Catching Up With…
Just when you think that this groove merchant, who’s worked with Beyoncé and Dumpstaphunk, couldn’t possibly be any funkier, she takes her beats to the Nth Power.
by Robin Tolleson
“My music is totally across the board,” says Nikki Glaspie, whom Modern Drummer readers last heard from in February 2007, when she appeared on the cover with her Beyoncé drum-section partner, Kim Thompson. “That’s cool, because whatever I bring to this group, they take it to the next level. It’s a baby, and then it grows to a huge giant. We all have many influences, and it’s apparent in the music. We’ve got metal in there, we’ve got rock, we’ve got funk, we’ve got jazz, we’ve got gospel. We’ve got blues, fusion, reggae—it’s all there.”
The Nth Power, which also features Nigel Hall on keyboards and vocals, Nick Cassarino on guitar and vocals, Nate Edgar on bass, and Weedie Braimah on percussion, was forged from a pickup band Glaspie helped assemble for Jazz Fest 2012 in New Orleans. “At soundcheck we all looked at each other, like, ‘Whoa, this is a band,’” the drummer recalls. “We jelled immediately. We just had a vibe. After the gig we started recording and writing, because we knew it was something special.”
The Nth Power toured throughout much of 2014, released an EP, and recorded an album that should be out around the time you’re reading this. According to Glaspie, though, the group’s shows and recordings are more than an opportunity to groove. “For us it’s deeper than music,” she says. “We have a responsibility to let people know that they are loved. We gotta love ourselves and love each other.”
Glaspie credits Wally’s Cafe in Boston, aka the “musician’s training ground,” for her funk skills. But the subtlety and nuance of her playing has its roots further back, in her upbringing in North Carolina. “Lucky for me, I grew up in the church,” Nikki says. “My mom was a keyboard player and singer, and both of my aunts sing. And obviously I learned so much just listening to Beyoncé every night—she can fully go wherever she wants to go—and the guys in Dumpstaphunk are monster singers.
“Our music in the Nth Power is also vocal music, so you have to be supportive,” continues Glaspie, who as often as not uses her fills in the service of peppering the band’s rich grooves. “You have to pick and choose so that [your fills] are effective. Obviously people are always interested in playing chops and whatnot. But honestly, pocket—that gets you the gig every time. You have to play music, you know what I mean? You have to be a member of the band.”