Today we’d like to introduce you to Elijah Stavely.
Hi Elijah, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Thank you for reaching out and giving me the opportunity to share my story. Coming from small-town Kentucky with very few musicians in the area, my start in music was a slow and solitary one. I was about 10 or 11 when I got Rockband as a Christmas gift; I tried out the drums and unknowingly started to learn rudiments, sticking patterns, fills, beats, and full songs all through just playing a video game. Once I “mastered” the Rockband drums and played it to it’s fullest extent, I wanted to try out a real acoustic kit. Another Christmas present, now when I was 14, was my first acoustic PDP Z5 drum kit. I realized quickly I had a lot more to learn on an acoustic kit, but I was already capable of so much thanks to Rockband. A mix of learning songs by ear and following online tutorials, I spent most of my time in Kentucky posting drum covers on YouTube to start making a name for myself.
Eventually, I got the rare and incredibly lucky opportunity to move to California with my parents, so the moment I graduated high school the process began and about a month later, I was headed across the country to start fresh. With another stroke of luck, I happened to make a connection to a band, Hail the Sun, through a drum cover I did of a song of theirs and happened to move not even an hour away from them. Once I was moved and settled, they offered to bring me out on a small two weeks DIY tour doing merch and learning firsthand how touring works. From there, I kept the ball rolling and learned and networked, did several more tours with them, started doing studio sessions, shows, writing, music videos, more tours with different artists, and here we are today.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
As I believe anyone would say regardless of passion or circumstance, it certainly hasn’t been a smooth road. I’m not one to talk a lot or openly about my personal struggles so this will be a first for me, but I guess they say getting it off your chest helps in the healing process so what the hell, let’s give it a shot. Throughout my life, I’ve struggled consistently with my mental health, primarily with anxiety and depression, and attributed it to circumstances in life beyond my control. In middle and high school, I had an unfortunate home, school, and work situation, all compounding to make some difficult times that I simply had to wait out. After moving to California, I was without my drum kit for around seven months due to the logistics of the move and felt incredibly disconnected with myself as that was and is my identity; being a drummer. Shortly into touring. The traveling and physical stress started to bring out a lot of anxiety between not being sure I was doing what I needed to be doing and not always having the best time, even though I was seemingly doing what I had always dreamt of.
At a certain point, I had what I thought was an ideal home life, relationship, and music path, and in spite of all of that I was still feeling an overwhelming amount of mental distress. With all of that in consideration and after exhausting my options, I turned to therapy and medication as somewhat of a last resort and had a very noticeable breakthrough. But unfortunately, after feeling on top of the world for several months, I had an intense depressive episode that led to a potentially fatal incident with my medication, which turned the last few dependable people in my life against me, and all-in-all put me in the worst position I’ve been in yet (not to mention, this all happened during the music industry shutdown due to COVID). So as I’m writing this, now living in my car and having a rehearsal studio in attempt to continue to be as productive as I can be, I’m trying to prioritize my mental and physical health as well as prepare for the music industry to open back up.
During these times and more, I’ve been fortunate to have music to be my escape and my raison d’être, but that can be precarious; having one thing that isn’t always in your control in charge of your happiness. It’s certainly affected my productivity as well, which adds to the anxiety knowing my success is immediately reliant on my productivity. Although at any point I could set aside my musical pursuit and attempt to live more comfortably, one quote I have lived and will continue to live by is “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” I don’t want to miss out on that chance.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Currently, I’m a freelance drummer trying to make a name for myself in the pop/rap/R&B scene of the music industry. I have experience in a lot of settings and in genres like rock and progressive rock, post-hardcore, metal, and some pop as well. I’ve gotten some amazing opportunities thus far like being able to play to 2,000+ crowds at 18, do a full solo tour as my own artist supporting a fellow drummer, and the thing I’m most proud of – being able to continue to pursue what I want when I want. I started out playing Rockband and taught myself how to play an acoustic kit. I started recording drum covers on YouTube and got recognized by the first band to bring me on tour. I decided to stop selling merch on tour and was still able to continue touring solely as a drummer. Stopped touring to focus on building my name locally and began getting more studio sessions, music videos, and local gigs. Started to reach out to artists and management in the pop/rap scene and got an audition for a major label artists’ tour. So far, regardless of what I set my mind to I’ve been able to find a way to pursue it and be as productive as I can be so that all I have to do is keep pushing and wait until something comes along. I’ve experienced firsthand that success really is a combination of hard work and luck.
So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
As I’m currently freelancing with no recurring gigs or artists at the moment, I’m open to writing, recording, gigging, touring, music videos, lessons, and whatever else people may want a drummer to be a part of. As far as solely supporting my career, I’m on Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, and my website where anyone can support with anything from a view to a purchase.
- Lessons: $50/hr
- Sessions: $50-100/song
- Email: StavelyDrums@gmail.com
- Website: elijahstavely.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/elijahstavely
- Youtube: YouTube.com/StavelyDrums
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