The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








Swiss Chris. Courtesy photo.

Hip-Hop Workshop and Performance

When: Saturday, Oct. 25, and Sunday, Oct. 26
Where: Dreamsicle Arts Studio, 102 Main St.,   Suncook Village
Tickets: $40 for Saturday Hip-Hop Workshop and Show (Show only: $10), and $10 for Sunday drum clinic ($100 for one hour private lesson with Swiss Chris)

Weekend of beats
Drummer Swiss Chris anchors hip-hop workshop

By Michael Witthaus

 A drummer may seem an incongruent choice to lead a hip-hop workshop, until one considers the resume of Swiss Chris. During a career spanning nearly two decades, Swiss Chris has worked with several important MCs. Kanye West hipped him to John Legend, which led to several tours as music director and band member for the piano player and singer. 

Working with Swiss Chris at the weekend-long event are New Hampshire rapper Adeem and politically charged MC Ofure. At a daylong session (Saturday, Oct. 25), the three will share their knowledge of the hip-hop world, answer questions and perform together at an evening show, separately priced for those without dreams of hip-hop stardom.
Workshop participants will be able to perform for the producers and receive direct feedback. 
“Clearly, the learning opportunity and the performance opportunity is unrivaled in New Hampshire,” event coordinator Jennifer Lambert said recently. 
Dreamsicle Arts & Entertainment Group hosts the event and will raffle off a four-hour recording session at its Suncook studio.
Swiss Chris spent several years as musical director for Lyricist’s Lounge, a famous rapper incubator in New York City. He’s also part of Universal Zulu Nation, an organization run by proto-rapper Afrika Bambaataa. 
“I’ve worked with him on the sidelines for the past 10 to 15 years,” Swiss said in a recent interview.
The Brooklyn drummer (his real name is Chris Flueck) points out that his prodigious rhythm skills are rooted in hip-hop sensibilities. 
“I do samples, remixes of remixes,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I’m kind of like a drummer who wants to be a DJ, but can’t scratch so I use my drums for scratching.”
Thus, the Berklee-trained musician has been recruited by artists like Legend to inject the sound of the street into their music. 
“He hired me around the time of Neo Soul to bring a hip-hop sensibility,” said Swiss. “Most R&B guys get drummers straight out of church.” 
After four years of touring with Legend beginning in the mid-2000s, he backed Gloria Gaynor.
It’s been an interesting journey for Swiss Chris, who first learned drumming by studying the military drumming traditions of his native country, known as rudiments. 
“My family goes back to the 14th century and field drummers,” he said. “The Swiss fought the Germans using drum signals.”
He found the funkier side of drumming when he heard a jazz-fusion legend in an unlikely setting. 
“Billy Cobham had a song on the news every night in Switzerland and it blew me away, I wanted to be like that,” he said. “He changed the whole drum world, and brought in the funk and Caribbean sensibility into jazz.”
Swiss Chris would later have the opportunity to work with Cobham in the studio. 
“It’s great when you see someone and then later you’re able to work with your heroes,” he said.
On Sunday, Swiss Chris will conduct a drumming workshop to close out the weekend. He’ll demonstrate his tricked out drum kit, with glowing light sticks and unique electronic sound emanations, and discuss many of the lessons detailed in his 2007 book, Modern Drum Set Sticking. A specially priced bundle, containing sticks, drum pad and a copy of the book, will be available during the weekend.
Drum teachers are encouraged to bring their students, and group discounts are available. Swiss Chris will also conduct a few one-hour private lessons during the day, at a reduced rate. Anyone interested should call the studio to book a slot. 
As seen in the October 23, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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