Hello all -- Michael Markus here --
I am happy to say this is my first post on Djembefola! Yiiipppiieee! I do read threads, and talk with folks about, but have up until now not actually posted myself.
So, Hello everyone!
I am writing at Kosa drum festival in Vermont, with M’Bemba, giving clinics and performances, its been a great time. We are standing in the back of a dark auditorium watching and listening to Mike Clark give a master class about drum set styles and history of where different styles come from. Who’s Mike Clark? One Bad dude that’s who! Look him up if you’re into drumset (http://www.mikeclarkmusic.com/home.html
), he used to play with Herbie Hanckcock and like 10 million other established accomplished musicians. Funk, Jazz, Blues, he’s hit with the best of them!
Although in the middle of a conference I am compelled to write about the recent additions to this thread I read on Djembefola.
I like Djembefola and am amazed by how much it has brought people together and help connect the djembe community! A goal not easy to do, and James and the crew have done a great job with this!!! Congratulations!
Anyway, I thought to address some of the posts here.
Wula doesn’t share information about specific orders and email correspondence without permission from the customers, though I can say that with any problems with our orders – heads popping, rings breaking, anything – as well as delays, we always offer the customer the option of selecting another drum or a full refund. We very rarely have either of these options, I think because people choose the drum themselves and want to stick with the piece that speaks to them.
I am not excusing the fact that sometimes without warning, we experience delays with drum building, alas small business is tough sometimes, and that Galen is over optimistic about time frames. Galen is our shop manager and repairman, he is optimistic. He is an incredibly positive soul and even when things get very stressful and difficult, he vows to himself to stay positive. I don’t know how he does it. Many times he has saved me, telling me to go play my drum, or teach a class and reminding me of why we do this in the first pace. [Mike Clark is shredding now….]
Side Note: We are a small company and always try to offer people something to make up for any bumps along the way. We have an incredible crew of folks in Guinea, and in NY it is just a few of us (not including our roster of performing/teaching artist). We are completely overworked and understaffed. Why? Because of our vision we constantly evaluate the now, and what we want to see happen in the future. Wula Drum is not a djembe store. We believe in the synergy of the entire experience of Guinea music and dance. We offer classes, trip to Africa, school shows, performances, classes educational projects, and more. We do not just sell and fix drums. We make drums in Guinea, with our team of carvers and to our specs. We are not just buying and then selling drums. This means we are both manufactures and sellers. We love our vision, but the management of having everything under one roof is a challenge to say the least. We can’t see it any other way but to offer all these things and it can leave Galen and I with our hands in several projects at once. Again, not excusing it, just trying to offer understanding of who we are.
Back to the fact that we offer options to our customers, replacements, refund etc -- I feel that had this been known we wouldn’t have to read ignorant comments from people telling Tom to reach into his pocket and pull out $ etc. That is ridiculous and with bad taste on so many levels. I know it was possibly meant in jest, but this makes me feel like I’m reading a yelp page, which Djembefola is not supposed to be.
And for Rachel to write the following…
“I can rehead a drum in a couple of hours. Within a week, I can pull it. There is absolutely no reason this should have taken months.’
This, added to the dvd fiasco really suggests that there are some systemic problems that need to be addressed.
I hope that things get straightened out soon.”
These kinds of statements are blind statements and don’t really help anyone or anything. Yes, people can fix a drum in a couple hours, then pull in a week etc. But that is in lieu of doing anything else. Do you know how much other work Galen has done in that time? (again referring to the statement that he thought he could get it all done---optimism and strong work ethic and dedication). And to lump in the DVD problem as if they are all coming from the same source is a big assumption.
There is or was no DVD fiasco. There is the fact that the post production and the ability for us to go to duplication took WAY, WAY longer than expected. Some folks paid $30 in advance for a copy of vol 2 which was way way way late in getting out.
I happily offered EVERYONE a refund on their pre-order. As Michi mentioned I checked in with e-mails periodically, and to be honest, even when people were frustrated, and emailed me, (privately and not on Yelp), I would explain.
With that, I would add that not one person wanted a refund. Yes, some were frustrated waiting for the dvd but no one asked for money back. And the majority emailed me back with support and encouragement.
I don’t blame people for their frustration, man, my frustration is 10X.
Wula is going through growing pains. When we expanded it comes with management issues that are time related, not task related.
Last night M’bemba and I were watching the DVD as we were still up hangin’ and jazzed from drumming. Man, to see Laurent and Mbemba plan, Famaro on the balaphone- I think it came out well.
Could it be better, yes, could it have been on time, yes. This is my first DVD which I produced. There was a serious learning curve. I did not have it filmed, recorded, mixed, mastered, edited, authored, color corrected, artwork designed, replicated, and put online- all in one place. Each of those steps were with a different company, or person. The person who edited it was not the person who authored it. The author, a professional, is also in the national reserve. Well he was called away on a short tour after Vol. 1 was finished, so I had to wait. The color corrector ran a few passes for me in exchange for drums as he is a cool cool guy. There is no way we could afford his services at $120 per hour otherwise. He did one pass, then I picked it up and had tobring back to editor and she wasn’t happy with it and it then had to go back to color guy, and he was out of town. Is the color coding up to the level of the projects he does (such as Aerosmiths’ live concert, Rolling Stones Movie, Paul Mcartney projects). No- he did 2 passes, and I had to wait for him to do this. And it goes on……
But guess what folks--- that DVD is pretty nice I think. We recorded it separately from the film, and that added a lot of work. Im so tired of all the wack low quality DVDs, so that’s how I went about it. YUP, VOL 2 is done, and in hand. We shipped all of the pre-ordered DVDs out.
I hope people can please note that I am not excusing the lateness of the DVD. I am stating that I am disappointed how people state partial facts, and also some assume negativity instead and easily take a role of blaming.
I am always surprised about how people ask questions to a forum about things which are about us and best answered by us. For example, I see posts such as:
"What is the difference between Wula’s drum A, and Wula’s drum B?" Why doesn’t the person ask Wula the information about Wula? I’m not talking about comparing companies, or general info that could be acquired about the world of djembe, I’m talking about specific things about our company. This is our company and we started this company because we want to see the quality of djembe and information about it grow. I always find this strange.
--------Well- back again about 10 hours later…I had to stop and come back as we had to teach and perform. ------
I just had the most amazing experience. Mike Clark (my new hero----I’m telling you look him up), well we were hanging out and he started talking about his album and who he is recording with etc. and he mentions the name-------THE SAME PERSON I RECORDED THE MAGBANA CD WITH! It was hilarious as the guy who recorded us (8 years apart) was always hours and hours late to his studio. It was grueling. The guy is such a character though and he got a great great sound. He always was all heart- really put all his effort into it. I remember showing up to his studio and waiting for like 2-3 hours and fuming! Then he’d show up, and we’d get to work, and hed end up doing soething really great, then taking me out for dinner and we’d have lots of creative insight blah blah blah. Small world, cuz Mike was saying the exact same thing about him. That is how he is.
ALSO- I want everyone to know this:
We have just hired a full time repairman. In light of this thread? NO. This has been in the works for a long long time. Believe me, before Galen, I used to have 5 people fixing drums, but the work wasn’t up to par, they would flake out. I personally know more than a dozen people in NYC who fix drums. But do they do consistent clean work? No. Can they dedicate full or even solid part time to it? NO, because people don’t see the value in it to pay enough to make it a decent full time job for someone. Fixing lots of drums is a lot work. Part of the problem too is that when there are a lot of cheap djembes, people have a hard time justifying the labor to fix them. I know people who have their teaching programs cancelled due to the fact that the cheap school drums break and the principal can’t afford to pay for them to be fixed, so they just throw them out in the trash and cancel the program.
So, I can now happily announce that our intern Vladimir will be moving into a full time position fixing drums. If you are in our area, please drop by and say hello to him.
And if you made it this far -- thanks for reading my first djembefola post. It will most likely be a while for the next one -- but please know that we do feel bad about the dvd delay. And we will continue to make changes so that we can better reach our customers.