Making drums for Sensory Percussion –– an interview with Reverie Drum Co.
We first heard about Reverie Drum Co. from our friend and Sunhouse Artist Mason Self. The drums he had were sleek, all-wood, incredibly shallow and had no reso head. Super portable while still looking great on stage. The perfect kit for Sensory Percussion!
Mason introduced us to the founder of Reverie Drum Co., Timothy Roberts, and we got a kit for ourselves. Since then, Timothy has launched these drums as the "SP Series," and many Sensory Percussionists have been picking them up (just look at our Instagram feed!). So we caught up with Timothy to learn more about his journey as a drum maker and what went into creating the "SP Series."
How did you get into drum making?
After playing professionally for about 10 years, I was frustrated at my lack of understanding of how to achieve the sound I was after. I'd run through about five different, name-brand kits without landing anywhere close.
That frustration led me to create Reverie Drum Co., a drum company offering handcrafted drums and percussion. I was obsessed with trying as many variations of shells, bearing edges, hardware types, dimensions, head choices, and tuning methods as I possibly could.
I finally landed with a much deeper understanding of the instrument I've committed myself to learning, and we've come up with our own methods for achieving the sounds many drummers are seeking. That's what we strive to offer to via Reverie Drum Co. and Stack Ring Percussion.
How did the idea to make a Sensory Percussion kit come about?
In the last 15 years, I've had the pleasure of meeting many incredible musicians and drummers. I ran in similar circles as Mason Self for years before we met. I've always had a ton of respect for his organic way of approaching electronic music and his ability to make that music feel earthy and grounded.
He contacted me in early 2018 to design a kit he would travel with and use for Sensory Percussion. I had come across Sensory Percussion before and heard that it completely reimagined the concept of a "trigger" into something way more responsive and musical. Mason introduced me to the Sunhouse guys and this began a year long process of learning the software and designing/prototyping a series of drums designed for this amazing instrument.
Working with Tlacael, Tenoch, and Mason, we went back and forth on everything from lug count to dimensions, color, and hardware. We landed on a product that is now our top seller at Reverie Drum Co., The "SP" series drums.
They feature shallow shells in dimensions of between 10"-16", with kick drums ranging between 16"-22", wood hoops for maximum tuning control without sacrificing sensor placement, and mesh heads with rubber rim silencers for complete control over volume.
How did you develop it? What was the process like?
When you run a company like mine, with a focus on functionality and "real world" musical application, the prototyping process includes way more than simply putting some ideas together and forecasting whether or not it'll sell.
This process had me and my team learning the software and actually booking gigs where I performed with the prototypes we were building. If a certain configuration didn't make sense to me, or if the prototypes didn't function properly, they went in the not quite bin and we started over. I knew we needed to design a series that would:
- Function flawlessly with the sensors.
- Make the life of the musician easier by being extremely portable and easy to travel with.
- Be durable and last.
- Be multi-purpose.
The last point became the most amazing surprise for all of us here at Reverie. We originally designed these drums with the thought that applying acoustic heads wouldn't produce great results because many "practice/travel kits" out there sound terrible. However, when we started trying out different head combos and tuning methods, the results were incredible.
We were landing with extremely functional and practical acoustic kits that could be carried in a single bag. And mixing the sound of the acoustic drums with the electronic sounds of Sensory Percussion created truly new and unique textures. This discovery completed the prototyping process and we landed with the final version of the "SP" series drums.
How has the response been from Sensory Percussion users?
Since the release, the users mostly remark that the drums respond excellently to all 10 zones the sensors offer, and they are very excited about the portability.
As we were working on these drums, we sent prototypes to Mason and a couple other SP users to gig with and get their thoughts/suggestions.
We needed to get feedback from a range of players that were far more experienced with the software than we were. That gave us a sense of what users would think once they played it for themselves.
My biggest goal for Reverie Drum Co. is not to add to the “noise” of new products and companies trying to sell you their latest gimmick, but rather offer musicians and drummers handcrafted instruments that help refine and hone their unique sound.
I really believe that each musician has their own voice and, while it is useful to look up to and copy our heroes, we ultimately desire to have a unique expression on the instrument.
With that being said, everything Reverie offers is meant to spur on the inspiration of those that play our instruments. We have plans in 2020 to extend the SP line, and offer new configurations that provide the next level of functionality, playability, and portability.