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St. Albert drummer thrilled with playing Juno Awards

Riley Chernoff, drummer for Indo-Canadian rapper AP Dhillon, gets to show off his chops during the Punjabi superstar's Juno Award performance
Former Bellerose High grad Riley Chernoff is tapped to play at the Juno Awards on Monday, March 13 as Punjabi superstar AP Dhillon's drummer.

It’s been quite a journey for drummer Riley Chernoff, who honed his drumming skills in St. Albert before heading out to England, India and across North America. Chernoff is capping this segment of his career drumming for rapper AP Dhillon at the 2023 Juno Awards, Canada’s most prominent musical honour. 

“It doesn’t feel real. It’s a historic night, and I’m lucky to play this early in my career. I’m super honoured to be in the company of great Canadian artists and I’m super grateful. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get here,” said Chernoff. 

Dhillon, an acclaimed singer-songwriter, rapper and record producer broke onto the 2019 music scene with a single titled Fake featuring G Minxr. Since then, he has recorded multiple hits and seduced fans across the world. 

In October 2022, Chernoff was part of Dhillon’s Out of This World Tour performing across Canadian and major American stadiums. In addition, the band just returned to Canada after playing Lollapalooza India in Mumbai at the 60,000 seat Mahalakshmi Race Course.  

“You can see it from space and looking out at the crowd was like looking into a sea,” Chernoff said. 

His adventures in drumming began as a 10-year-old after asking his parents for a drum kit for his birthday. His parents split the cost to see if their son was deeply committed. 

“Drums are the biggest, baddest instruments and I just wanted to make noise. I could have chosen a flute. There was less gear to pack. But I chose the drums – the biggest instrument around.” 

While attending William D. Cuts School he was maneuvered into playing trombone after drums were taken by another boy. But once in Bellerose High’s music program and participation in jazz band, concert band and jazz choir, drums morphed into his sole focus. 

Chernoff did not start out to be a rap drummer. He played in various outfits around town including classic rock covers with DRT, straight ahead rock ‘n roll with Stephanie Harp Experience, country rock with Mary’s Town and psych rock with Hunchback. 

But when the St. Albert drummer skipped the last few classes of his 2016-2017 MacEwan University music program to audition for British rapper Shotty Horroh in Manchester, his musical direction shifted. 

Currently Chernoff is a masterful drummer displaying rhythmic power and furious technical wizardry. He is the heartbeat of AP Dhillon’s loose-limbed groove. Although a drummer sits at the back, Chernoff’s beats give Dhillon’s music shape and focus, something that keeps the funk going. 

Also providing support to Dhillon at the awards ceremony are La+ch (keyboard), and label mates Shinda Kahlon and Gurinder Gill. Hosted for the second year in a row by actor Simu Liu, the awards ceremony comes together Monday, March 13 at Rogers Place. It will be televised on CBC TV. 

Additional St. Albert connected artists performing during Juno week are: 

• Altameda appears live on Friday, March 10 and Sunday, March 12 at 99tenyeg, 9910 – 109 St. 

• Aaron Goodvin and Hailey Benedict perform at JunoFest on March 11, at Union Hall, 6240 – 99 St. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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