Eleni Nota is a drummer who has a burning passion for making the most out of her music. Dabbling in genres such as metal, electronic, and hip-hop Nota is a renaissance woman of her craft. In this segment, I talked to Nota about her all-female band Nervosa, the music scene in Greece, how the pandemic affected her creativity, and much more.
JM: Before we dive into the creative force that you are, set the stage for those who don’t know you! Who are you? Where are you from? What is it you do?
EN: My name is Eleni Nota and I’m a drummer based in Athens, Greece. I mostly play metal music but I love experimenting with pop, electronic, hip-hop, trap, and basically all music genres.
JM: Wow, Greece!? That is so dope! How has Greece shaped your overall creative process?
EN: I think what has changed my creative process the most is moving to Athens. I grew up on an island so my upbringing was relatively quiet. I moved to Athens, which is the capital of Greece, at the age of 18 to study in a university, and saying that I had a cultural shock is an understatement. Athens has this huge urban and industrial character that I completely love. The street art, the theatres, the small underground gigs with local hardcore and electro bands, the comic book conventions. Everything has changed the way I view music and art in general. I also love the sound of the city. Even while I’m writing these words, I hear people outside my house hanging out at coffee shops, I hear car engines, people playing music. So I basically hear life happening 24/7. And I want to translate this 24/7 “noise” into music. That’s why I love experimenting with anything that produces sound. From my drums to my octapad, to basically every surface that I can hit to create sounds. If I wasn’t living in the most crowded, multi-cultural city of Greece, I definitely wouldn’t have developed this creative process and this view of art.
JM: A lot of notable artists and philosophers have come from Greece so it only makes sense that it is a hub of endless creative inspiration. Who are some notable musicians coming out of Greece you’d recommend to us?
EN: That’s a tough one. Even though Greece is a small country, it was a vast music scene. I would recommend Sofia Sarri, Mother of Millions, Murder That Sound, Oceandvst, Ayrenn, Villagers of Ioannina City, Above Us The Waves, and Manos J Kouris just to name a few.
JM: I’ll have to check these artists out! It’s impossible to not notice you’re in a legendary woman-led Metal band, Nervosa! How did you girls meet?
EN: Nervosa is an all-female metal band that was founded in Brazil with a currently multi-ethnic line-up. In April 2020 the singer/bassist and the drummer left the band and the only remaining member, guitarist Prika Amaral, started looking for new members. While she was looking for a drummer, she came across one of my drum covers on YouTube and she sent me an email to audition. This happened while we were on lockdown due to Covid-19 so my audition happened through a video call. Eventually, I got the job and now the band has a line-up with members from Brazil, Italy, Spain, and Greece. The funny thing is that, due to the long quarantine, we managed to meet each other in person many months later, just in time to record our album “Perpetual Chaos”.
JM: Sounds like one big happy family is you ask me – I love it. How would you describe the sound and vision for Nervosa for those interested in checking you out?
EN: Our sound is based on thrash, death, and black metal but with a more modern approach in the overall production. The main theme of our songs is injustice and the dark side of human nature. We speak of religious oppression, corrupt politicians, animal abuse, depression and suicidal thoughts, betrayal, and the aftermath of war. Apart from speaking our truth through our music, one of our main goals is to inspire women to pick up an instrument and follow their dreams. The metal music industry still remains male-dominated and women often face criticism and insults when they join bands and go on stage. We want to help change that by proving that four women can form a band, play thrash metal on big stages, and basically have a career equal to the ones of male metal musicians.
JM: I’m sure there’s plenty but can you recall a crazy moment that happened during one of your shows?
EN: I haven’t had the chance yet to play many shows with Nervosa unfortunately, because I joined the band right in the middle of the pandemic. We played our first five shows only a month ago. So, for now, I don’t have any crazy stage stories with the girls but I have an after-show funny experience. We did this show in Romania, and afterward, we were chilling at the bar of the hotel we were staying at. While being there, we were hearing loud noises and music coming from inside the hotel and many people, all of them well-dressed, were coming and going. Our bassist went to ask what kind of event is happening and a few minutes later she came back and she told us that it’s a baby’s baptism party and that they actually invited us! So we crashed the party, still wearing our stage clothes, and just started dancing randomly among strangers. We eventually became friends with everyone at that party and we stayed there dancing until the morning. The DJ even played Rammstein and System of a Down at some point to please us. It was a super cool aftershow random party!
JM: [Laughs] That is hilarious and so random! Glad to hear the DJ at least gave you something to dance to. How did you handle the pandemic in terms of your creative process? Do you find it inspired you more or less?
EN: In the beginning, I was feeling uninspired, to be honest. It was difficult to accept that I had to stay inside, without the opportunity to work and meet other musicians. But, as time went by, I started getting used to it. I eventually joined Nervosa, I worked on our new album and, after its release, there was so much work to do with its promotion and everything, that I was too busy to think of the outside world. I think Nervosa and our album, “Perpetual Chaos”, saved my mental health during the quarantine. Having a project to work on gave me purpose and made me feel like life hadn’t stopped. After we finished the album, I was inspired to keep creating music. I started recording drum ideas and experimenting with new music. I think that in 2020 and 2021 I’ve made more progress as a musician than in the previous 10 years altogether. And I think that this happened because I had the time and mental clarity to get out of my comfort zone and dive into new musical areas.
JM: Well I am glad to hear that you didn’t give up and kept pushing in the face of adversary. We need artists like you girls to keep breaking the boundaries. The pandemic really took a toll on creatives so kudos to you. Drums are an important aspect of any band or artist’s arsenal. What do you think makes the drums the heart of a song?
EN: Drums make people dance and I think this is what makes them the heart of the song. If you show a basic rhythm to a child, they will instantly understand it and start clapping according to the rhythm. It’s really impressive. This means that all humans have a sense of rhythm inside them. If a person with zero musical knowledge hears a drummer play, he will probably not understand the fills and every little cymbal, but he’ll be able to pick up the groove of the kick and the snare. And this will make him dance and feel the song to its core.
JM: Truer words have never been spoken. That’s an interestingly unique perspective. Regarding the artistry of drums, when did you know you wanted to be a drummer?
EN: I knew I wanted to be a drummer when I first listened to Slipknot at around the age of 10. I started playing drums at the age of 12 but, for a couple of years, I was really lazy, to be honest. I was too addicted to gaming when I was in school so I would rarely pick up my drumsticks back then. At the age of 16, I realized that I wanted to take drumming seriously. I had grown tired of sitting in front of a screen all day and I started playing music more and more. I also formed a band with some friends from school and playing gigs became my new addiction. After that, pursuing music as a career was like a one-way road for me.
JM: Ah yes, the lazy creative. I’m sure we can all attest to that. It’s hard to bring ideas to life sometimes with all of the distractions. You also teach drum lessons as well as being in a Metal band. What words do you have for anyone that is wanting to pick up an instrument for the first time?
EN: Always have a goal in mind. Learning an instrument is hard and, in the beginning, you have to practice stuff that seems boring and useless. But they’re never useless. For example, it’s frustrating to dream of playing Slipknot songs on the drums but instead of that, you’re practicing paradiddles on the snare drum at 50 BPM because your teacher says so. But the thing is that, in order to nail the blast beats and the crazy drum parts that all these famous drummers play, you have to master those paradiddles on the snare first. So, it’s important to always have a goal in mind. This goal may change all the time. If you’re a beginner drummer, it can be to reach the level to play one of your favorite songs. After you master that, your goal can be to join a band and play your first gigs. And then it can be to do your first recording and the list goes on… If you always have a goal in mind, you will feel that the effort to get there is worth it. Otherwise, it’s really easy to lose your drive and start thinking of quitting.
JM: Well I’m glad you listened to your teacher and stuck to it. Practice often seems monotonous but now look at you! What can we expect from you in your solo ventures moving forward in 2021 and beyond!
EN: I just started being active again on YouTube after a year-long break, so you can expect many drum videos. I have many drum covers scheduled but I also have some original material in the making. I’m also working as a session drummer with quite a few artists so you can expect a lot of new music that has my drumming contribution. And, in 2022, I have my first big tours with Nervosa and I’ll definitely release some behind-the-scenes action from these travels.
JM: I’m looking forward to it. Where can the people reach you to find out more about you?
EN: Feel free to hit me up on Instagram at @eleninotadrums! And, if you want to see some more drum action, you can check out my YouTube channel which is again Eleni Nota Drums. If you want to listen to my band, Nervosa, you can stream our music on all streaming platforms.
Thanks so much to Unify Collective for this cool chat. Your work is really inspiring. I can’t wait to see more!