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#137 Makaya McCraven- Drummer, Producer, Beat Scientist & More!

#137 Makaya McCraven- Drummer, Producer, Beat Scientist & More!

This week’s guest is Makaya McCraven, who is a beat scientist. The cutting edge drummer, producer, and sonic collagist is a multi-talented force whose inventive process & intuitive style of performance defy categorization. French-born, but raised in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts by expatriate musician parents, McCraven went on to develop his chops in Chicago and now represents a rising generation of globally-minded, genre-bending music makers as an artist as well as band leader. Through his unique, rarified performances and collaborations he unapologetically affirms our right to re-think and re-write the rules, any rules, and affirms other artists in their own exploratory evolutions. The song playing behind his intro is ‘Suite Haus’, from his newest album, “Universal Beings”.

Educational Spotlights for this week……

The motivational/organizational book Damon recommends is “Off the Clock” by Laura Vanderkam. It was recommended by friend of the show, Kit Karlson (episode 27). The other part of the educational spotlight is the open letter to students by James Shotwell. Damon mentions the blog post he wrote about other jobs and careers in the music business (aside from being a musician).

Gig Alerts for this week……

Imagine Dragons Propose an Anti-Gun Music Festival — Several Major Artists Already Signing On. Also, Outside Lands (in San Francisco) Becomes the First Major U.S. Music Festival to Sell Cannabis On Site. Some of the past festivals to help that are mentioned were Live Aid, (Damon incorrectly mistakes Live Aid for Farm Aid), Live 8, and the Global Citizen Festival to name a few. Marcos also mentions Lollapaloza, and the Lilith Fair.

Updated soundbyte intros to come soon. In the meantime, you can listen to Aaron Sterling’s podcast called Sterloid Talks (in between our weekly episodes of course).

Iconic Recording for this week…..

Mighty Mighty” from the Curtis Mayfield, Live in NYC album. This is the video clip that has been going around for the percussionist’s birthday. His name is Master Henry Gibson. Here are the complete credits. Damon mentions that Henry was brought up on a previous episode (#44 with Bob Weiner) as part of the iconic recording.

Listener Letters for this week…..

Hooking up your Cuba trip. Marcos mentions the Fábrica de Arte, the Casa de la Musica Centro, and a bunch of other venues. If you’re looking for other things that aren’t necessarily music related, you can check out this list.

Social Soundbyte for this week…..

The CongasLovers instagram page is worth checking out and giving a follow! (And then start transcribing things you see posted there).

Music News for this week…..

Nearly one-third of millennials who went to a music festival in the past year say they took on debt to afford it. If you are owed money by the company of PledgeMusic, then you should arrange for a Proof of Debt form to be submitted as soon as possible. This is the form to submit a claim. The form can be returned via email to: We also found that you can write in to:, quoting reference LQD5671373. Our suggestion is to write in to both and make sure that the claim is supported outside of the UK. A Definitive Louis Armstrong Documentary Is In the Works — With Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries Leading the Effort. Lady Gaga Accused of Copyright Infringement on ‘Shallow’ — Based on 3 Notes. Billie Eilish Found Stealing Anime Artwork on T-Shirts, Hoodies, Other Merch. Damon also brings up his friend, a local artist, who has their artwork stolen by Reebok and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

The song leading into the interview is called, “Flipped OUT” by Makaya McCraven from his new Universal Beings album.

Damon met Makaya through subbing for him with Barry Kingston and the Screaming Souls. At the Time Makaya was playing with a live hip-hop band called the Cold Duck Complex and trading off gigs with (friend of the show), Glenn Robertson. Makaya grew up in Amherst, MA and gives a shout-out to the Umass Music department and (friend of the show) Thom Hannum as well as Max Roach, Archie Shepp, Yusef Lateef, Marion Brown, Nat Reeves, Avery Sharpe, Sheila Jordan and even Dr. Billy Taylor.

Makaya was progressing in football before making a conscious decision to pursue music. His father was his first drum teacher and helped get his hands in shape with tools like the Buddy Rich instructional book, and working through rudiments with a metronome. After getting fundamentals and technique down, they moved on to musical concepts.

Damon and Makaya talk about concepts to get you hired as well as use of vocabulary (as opposed to “licks”)and also a little of the history of the drumset.

Makaya ended up going to Umass and studying with Bob Gullotti. Makaya and Damon talk about how they would amend the music school curriculum as well as some things they learned after getting out of school and playing in the real world.

After moving to Chicago and playing wherever he could, Makaya eventually signed with a label called International Anthem and has released four albums with them.

Makaya explains what a beat scientist is and how he interprets it for himself (He answers this at: 1.38.25)

Makaya uses Ludwig Drums, Vic Firth Sticks, & Istanbul Cymbals.

You can follow Makaya on his Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

The song leading out of the interview is called “Inner Flight” from Makaya’s “Universal Beings” album.

#136 Tom Rarick- MSG with the Ceremonial Brass Air Force Band & Arranger for the Bluecoats Drum Corps!

#136 Tom Rarick- MSG with the Ceremonial Brass Air Force Band & Arranger for the Bluecoats Drum Corps!