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U.Va.’s viral student drummer talks internet stardom

First-year student Elena Heraldo has gained a massive social media following posting videos of her drum covers

<p>As a prospective Chemistry or Biology major, Heraldo faces the task of managing a full course load, a viral social media account and two thriving bands simultaneously.</p>

As a prospective Chemistry or Biology major, Heraldo faces the task of managing a full course load, a viral social media account and two thriving bands simultaneously.

Hailing from Richmond, Elena Heraldo — drummer and first-year College student — has earned the status of internet microcelebrity after amassing over 867,000 followers posting drum covers of popular songs on social media. As one of the few female drummers visibly thriving in an artform often dominated by men, she serves as inspiration for young female drummers looking for role-models online.

The nineteen-year-old music prodigy started playing the drums in the fifth grade, crediting her “musical family” as the main inspiration to pursue musical interests. With a saxophone player as a father and a DJ as a grandfather, music was certainly in her blood. But it was not until the beginning of 2021 — amidst the COVID-19 pandemic — that Heraldo decided she wanted to put out some clips of her drumming online.

“I wanted to do something a little bit productive with my drumming skills,” Heraldo said. “I wanted to put myself out there because I was inspired by looking on social media and seeing other people’s accounts of their progress for drumming.” 

She set up in her basement with her drumset and began to record and post videos of herself playing along to popular rock, alternative and indie songs. Her covers span from My Chemical Romance and Pierce the Veil to The Strokes and TV Girl. 

Since creating her viral TikTok account, Heraldo has amassed 22.4 million likes across all of her videos, with some racking up over 7 million views each. Her following on social media has also crossed over to other platforms, with over 464,000 followers on Instagram. On each and every video, Heraldo receives hundreds of comments — most of which are incredibly complimentary. 

“This makes me want to get my old set and brush off the dust…” one user commented on Heraldo’s viral cover of “A Match into Water” by Pierce the Veil.

Heraldo said that these positive comments fuel her passion. 

“I see comments of other people or other girls like me saying ‘this inspired me to play the drums,’” Heraldo said. “Those make me feel the most proud.”

Though her internet fame seemingly knows no bounds and her following is growing each and every day, Heraldo’s musical influence is not limited just to social media. Heraldo has also found her place among the University music scene as the drummer of No Composure — a band started by students who met living near each other who have a shared passion for music. Made up of four first-years and one second-year, the newly formed band has already played multiple gigs this semester, including one as a featured performer at the most recent Indieheads show. 

Heraldo has also recently joined Current Attitude, a band composed of musicians who met through a University Records group chat. Though they have yet to play a gig, they rehearse by playing mainly indie and alternative rock music.

Somehow, though, Heraldo seamlessly balances the social media fame with the newfound pressure of being a full-time student. As a prospective Chemistry or Biology major, Heraldo faces the task of managing a full course load, a viral social media account and two thriving bands simultaneously. Heraldo said that planning ahead is essential to making sure she doesn’t run out of content to post during the semester.

“When I’m [on Grounds], I definitely prioritize my schoolwork,” Heraldo said. “When I go home, I’ll record a bunch of covers so I’ll be able to post them when I’m [at the University.]”

Though she intends to pursue a career in medicine after college, Heraldo said she has no intention of giving up drumming as a hobby. 

“I definitely want to keep playing drums,” Heraldo said. “I think it’s really fun to do as a side hustle.”

If students from the University are scrolling on TikTok and see an amazing drummer playing in front of a green wall, they should know that she might just be sitting in the next seat over in BIOL 2100.

Elena Heraldo — drummer extraordinaire — is continuing her rise to stardom online, and it does not seem like she will be slowing down any time soon. As she continues to break into the University music scene, keep up with her instagram @elena.drums to stay in the know on No Composure’s next show and see her live.

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