Drum King behind the beats

By Rosalia David

YOU’D be hard pressed to find a more prolific, well-rounded and influential drummer in Namibia than Fernando Paulus better known as ‘Drum King’.

With a solid sense of swing and a tireless right hand, Paulus has captured many musicians’ imagination while making drumming and jazz music more acceptable to the masses. Born and raised in Windhoek, the Namibian hunk is behind the beat of every major live concert in the country.

This week, Confidente spoke to the passionate drummer, who describes himself as a professional who never comprises his art. “I established myself as a reliable professional and also I bring a lot more than just drums to artists. I created a brand and network that allows me to be beneficial to many artists in different ways.”

With a fierce commitment to making every idea and every note as clear as day Paulus has worked with many prominent artists, such as Elemotho, Erna Chimu, including stars like Judith Sephuma and Simphiwe Dana.

Apart from the above mentioned creatives, Paulus said, “I am currently Gazza’s tour drummer and performance consultant. I also play for Big Ben, Lize Ehlers, KP Illest, Maranatha and Suzy Eises, to name a few.”

Not only has he worked with a few of Namibia’s biggest stars, he is also the music director of the Namibian Annual Music Awards for a few years now. “That experience opened so many doors for me,” he noted.

Paulus is also the main man behind Gazza’s live performances. Expressing his gratitude, he noted that, “I grew up as a GMP fan so playing for Gazza now is something very special.”

With a list of achievements that goes on and on, he has definitely proven to be most visible, most popular representative of the modern drummer, making it no surprise that he is considered as the highest-ranking active drummer in Namibia.

With experience of close to two decades under his belt, he delivers a heavy groove with his supreme right foot that is able to channel the jazz drummers’ dexterity throughout all his performances.

As to why he fell in love with drums, he said, “I started very early, when I was 12 years old, I played on boxes and on my mother’s pots but only became a professional drummer at 20 years old, though I did a tour to Finland when I was 15.”

Asked about how he manages to win the trust of so many, he said, his style of playing and commitment to the art says it all. “This is the one compliment I have been getting from my peers, I try really hard to please people who trust me with the job and I also practice very hard, that has set me apart I believe.”

Despite all, Paulus has surely managed to occupy the throne as one of, if not the most popular drummer in the evolving Namibian music industry.

Although he has made a name for himself in the music scene, he said it is no walk in the park being a drummer as he struggles to juggle his time between a full time job and his passion.

“The fact that I have a day job. Even though I can make some sort of living from just music alone, it is not consistent plus it doesn’t sustain me to the level of standard of living I have currently set for myself. I also do not get time to practice for myself, as most of my time goes into rehearsal sessions with the artists and studio sessions,” he stated.

The one thing that further irks him about the Namibian music industry is lack of proper preparation. “Some people really struggle to put together brilliant concerts because they don’t have funds but… those who are able to fund their shows don’t even bother to prepare well, it is really frustrating, but we will get there one day, I guess.”

Paulus talent was discovered by internationally-based Namibian musician, Jackson Wahengo who introduced him to the industry when he afforded him his first gig at the age of 14.