Nandi Bushell

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If you’ve not heard of Nandi Bushell before, you will be talking about her very soon. She’s a drummer, she’s adorable and she is just 9 years old. Since being in the John Lewis advert her popularity is rocketing to the point where a clip of Nandi jamming with Lenny Kravitz is on its way to being viral with nearly 700,000 views, and it’s been reported by the BBC, ITV, radio stations and music websites across America. She’s been given a Ludwig drum kit and several other items and is already an influencer.  

I met up with Nandi and her parents, John and Lungi, at the recent Junior Jam run by Martin Webby.

HC:  Let’s begin with how did it all start, as we all want to know?
Nandi: I did a maths test, I passed and Daddy said I can have what I wanted. I say a toy drum kit in Toys R Us and that’s what I wanted. Daddy got his guitar out and he taught me a little, I then had a teacher and then I got better than Daddy!

We all laughed….she’s a funny girl too!

John: I can show you the clip…..

At which point John got his phone out and showed me Nandi on the toy drum kit when she was 5 years old with John on the guitar. It was more than cute. 

HC:  John, you play the guitar then?
John: Yeah, but I’ve not had any lessons or anything. I picked it up at university. I was in a band at uni but I was singing. These days I don’t play in front of people, I don’t like it.

HC:  There is music in the family? Lungi – what do you play?
Lungi: Nothing, but I did learn the piano when I was growing up.

HC:  No way? This is a family band in the making, you need to get back to that piano!
John: We’re not professional in any way!

More laughter….

HC:  Nandi, what is it about drumming that you like?
Nandi: I like the sound of it. I really like the sound when I do loud crashes. I don’t know how to explain it, I just like it. I like the beat and it sounds really cool. 

HC:  What do your friends at school think?
Nandi: They didn’t really get into it. But now I have a friend in year 2 and she’s said she’s having drumming lessons.

HC: Fantastic…you could be inspiring a nation.
John: She was actually invited into the school assembly to play the drums in front of everyone and I was fortunate enough to see it. The whole school went crazy.

HC: You’ve been playing for 4 years already, how often do you practice?
Nandi: Every day after school for an hour, well sometimes it’s an hour, sometimes half an hour or an hour and 25 minutes. 

HC: Do you have to be asked to practice?
Nandi: If I do my school work in the morning then I can practice after school, but I put myself on the drums.
John: We don’t have to tell her to practice.

HC: Have you started making up tracks?
John: Well, we jam. We’ve not recorded anything. Nandi will be drumming and I’ll pick up the guitar and we’ll just play. That’s how it all started on Instagram, I would record us jamming together and I noticed that I was getting a lot of likes and people were commenting on it. So I thought I’d create her own Insta account so I could track her progress and it’s kinda gone crazy.

HC: Everyone loves young talent and it’s encouraging to see. Nandi, what’s your favourite music to play?
Nandi: I like playing ‘The Pretender’ by Foo Fighters and I like singing and playing ‘Come Down’ Anderson Paak

How many 9-year-olds can say that?

HC: Let’s talk about the recent thing with Lenny Kravitz, what was that like?
Nandi: yeah, cool. I also went to the On Black Heath Festival. I met Questlove and he gave me some drum sticks and he signed my drum sticks.

HC: What other musician would you want to play with?
Nandi: Foo Fighters
HC:  Obviously, you’re not in a band right now, but do you have dreams to be in a band and tour the world?
Nandi: Yeah!

HC:  By the time you’re ten?
Nandi: Maybe 12

We all laugh again….yup she’s a funny kid.

HC: What’s your favourite subject at school? 
Nandi: PE, Maths & English

HC:  John, does she have her own style yet?
John: Yeah, I think so. She’s learning from lots and lots of different types of drummers and guitarists and she’s putting it all together in her own way for sure. Because she’s constantly learning her style is constantly evolving.

HC: Great, still enjoying learning and she obviously has good parents to keep her grounded. Are there any brothers or sisters?
Nandi: I have a little brother called Thomas 

Thomas is actually in the corner playing with a guitar…

HC:  wow – you really could have a family band!
John: They do play together. Thomas has just started to play the guitar, but they do have a jam.

HC:  Do you fancy playing another instrument?
Nandi: I am learning the guitar.
John: I’ve put her down for both the guitar and drums today.

HC:  I’ve seen you at the Adult Jam night, as well as this Junior Jam that Webby holds, any preferences to which one you prefer?
Nandi: I like playing at both.

HC:  You’ve been in the John Lewis advert, anything else?
Nandi: I’ve been on Newsround

HC:  Did you enjoy that? And would you like to do more?
Nandi: Yes. I would like to do more. When we come back off holiday Newsround are coming to our house.
John: They are going to do some filming for a documentary.

HC: How do you feel about all the attention?
Nandi: I like it a little bit but not too much.

HC: I’ve seen your YouTube Channel and it looks like you really enjoy it. What do you think when you get lots of views?
Nandi: Daddy looks after it.
John: She’s got over 32 thousand followers – but they are just numbers, they don’t mean too much. If it takes off and it’s something she wants then it’s there for her. If she doesn’t, then it doesn’t.

HC:  She’s so young, do you think there will be a time she’ll want to do something different in the next few years?
John: Yeah possibly. Who knows what’s going to happen, it could be tennis that she gets into, whatever. We encourage her to explore and do things she wants to do. We want her to be whatever she wants. If you want to do something, you just have to do it. I don’t have to ask her to practice, she loves it. 

HC:  Are there any particular challenges?
John: As she’s getting more advanced with the lessons she is getting more frustrated when it is difficult to learn something harder.

HC: Nandi, how does it make you feel when learning something difficult?
Nandi: makes me feel…mmmm…I don’t feel under pressure as Daddy says once you master it you’re going to love it. When I master it, I get a lot of views.

HC: You don’t give up?
Nandi: Sometimes it takes a really long time. One song took me 5 weeks!

HC: What other hobbies outside of music do you love?
Nandi: Running, long running, playing Minecraft – I play in a realm.

HC:  Tell us what your average day is like?
Nandi: Wake up, put school uniform on, breakfast, Kumon. Tuesdays is spelling and Kumon and breakfast. Afterschool is guitar practice and drum practice. Wednesday is guitar lessons with my brother, with Tom McCarthy. Saturday I have a drum lesson for one hour…..

Nandi reels off a huge list of things she gets done…

HC: is there enough hours in a day for all this?
Nandi: Yes, there are 24.

HC: Do you get nervous?
Nandi: No.

At which point the Junior Jam is getting into full flow and we sit back to watch the young guys do their thing. Nandi gets up for the drums, which is incredible to watch as she can barely reach the peddles. You can tell she’s enjoying it. Later in the jam she’s up there on the guitar doing a pretty good job. Even young Thomas gets on the act too!

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Nandi and her family a little bit more. They are devoted and lovely people and I respected the fact they both let Nandi talk and be herself during the quick interview, John was adding to the commentary rather than butting in, or he was kindly interpreting my adult questions into kids speak. Nandi is nine and just having fun with loving and grounded parents – I’m not sure she yet realises the talent she has, but as her father John says, as long as she is enjoying it. When you watch her YouTube channel, there is no question this bubbly young girl with a big personality is enjoying herself. She is a little superstar on the cusp of greatness.

Nandi Bushell

This interview first appeared on GrapevineLIVE.


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