For years I performed using a djembe only. It is an incredibly adaptable and engaging instrument on its own and fortunately I had chosen to bring one along with me when I set off from the US to the UK in 2002. Within a month of my arrival I had met a talented group of musicians in Essex and kept in shape through weekly performances with them in a vibrant music scene just a stone’s throw away from my flat. The repertoire was seemingly all encompassing but the djembe just seemed to fit.

I suppose in a way it is a more personal, visual and malleable instrument as compared to a full drum kit. You can hide behind a kit and settle with just keeping the rhythm – it can be isolating at times. However, with a djembe you go from player to performer; if you are not enjoying yourself the audience will pick that up in a nanosecond. Oddly enough, having had performed with a full kit for 15 years up until this point, and literally going from a 5 piece to a 1 piece, I can honestly say that I never felt my drumming was restricted.

I recently decided to expand and piece together a kit that incorporated and centred around the djembe that not only catered specifically to my style of drumming but aligned seamlessly with my most favourite musical genres, folk-rock and americana for example. Up until this point in my lifetime I had play on, loved, and parted with 4 drum kits and I absolutely wanted this one to be an uncompromising and hand-picked assembly of my most sought after percussive instruments, cymbals, microphones, and hardware.

A friend of mine had introduced me to the concept of using a cajón with a kick pedal and I set out to find one with the most authentic and warm ‘studio’ bass drum sound. I was drawn to the craftsmanship, robustness and quality that Schlagwerk offered. With the cajón sorted, choosing the cymbals was a relatively straightforward process. The Paiste dark energy signature series cymbals are responsive and crisp – exactly like my snare and exactly what I was looking for.

My minimalist kit consists of a Remo Paulo Mattioli Signature Series Djembe, a Schlagwerk 26" Bass Cajón B460 Booster Boxx, a DW 14" x 6.5" fat snare, a 14” Paiste signature dark energy mark I hi-hat, a 22” Paiste signature dark energy mark I ride, and a Paiste 16” dark energy crash. In Man the Lifeboats I play my full kit which is a Natal 5 piece with a four on the floor 22" bass drum.  
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