Audeze interviews drummer Marcus Gilmore

July 04, 2023

Marcus Gilmore is a musician and composer who has dedicated his life to the crafting of sound for over a quarter of a century. He's played with jazz stars such as Chick Corea, Ravi Coltrane, Vijay Iyer, Clark Terry and Ambrose Akinmusire, and his grandfather is none other than drum legend Roy Haynes.

Marcus Gilmore in the studio with his Audeze LCD-XC headphones

"I can honestly say that [Audeze headphones] provide me with an unparalleled level of detail and clarity that is extremely accurate yet also pleasant to my ears."  - Marcus Gilmore
Here's our chat with Marcus:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

Performing with my grandfather is the first highlight of my work that comes to mind. 

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

The majority of the projects that I’ve worked on recently have requested a creative foundational grounding role of me. A glue that holds an ensemble together but also helps to inspire the individuals to fly.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

I come from a musical family. All of the members of my family are musical and they were my first musical heroes. The majority of the music I heard around my house growing up was a diverse array of African American music from the 60s, 70s and 80s. I also heard a lot of contemporary music of the 90’s from my older sisters. As I grew older I was introduced to more international music of the African Diaspora as well as European Classical music and Indian Classical music.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

My biggest musical heroes are my family members. I have been fortunate enough to be mentored by people who are not family members. The first two that come to mind are Milford Graves and Chick Corea. These two artists have had a profound effect on my life.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

I remember experiencing my first lengthy tour overseas. I was honored to be working and traveling but I found it challenging to perform in venues that were not acoustically made for drums especially considering I was performing with a string orchestra. I had to find a way to be expressive and propel the music forward without overpowering or underplaying. After the first couple of gigs I realized it was going to take another degree of focus to get to where I wanted to be. I feel I’m getting closer to this day. It’s a never-ending pursuit… lol.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

These days I run every sound on my computer through my Ams Neve 1073 opx interface. I love it. I’ve been playing Sonor drums for the last couple of years and I’m absolutely floored by them every time I hear them.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

Follow your heart! I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but truer words have never been spoken.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

I’ve been working with headphones for as long as I can remember. They have always been a fundamental part of my musical process, whether I am listening to music while traveling, recording with them, or listening back to music at home.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

These Audeze LCD-XC headphones have had a tremendous impact on me. I've been using them in the last few months for everything from tracking in the studio, to listening to rough mixes and even general listening. I can honestly say that they provide me with an unparalleled level of detail and clarity that is extremely accurate yet also pleasant to my ears. The natural isolation and clarity that these headphones provide makes it particularly easy for me to hear music over my acoustic drums. That is a big plus for me as I can listen at lower volumes because of this.