Gabrielle Watson, the sonic sorceress known as A Hundred Drums, has continually made her mark on the music industry with strength and grace. The California grown, Denver-based multi-instrumentalist and bass producer infuses her classical training in percussion and various other instruments with her love for dubstep, reggae, and psytrance to create an unparalleled, organic, and soul-centering sound that not only excites, but soothes the senses.
Watson recognized her love for music at an early age, learning to play multiple instruments such as the saxophone, clarinet, and flute starting in the 2nd grade, but finding her center with the drums. “At 14, I sat at a drum kit for the first time and was like ‘this is the one,”’ said Watson. “I spent more time playing the hand drums because I couldn’t always have a drum kit. So, in all my music I play all the drums and percussion like shakers and bells and all things like that.”
Inspired by electronic music and festival culture, Watson began learning how to produce in unconventionally exciting ways, incorporating her musical skill-sets and hand drumming each beat, bell, and whistle to create a rhythmic collective that aligns the heart beats of all those listening. Therefore, the name “A Hundred Drums” is not only representative of Watson’s instrumental choices, but signifies how each individual heart beat synchronizes to the rhythm of the drums to create a grand, unifying beat connecting us all to one another.
In 2014, Watson and a few friends began to throw underground dubstep shows in Hollywood to supplement the lack of a distinctive bass scene and founded their own event and production company, B-Side, to bring more of what they love to her former home of Los Angeles. “We honestly started it for extremely selfish reasons,” Watson said. “We were like ‘If you guys wanna join you can, but we’re doing this for us. And it worked out for 6 years.” Watson continues to run and operate the company alongside co-founder Murad Rezian, in addition to her music and full-time job as a client success manager.
Her sedulity and tenacity has commended her performances at festivals like Tribal Gathering, Coachella, and Sonic Bloom, as well as high-profile bass events such as Bassnectar’s Deja Voom and Freestyle Sessions which were unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic. Though she’s quickly climbing the ladder of success, A Hundred Drums has proved through countless years of hustling and perseverance that she deserves a seat at the playing table, and that she’s not only a master of the game, but has reinvented a whole new one of her own.
Watson has built a strong fanbase and earned the respect of her male counterparts that dominate the industry, yet it’s clear that A Hundred Drums is something that no one has ever seen or heard before.
“I do feel like a lot of times energetically it’s a little weird,” Watson shared. “ A lot of times when I’m booked for shows I’m probably one of the only females, but also the only person of color- and so that’s been a really interesting thing for me because it’s ‘oh I’m not only female, but I’m also brown.” Watson is half-African and half-Cuban.
Watson shared a particularly challenging event in her life where she was blacklisted by another producer who she had been dating when their relationship ended. Watson’s ex-boyfriend sought to publicly humiliate her and sabotage her music career by writing slandering Facebook posts and urging other producers to never work with her again. As a result, she received hate mail, messages from people all over the world saying that they seen or heard about the posts, and couldn’t even go to her local underground bass scene without being ignored, people gossipping, or moving away from her.
“He definitely destroyed me and I thought A Hundred Drums was dead.”
Discouraged and fearful that the entire world had seen the posts, Watson stopped making music and removed herself from the scene. Her story was discovered by Amplify Her— a documentary series focused on empowering women in the music industry– and was made into a graphic novel. “It was a really cool project and because of them they were the first people to ever help me find my voice in all of this and support me and share my story. And since then I’ve started to build myself back up again, and here I am today!”
Now, Watson is dedicated to being and enabling force for women and serves on the board of Shakti Sound, an all-female ran organization that organizes educational retreats for women in music, teaching music production, DJing, and everything in between– marketing, strategy, troubleshooting, breath and ceremonial work, and how to stay connected to oneself and spirit while working on music. In Hindu tradition, “Shakti” means “power,” and represents a divine, cosmic feminine energy that moves throughout the universe.
“We feel that empowering women and providing all these resources really helps with women to feel a lot more comfortable and supported during their musical journey.”
Watson currently resides in the musically rich city of Denver, Colorado where she enjoys taking her dog to the park in the time where she isn’t working or making music. Her self-titled, debut album was released earlier this year through Gravitas Recordings, followed by her recent single called “19,” a thrilling yet suspenseful product of the pandemic that further showcases her ability to rouse beauty out of the unfortunate.
In celebration of her upcoming birthday, A Hundred Drums is partnering with talented visualizer, Mezmer, for a live visual and audio performance on May 30th via lostinsound.live where she will be playing several new originals that won’t be released until after the show.