jojo mayer

025 – Jojo Mayer: The importance of Observation

In this podcast I talked to drummer Jojo Mayer, who is best known for his work wth Nerve as well as his intense playing at clinics and masterclasses around the world with his acoustic / electronic style.  Jojo digs into everything from how he started playing to his asperations as an artist. Listen in as Jojo gets deep in this interview.

“It takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it and appropriately act on it.” – Stephen Covey

Jojo Mayer’s Bio: (From

Born January 18. 1963 in Zurich, Switzerland. Son of a musician (bass player Vali Mayer), he spent his early childhood on the road traveling throughout Europe and the Far East. At the age of 2 he got his first drum set, and his first public performance took place in Hong Kong when he was only 3 years old. Growing up in the influence of a musical environment Jojo is basically self-taught (autodidact).

At the age of 18 he joined Monty Alexander’s group and toured extensively all over Europe, playing all the major jazz -festivals including the North-Sea-Jazz Festival, Montreux, Nice, Antibes, Athens etc.This lead to back-up gigs with other jazz-greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and Nina Simone and introduced him to an international audience.

Jojo Mayer performed and / or recorded with a great variety of artists covering a wide range of musical styles such as The Screaming Headless Torsos, Meshell n’dege Occello, Vernon Reid’s science project, DJ Spooky, Emergency Broadcast Network, the Vienna Art Orchestra, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Harry Pepl, Gerald Veasley, Monty Alexander, Lunar Crush, John Zorn, James Blood Ulmer, Chico Freeman, George Adams, Jamaaladeen
Tacuma, John Medeski, Family of Percussion, Hiram Bullock, Leni Stern, Depart, Wolfgang Puschnigg, The intergalactic Maiden Ballet, Friedrich Gulda, Harry Sokal, Steve Coleman’s 5 Elements, Passport, Wah Wah Watson, and many more.

Jojo has also built himself a reputation as a skilled and creative solo performer/ clinician. He appeared at most of the important Industrial Events and Drum Festivals like the Modern Drummer Festival (1998 and 2005), the Buddy Rich Memorial Scholarship NYC (95), the International Drummer-Meeting in Koblenz (89, 91, 95), PASIC (96), the Montreal Drum- Fest (96), the NAMM-Show`s”Drums along the Hilton”(96), int.Slagwerkkrant Dag (96), int. Budapest Dob-Gala (94, 95), Manny`s Drum-Mania NYC (98) and the “int.Musik Messe Frankfurt”(93, 97), to name a view, were he was featured amongst the greatest names in the drumming community today (Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, Jack de Johnette, Terry Bozzio, Billy Cobham, Dennis Chambers etc).

Residing in New York City since 1991, Jojo engaged in numerous activities including Live and Studio work. His international touring schedule has taken him all over Europe, the US, South America, The Far East and Africa. Besides his work as a drummer, he also is involved in projects as a writer and producer.

More recently, Jojo has been venturing into New York’s Techno / Multimedia / Avantgarde / club scene by promoting his own weekly party event called PROHIBITED BEATZ. This new platform for live “Drum n” Bass”, “Nu-Skool Breaks”, “Speed Garage” and the latest stylistical hybrids and mutations in DJ culture, has also provided the back drop for his first solo project called NERVE. Described as an “endeavor in reverse engineering the textures and rhythms of the current stream of computer generated music into a live performed, improvisational format”, NERVE and PROHIBITED BEATZ have created a reputation in the New York scene that already goes way beyond “a serious buzz”.

In this session you will hear Jojo Mayer talk about:

How he got started playing drums
Jojo’s move to the US
Technique and his approach to playing
The NYC music scene then and now
Jojo’s views on current music
Practice techniques

Resources and links:

Jojo’s Mayer’s Website | Facebook | Twitter
Jojo Mayer’s Sonor perfect balance pedal
Secret Weapons of the modern drummer

Jojo proudly plays: Evans Drumheads, Sabian Cymbals, Sonor Drums and Vic Firth Drumsticks 


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9 replies
  1. Billy Wear
    Billy Wear says:

    great interview! do you know what those exercises that Freddy told Jojo to get down? thanks

    • Nick
      Nick says:

      I don’t really know BUT I do know that Bruce Becker (who I interviewed for the site and will be airing his interview next week) studied a LOT with Freddy and actually showed Jojo Mayer, Steve Smith, Daniel Glass and a ton of other people Freddy’s teachings. He also released a DVD called “Drumming with Bruce Becker – Concepts and Philosophies” which is based on what he learned. If you go to you can check out the DVD and email Bruce to order it (if you’re interested). Plus, mention Drummer’s Resource and he’ll give you $5 off! Let me know how you make out!

  2. Jason Paul Harman Byrne
    Jason Paul Harman Byrne says:

    I love Mayer’s playing, and I respect his viewpoints, however, he couldn’t be more off the mark when it comes to his comments on jazz. There is tons of radical music happening, and tons of “conservative” music happening (even in that regard – if this so-called “conservative” jazz is played well, it is still thoroughly modern and relevant in my opinion), there is tons of “jazz” happening all over the world, every night! You live in NYC, have you been to the clubs lately, Smalls, Cornelia Street Cafe, The Village Vanguard, Clemente Soto Velez, LPR, 55 Bar? Have you been to the Winter JazzFest? Come on, there is an avalanche of highly creative, envelope-pushing music being created every day and every night!!!

    Just to cite one example, Mayer plays with Jason Lindner, one of the finest jazz musicians on the planet, and Lindner plays what someone could call “radical” music with his band Now Vs. Now.

    These blanket statements just don’t apply to jazz, because the genre is wide-spread, being interpreted in myriad ways, by thousands of brilliant artists who have become quite prolific in the DIY movement that has been flourishing for many many years now.

  3. Jason Paul Harman Byrne
    Jason Paul Harman Byrne says:

    All of that being said, I truly loved the interview, and my respect and admiration for Mayer only increased ten-fold to say the least.

    • Nick
      Nick says:

      Thanks Jason, glad you dug it! An I agree, Jojo gets intense in things but that’s why I like interviewing everyone….I love hearing their perspective.

      Thanks for the comments!

    • Nick
      Nick says:


      That’s why I love interviewing everyone….I love the differences of opinions and perspectives! Thanks so much for listening and thanks for the feedback.

  4. Fabio
    Fabio says:

    JoJo is like the Leonard Cohen of drumming. Radical, flamboyant, and sometimes disturbing.
    Everyone has their opinion and a lot of his viewpoints resonated well with me I guess, I was left with the feeling of basically you need to be inovative and be different than everyone else, to contribute and make drumming today a career.
    Well that goes for anyone who is self employed and looking for buyers of their product. Find your niche, and drive it…

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