Interview with Tom Zé Bortoloto

Orion Cymbals: What is your relationship with music? How has it started?
Tom Zé: It all started in 1993. At that time, I had no direct contact with music, I only listened to rock’n’roll. Drums have caught my sight and I wanted to learn how to ‘drive’ all that. On the same year, I enrolled myself in a music school. Two years later, I found the symphonic percussion and the popular percussion. Then, I started to dedicate myself exclusively to these three lines of study, many hours a day. I got my Degree in drumming and then I went on for a Teaching degree. I went on to do two post-graduation courses in didactics, as well as many other courses in the three action areas.

Orion Cymbals: How did you find out about Orion?

Tom Zé: Well, I was in a store and I saw a 16′ China Type. I tried it out and liked its sound. After that, I purchased other Orion plates, because I identified myself with the sounds I was looking for, and noticed the constant sound evolution happening to them. I started to closely monitor the national plate market and every time I am surprised with the boldness and perspicacity of Orion Cymbals.

Orion Cymbals: You had a very close relationship with Mr. Michel Bex, Orion founder. How was this relationship?
Tom Zé: I was raised in the city of Jacutinga, in the state of Minas Gerais. I had never imagined that Mr. Michel Bex would be the owner of Orion Cymbals and that he was married with a woman from my homeland, Miriam Matile, and that he had been a friend of my mother at school. I know all of the members of that family. I met Mr. Michel on an event called “Cultural Week” (Semana Cultural) in Jacutinga, on 1999. He saw me using an Orion there, that 16′ China. He asked me about the plate, the company, etc. Then he told me: “I make them”. I swallowed hard and started to ask him many things. He patiently answered all of them and invited me to visit Orion facilities, still in Bom Retiro. On this visit, I got a 17′ Paper Thin Crash that I still use. After this, I bought several other Orion plates and currently I have all of them, from the oldest to the most current ones. I always met Mr. Michel at Expo Music, on the visits to Orion with students and I always talked to him about his relatives from Jacutinga. I remember receiving the news of his death on an August Sunday, Father’s day in Brazil. My partnership with Orion was sealed in 2008 and continues nowadays with a lot of satisfaction and reciprocity.

Orion Cymbals: How do you see the growth of the company in recent years? Tom Zé: Thrilling. I could stop here, but I can’t. I have always heard from people connected to Orion Cymbals, that the company was the apple of Mr. Michel’s eyes. I conclude that when we invest in what we love and with people who embrace the same idea, everything flows easily and permanently, with the same purpose. This is how I see Orion from the beginning, always with a purpose and a plan.

Orion Cymbals: How do you plan your musical life in the next years?
Tom Zé: I can easily say that I had never stopped sowing good things and being a good music professional. Nowadays I live in Poços de Caldas, where I am a professor at the Municipal Conservatory and Percussion Leader in the Orchestra and Symphonic Band. I also teach Symphonic Percussion at the Tatuí Conservatory – São José do Rio Pardo Campus. I only play and record the styles I like and with people who make me feel good. I actually plan to keep these accomplishments. Whatever happens are only fruit of good seeds. I can now decide on taking something on or dropping it. No ostentation. I think I wouldn’t like to be known by many people, but to be well-known by all of those who know me. I have my own studio and feel bad when I do not study music, play drums, timpani, vibraphone, congas…
The most convenient answer to this question would be: I plan to continue being happy through music and near my family.

Orion Cymbals: What is a message you would like to leave for those who are starting to play the drums?
Tom Zé: Study with competent professors. Nowadays there is a lot of access to study and videos on the Internet, but there is nothing quite like the weekly guidance of a qualified professor and daily studies. Each student has a profile and a good professor identifies that and works together with each student. Music is the art of arts. Music students are one thing; self-taught musicians are other; music genius is yet something different. We should not think that we will all equal the great music geniuses, they are very rare. Therefore: concentration, dedication, discipline, studies and drumsticks at hand. No difficulty can resist study, remember that. A big hug.