Meytal Cohen happy to inspire female drummers

Meytal Cohen.
Meytal Cohen.PHOTO: FEST EVENTS, INTERNATIONAL (SINGAPORE)

It thrills Israeli- American drummer Meytal Cohen to know her drumming videos online encourage women of all ages to play the instrument

With more than 193 million video views and 1.4 million Facebook fans under her belt, Israeli-American drummer Meytal Cohen has inspired many young women to pick up the drums.

"My favourite thing about what I do is hearing how my videos have affected others. I get many e-mail messages from fans who were inspired to start playing and also let their little daughters play drums," says the 33-year-old.

"I know my videos have influenced many girls to want and to believe they can play drums, and that's really amazing to me."

Cohen will be coming to Singapore for the first time as one of the featured musicians at this year's edition of drum festival Singapore Drum Fest: Ultimate Drummers Weekend 2017. The event, which takes place this weekend at Max Atria @ Singapore Expo (Garnet Room) and Fest Events Studio, features performances, workshops and a drumming contest by home- grown and international talents.

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Cohen acknowledges that women drummers like her are sometimes treated differently from their male counterparts.

"I think it's a lot more rare to see girls playing drums than guys, so we might get a bit more attention, but with that comes more pressure to perform and also more criticism," she says.

Some people think that girls have it easier, but I really don't think that's true. Getting ahead in a male-dominated profession is hard, you have to have pretty thick skin to deal with all the stereotypes.

ISRAELI-AMERICAN DRUMMER MEYTAL COHEN, who has 1.4 million Facebook fans

"Some people think that girls have it easier, but I really don't think that's true. Getting ahead in a male-dominated profession is hard, you have to have pretty thick skin to deal with all the stereotypes."

She will hold a drumming masterclass here on Saturday and perform with bass player Anel Pedrero on Sunday.

Other acts performing and giving masterclasses include American drummer Stanley Randolph, who plays with soul legend Stevie Wonder and pop acts Christina Aguilera and Backstreet Boys; Italian drummer Federico Paulovich from metalcore band Destrage; and home- grown drummers Benjamin Lim from post-hardcore band Villes, and Anson Koh, who drums for Nathan Hartono.

The festival will also include the finals to Drum Off Singapore, an annual drumming competition which Koh won last year in the open category.

Cohen studied theatre in school before she picked up the drums at the age of 18.

After graduating from a music school in Los Angeles, she toured worldwide with her band Metaphor, but it was only in 2009 that she became prominent when her video cover of System Of A Down's Toxicity went viral. The video, which featured her on drums and two of her friends on violins, has racked up 11 million views.

She has since released regular videos of her playing drums to popular metal songs by bands such as Avenged Sevenfold and Slipknot.

Drummers are a lot more prominent these days, she says, thanks to greater online presence.

"The Internet has made it possible for people to follow and connect with drummers, giving them the spotlight. It's a new world out there, thanks to new media, not just for drummers, but for all musicians and all people in general.

"It gives power to individuals, who now don't need a big label, an agency or a manager to gain a following and make a career doing what they love."

And while she still releases cover videos ("playing to my favourite songs and studying the parts of my favourite drummers have been the greatest music school I could have asked for", she says), Cohen is also focusing on making her own music.

She released her debut album, Alchemy, in 2015, a record that went to No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart for new artists.

She is working on her sophomore full-length release.

"This new album will be a bit more abstract, as far as song structure and time signatures go."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline 'Happy to inspire female drummers'. Print Edition | Subscribe