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Ahead of our brand new ACM London campus grand opening we thought we’d catch up with drummer to the stars, Cherisse Osei.
MIKA, Bryan Ferry and Paloma Faith are just a few artists that Cherisse’s CV boasts. We can’t wait to get her on board to relay her incredible music industry experience…
What made you get into music originally?
There was always music being played in the house as my parents are big music lovers so from a young age I was exposed to many different styles of music. I was always naturally drawn to rhythm and fascinated with different styles of drumming. I loved to sing and dance and actually wanted to be a singer/actress when I ‘grew up’.
I’m not really sure why I chose the drums but I think it was more like the drums chose me! I was given my first drum kit by my uncle when I was 5 (which was a pink Mickey Mouse drum kit) and I do remember playing a little. I think I ended up breaking it which Im sure my parents didn’t mind too much! So when I heard a drum club was starting up at my Secondary school in 1998 I was one of the first members! I clearly remember sitting behind the kit for the first time and instantly feeling like I was at home & this was what I wanted to do…Forever!
Who’s been your biggest musical influence?
I have a variety of drumming influences – James Gadson because his feel and dynamics within the bar are out of this world and I just love his groove. I’ve had the privilege of having a drum lesson with him and he was so generous and kind and left a real impression on me. Levon Helm is also a big hero of mine due to his beautiful touch and unique playing style. My other favourite drummers would be Ringo Starr, Stevie Wonder, Brian Blade and John Bonham. They’re all such incredible musicians and play with their heart and soul which to me is what it’s all about.
Who have you worked with and what’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Over the years I have had toured and recorded with MIKA, Bryan Ferry and Paloma Faith.
It’s really hard to chose a highlight of my career as there have been so many memorable moments. With Mika, we played Parc de Princes in Paris to 60, 000 people – our own show! It was supposed to be Mika and Annie Lennox as a double headline and they just put the first day out as Mika and the tickets sold out within an hour! So when we played it was just mayhem! Looking out in to the crowd and they were all Mika fans singing his songs and dancing. It was absolutely incredible!
Playing Glastonbury with Bryan Ferry was amazing! It’s Glastonbury!! Headlining the West Holts stage – It was really quite nerve wrecking but was so magical and exciting!
Also another high point was performing on top of a London bus at the Closing Ceremony of the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 to a TV audience of 1.5 billion!!!
What are you up to outside of teaching ACM at the moment?
Earlier in the year I was playing with Alesha Dixon who is a judge on Britain’s Got Talent and I will be involved in some exciting new projects this Summer. I have been focusing more on teaching and have done several drum clinics including Day of Percussion Festival in New York & Tam Tam Festival in Seville. I’ve also done a series of masterclasses across the country with another female drummer Emily Dolan Davies.
I’ve got a website that will have all the info on my up-coming shows and projects so keep your eyes peeled!
What kit are you playing at the moment?
I am a very proud endorser of Tama drums, Zildjian cymbals, Remo drum heads and Vic Firth sticks 🙂
Does your set-up massively differ from the studio to the stage?
Yes I do generally use different set ups if I’m in the studio or playing live. For live I use a more modern sounding kit (Tama Starclassic Bubinga) as that works for bright pop sound. In the studio I tend to use older/vintage drums as they have that warm tone a lot of producers like to work with. In certain situations I have also used my modern kit in the studio so it just depends on what the music requires!
How does your preparation to session work change – studio vs. live?
I prepare for live and studio sessions in the same way – make sure I know the songs and the drum parts. Sometimes preparation for studio sessions is not possible as you only get to hear the tracks once you’re there and so you improvise….
Who’s the most ‘diva’ like artist you’ve worked with thus far?
I think I’ve been extremely lucky as all the artists I’ve worked with have been really lovely, down to earth people. All artists have their moments which comes with the territory of being an artist! I think I’ve probably come across more diva guitarists in my time, haha 😉
Which artist should we be listening to right now?
Laura Mvula all the way! I love her new album – she is such a prolific songwriter and her lyrics are profound. A new band I’m listening at the moment is a band called ‘Bad Sounds’ who have great songs and a wicked vibe so check them out people!