MEET THE MUSICIANS: DAVID DYSON, DRUMS
David Dyson, a London-based professional drummer who’s worked with the likes of Gregory Porter and Louis Tomlinson, has been helping us demonstrate the skills and techniques assessed in our Drums syllabus’ technical focus songs. We asked David to tell us a bit more about himself, and to share his secrets for success.
In your career to date, who have you performed with and what sorts of venues have you played at?
I’ve played and recorded with a number of incredible artists in very different musical spheres. These include Louis Tomlinson, Nick Mulvey, Gregory Porter, Raye, Holly Macve, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Playing inside Buckingham Palace with Gregory Porter and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra was something else.
One of my favourite festivals was Sinsal, on a small island in Spain. The line-up every year is secret until arrival.
What have been your career highlights so far?
The Royal Variety Performance and X Factor Final with Louis Tomlinson was crazy! NPR Tiny Music Desk with Holly Macve in Boston, MA was very intimate. Also I had my own sold out Late Show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
What do you love most about what you do?
Making a band groove.
What inspired you to learn the drums?
Aged three I was taken to a pub where there was a wicked function band playing and I started hitting cocktail sticks on glasses. The drummer invited me over to the kit and gave me a pair of sticks. That sparked the beginning of my drumming career.
Did you have lessons?
I did have lessons, in fact I love learning and all the money I earned from my paper-round went on lessons. I took my grade exams under Richard Pells at Drum Academy, Leicester and was subsequently mentored by Dave Hassell, Donavan Hepburn, Troy Miller, Ralph Salmins and Neal Wilkinson. It’s important to always be on top of your game. Be the best you can be!
How did you first get into the industry as a professional?
I successfully auditioned and was given the drum chair in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, where I learnt how to properly play in a rhythm section and sight-read incredibly complex charts on the bandstand.
What do you think is the #1 skill needed by professional drummers?
Command control over your instrument. Make whatever you play sit in the pocket and feel good. If the foundations (time and groove) are rock-solid, the band can play all day long.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Listen to ALL music and really understand the fundamentals of your craft. Be able to play any style authentically and don’t assume certain beats are simple – it’s all about feel.
Who are your musical heroes and what would your dream collaboration be?
The drummers who have had a massive influence on my style include: Ronnie Vannucci, Jeff Hamilton, Keith Carlock, Steve Jordan, Elvin Jones, Sonny Payne and Brian Frasier-Moore.
I would love to jam with Phil Collins and Ringo Starr. That would be mad!
Artists that I dream of working with are The Killers, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney, Maroon 5, Kasabian and One Direction.
What are you currently working on?
I’m in Louis Tomlinson’s band. The music is banging and he’s got awesome stage presence.
Get David’s hints and tips for mastering some of the skills and techniques assessed in our Drums syllabus in his Technical Focus Demo Videos. You can also watch full-length versions of some of the songs featured in our Drums 2018 Sessions
Find out more about David: