What was the first song you learnt? Wipe Out. My Dad bought me a compilation cassette called ‘Drumming Up A Storm’ when I was 10 or 11. It had all the great drum-featured hits from the 60s… none of which I can remember now, except for that one. Dad said that ‘Wipe Out’ was one of the best drumming songs ever, so of course I had to learn it. 

What’s your favourite memory of your early musical life? I remember having jam sessions with my Dad where he'd teach me his favourite Beatles, Eagles and Eric Clapton songs. My parents were very supportive of me playing such a loud instrument in our small house, and never made me think that it was unusual for girls to play the drums. I also remember playing a gig at the school fete with my two best friends in grade 5. They both played keyboard and I was on drums. We only knew ‘Wipe Out’ and ‘Twist and Shout’ and maybe one other song, and we kept playing them over and over again next to the cake stall for at least 2 hours.

What made you want to play music in the first place? Mum started my sister and I on piano lessons from an early age. She’d a horrible experience as a kid where the nuns at her school would wrap your knuckles with a ruler if you made a mistake during your piano lessons, so although she really loves music she didn’t stick with it for long. But she made sure that we had a friendly teacher and the chance to enjoy music from a young age. I wasn’t a super girly-girl growing up and apparently after a couple of years of piano lessons I told Mum that I liked playing piano, but I wished I could play a louder (I think I really meant tougher) instrument, so she signed me up for drum lessons.

How old were you when you started playing? 10 for drums, maybe 7 for piano.

Who were your music heroes/idols back then? Who are they now? I really loved the ‘Chariots of Fire’ soundtrack as a kid, and cried with joy when I was given the LP for my birthday one year. So I guess that makes Vangelis my earliest musical hero. Super cool. I remember playing along with Mum’s old Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin records, and jamming around in music class to Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden. Those bands all had pretty great drummers, but I totally fell in love with Sonic Youth when I was 16 and Steve Shelley was my first real drum idol. 

I still really love Steve Shelly, and Jim White (Dirty Three, Cat Power, Smog etc) is one my all-time favourites too. Lindy Morrison and Alison Galloway are lifelong heroes of mine. I couldn’t imagine the world without Aretha Franklin’s amazing voice and I always turn to Talking Heads when I wanna feel good. Discovering Elizabeth Cotten a fews years ago was a real revelation and I pretty much wanted to be Kim Deal for most of my teenage years.

What was the name of your first band? The Rebel Astronauts.


Bree van Reyk is a Sydney-based drummer, percussionist, composer and sound-artist and is the creator of MASSIVE BAND.