Let’s Talk Gear | Tone Talk with Su Preme

Photo and Video Credit Damien Baddy

It’s Women’s History Month and we wanted to talk to some of our favorites about their gear and tone setup (s). If you are not familiar with Guitar Girl Magazine’s “Tone Talk” series, this is where we dive into what makes the tone of different musicians’ setups unique to them. We unpack their likes and dislikes and what makes their setup perfect for them.

If you like what you read, check out Su Preme’s Tone Talk on our IG page where she walks through some of her favorite gear.

Su Preme is a dedicated drummer, percussionist, music producer, educator, healer, motivational speaker, and Human Resources professional. She is a graduate of Spelman College and Georgetown University. Su Preme founded FruitfulRhythm in 2017, of which she sees percussion being a part of everything. She immensely enjoys striking a balance between healthy living and making music! In addition to her individual work, she plays for IZAFLO Band and GoddessBeats Percussion.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?

Throughout the years I’ve found that tone shows through musical conversation. My instruments within the Su Preme Realm are my friends and how they converse with me or other people in that musical environment. Similarly to having a conversation with people, you have to be mindful of the tone you use to relay the message you want to get across. Music is no different. 

Which drum kits and cymbals are you currently using and why?

From “Su Preme’s Perspective” (left to right if you are sitting at my set) I have my snare drum “Sharik” which is a Pearl Piccolo 1330 brass shell, my “Lunar Eclipse” which is comprised of 2 pitched Deccabons by DDrums, and “ICE” which is a Mapex Mars Edition 16” Floor Tom. “ICE” is a man of a few words but when spoken to, he has something profound to say. One of my favorite pieces of gear in my arsenal is my Cowbell “Kalia” by Baja Percussion. Not only is it resonant (a lot of cowbells I’ve worked with are a bit more staccato), but there is something bright and beautiful which is why I named her Kalia.

Lastly, I sometimes use cookware like a cooking pot just to add something extra spicy to the mix! 

What about sticks, hardware, etc?

I always strike with the Vic Firth Alex Acuña “El Palo” Edition Timbale Sticks. They’re a good balanced stick in diameter and I find that I don’t break these as quickly as some of the slimmer timbale sticks. When it comes to sticks I prefer quality over color but these sticks have a captivating purple hue that tend to draw me in from several feet away. These make the perfect catalyst to the mixture of tones and visuals I give in my performances.

How do you keep your sound consistent on stage?

I keep things consistently inconsistent because any and everything goes in the Su Preme Realm. When I am on stage, you can rely on me to keep all of my instruments mic’d similarly but, if you ask for thunder, I am serving “ICE” with some flams and detailed accent work to create a vibe for the audience to sit in. 

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?

My approach is similar in the studio in terms of finding the atmosphere for my drum and percussion sets to really shine. I like to work with the sound engineer to make sure all of the quirks my set has are well mic’d so that the flavour of that instrument sits right. 

What does your practice consist of?

As someone who was in the marching band throughout high school, starting with match grips and gradually increasing the speed with a metronome really helps. I am heavy on reviewing the foundational rudiments. I often use two practice pads to work on my crossovers and rhythms.

I always like to end each practice with a freestyle to one of my favorite tunes to end on a fun note.

What is your advice to young women who hope to work in the music industry? 

Be mindful of your environment because it can have an impact on you. Do your part to make a positive impact in this world, practice consistently, and be mindful of your health. This is an industry that will tear you up if you are not balanced. I encourage sisters of mine to consume things that will keep you uplifted and balanced because the more grounded and faithful you are, the better equipped you will be for the many elements that you will encounter in your artistic journey.

Follow Su Preme on IG @thesupremerealm

Check out Su Preme’s Tone Talk video here