Olgun Cengiz is a Senior Software Engineer who has been with X-Team for well over a year. When he posted an excellent drum cover of Black Sabbath's Paranoid in our #club-music Slack channel, I knew I wanted to interview him. In this interview, we discuss why he started drumming, who his favorite drummers are, and what advice he'd give to new drummers.
What sparked your interest in drumming?
Ever since my childhood, I've always loved drums and percussion. My mom says I used to hit pans with spoons when I was a toddler. During my teenage years, I loved listening to music, specifically to the rhythms in songs. I grew up in a small town, so there were no music shops or studios where I could find real drum sets to play. Finally, I started playing drums at university.
Was it always drumming or have you been attracted to other instruments too?
I love bass guitar, too. If I hadn't started playing drums, I would have played bass guitar. But to me, rhythm and patterns are easier to learn and practice when compared to reading notes and scores in other instruments.
How did you learn how to drum? Online, classes, a combination? What's the learning process like?
Before the Internet age, I bought training CDs, like Back to Basics by Dave Weckl, and PDFs, like Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone. I practiced my strokes for over a year. I even made a kneepad that I used to practice bounces, single strokes, double strokes, etc.
After that, I took some actual drum lessons for advanced techniques. But that didn't take too long. I like learning at my own pace, with documents and videos. To this day, I try to learn new techniques or similar instruments, like double bass speed-up techniques or Cajon (a box-shaped percussion instrument).
Are you in a band? If so, what's it like? If not, any reason why?
I'm not currently in a band, but throughout my drum career, I played with many bands, in different genres, both unplugged and plugged gigs. I like being in a band, but it gets harder to find a common schedule with different people as you get older.
I have an electronic drum kit at my office, so sometimes my friends come over and we play together. Also, I take some drum cover videos and upload them to YouTube.
What's the most challenging aspect of playing drums?
To keep the tempo steady. You need to have a good inner clock and a good ear to keep up with the rest of the band. You also need some simple math knowledge about tempo, beats, and bars too. The drummer is the backbone of a band. The tempo must be correct and should not change throughout the song.
Who are your favorite drummers?
I like Mike Portnoy a lot. He's the co-founder of Dream Theater and an absolute legend. I like watching him, but I can’t play his songs. 😀. I also like Dave Weckl (master of techniques), Steve Smith, Steve Gadd, Dennis Chambers (nice grooves), Mike Mangini (he is a monster), Carter Beauford (from Dave Matthews Band), Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones (master of brush sticks). The list can go on.
If you could give one piece of advice to new or aspiring drummers, what would you say?
Never quit and keep practicing, because practice makes perfect.
Do you want to join a company full of musicians and creative people like Olgun? You can! X-Team is always looking for experienced software engineers. Send through your application today.