This guy has just jumped across the ocean to kick-start his drumming career in New York City. We caught up with him and asked a few questions so we could learn a little more. Keep an eye on this one, he’s an incredibly talented musician sure to go far.
Here’s a song called “Sugarcube” in which Yusef drums for Will Knox. Check it out.
Tell us briefly about yourself and your music
I was born in Barking, Essex in England. I’ve been in NYC since 2008 and play drums in a bunch of bands here and do ‘session’ work outside of that. It has mostly been pop and rock music. Also folk, classical, jazz, and electronica. It has been really fun so far.
How would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it?
I don’t play just one style of music to be honest. I listen to all sorts so I try and play as much of it as I can. The people I’ve played with here have run the gamut from classical to rock and roll.
At what age did you start the drums?
I can’t remember what age exactly, but it was as a teen in school. I wasn’t into it to be honest as it was something I only did in school – something I was not a huge fan of! It wasn’t until I was 21 that I really started studying and playing seriously. Have not looked back since!
Growing up, music surrounds us. What type of music did you hear the most back then and how is it different from what you listen to now?
I think my tastes haven’t changed that much to be honest. I’ve developed an appreciation for other styles though for sure. My parents exposed me to lots of classical music and then also the pop/rock stuff they listened to. Later on I discovered jazz and now I just love anything that moves me, whatever the so-called style. For instance, I just got Supermodified by Amon Tobin, a well-known, master electronic artist from Brazil, and it’s terrific.
What made you move to New York?
The city itself is great, of course. There is everything here. It’s pretty phenomenal. Also most of the people I had been playing with were already here or heading here so I could get plugged into the scene immediately. But also my brother was already in NYC, so all in all it made more sense than LA or Nashville, which I considered.
What has been most challenging for you moving here and how have you handled it?
The biggest challenge has been to keep a balance between work and play. I’m pretty committed to my work as it’s so enjoyable, but I believe one can have more success professionally when you know when to stop. Less is more, after all. It’s something I’m still trying to master!
How does the music scene differ from the UK to USA?
I wasn’t playing music for long in the UK before moving here to be honest. I suppose London is more spread out than NYC, and that’s one thing that gives here it’s intensity I feel. There are a million other comparisons, of course. But many similarities also.
What have you done (musically) so far since being here?
I’ve played with a host of great people thankfully. They include Dare Me Down, Morricone Youth, Will Knox, Else, Racing Rain, Kyle James Hauser, Bo Bruce, Alec Gross, Caleb Hawley, Carley Tanchon, Karly Jurgensen, Colin McGrath and Sydney Wayser.
What are your immediate career goals here in America?
To keep doing what I’m doing – playing with more and more great people.
How often do you practice?
At this point it’s relative to what I need to prepare for the work I’m doing, though I’ll try and work on new ideas whenever I get the chance for sure!
What is your fondest musical memory?
As a child, being too small to reach my parent’s record player, but yet somehow finding a way to play the Thriller LP. I think it involved climbing on things but I can’t quite remember how I managed it!