I’ve been playing the drums since I can remember. My mom was a drummer and my main inspiration. I got my first paid gig at the age of eleven for a local church and began studying other drummers such as Bernard Purdie, Dennis Chambers, Dave Weckl, and Brian Blade. I began entering competitions, creating drum cadences, etc., and before I knew it, it was one of the biggest parts of my life.
Currently my drum setup includes a 24″ kick, a 12″ rack tom, a 16″ floor tom, and a 7×13 snare. I endorse Pro-Mark and use their 721B Marco Minnemann sticks. My cymbals include a Zildjian crash and a 22″ Istanbul jazz ride.
I’m always looking for creative or new ventures in drumming. While it’s no new invention, collaborating with a DJ was something I’d wanted to do long before Michael McPherson [DJ M-Squared] and I actually got together. We toyed around with the idea for some time, but then I became the music director and drummer for the B.B. King All Star Band in Pointe Orlando and started working on production projects, while Michael became busy with the Red Bull Thre3Style competition, touring with Kelly Rowland, and shooting Smirnoff’s Master of the Mix reality series on BET.
A few months back Michael and I finally had time to jam out in one of the studio sessions I had planned. We mesh really well together and are musically in sync, so when we get together it just works. I love classical styles and blurring it with contemporary music, so I thought “The Equalizer” by Sam Spence would be a great cover to perform. I choose music that has feeling and that I can get excited about. I heard “The Equalizer” while watching a Reese’s commercial during Super Bowl season, and I really like the symphony string sound. Being a big football fan, I decided to cover it and post it online. Michael also liked the idea, and it was a go.
Thankfully, one of my friends and bandmates at B.B. King’s, Danny Flores, has an amazing studio in downtown Orlando, Maximum Entertainment Group, and welcomes us to record anytime. We created this particular video back in January and released a teaser to see what type of response we received. It was great to receive interest from Modern Drummer, being the largest drumming magazine in the world! I plan to come out with more videos and an EP by the winter of 2012.
For more on Phil Johnson, go to naturalphil.com or facebook.com/naturalphilpage. For more on DJ M-Squared, go to iammichaelmcpherson.com. And for more on Maximum Etertainment Group, go to maximumentgroup.com.
Watch the video for Phil Johnson and DJ M-Squared’s collaboration on “The Equalizer” here.