Interview With Acclaimed Drummer & Percussionist Nikki Glaspie

Nikki Glaspie is one of America's most in-demand session musicians. Her ferocious funky style and amazing groove have led her to perform with Beyonce, Maceo Parker, and Ian Neville. She is currently touring with her own band the Nth Power.

By Magesh MageshContributing Author

Article photo - Interview With Acclaimed Drummer & Percussionist Nikki Glaspie

Magesh, Musicngear: You toured the world for years with Beyonce, did you use a lot of electronics, like pads/triggers on that gig?

No. I used no electronics on that gig. All acoustic. Strictly drums.

What is important to know when playing in larger venues like stadiums?

The mix in your ears must be right. If you can’t hear you can’t play. There is so much air and space between you and the audience.

It’s a nightmare to lose the click or the bass or any instrument for that matter. You must be able to trust your ears to hear exactly what’s going on.

It is imperative to spend the amount of time you need to get the sound perfect. Take the time to pick out unwanted and desired frequencies.

I play 10 times differently when I can accurately hear the bass and kick drum in their desired places. You want to be careful that things aren’t muddy.

Every instrument and vocal must be in its proper place.


Pay attention to the space. The greatest musicians know it’s not what you play that makes you incredible, it’s what you don’t play.

What equipment are you currently endorsing?

I am currently endorsing Yamaha drums, Vater drumsticks, Zildjian cymbals, and Remo heads. I currently go between a maple absolute custom and a recording custom kit. I have two sets of gear depending on where I’m traveling from. 22 kick, 10 &12 racks, 16 and 18 floors. 14x6 1/2 steel shell main snare and a 14x5 1/2 birch side snare.

My cymbals vary with the type of music I’m playing, but pretty much my go-to on any setup is a Zildjian 22’ Constantinople Bounce ride, 22’ K custom Dark Special Dry crash, and 14’ Constantinople hats. Then I mix in either 20’ a custom effects crash or 20’ K cluster crash or 20’ k dry special effects or 20‘ k custom dark crash and also an extra set of “dry” hats that vary, but right now I’m using a 17’ A heavy crash on the bottom and a 17’ k custom special dry trash crash on top. I use the Vater Phat Ride stick. I like it because it has a shorter taper, so it’s a little heavier on the front end of the stick.

Again, I use a variety of heads depending on what type of music I’m playing, but my go-to is pinstripes on all the toms, P77 on my main snare, ambassador on the side snare, and a Powerstroke 4 on the kick.

You have played with funk legends like Maceo Parker and Ian Neville. Can you talk about what aspects make a beat groove?

There are many answers to this question. One that is a little easier to explain behind a kit, but I’ll do my best here.

Groove is all about relationships. The relationship between the kick and the snare, the kick and the hats, the hats and the snare, and so on. It’s about making 1,2,3 and 4 feel good.

The space between the notes is actually where the groove lies. Most people “leave space” when they play. This is probably the biggest mistake for most. You don’t “leave space” you need to “play space”. The space is just as important if not even more important than the strokes you actually play.

Pay attention to the space. The greatest musicians know it’s not what you play that makes you incredible, it’s what you don’t play.

Article photo - Interview With Acclaimed Drummer & Percussionist Nikki Glaspie

Can you talk about your band the Nth Power?

The Nth Power is a collective of people who love mankind. We seek the good in mankind. We believe in the healing power of music. We believe in the healing power of love.

We think it is imperative especially today, to let people know there is love in this world where you least expect it. A band that you’ve never heard of loves you. We hope to reach the far ends of the earth with our musical message of hope.

There is more that bonds us than divides us. This is what The Nth Power is and means. The music is a vehicle for the message. We just want people to treat each other as they wish to be treated.

The Nth Power loves you.

If you truly love music, playing will be its own reward. If you truly love music, the universe will take care of you

What advice do you have for young musicians who want to make playing music a career?

I would say firstly that playing music isn’t a career. It’s a commitment above anything else. When you decide to become a musician you decide to endure every obstacle it comes with, unlike a job (career) you clock in and out for.

You will have sleepless days and nights. You will be hungry. In some cases, you will be homeless (couch surf). You will be overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. But if you truly love music, playing will be its own reward. If you truly love music, the universe will take care of you.

This is the blessing and the curse of being a musician. You may not be able to rub 2 nickels together, but you will travel the world, stay in the best places, eat the best food and enjoy unforgettable experiences. Not to mention the bliss OF playing music. The happiness you feel every time you touch your instrument will be your pay. Never forget it.

If you don’t have the passion for it, you will not survive the “career path” of a musician. If you can withstand the pressures from friends, families and significant others to “get a real job” or gain “financial security” then go for it. Be ready to go thru the fire. Be ready to bet everything and lose it all and do it all over again.

No one in their right mind would choose this. But it is a high like no other.

Connect With Nikki Glaspie
Twitter / Instagram / Website

Connect With the Nth Power
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / SpotifyWebsite

About Magesh Magesh

Magesh is a musician and producer who has worked with Rihanna, Lionel Richie, Ricky Martin, Chris Brown, The Pussy Cat Dolls, Nelly Furtado, and Vernon Reid of Living Colour. He released an instructional drumming DVD called "Unique Beats" where he mixed the drum kit with electronics and Indian hand percussion. He recently moved from Australia to the UK to explore new musical opportunities.

Contact Magesh Magesh at

About Interviews

In this section of the blog we host interviews with established but also up and coming artists we love and recommend as well as music industry professionals with tons of useful information to share.

Interested in an interview, writing a story as a guest or joining the Musicngear team as a Contributing Author? Contact us at