26 April 2011

Rikki Brest: A Chick With Sticks [Interview]

Female drummers are often boxed off into their own class, allowing extremely cool (yet admittedly average) drummers like Meg White take the limelight. As a stand-alone category, girl drummers seem to be few and far between – or maybe they’re just not given the recognition they deserve. Either way, Joburg-born Rikki Brest has developed the perfect platform for herself as a talented musician, as well as a skilled actress and model. And if recognition is in need of giving, you can send it Rikki’s way.

After completing school, Rikki spent a year at COPA (Campus of Performing Arts) studying sound engineering and music performance – majoring in drums. Co-founder (along with Stefania Stefani and Anastasia Ferrara) of the all-girl drum and percussion ensemble, Chix with Stix, Rikki also doubles as band manager and marketer. And as if that isn’t enough to keep her busy, Rikki also gives private drum lessons from her home studio. Lucky students ey?

But before I start sounding like a fanboy… Let’s let the lady herself tell us the rest. Click here if you can't see the full post.

Who or what inspired you to start playing drums?
My father is a musician so there has always been music in my life. What got me started on drums specifically, was seeing a boy I had a crush on playing, so of course I had to play. Who knew I would love it so much!

Me too! Who inspires you today?
Virgil Donati has always inspired me. Also Thomas Lang and Aaron Montgomery from the band Trapt.

You're quite a busy lady; take me through your average gig day?
About an hour before call time,  I get dressed according to the show that we are playing, do the stage make up and stage clothes. Get to the venue and greet the client, find out where to set up. We finally have crew that help us set up and once that is done we do soundcheck. Then we wait till we are on and pretty much rock out once on stage. The rest is in reverse. So we strike the gear, get home and unpack, take a shower - because it gets rather hot and sweaty on stage - and relax.

I bet. Any warm-up routine I should know about?
I'm actually bad at warming up, but we have just been endorsed by Pro Mark who have given us warm up pads, so this Winter I will definitely be warming up before shows. It's basically 10 minutes of basic rudiments from a slow bpm and increasing it towards the end of the 10 minutes so your wrists are warm.

Sick: do you have a favourite rudiment? Describe briefly how you incorporate it into your playing.
I love the 3 and 4 stroke ruff, especially played with a double bass over a simple beat. I also play a lot of flams, both with hands and feet. They make everything sound good!

Flamtastic :) And how do you motivate yourself?
Being on stage is the most incredibly rewarding feeling in the world, so it's hard not to be motivated. I love playing drums so I don't really see it as motivation, but just something I do because I love it.

Do you ever experience any flack - or witness any animosity - from male drummers in the industry?
Not animosity, but a bit of flack. They initially doubt the ability of a female drummer, but half the fun of it is proving them wrong.

And that you have. What are you strongest and weakest qualities as a drummer?
My strongest is definitely double bass. I used to be a tap dancer so I love making rhythms with my feet. My weakest quality is soloing... I don't enjoy it at all.

Photo by Grant Difford

Do you play any other instruments?
My focus is on drums so I haven’t learnt any others yet.

How was Chix with Stix formed?
We were all studying at a college after school and it started as a project that was so well received that we decided to carry it on.

Are there any career achievements to date that you'd like to mention?
After school, I spent a year at COPA (Campus of Performing Arts) studying sound engineering and music performance with drums as my major. I have now been playing drums for 12 years. I've played for various bands including IcarusFall for 3 years, toured and played for Evolver opening for Prime Circle and The Parlotones.

What are your short and long term goals with regard to you music career?
Short term: I will keep playing with Chix with Stix and look for another rock band. Long term: I would like to take Chix with Stix international - or be able to play for a band internationally.

Photo by Justin Lee
Do you find it challenging playing in - and managing - a band, while maintaining a career in performance and modeling? How do you cope?
My career has always been full and I love it that way. I am also in marketing and brand management while filming a movie and more recently a TV series; also playing for the band. They say the more you do, the more you can do.

Moving briefly away from the drums, you were lead actress in a film recently? Tell us a little about your experiences in that regard.
It was incredible. I was the lead in Eternity - a vampire movie - so we filmed through the night. I had a day job as operations manager for a media and advertising company at that stage so I was working in the day, then going straight to set and filming through the night; I would get home and have 2 hours sleep and then go back to work while teaching drums and performing inbetween. It was freezing at night and we filmed in dodgy parts of Johannesburg, but I got to work with incredible actors and learnt a lot from them. I loved the experience and would do it again in a second.

Sounds like a fun experience. Amped to see the movie! Thanks for being such a good sport Rikki. Check out the trailer for Eternity below.

Follow Rikki on Twitter here, or find out when Chix With Stix' next gig is here.


  1. Awesome interview, and she is lovely! Well done :)

  2. Anonymous11:02

    The hardest working lil lady I know! She deserves everything good in the world. Someone who knows what she wants and then puts the hard work to get it. Not only a pretty face! I love you tons xxx M

  3. Wow she's gorgeous...and she can drum? *clap clap clap* very cool!

  4. Thanks for the comments Foxy and Anonymous :)

    Ocean Child, she most certainly can drum. Check out the Chix with Stix website for proof ;)

  5. Anonymous22:32

    Best girl drummer i have seen, and shes so down to earth, a true person :) Always nice to people...

  6. Cool interview - I like her view on things: the more you do the more you can do. It's too true.


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