Tyler Zarzeka: How I Use E-drums

Monday, 13 November 2017 9:53 am

Touring with Noah Cyrus, Tyler Zarzeka uses electronics to blend recorded sounds with his acoustic drums.

I've spent the last 10 years learning and embracing two sides of the music industry, performance and music production. I’ve had the chance to work with some of the biggest artists and bands in the world such as Usher, Demi Lovato, Hanson, and performed with Charlie Puth, Emblem 3, Cher Lloyd, and many more. These opportunities have taken me across the world and allowed me to see places I've always dreamed of, and meet people who have changed my life for the better.

Currently, I’m on the road with Noah Cyrus, supporting for Katy Perry’s “Witness the Tour”. This gig is much more drum-oriented than my other artist, Kiiara. With Noah, I'm of course using the Roland SPD-SX, a standard for any pop act, but only using a kick and snare trigger for certain sounds. This is perfect for blending sounds from her record to my acoustic drums.

With Kiiara, music director Mitch Cohn (Chris Brown) was very specific about recreating the show to feel and sound like the record. For this, I use a Roland KT-10 set directly next to my kick pedal and a PD-8 to my left as a side snare. Most verses were performed on the KT-10 and I would move my foot over to the acoustic kick drum for choruses. Since my main snare (Q Brass) is perfect for most big choruses and outros, I put all the small high-pitched snare sounds on the PD-8.

These days, most pop tracks have multiple snare tones or layers of effects on top of claps and snaps. I dedicate any of the nine pads on the SPD-SX to these samples.

I also perform some weird 808s and unique sounds from her record, which is the beauty of the SPD-SX: it allows me to perform more “live” rather than having the tracks play everything. It does pose a challenge, however, in that I can’t drag or rush what I'm performing. I have to play very robotic-like and yet not feel too stiff.

I haven’t had a gig in the last eight years that didn't incorporate electronics on an acoustic drum kit. I’m sure some drummers feel opposed to using electronics, but it’s the way of our current industry and isn't going away anytime soon.

Gear list 

Drums: Mahogany Q Drums

22 x 16” Kick Drum

13 x 9” Rack Tom

16 x 16” Floor Tom

14 x 7” Brass Plate Snare

Cymbals: Zildjian

15" A New Beat (top)

15" K Custom Special Dry (bottom)

10" Trashformer

10" EFX

18" K Custom Fast Crash

14" Trashformer (top stack)

18" K EFX (bottom stack)

20" K Custom Special Dry Crash

Electronics: Roland 


PD-8 (drum pad)

KT-10 (kick trigger pedal)