Cyndi Tan ~ Music Bio

  • Founder CCT Drum School/ Music Therapy Program for Survivors of Human Trafficking in Cambodia 2014
  • Career highlights – gigs with: Ricky Martin, Seal, Joel Madden & Delta Goodrem on The Voice; The Roots; OKA; The Tapdogs
  • Bachelor of Contemporary Music, Southern Cross University, NSW, Aust; Summer School at Berklee Percussion, Boston; Private studies in Brazil, Cuba, New York

Rich with multi-ethnicity, Australia in the early 90’s provided a palate of world music from which Cyndi was inspired and educated through her novice years.

When asked to dance for “Sambole African Dance Troupe” she replied, “I want to drum for your dance classes, rehearsals, anything… Just let me play!” From this start, she was recruited into her first band, Bad Girls Batucada (Samba Percussion and Vocal Ensemble).

In ‘94, Cyndi joined Acid-Jazz line up, “Sons of Invention” (Produced by Pete Hemsley from Ute). She began building her name, and sessioned in hip-hop, funk, African, and Latin bands, whilst expanding into playing for physical theatre, circus, and dance ensembles.

Whilst on tour at Adelaide Fringe Festival in 1997, Cyndi met Eguie Castrillo who was on tour with Arturo Sandoval. Exposure to this level of Latin-jazz, and Eguie’s musicianship on percussion was a turning point in her playing. Eguie gave Cyn her first lesson in Cuban technique, and advised her to study percussion at Berklee.

The following year, Cyndi commenced studies in a Bachelor of Music Composition at Southern Cross University. Australia would only offer classical percussion studies, which led Cyndi to explore her passion for song-writing and studio production. To make money as a student, Cyn busked on the street, and taught African Drum / Dance Classes. She also tapped into the unlimited resource of students who wanted to experience something new, and started the World Music Choir (Singing, chanting and body percussion from folkloric Indigenous Cultures).

After her studies, Cyndi developed “World Music Choir”, and taught through Community College, Primary and Secondary Schools. She toured as a solo vocalist/ percussionist, taught choir and led community performances at festivals. Her work as a teacher opened the door for a further 6 years of professional experience as facilitator for corporate team building, with master African drummers and dancers of events up to 1100 pax.

In 2005 Cyndi travelled outside Australia for the first time to go to Carnivale in Bahia, Brazil. She played for local salsa bands and dance classes at the Pellourinho School of Dance. She studied on the street, with teachers from small kids to old men, shop owners to musicians from her favorite bands. From Brazil she travelled to Cuba, where she studied with Pellito El Afrokan.

When Cyndi retuned to Australia, she played for 3 years with Afro-Latin Jazz outfit “Matanza”, where she was able to expand her passion for playing everything she’d learned on her travels. Concurrently, she began a 5-year journey playing with Latin Sound System, LaFiesta.

Twelve years had passed since Cyndi had met Eguie Castrillo, who had stayed in contact with Cyndi as a friend and mentor. She attended Berklee Summer School in 2009 to study with Eguie, and then went on to study with Papillon Alvarez in New York. The highlight of her time in New York was the opportunity to play with the “Legendary Roots Crew”, and exposure to the music scene in the city that never sleeps.

Cyndi returned in Australia in 2011 to focus on recording her first album, “Cyndi and the Drums”, which she sold to raise money for “Drums in Cambodia”. In 2014 Cyndi travelled to Battambang, Cambodia to start a Drumming School and Music Therapy Program for orphans and slum kids.

After “Drums in Cambodia”, Cyndi went back into her writing bubble, to channel all of the inspiration and emotion unleashed during her time teaching the kids at CCT. She re-formulated  her sound, moving away from the synthesised electro-pop of her first album, to return to her roots. Drawing from her true passion – afro-latin percussion, Cyndi put together a new band with all new songs, more drums, more percussion, bass and guitar.

She returned to Cuba in 2017 to study Cuban Folkloric bata drums and rumba with masters in La Habana, including Lucumi, Maximino and Yasniel Alfonso Abreu.

Cyndi is passionately dedicated to the ongoing commitment of fund-raising for the drumming school, and continues to perform solo shows to sing and talk about human trafficking, creating success platforms in developing countries, and breaking the cycle of poverty.

Cyndi has recently returned from a year of percussion study in Cuba, with a plan to record her second album.