Artist Interview: Shawn Lafrenz

Artist Interview: Shawn Lafrenz
(Senior Marketing Manager, B&O, Pearl)

Shawn Lafrenz is the Senior Marketing Manager in charge of B&O products for Pearl/Adams. As a concert percussionist Shawn has performed with many orchestras in the U.S. most recently with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Question: What was your first drum set?

A Matador brand drum set in orange sparkle (12, 13, 16F, 22BD), with a Pearl President 5.5×14 c.1970 snare drum.  The kit itself is long gone, but I still have the snare drum!

Question: Did you ever take private lessons?

My first drum teacher was the choir director at my church who had played drums in his younger days.  What he couldn’t show me necessarily in technique, he made up for in solid musicianship and excitement for playing that motivated me well past those early lessons.

Question: Who is your favorite drummer and why?

When I sit down to listen to drummers drumming, I usually end up spending a lot of time spinning Max Roach and Art Blakey.  They have a musically purposeful, free-blowing style and taste in their playing that appeals to me, and still feels fresh.

Question: What makes the Pearl brand special?

Everything Pearl makes is driven by sound quality and performance – every innovation and development is designed to meet a musical need and allow every player to express themselves without restriction or hesitation.

Question: What are your thoughts on the electronic elements so common in percussion these days?

Electronics, both the physical instruments and the sonic elements produced, are a part of making music in the 21st century.  Every instrument and sound was “new” at one time, and the voices and instruments that allow musical expression and connect with listeners will survive over time and keep audiences listening.

Question: How did you make the transition from recreational drummer to professional drummer? 

I started on the path of what I thought was going to be an academic / orchestral playing career.  Along the way, I realized that I am a gear nerd!  Luckily, I was able to get a job in a music retail environment that allowed my inner “drum geek” to flourish by working with instruments and players all day.   Playing led to selling, that led to players and teachers needing help with set-ups and sounds, that led to ideas and instrument customization and more playing, and that led me to the manufacturing and marketing side of the music products industry here at Pearl Corporation.

Question: What inspires you to continue drumming? 

Playing is never boring!  The constant drive to improve and try something new that all musicians have is a constant source of energy.   It doesn’t matter if it’s a new tune or an old tune that’s just new to me, a different technique, a new sound, or a different way to interpret a familiar chart, there is always something new to learn and grow from.

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