Multi-Percussionist, Drummer & Composer
Lucy Landymore is an award winning multi-percussionist, drummer and composer. As the drummer with the World of Hans Zimmer, she frequently performs to sold out arenas across Europe. She is also the guest lead percussionist and drummer with world- renowned duo Igudesman & Joo and has toured with the world famous tenor, Andrea Bocelli. In addition, Lucy has been featured on Sky TV with Michael Parkinson, Deutsche Welle, BBC 2, BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge, BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 3 among many others. Many international publications have featured Lucy’s work, including the German Drums & Percussion magazine and the French Batterie magazine, where Lucy was listed as one of the Top 10 New Drummers of 2019.
Why did you take up percussion and how old were you?
I started on piano when I was 5, but apparently I was always fascinated by the drums since I was 1; I was at a wedding and I had my hand on the drummer’s knee for the whole time the band were playing. Finally I was allowed to start learning drums when I was 8. Percussion is very physical and visual. That must have been what fascinated me to start with.
Who was your first teacher and where did you start?
My first long-term teacher was Mark Aldous. He was great, but strict, which pushed me further. I added tuned percussion when I was 12, which he also taught me.
What instruments/resources did you have?
I had a drum kit and a xylophone. As I began to play 4 mallets when I was a teenager, my parents bought me a 4 1/3 marimba. I was attending the RCM Junior Department every Saturday and would always be excited to play the 5 octave marimba. With the early train from Cambridge, it gave me an hour to say hello to my friends and then have a good practise on the marimba! Otherwise I was using a little make-shift polystyrene block on the end of the 4 1/3 to replace the note(s) I didn’t have.
Do you have any advice for young percussionists during this stage of education?
Of course you should practise your technique, watch and listen to your idles for inspiration, but my favourite piece of advice is this: expose yourself to as many styles of music as possible. You will have a greater understanding of music, technique, and where your particular percussion instruments originally came from. In every piece of music there is an influence from somewhere across the world. One piece of music rarely contains only one stylistic influence. If you can identify tango, samba, gamelan, Indian for example, or any other styles within the piece of music you are playing, you can notice and adapt your musicality and phrasing, feel, and sound appropriately. Even in the graded books for drums and percussion, there are plenty of references to other genres. I always liked Caixa March by Mike Skinner. My teacher told me that Caixa is from Brazil and to buzz the snare in a particular way. I listened, but didn’t have the full understanding. Then I learnt a bit more at College and began to understand the context. After College, I went to Brazil to study Samba and found out about a whole world of Caixa! Its fascinating!
With your knowledge and experience now, what performance opportunities would you suggest for young percussionists to engage with?
Aldeburgh Young Musicians is a brilliant opportunity for young talented musicians. After an audition you can join many different music courses throughout the year, focusing on different genres of music, from classical improvisation to traditional music from Mali. There is a performance at the end of every course. This had a huge influence on my ability to adapt to different jobs later in life. Apart from that, join local orchestras and ensembles to gain as much experience as possible. Put yourself out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to be wrong - let it happen! This is how you will push yourself to the next level.
At what point did you decide this was the profession for you?
2 years old! Well, my eyes were set on the drums for as long as I can remember. I did fancy being a film composer at one point as a teenager, but with my career now, I manage to combine composing with performing.
After school, where did you continue your studies and who did you learn with?
I studied at the Royal College of Music with many teachers but mainly David Hockings, Ralph Salmins, Hugh Wilkinson-Hunt and Daniela Ganeva. Dave especially taught me to think for myself. I suppose I was worried about being wrong. Now I’m not.
Why did you decide this pathway?
There were others available but RCM offers many different styles like jazz and latin as well as orchestral, and this interested me much more. I knew that I wanted to do more in my career than purely orchestral playing. Now when I play with artists like Igudesman & Joo, who throw many different genres of music into one concert, I have the knowledge and interest to adapt my playing.
What was your first ever professional engagement, what was it like and how did you get it?
I can’t remember my first ever professional engagement. I was playing in orchestras around Cambridge from the age of 12, and a big band called Linton Jazz from age 10! I will remember Linton Jazz forever. I learnt so much from playing with that big band and I will carry that experience with me through my life!
What happened next?
I started doing a few competitions in Cambridge and had the opportunity to play my first concerto: the Rosauro marimba concerto. After that I did a few more, like Milhaud concerto for marimba and vibraphone and Tales from the Centre of the Earth by Zivkovic. The first time I entered the Young Musician of the Year I think I was 15, tried to play Blues for Gilbert in my audition but the vibraphone was not height-adjustable and I couldn’t reach the notes and pedal at the same time. So I tried my best, but did not get through. I auditioned again when I was 17 and won the 2010 percussion final. It gave me the exposure to do more frequent recitals, and I loved this. After graduation I was excited to be asked to play at the Hammersmith Apollo with Hans Zimmer. This was his first live show and I was thrown into a crowd of incredible musicians, which inspired me to seriously practise again!
You perform with the World of Hans Zimmer and Hans Zimmer Live what's this like?
I performed on percussion with Hans Zimmer Live first, which put my life into a different direction. I made friends in different countries and began travelling more around Europe. I was inspired by the musicians around me, which motivated me to do more with my career. I started composing again and performing my own compositions, which I had never done professionally before. I also started playing with Igudesman & Joo after meeting them through the Hans Zimmer Live tour. A little later, once I had moved to Vienna, the World of Hans Zimmer was created and I am now playing drum kit for this tour. This is one of the most thrilling jobs I’ve ever done. After watching Satnam Ramgotra play for the Hans Zimmer Live tour I knew a few techniques for film music drumming that would work well, but there is no other way to learn apart from being in an arena and playing yourself to hear what works. We play a different setlist to Hans Zimmer Live and have two other live percussionist with huge set-ups, plus a full live orchestra with extra percussionists. I couldn’t learn entirely from Satnam’s playing because I had to adapt to a completely different orchestration. There were a huge amount of textures surrounding me. I learnt to tune the toms to the most common key signature of the setlist, so that my toms didn’t clash too much with the bass frequencies. The same for the other two percussion set-ups. I learnt about the room, that sometimes I had to find a different note for one of the toms because it was the same pitch as the room (therefore, vibrating more). To learn about what works in my own playing, for a couple of tours, I sat with the front of house sound engineer and listened to the recording from the previous night. Some fills worked, some didn’t. It was often surprising. Same with grooves - combinations between drums and percussion would work through the in-ears, but not from the PA outside. Fascinating. I made adjustment after adjustment. I am still micro-adjusting. There is so much I have noticed in film music drumming, I wish I could say more in this interview but it would be way too long.
What do you enjoy about being part of a touring show?
Running in every different city! I get a fast impression of the city, the culture, the personality of a place. Then the next day, we’re somewhere completely different. Bilbao to St. Petersberg, Norway to Italy… these are completely different cultures, seen in consecutive days. In Portugal we went to listen to Fado - a traditional Portuguese music genre. In Dublin we listened to some traditional Irish musicians and soaked up the Guinness culture… I remember playing Zivkovic pieces at college and talking about the balkan feel and the fact that Zivkovic was inspired by traditional balkan folk songs. I had to imagine what it was like. I had never been to the balkans. Now I have, and I’ve seen my Serbian friends playing the same music by Zivkovic but with such a natural feel. That is really interesting and lovely.
You have performed with many ensembles, artists and have also played on multiple records and sessions. What do you enjoy about the ‘portfolio career’ of a percussionist?
Meeting different people, getting to know different mindsets, different kinds of leadership, different genres, different views on life! Each project is a good excuse to develop different skills.
Are there any challenges?
Often, time is short and money is tight. Very different from NYO or RCM where we would rehearse for hours. Lots of rehearsal time is a luxury!
You are also a composer, when did you get into this?
I got into composing already when I was 10/11. At college I didn’t think of myself as a composer, because I wasn’t studying it. After graduating I was missing it, so I started again. I found a classical/jazz style, which has influences of genres I have loved as I’ve grown up. I never make an effort to reference them, it just comes out, if you write what you like. Balafon and bata drums seem to crop up here and there, because I love the sound. I’ve written many percussion solos, and also full orchestral works. One special commission was for orchestra and 13 soloists. Very unusual!
Does composing compliment your performing career?
Yes, I love it. I become more inquisitive about how other pieces of music were written. I ask myself why the composer did something particular, and what they really meant. And then I start to think about what I would do, if I was writing their piece of music, to get inside the piece even more. Composing can make you more insightful, which is useful to performers. A composition is an extension of a personality, I think.
I love performing my own compositions because of that reason.
What is your career highlight so far?
The highlights of my career are performing in arenas around Europe for the World of Hans Zimmer. My fellow band members push me to do my best. They all compose and have their own projects. They are thinking for themselves all the time, of how they can produce a better sound for the show etc. and when you’re surrounded by these kinds of minds, you end up thinking in a similar way. It is always a highlight when I am performing my own music.
What is the best thing about being a musician?
Deep answer? Having an extra extension to your personality. Having an extra way to communicate.
Alternative answer? Going on tour and trying all the chocolate in every country.
What would your 'Top Three Tips' be for a young percussionist thinking about a career in music?
1. Do what you love
2. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do
3. Practise. There are no short-cuts.
If you would like to find out more about Lucy, please check out her website:
Meinl Percussion meinlpercussion.com
Meinl Cymbals meinlcymbals.com
Ludwig Musser conn-selmer.com/en-us/our-brands/Ludwig-Musser
Protection Racket protectionracket.com