Interview with Percussionist Marcie Chapa
Marcie Chapa is one of the top session percussionists in the US. She has worked with Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Jay- Z and Kanye West. Also, an educator, Marcie teaches music privately and in schools.
Magesh, Musicngear: You played with pop superstar Beyonce, can you talk about this experience?
Yes, I had the chance of working for Beyonce for 5 years. I was a part of her All Female Band called the Suga Mommas. The experience taught me hard work and perfection of details. Details were a huge part of performing with her. She's a perfectionist and has an amazing vision, not to mention she's the best entertainer in the world.
I had such an amazing and memorable time working with her and because of it, I met some of the best friends ever from this experience. They are my sisters for life.
As a session musician, you must constantly learn new music. Do you have any advice for musicians that need to learn new material in a short amount of time?
For me, I learn the road map of the song first. Also, I always ask "Do you have an idea in mind" because what I create may not be what the producer or artist is truly wanting. Time is money in the studio and I want to come in and knock it out within an hour.
Once I get a sense of direction I begin to play around with the music and practice ideas of my own and then I write out what I am doing in my road map (chart). I do all this before I even step foot into the studio because I don't want to waste time or money. If it's a short amount of time that I have well I always ask for the song or a rough draft (bare project).
Then once I come in and tell the engineer and producer to give me some playbacks and I work with that a few times before I settle in. I will try at least 4-6 different arranges so the producer has something to work with once they are mastering the project.
What equipment are you currently endorsing?
Don't give up, if this is what you really want to do then you need to see it, believe it, and speak it into existence "Walk in Fate not Fear!"
Does your setup change a lot depending on what artist you are performing with?
Yes! It all depends on what the artist is asking for. Some setups may be just congas, percussion toys, and an electric pad. Honestly, it's hard to say because every artist or gig is different.
Right now I am gigging a lot on drums too, one night I have drums in my car prepping for a cover band gig then turn around and play a classical gig playing solo congas and djembes. But, this is why I love percussion instruments because you can be so versatile. Playing classical then a salsa gig, then a reggae gig then a pop/funk band. It is the best. It works well with my ADHD because I never get bored.
Can you talk about projects you are currently involved with?
Well, I did begin a solo project but it got put on hold. I had twins and they are barely 2, it's very hard but don't let children be a reason not to pursue your dream. I chose to devote my all right now to them and I am happy doing it. But I will finish it.
After COVID I stopped playing for a bit like the rest of the world and had children so now they are 2 and I am playing a whole lot and even having to turn down gigs. I am even teaching and running a MUSIC PROGRAM. I love seeing the younger generation develop into just amazing musicians.
Listen to all music to build your ear and your creativity
Do you have any advice for young musicians who want to play music for a living?
Learn your craft (instrument) and study the greats. Learn their styles so you can in time create your own sound, Go out and hang at the gigs and listen to local acts (musicians) it's a sacrifice. Practice Practice Practice, you never know when it's your time and you get a call so you want to be ready.
Listen to all music to build your ear and your creativity. Don't give up, if this is what you really want to do then you need to see it, believe it, and speak it into existence "Walk in Fate not Fear!"
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