Chaitanya or Chai as he likes to be called, immigrated from Baroda, India to NZ at the age of 4 with his family. They settled in Auckland and 2 months later Chai started school. School in New Zealand felt pretty laid back said Chai, as children go to school in India from the age of 3 years.
Chai discovered his interest in music early on. His Mum sings and he reckons she must have heard him singing along to songs on the radio. Singing lessons soon ensued at age 6, followed by learning instruments - keyboard, guitar and bass. Already an accomplished musician by around year 9, Chai started getting involved in audio production. From there the interest blossomed and he was hooked.
Prior to his move south to study for 3 years Chai freelanced around Auckland as an Audio Technician for various Indian groups, building up his experience and expertise. When Chai saw a Bachelor of Audio Production ad for SIT in a newspaper, he did some research on the course, realised it was for him, and signed up.
The culture shock of moving to Invercargill was massive, said Chai as he had spent the previous 2 months of summer based in Mumbai learning recording, mixing and mastering. It took him a semester to adjust to the change of pace and weather - but Chai said he liked the cold and handled it well, "I find it peaceful, and it's a great excuse to drink plenty of Hot Chocolate".
Chai said he had really awesome flatmates during his time in Invercargill - they stuck together for the entire 3 years of their study, and became like a family, cultivating a supportive environment for each other while living away from home.
Chai said one of the bonuses of the course were the smaller classes with lower student numbers. He said it created a more intimate environment for the students. The great bunch of tutors were awesome said Chai. The tutors developed a friendly rapport with the students, they were approachable and there was a respectful but relaxed vibe. It was because of these valued relationships and being able to talk to his tutors, Chai said he was able to learn life lessons from them.
In terms of the facility and equipment the course provided, it was second to none. Chai said the quality of the gear was what you'd usually only find in big, professional recording studios. He said it was an honour to have access to the best equipment. The tutors also encouraged them to get as much time as possible in the recording studios, so Chai made it a priority to positively exploit every opportunity he could find. An especially rewarding part of the degree was the internship Chai completed in his 3rd year at SAE Byron Bay. SIT offers the 10 week opportunity as part of their Audio Production degree, to 3rd year students at the beginning of their their last semester. It gives them access to more advanced resources and specialised teaching personnel. SIT students learn advanced recording, pre and post production concepts and techniques at SAE Byron Bay. Chai said “This internship was incredible as it gave us students the chance to study a semester at SAE and to be able to use world class gear and studios and become confident in working in high end studios. I learnt a lot from the experience and some of the lessons were priceless. The tutors were amazing and were just treasure chests full of experience”.
Chai always wanted to have the qualification that related to his chosen career as a Recording Engineer. He said "having the qualification is a plus for me because I know the basics as well as some of the more advanced stuff. It gives me a definite advantage in an industry where many people have no formal training. The degree helps me set myself up for the future, I have confidence in having done the 3 years work”. He added, "I've realised that my goal is to keep doing things that make me happy. Recording and Audio is what makes me happy so I'll continue to do it".
Since graduating, Chai's been employed by SkyCity, Auckland as an Entertainment Technician. And Invercargill based band ‘Chartreuse and Black’ are fortunate to have Chai as their mix engineer for their upcoming album. Chai’s plan is to continue working in Auckland for a couple of years, with his long term goal being to own his own studio, alongside touring with bands around the globe as a sound engineer. As this is the type of job that could take Chai anywhere, the world is his oyster.