Tone Talk with Nikki Lane Taylor

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Drummer Nikki Lane Taylor aka “The Nikster” grew up in a musical family with a recording studio in the house, so she was exposed to music at an early age. Her father, Mel Taylor, is a graduate of Berklee School of Music and one of her earliest musical influences. A wide variety of instruments surrounded her, but drums stole her heart. The ambidextrous drummer has played with the likes of The Delphines, the pop-punk band fronted by Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go’s, as well as Kevin Martin & The Hiwatts. She is currently working with Randy Rhoads’ brother, Kelle Rhoads, the Iron Maiden tribute band, Maiden USA, and the Soundgarden tribute band, Black Daze.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
There are so many options to get good drum tones. My head selection depends mostly on the style of music I’m doing. Same with cymbals. For Lockdown Sessions, I used coated heads to get more of a subtle, dynamic sound. If I’m playing a rock/metal gig, I’d use brilliant (brighter) cymbals and clear 2-ply heads (a louder/beefier tone) for more sustain.

What equipment are you currently using and why?
I use vintage drums – Classic 1972 Camco kit and Sabian cymbals. Vintage drums are made with high-quality materials

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
I have ZERO power regarding how I sound on stage. I can only hope the sound engineers do a good job and mix my drums appropriately.

What does your practice consist of?
I practice a few hours a day. I start slow with warm-ups, then pick up the pace. I try to learn new styles/beats/fills regularly to advance my skills and keep me in shape.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
Being a male-dominated business, women need more than just great chops to survive. My advice would be to practice hard, be professional, reliable, and learn as much as you can about the business aspect before you jump in. If you’re not business savvy, it’s easy to get taken advantage of in the music industry.

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