In ArtisTree’s Rising Star series, we celebrate exciting emerging talent from across Hong Kong’s arts and culture landscape. Here, we speak to Julian Pahor, the category two winner at the recent Asia-Pacific Drummer Competition held at ArtisTree, about grooves, the competition, and what’s next for the newcomer.
For any artist or performer, a chance to share their passions with like-minded peers is a welcomed opportunity. As part of the recent International Drummer Festival, the Asia-Pacific Drummer Competition at ArtisTree took this to the next level and provided both amateur and professional drummers a platform on which to perform and be critiqued.
Still, this did not faze first-time competitor and university student Julian Pahor, who took home the top prize for the category two (Hong Kong – Open/Any Age) competition.
“This was my first competition and I was quite nervous. I honestly wasn’t at all sure that I would win,” Pahor says. “At times I thought I had a good chance, but it’s one of those things where you just don’t know.” As it turns out, Pahor needn’t have worried. After successfully completing technical skill and recital rounds, he was declared the winner.
Competing against other musicians and being judged by world-class drummers from around the globe also gave Pahor a chance to better understand his genre. “What I particularly liked was that the other two drummers, in fact, all three of us, were all quite different in our own ways. It was really interesting to see the variety we have in Hong Kong, and great to find out more about the level of competition [here],” he says.
Pahor first began drumming seven years ago, and seeks inspiration from a variety of styles. “I first got into it because I loved the sound, and drummers seemed to always have so much fun when they played”, he says. “My favourite style is probably funk or fusion, and I also play a lot of big band jazz, Latin fusion, modern jazz and occasionally, rock.” He continues: “My biggest musical influence is Steve Gadd. He has an incredible touch and feel when it comes to playing the drums.”
Pahor also credits Chris Brien, his instructor in Hong Kong, who helped the young musician develop his skills in drumming: “A lot of what I know comes from my lessons with him.”
Honing his skills as a drummer in Hong Kong hasn’t always been easy, though. “Starting is easy but continuing [drumming] can be hard. The drum is a noisy instrument and I know a lot of parents don’t like that, mine included!” he says. Hong Kong’s tight living spaces also proved challenging for Pahor, including noise complaints from neighbours and just having enough space to house a full drum kit for practice.
Despite enjoying the experience and winning a title solo, playing with other musicians is still Pahor’s favourite way to make music. “I prefer playing grooves instead of playing fills or solos – I find it more comfortable,” he explains. “In Hong Kong, I play in a local big band called the ‘Stray Katz’. They are a fantastic group of people who have helped me become the musician I am today.” Since being enrolled at the Berklee College of Music in the US, however, Pahor is only able to jam with the band when he is in back for visits.
So what’s next for this budding talent?
“I plan to finish my degree and then see where that takes me,” Pahor says. “Winning the competition was great, because it means I can get more involved in Hong Kong’s drumming scene. Ultimately, I just want to get my name out there and get gigging.”
There’s no doubt we’ll be seeing (and hearing) more from this talented young musician soon.
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