Drummers, On the Beat

On The Beat with Spencer York of Movements: Writing With Virtual Drums

Spencer York

Hey all! I’m Spencer York and I play drums for Movements. I want to thank Modern Drummer for giving me this opportunity to talk a bit about my writing process on our debut album, Feel Something.

Jamming in a room together is, no doubt, a very important part of writing as a band. When it comes to drum parts, there’s no better feeling than the satisfaction of improvising something unique, creative, and tasteful that fits the song beautifully. However, I sometimes find it really helpful to take a step back and work from a different perspective. Whenever I’m having trouble finding that sweet pattern or just looking to come up with something different, I like to write using virtual drums.

In my experience, writing with virtual drums (I use Superior Drummer) allows me to free myself from my natural tendencies and I think it helps me grow as a drummer overall. In fact, many of my favorite parts on this record were created on my computer through experimenting or even by total accident. When I go to the kit to try the parts live, sometimes I need to use a sticking I’m not used to, or that particular rhythm might be played using rudiments I don’t typically rely on. I find that it’s a great way for me to get out of my comfort zone and into something I can improve on.

Another aspect of virtual drums for writing purposes that I find really useful is organization. Rather than simply recording myself playing new ideas and getting lost in dozens of sound files from re-recording changes, I can keep multiple interchangeable parts in one project and swap them around however I want. Aside from this, I appreciate having a written record of everything I create, whether it’s MIDI or sheet music.

When the time came to lay the tracks down at Studio 4 with the amazing Will Yip, I knew I wanted a pretty big and dark vibe overall for Feel Something. I went for Will’s Dark Horse Percussion maple kit with reinforcement hoops for the full round tone that the 9×13 and 14×16 toms produced, and the 18×24 bass drum for its satisfying big sound. I brought with me a Wac’d custom 7×13 free-floating brass snare for its depth and crisp character which fit right in despite the smaller than average snare size.

I proudly play Sabian cymbals now, but before I sided with them, I brought some 14″ Meinl Byzance Medium hi-hats as well as a pair of 20″ and 22″ Turkish Sehzade Jazz rides. I chose the hats because they have a thick and powerful warm sound without overpowering the rest of the kit. The rides, which I play as crashes, are pretty lightweight and have a raw bell as well as an unlathed section in the middle of the bow. The combination of the weight and untreated surfaces makes for a controlled, dark, and washy sound while their slightly lower volume theoretically leaves some extra headroom for the overhead mics. In case you’re wondering about my current cymbal setup, I now play 15″ HHX Groove/Click hats, a 20″ HH Thin, and a 22″ HH Thin.

Thank you so much for reading, and be sure to keep an eye out at MovementsOfficial.com for details on our upcoming headline tour.



Posted in Drummers, On the Beat Tagged Movements, Spencer York, drummer, drumming

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