you, I don’t change my tuning. I use the same sound/tuning on a rock gig or jazz gig. Why? Because it’s my sound and trademark and people recognize it.
Since 2013, I use Sennheiser microphones everywhere. I recorded in Logic or Protools (with my Mac Book). I have my MBox Pro sound card or Focusrite.My camera is an HD Flip. I work with Final Cut Pro, so I sync audio and video together.
- Kick 1: e602II
- Kick 2: MD 421
- Snare Top: e905
- Snare Bottom: e908
- Side Snare: e604
- Hi-Hat: e614
- Rack Tom: e604
- Floor Tom 1: e604
- Floor Tom 2: e604
- Overhead L: e914
- Overhead R: e914
- Room Mic L: MK4
- Room Mic R: MK4
Now my drum setup on YouTube:
Sonor Drums (Ascent Series kit - Beech wood):
- Bass: 16X16
- Snare: Pure Canadian 14X6
- Snare: 12X5
- Tom: 10X8
- Floor 1: 13X10
- Floor 2: 14X11
- 4 x MBS473 Boom Stands
- 1 x HH484 New 400 Hi Hat Stand
- 1 x MBA471 Mini Boom Arm
- 1 x MC276 Multi Clamp
- 2 x SS477 Snare Stand
- 1 x DT470 Throne
I love my Sabian cymbals. Especially Evolution HHX Series. I play with big cymbals!
- 2 X 14” HHX Groove Hats
- 17” HHX Evolution Crash
- 18” HHX Evolution Crash
- 18” HHX Chinese
- 21” HHX Groove Ride or 22″ Omni Ride (Jojo Mayer)
- 8″ HHX Evolution Splash
- Snare batters: 12” and 14” : ST-DRY or HD DRY Coated Drumhead
- Snare bottom: Hazy 300 Drumheads : S12H30 et S14H30
- 16″ EC2 Clear
- 16″ Resonant Black
- Toms batter:
- 10″ EC2 Clear
- 13″ EC2 Clear
- 14″ EC2 Clear
- Toms reso:
- 10″ EC Resonant
- 13″ EC Resonant
- 14″ EC Resonant
Vic firth sticks: Jojo Mayer signature
Who are you currently playing with at the moment and what projects are you working on?
I was in LA last week. I played in a showcase at El Rey Theatre (on July 25th) with my new rock band Circa Zero. It’s with Andy Summers (The Police) and Rob Giles (The Rescues). It’s a privilege to be in this band! So we did this show to get footage/videos/picture to do promotion for our band. We’ll try to get some shows this fall. This summer, I also give many drum clinics. I love that!
What do you enjoy outside of music? I understand you enjoy sports. What kind of sports do you like and is there one you would play professionally?
Of course, I like sports! I love to do my running routine four times a week! I also like cycling and hiking. I need that in my life. And when I don’t play music, I love to spend time with my friends and family. Social life is important and helps me to be more creative!
What do you have planned for the summer and fall?
I’ll play with some pop artists in Montreal for live shows and recording sessions. I also have some shows with my jazz tribute to Genesis, A Visible Jazz Touch of Genesis. We will release our new live CD on September 19th in Montreal. I love this project—the band and singer are just simply amazing to work with!
And I’ll have some workshops in Holland and France. I’m really excited! I’ll play at Adams Drumworld Festival on September 8th. I’ll play at La Bag Show in Paris on October 27th with so many great drummers. And I’ll play at International Wizdom Festival in Dijon on November 24th and 25th.
You and I have a mutual friend in Sonor Canada's Scott Atkins. How did you come to meet Scott and what made you choose the Sonor brand?
When I was a student in Drummondville College, I wanted to buy my own snare drum so I could get the exact color and sound that suited me. My drum teacher told me there was a new line from Sonor that just came out, the Designer Series. I looked at the specs of the snare and thought that it was exactly what I needed to get my own sound. Don’t tell my parents, but I actually took my student scholarship to buy it. As soon I got it and played with it, I fell in love with the sound and I knew at that moment that if I would ever get a sponsor, Sonor would be my first choice.
A few years later, I wrote an email to Sonor Canada (Scott Atkins) and I told him I loved Sonor products and I already owned a Designer snare. He asked me to send him my press kit and a promotional DVD. When he got my package, he called me and said, "Welcome to the Sonor Family." And Scott told me that he had seen me play when I was 13 years old in drum corps. He thought it was great that I kept in the direction of the music. And since 2005, Scott has become a friend and a valuable person in my life.
What Sonor products do you like most? What hardware are you using?
Of course, I like everything about Sonor stuff, but I like to use a small kit! Like the Jungle Set with a 16” bass drum. The sound is amazing. It has a lot of sustain—it is surprising! The sound is great because it is a suspended system. The bass drum doesn’t directly touch the floor. The fact that it is suspended gives it a fatter sound. I feel really comfortable on these kits. I asked Sonor to build me a custom kit: Ascent Series, beech wood. I really love it! I use 400 Hardware series.
What snare do you use? What do you look for in a snare?
I play with my Sonor Pure Canadian Snare: 14X6, 13 ply. You can play all styles with this snare. Heavy Canadian maple shell. I love die cast hoops and deep snare! I prefered that for the sound.
What, in your opinion does it take to become a successful musician?
- A good personality (good attitude)
- An open mind
- Be passionate
- Of course, they must have a good sense of time and rhythm
- Must have thier own sound and style.
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About the Author
Sean has 15 years experience behind the kit, studying under greats like Mitch Dorge and participating in master classes with Dom Famularo and Zoro. It was these life-changing exchanges that prompted the Canadian-born drummer to create a global drumming community, The Black Page, that was easily accessible to drummers of all backgrounds and levels of expertise. In addition to his work with BP, Sean is one-half of the world soul group The Mitchells.
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