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Elie Bertrand is perhaps best known as the drummer for Scarlet Sins http://www.scarletsinsonline.com. She was born on was born on December 25th 1989. She grew up in Chambly, a suburb of Montreal, Quebec and began playing drums at 5 years old.
Photo: Ron Boudreau, Make-Up and Hair Stylist: Stella Margaritis
Elie, thanks so much for taking time to talk to us. We have really been looking forward to speaking with you.Following on our brief introduction, tell us what happened in your musical development once you started playing drums?
EB: I did start taking lessons at the age of 5. I joined a music program in grade 5 where I would go to school in the morning and go to music school in the afternoon. We would have all different classes like theory, composition, history, etc… I did that for 4 years and then I leftthe program to focus more on my professional career. At 14, I started playing professionally in a classic rock and blues cover band. From that point on, I joined a bunch of cover bands, a percussion troop called Insolita, then at 17, I moved to Toronto to joined Scarlet Sins. When that venture ended last November, I moved back to Montreal. Since then, I’ve been playing as a freelance drummer in different bands and for different artists. Over the past 6 years I have had the chance to open up for DJ Champion, Motley Crue, Vixen, perform on TV, play some huge Festivals like the International Jazz Festival of Montreal, the International Blues Festival of Tremblay, the Ultimate Drum Camp of Orford, the International Cape Breton Drum Festival just to name a few . It has been pretty amazing and I can not wait to see what’s next!
In terms of your development, who was your major influence (or were your biggests influences)?
EB: I have so many influences for different reasons… I always find it so hard to answer that question briefly because music is like painting. You always use many colours to do a painting, so I have many very different influences. Here are a few drummers Dennis Chambers, Carter Beauford, Paul Brochu, Daniel Adair, Chris Adler, Ange E. Curcio, Emmanuelle Caplette, Carmine Appice… I could go on and on but those ones definitively have had a major impact on my playing.
Describe your sound? What makes Elie, Elie as drummer?
EB: Wow… What a cool question… Well, definitively there are a lot of funk and blues signatures in my playing because that’s what I played the mostwhen I started… It’s my base. There is a lot of latin even though I can’t really play latin drums because my dad use to play a lot of Cuban percussions so I often through in clave over some metal beat. And there are also a lot of paradiddles because it’s my favourite rudiment in the world. I always say: “It’s all about paradiddles!”
Tell us a little about life with Scarlet Sins? Any great moment that sticks in you mind? Any good stories you can tell us on or off-stage with the band?
EB: There are so many great memories I keep from this venture. I learned a lot. It was my introduction to the hard rock and metal world. I always loved listening to that kind of music but was never part of an original band that played this before. We had so much fun together. We’ve shared very special moments. We had a lot of huge opportunities and a lot of very cool off stage moments.
Here’s a pretty cool one. OMG. I still laugh my ass off thinking about it: That happened in Seattle when we went down in 2007 to play the
PowerBox Festival. Cris and Syl were sharing a room and T and I shared another. In the middle of the night T got up because she was jetlag or what ever and well being a lady, she decided she would put some moisturizer on her face to take care of her beautiful skin… But she mixed up her eye-lash glue tube and her moisturizer tube because her eyes weren’t wide open or I don’t know… So she basically glued her face and eyes open… So she puts the glue on her face, goes back to bed and well she obviously realized something was wrong, so she tried to stay as quiet as possible and went to the washroom to clean it off but she hit herself on her bass case that was in the way and made so much noise so it woke me up but it wasn’t enough for me to get out of bed… The next morning I asked her what the heck happened… She told me the story… And of course I was rolling on the floor… The first thing I did was to run to Syl and Cris’s room… Told them the story and we must laughed for a good 10 minutes straight… It was SO hilarious…
What has been the highlight of your career to-date?
EB: I have been very fortunate since the beginning of my career. I played during huge events and concerts with some awesome artists but I have to say as a drummer when I played the International Cape Breton Festival 2010 alongside some of the most respected drummers in the world I was in heaven. The lineup was absolutely insane. I shared moments with some of my idols. We laughed, we jammed, we talked, we partied… It was amazing. I learned so much about everything that weekend. It was amazing!
What makes a good drummer?
EB: Musicality. A drummer can have the best techniques, be super fast, have perfect time… It’s not interesting to listen and watch a drummer play that doesn’t have musicality. At least I don’t think so. I like musicians that live the music. They feel it coming down their veins. They are not playing the song they are the song. It makes such a big difference. They listen to everything that’s going on and they communicate their feeling through music. It’s absolutely mesmerizing to live those moments and to watch them happen!
In researching for our meeting with you we took a look at readily available lists of greatest drummers. Honestly, Elie, it’s really hard to find a list with one (let alone more than one) female drummer – in addition to yourself, other names come to mind such as Cindy Blackman, Sheila E., Carla Azur, Sandy West, Caroline Rue…but really, in your view, why is it seemingly so hard for female drummers to get recognition?
EB: I don’t think it’s hard to get recognition. I think women are just not as interested to play that particular instrument as men are. The ratio in the music industry is 20% female 80% male. Most of that 20% are singers and classical musicians. You know you could also ask why aren’t there more men dancing? I think it’s just a lack of interest. A woman on drums is like a woman on the hockey team, people notice it more maybe and might act differently. Sometimes it makes it easier sometimes not. We all have as individuals different challenges and we just have to deal with it. Such is life I think.
HorizonVU Music works with emerging artists. We always do our best to coach young musicians as to the ups and downs of the music business. What words of advice do you pass along to young musicians wanting to be stars? Help us out.
EB: I think the 2 most important things to remember in this business but also in general in life are to have the passion and to believe in yourself.
Photo: Ron Boudreau
No matter what you do make sure you’re always happy. Don’t let people bring you down. Learn from everything and everyone and move on quickly from the disappointing moments. Someone recently told me this and I thought it was absolutely brilliant: “Things are never permanent, nor the bad nor the positive things”. When something good happens you have to enjoy every moments of it, be grateful for it and when you’re having a rougher patch remember that it’s not forever and remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place: the passion and the love of music or what ever what you’re doing. It’s not always easy but if you have the passion you’ll always go back to that happy place.
One final question…What is Elie doing now and what are your plans for the future?
EB: Well well lots and lots. I have a very busy fall coming up. I’ll be performing with my different projects and I am also getting ready to play the Montreal Drum Festival which is a HUGE deal for me because I remember attending the event at the age of 5 and saying that one day I would play there. This dream came true. It is the biggest drum event in Canada so I am very excited about it. 2 months to go woot woot!
El, thanks so much for taking time out to talk to us – we love your work and hope you’ll come back and visit with us. Before we finish up, I have to run this one by you…While we were talking my friend here was good enough to actually look up “paradiddle”…Here goes – accordingto Merriam-Webster, the origin of the word is unknown, first known use 1927, and the word refers to a quick succession of drumbeats slower than a roll and alternating left- and right-hand strokes in a typical L-R-L-L, R-L-R-R pattern. There you have it!
Before wrapping up, we want to share your vid "Laid To Rest - Lamb Of God - Drum Cover" – very cool!
EB:: Phil this was an absolute pleasure. Thank you very much!