Julianna Mascia chats to SA Drummer

Julianna has taken the world by storm and has quickly become one of the most popular female drummers in the drum world. We spoke to Julianna about how the drumming bug bit her and how she continued on her drum journey to become a drumming queen.

You are absolutely one powerhouse drummer, especially on your Instagram videos. There’s not much more about you on the net, apart from your playing, which already speaks tons. But would you mind sharing some details about your life with our readers? At what age did you start playing drums, and how old are you now?

Thank you! I started playing the drums during my freshman year of high school, just around my fifteenth birthday. I’m currently 22-years-old, born in Staten-Island, and raised in New Jersey with one heck-of-a NY/NJ accent.

There’s a story about a grumpy English teacher being the reason you picked up drumming initially. Is this true, and were there any other influences in your life that led you to drumming? 

Who can blame her for being annoyed with a student tapping their hands and feet the entire class?! Haha. I shockingly used to be a super, super, super shy kid. I am forever grateful for that push to go out of my comfort zone. The camera continues to push me, for anyone can really examine their technique and search for areas of opportunity to grow. In high school, my band director always pushed me to be better since day one. He taught me the importance of acknowledging everything from hard work to failure. Most importantly, he believed in me, and I needed that more than ever. We still keep in touch, and I know we always will. 

Fast forward into my 20’s, I was in a rut. I lost inspiration from getting a small taste of touring to eventually leaving my band at the time. I didn’t have the courage to post any videos until I was beyond fortunate enough to have my absolutely amazing best friend wake me up. She asked me to go to an event with her in California for a drum company I have highly admired for years. I knew I couldn’t go empty-handed, and it was time to put my over-thinking mindset aside for once. I had exactly a week to get content out and not at the best time – finals week. I made it to Cali – and then it clicked. This is my dream; this is what I want to do. I had to do something while I was still in school, so it was time to evaluate what was realistic for me. With taking 18 credits, working, having an internship and hitting the gym six days a week, I chose Instagram clips. I really can’t thank my best friend enough, the iconic YouTuber, and overall Internet sensation herself, Kristina Schiano. I especially can’t thank her enough for all the times she’s come over my house to help me record and film and has had to deal with my crazy self. I’m super grateful for my family. They have dealt with so many hours of loud playing throughout the years. Mom and Dad, I’m sorry!!! I also am blessed to have several talented friends who have gifted me inspiration and support from jams to buying several tickets to shows over the years.

Did you have a drum teacher at the school you were playing drums at, or are you self-taught?

I went to a local music shop for my first 30-minute lesson. My teacher, Brian, told me we would start on the practice pad for a few weeks and eventually head to the kit. Twenty minutes later, I had played my favorite All Time Low song in full on the kit. I remember my teacher telling my father, “Your daughter has something very special.” However, I decided to go off on my own and kept in touch with Brian. At the time, I was still highly invested in sports and would have never thought drumming could indeed be my career. When I was 16, I dropped sports and instead spent that time listening to endless tracks off my iPod and watching drum cover upon cover on YouTube. Drumeo eventually became a massive influence in my self-education, with everything any drummer could ever want at their fingertips. I continued to learn in college, taking music theory and technology classes. Even outside of class, I spent hours learning the basics of how to edit videos, mic placements, recording, etc. and attended lots of local shows to watch other musicians. I think we all continue to teach each other, indirectly and directly. There are always things we can learn along our journeys.

Photo by Joseph Flannery

It was quite strange the first time I came across your playing on Instagram. I tried my best to follow the rabbit hole and see where you’re playing started and how you progressed, and to the best of my efforts, all I could come up with was that you literally just exploded into existence with an arsenal of chops that most players would dream of. Can you shed some light on this phenomenon?

Love me some chops! Haha. I know it all comes down to the pocket. When you’re hired, you have to enhance the music and embody the sound. That is where it all started for me, and it will continue to be my foundation in hopes to tour soon. However, I take my clips as an opportunity to create my own fills, focus on truly listening to all elements of a track, and creatively grow overall as a musician (not just a drummer). I cherish the recognition, love, feedback, inspiration, and opportunities for growth. After only posting drum clips for about a year, I have been truly blessed to have received the amount of love I have gotten. I’m super excited now to chase my career in full-force post-college. I previously played in some local bands, cover bands, and even one serious band for quite some time. However, I decided to finish my education and chose to major in communications with a focus in public relations. My education helped with understanding branding, marketing, and enhanced my communication skills while also developing a true passion for it. It was then I decided I wanted to start a project on my own with drum covers, always being something I really wanted to do. I needed it – I needed to chase something on my own, to grow better independently both musically and personally.

Did you have any musical family members while growing up?

Music was a world I had discovered on my own, even outside of playing an instrument. No one in my immediate family plays an instrument, and I think it’s still pretty shocking that I’ve turned half of our basement into my recording space to chase a dream. Before this, it started with pop music for me. I remember carrying around the same navy blue CD player with that years’ “NOW” CD. Who would have thought that I would eventually become obsessed with the idea of playing an instrument? I remember the day so vividly – I was listening to a Paramore single on the back of the bus on repeat the entire way to school. That actually inspired me to pick up the guitar first. Fast forward to high school with an altered vision for primarily drums, my band director helped me branch out into many styles, such as rock and jazz. When I joined my college jazz band, my craft became much for preciseness, and my musical ear grew. While in this group, I met and performed with Bernie Williams along with many other renowned artists such as Bernard Purdie, Brandford Marsalis, and Renee Marie. Today, I listen to it all. I think it’s essential to keep every door open to all different styles of music, not only to learn but to be a versatile player for more opportunities.

How did you go about developing your own identity as an artist and a drummer?

I stay true to myself. I always have and I always will, with anything I do. I’m passionate, a jokester, like to have fun and spread that happiness to others. However, I’m also very serious, diligent, and work hard at whatever gets thrown my way (even in school with a 4.0 GPA). Balance is essential – you have to be great in your craft and a superior team player. I’m not afraid to be myself – even if that means putting on a Darth Vader mask or throwing Sour Patch Kids all over my drum set. It’s important to remember who you are and your foundation.

“If you have found what you truly love to do, whatever that may be, why not spend the rest of your life getting better at it?”

-Julianna Mascia

What bands have you played for and toured with so far?

I’ve worked and toured with several solo local artists and groups. I was in one serious band in which I was fortunate to experience my first international tour in Japan.

Are you actually performing with any acts currently?

Not at the moment. I decided to focus on getting better as a player and musician in hopes for future freelance work after college. Now, after graduating in May 2019, I have my doors fully open for any opportunities!

What are your goals with regards to your drumming career currently? Are you looking to become a social media drummer, a touring drummer, a studio drummer? Or all of the above?

In regards to my career, it’s a mix. Ideally – I want to play my heart out every night on stage in a different way than most have seen and have yet to see through my videos. However, I want to continue to post on my socials, too. I would never want to trade the platform I am blessed to have to inspire and get to know other drummers and for them to inspire me.

You are primarily active on Instagram, where you post regular drum vids, with all sorts of twists, and it’s great. Is there a reason that you aren’t also posting a full-length video on YouTube?

I had to do what was realistic for me, especially with taking 18 credits, having an internship, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and working. I set realistic goals to not only post but focus on my mental and physical self and perfecting my craft behind the camera.

Do you feel that being one of the “Hit Like A Girl” contest weekly winners, was a big deal for your career? Do you think it had something to do with catapulting you into a spotlight you weren’t in before?

“Hit Like A Girl” definitely inspired me to be better and blessed me with opportunity. This recognition did indeed help me join my old band and experience touring internationally. Post competition, this inspiration helped me develop my socials on my own.

It was evident that you were heading in that direction, but you are now officially a Roland artist. What does this mean for you? Are you going to be moving into a more electronic scene or maybe focus more on the hybrid vibes?

I’m always going to explore the endless options of combining both electronics and acoustic drums. We live in a time where we are fortunate enough to incorporate electronic products to expand our creativity, not just in drumming, but in so many of the Roland products.

Do you feel that partnering up with Roland, will open up particular doors for you or present you with opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have had? 

Absolutely. I’ve been working with Roland for over a year now, attending events for their new products and performing at their NAMM 2019 booth. Ironically, the first kit I ever played was a Roland kit, so they definitely hold a sentimental place in my heart. Now, as an artist, I am ready to work even harder with a staff that empowers and supports me. More specifically, I want to be an example and outlet for aspiring drummers that you can achieve superior sound and your dreams out of your home, basement, practice spot, etc. Now with my TM-6 Pro in my studio set up, I am thrilled to show viewers how Roland products can enhance their sound, creativity, and confidence to put out quality content to showcase their talents. However, Roland and I are not only showcasing these quality products but are focused on the bigger picture: spreading priceless inspiration to all musicians.

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