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INTERVIEW: Zach Okonkwo

We met Zach at The UK Drum Show 2018, he kept on coming back to our stall across the weekend and decided on taking home a piccolo snare, one of the drums from our 1920’s Oak Collection. Since our encounter, Zach now studies at The Royal Northern College of Music. Inbetween studying he has been busy with sessions and his own teaching.


“I’m loving the drum and have used it a lot already as both a side and main snare on my kit. It’s 14x3.5 so is quite a shallow drum but it has loads of attack and a crazy amount of range for its size, which is what made me fall in love with it when I first tried it. It also feels great to play and is super responsive and looks amazing. Knowing it is hand made and one of a kind is the cherry on top as not only is it one of a kind, it's sound is too.”


We met at The UK Drum Show 2018, how was your overall experience? I had a great time there! Got to meet some great people and saw some amazing clinics. The highlight for me was meeting Gregory Hutchinsion’s clinic, what he said really spoke to me and getting to see him play live in person was amazing. It was our first exhibition ever, what were your first thoughts and experience with De Broize Custom Drums? My first thought was that all the drums looked absolutely fantastic and then I was hit by their incredible sound. After talking to you and hearing the story of the company I was sold. I had a very positive experience and I thought it was great how open you were to let anyone try your drums and talk about them. You ended up taking one of our snares home, what brought you to this decision? It was really just to its unique sound and the fact I had never seen or heard a drum quite like it before, that made me have to have it. I also knew that it would compliment the other drums and snares I have in my collection. What is your drumming history? I started playing drums at the age of 14 and as soon as I sat down at the kit I knew it was something I was going to do for the rest of my life. I became obsessed with music which lead me to study at Newcastle University, from there I have gone to study a Masters at The Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) to sharpen my skills. I have also taken part in a number of musicals, including ‘Timpson the Musical,’ an original musical which enjoyed a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and was awarded a Stage award. I have a real love for performance and the instrument and I hope to play till I can’t anymore. ​ Can you explain your playing style? I take a lot of inspiration from drummers such as Nate Smith, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Carter Mclean and Rico Nichols just to name a few. So my playing is quite groove based and lately I’ve been working on my jazz, mostly in my practice session and in my lessons with the great Dave Hassell who has done wonders for my playing and life in general and I’ve only been taught by him for 3 months! What is your setup? Are there any stand out items in your collection? For drums I use the Pearl reference pure series and change the set up according to the gig. I use the 18” Kick for smaller/jazz gigs and the 22” Kick for functions and musicals mostly. I also have a range of toms, a 10“, 12”, 14“, 16” so I have all the sizes I need really. I use Zildjian K series cymbals and use a mixture from all the K line so Kerope, K custom and so on. My favourite cymbal has to be my 22” Kerope cymbal I just love the tones you can get from it and it is super forgiving. What do you see for the future, what is the next step for you? Just playing wherever and whatever I can really! I’d happily go down the musicals route and do that full time and i’d happily tour, not to steal Tony Royster Jr.’s saying but ‘I just wanna play.’ Do you have any advice for anyone pursuing or taking up the drums? What drives you to develop in this? I’d say allow yourself to be inspired by anything and everything; always remember it’s not only about what you say on the instrument but how you say it too; it’s always about the music and also find yourself a good teacher! What drives me is the fact that I love drumming and music and I also want to be good enough to make people happy or make someone feel something and be able to help someone achieve their musical goal.


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