I'm a session drummer with 25+ years of international recording experience, as well as a recording engineer. My studio setup rivals what you will find at a commercial facility. Many drummers are great players with basic recording capabilities. I can provide a professional performance AND a professional sound.
Hi! My name is Dennis and I've been playing drums for nearly 30 years. I've been playing professionally for over 25 years. First in my home-country of The Netherlands (bands such as Within Temptation, Epica), before moving to the USA in 2004. Since moving to the US, I've toured and recorded with artists such as Bumblefoot of Guns N' Roses, Lita Ford, Dilana and Ted Poley, as well as many of the industry's leading producers (partial list below).
Over the years I've had the privilege of, and built somewhat of a name for, working with some of the world's most celebrated virtuoso guitarists (Marcel Coenen, Bumblefoot, Mike Orlando, Milan Polak, Benjamin Lechuga) although in recent years I've really enjoyed recording "pocket" pop, rock and lots of country!
I've been a recording engineer as long as I've been a drummer. From 2006 on, I've had a fully equipped multi-track studio (first in NYC, now in LA) and I've been recording drums for people all over the world.
What sets me apart from other drummers who record "at home" is the fact that I have a setup that rivals what you'd find at a commercial facility. High-end mics, preamps and outboard EQ's really do make a massive difference in achieving that pro drum sound for your music. Drums are the single hardest instrument to record, and I have nearly 30 years experience doing it!
Send me an email through 'Contact' button above and I'll get back to you asap.
- Lita ford
- Ted Poley
- Shane Gibson
- Mike Orlando
- Angus Clark
- Tiffany Giardina
- Anneke van Giersbergen
- Milan Polak
- Tony Franklin
- Within Temptation
- The Saturnine
- Chris Poland
- FUSE TV
- PJ Bianco
- Ken Caillat (Fleetwood Mac)
- Mikal Blue - Producer (Songwriter/Vocalist/Guitarist)
- Nicholas Sansano
- Easy Mo B
- Zakk Wylde
- Neil Murray (Ex Whitesnake)
- PJ Farley
- Victor Broden
- Mitch Perry
2 ReviewsEndorse Dennis Leeflang
Looking for a great session drummer who delivers the groove AND sounds? Look no further. I have worked with some of the best drummers in the world. I always come back to Dennis...
Amazing drummer! For live sessions and studio recordings, Dennis is the man. Great feel, incredible sound. He is a perfectionist and a very easy person to work with. I would highly recommend him!
Interview with Dennis Leeflang
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I just recorded the drums for Milan Polak's new album, which features some big-name guest musicians. I'm working with a band from China, one from Australia and also artists from Chile and New York. Album projects often go at a song by song pace so I am currently working on several albums at the same time.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: 1. What is your rate? 2. When can you record? 3. Can you replicate the sound of this song? Answers: 1. Depends on the song, the genre and the length of the song. Generally between $150 and $250 per song. 2. Often within a few days. 3. I can usually get very close to any requested sound, unless a very specific space or equipment was used. Even then, a lot can be recreated in the computer and I've successfully replicated some very classic drum sounds over the years!
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That a rate or price reflects purely the time a musician puts into the recording. It also reflects the investment in their equipment, years of studying and learning to master the instrument, and engineering skills.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Don't listen with your eyes or your wallet. Be sure to work with true professionals so that every dime you spend is 100% effective and worth it. It makes me sad seeing so many people focusing on rates, only to have to hire a real pro after first wasting money on a semi-pro when they realize the tracks are not up to par.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I started playing drums in a marching band when I was 9 years old. I got my first drum kit when I was 13. I've been playing the drum kit 27 years now. I got my first 16-channel mixer and set of mics when I was 16 and have been recording my drums and my bands since. Since about 1998 I have been touring and recording with artists all over the world. Some of the bigger names I toured with are Lita Ford, Bumblefoot (of Guns N' Roses), and Dilana. I've recorded with hundreds of producers and artists, including PJ Bianco (Jonas Brothers), Nick Sansano (Sonic Youth, Galactic) Mikal Blue (Colbie Caillat, Jason Mraz) and Ken Caillat (Fleetwood Mac). In 2006 I set up my first dedicated recording studio in NYC, from where I started tracking drums for people almost full-time when not on the road. Now, in Los Angeles, my studio is at a 100% professional level and I am still recording tracks for people daily.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: After discussing the client's needs and having heard a demo, I will request the files needed for my session. I prefer stems of bass, guitar, other melodic instruments and vocals, so that I am able to make my own monitor balance while recording. I'll request the necessary information regarding bit rate, sample and tempo, and set up my session on my computer. I will then set up the drums, cymbals, microphones and preamps that I think will work best for the song and dial in the sounds. Next, I'll chart the song and do a first pass. I'll then tweak the sounds until everything sounds perfect for the song. Once I'm comfortable with how everything sounds, I'll do a full pass of the song and then check again if everything sounds right, sonically as well as the performance. I may then punch in phrases or sections that I feel could be improved and make sure those punches are seamless. When all sounds good to me, I will bounce a high quality mp3 and email this to the client. From there, the client will either approve the take and sounds, or offer some suggestions. If changes are requested, I will go back and adjust either the sounds, punch in a section or do a new performance. Once the client is happy, I will bounce the tracks and upload them. Optionally, I can also supply pre-mixed stems that will be easier to work with if the client has little to no experience mixing individual drum tracks. However, any pro mix engineer will be able to work with my raw tracks like any tracks recorded at a commercial facility. I pride myself in the fact that I am an engineer as much as a drummer. All tracks run through high-end preamps and outboard gear, just like at a big studio. I shape the sounds with outboard gear on the way in, taking it halfway to a mixed, finished sound. This leaves options open for the mix engineer, but the tracks will sound close to mixed when loaded up and given a basic fader and panning balance.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: The three Bumblefoot albums I play on, which I also co-engineered. Also the singles for "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Strawberry Fields" which were covers we did for fun but came out incredible. I just love working with Bumblefoot. I also did an EP for a project called Truth Table a few years ago which came out great. Tiffany Giardina's album "No Average Angel" is a highlight. I share the drum duties on that one with the amazing Nir Z.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Milan Polak, Benjamin Lechuga. Both are fantastic guitar players, arrangers, producers and all-around great guys to work with.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both! Analog preamps and outboard gear as much as possible before AD conversion, but recording into the computer for sure. Tape sound fantastic, but is not realistic for a remote session.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I'm not done until you're 100% happy.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Being creative, working with people, making people excited and happy with my tracks.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Do you have a sound in mind? Do you have a vibe and feel in mind? Is the drum part written out or am I free to come up with one? Are you looking for a minimal setup or a very detailed setup with up to 16 mics? Are you mixing the tracks yourself or are you hiring a mixing engineer?
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Snare drum, bass drum, laptop, interface, microphone.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Honest, creative, dynamic, precise, soulful, intuitive.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: John Mayer! What a feast it would be to groove along with someone who plays with that much feel and writes such amazing songs.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: You get what you pay for is almost always true. A lot of drummers have a home studio with a basic interface with neutral preamps and cheap mics. Their investment was extremely low, and their overhead may be as well. This way they are able to keep their rates very low. A lot of them are killer players, but the quality of the tracks reflects their rate and setup. Always work with an experienced pro who's using high-end equipment and has references as to his/her engineering skills. Properly engineered tracks will take your final product to that professional level. Having said that, musicians with the proper experience, equipment and playing capabilities don't have to be expensive! I certainly am not :)
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Pop, country, rock, singer-songwriter, alternative, hard rock.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Apart from being a session drummer with 25 years experience, I am also a recording engineer with the same number of years experience under my belt. This ensures the client will have tracks that are of the same quality as tracks recorded at a big studio.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Life, soul, identity! Just like any other instrument played by a human being, my drum tracks will impart a sonic fingerprint on your song. Organic drum track have their own identity and vibe, as opposed to most programmed drums. Similarly, the feel of a real drummer is more natural and organic, and the emotion, dynamics and message of a song can be perfectly translated through a musical performance by a professional musician.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: == Microphones: AEA R84 (2x) AKG C414-XLS (2x) AKG D112 (80’s/90’s) (2x) Beyerdynamic M88N(C) (vintage) Heil PR20 Sennheiser e604 (3x) Sennheiser MD421-U5 Sennheiser MD421-II (2x) Sennheiser K6 w/ME64 Shure Beta 52A (2x) Shure Beta 57 Shure BG 4.1 (2x) Shure SM57 (2x) Shure SM81 (2x) Slate Digital ML-2 Warm Audio WA-47jr Sub woofer (8″ speaker cone wired up as a microphone) Various cheap mics for lo-fi effects ==Preamps / Outboard: BAE 1073MPL (2x) BAE 312A (3x) CAPI VP25 (3x) CAPI VP26 Universal Audio Apollo 8 Quad (4x Unison preamp) Focusrite Octopre MkII CAPI BT50 (API 550) equalizer CAPI LC25 equalizer Audioscape Audio 76A (1176 Rev A) DBX 160XT compressor (1990’s) (2x) Ashly SC-50 compressor (blue face, circa 1980) Aphex 204 Exciter/Big Bottom ==AD/DA Conversion: Universal Audio Apollo 8 MkII Quad Apogee AD-16X ==Computers / DSP: 2019 27″ Apple iMac i5, 3.1Ghz, 32GB RAM, SSD 2008 21.5″ Apple iMac i5 Universal Audio UAD-2 Quad Satellite ==DAW Steinberg Cubase Pro 10.5 (tracks fully compatible with all other DAWs) Avid Pro Tools ==File Management / Storage: OWC Drive Dock Western Digital WD Blue SSD (recording) Western Digital WD Blue HDD (backups) Western Digital WD Black HDD (archives) ==Monitoring / Control: Steinberg CMC TP Transport Controller (2x) Presonus Central Station w/remote KRK V6 series 1 (pair, late 90’s, made by Focal) Yamaha HS7 (pair) KRK 10S Subwoofer Mackie VLZ1402 mixer Presonus HP4 AKG K240 Beyer-Dynamic DT-770 Pro 80 Ohm Beyer-Dynamic DT-770 Pro 250 Ohm Sennheiser HD280 ==MIDI controllers / Piano Akai LPK25 midi controller Yamaha NP-30 Portable Grand ==Plug-Ins: UAD Unison preamps: Neve Preamp, Neve 1073, SSL 4000, API Vision Channel, UA 610 UAD Compression / EQ / Reverb: Emperical Labs Distressor, DBX 160VU, Fairchild, 1176, Pultec, Pure Plate reverb, etc. Slate Digital All Access Pass Soundtoys: DevilLoc, Little Alterboy, Little Radiator, etc. Misc Waves plugins (mostly using API 550/560) … and many more (Plugin Alliance, Brainworx, Pulsar, etc. etc.) ==Misc Software: Steinberg Wavelab 10 Synchronize! Pro X ==Guitar gear: Fender American Performer Stratocaster HSS Yamaha BB434 bass guitar Yamaha FG830 dreadnought acoustic guitar Yamaha Eterna EF-18 dreadnought acoustic guitar Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV Radial JCR Reamp box Various overdrive, distortion and effects pedals ==Misc: All cabling by Redco Quad core microphone cables (Canare L-4E6S + Neutrik XX series) Redco & Mogami line signal cabling and patch cables All Neutrik XLR connectors and Amphenol TRS connectors
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Steve Jordan, Josh Freese, Kenny Aronoff, JR Robinson, Bob Clearmountain and so many others! I'm all about a great performance AND a great production.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Most of my clients contact me because they have a song that needs real/acoustic drums added to it. I record real drums through a professional recording setup, and make it sound like it was tracked live with a band. Whether the tracks I record to are just demo tracks or keeper tracks, making it feel like we were together in the room is the ultimate goal.