Some people are blessed to discover their vocation early on in life; Daniel Aldersley is one such student, currently studying a double degree at SIT, he’s in his third and final year of a Bachelor in Audio Production, with one further year of study in 2023, to complete his Bachelor of Contemporary Music.
Growing up in Wanganui in the North Island, Daniel started his musical journey during childhood. “I have been playing musical instruments since I was seven years old and have always been very passionate about a future in the music industry.”
After finishing high school, Daniel made the deliberate choice to take some time and have a gap year, to experience life before he committed to tertiary study. “I’d always wanted to follow music as my career, but you get a lot of discouragement when you say you’re going to be a musician – people tell you it’s not really a viable career choice.” Deciding to sit on it for a bit, eighteen-year-old Daniel headed off for his OE.
Daniel and his two sisters joined forces with some friends based in Switzerland, and went on a whirlwind busking tour of Europe. The three-week tiki tour included Paris, Berlin, Prague, Venice and Amsterdam. “My sister and I had been writing songs for about four or five years by then, so I had original material to play; it was all a bit of craziness, we lived the touring lifestyle.”
Daniel explained they had a trailer behind a vehicle to perform on, and they would play as they drove through major cities. “It ended up being a party of 20-25 people in all... It was hard work, there was a lot of driving, but it was mad, crazy fun.”
After his busking tour, Daniel returned home and (naturally) he wanted to go overseas again. “I had a friend based in Eastern Europe and I ended up in Christian missions, going to Latvia, where I helped out at a soup kitchen.” He travelled to the Baltic state three times over a two-year period, for three months at a time, funding his travels by picking up work at a local café.
After gaining some memorable life experiences, Daniel’s passion for a career in music hadn’t diminished. “Music was still the thing I wanted to pursue,” he said, and he was ready to commit to it.
SIT’s music and audio courses were discovered through an internet search. “It just sounded like a good fit for me,” said Daniel. “I’m a fan of small cities and from what information I could find, SIT seemed like the best place in the country to study audio and offered some unique perks.”
Those benefits included: the only place in NZ that offers a double degree in Audio Production and Contemporary Music; the low cost of living; the Zero Fees Scheme, and a SIT accommodation bursary.
Daniel didn’t really have any pre-conceived ideas of SIT before starting his course, and he says so far, it hasn’t disappointed. “I don’t think SIT has changed my approach to learning or applying myself, but it has shown me a lot more career opportunities that I was simply unaware of before coming here.”
He believes SIT does a very good job at making students aware of the industry opportunities around them and tries really hard to get them involved in the industry, the community and further afield. “With that in mind, I would say the most valuable thing I have learnt so far is that there really are opportunities out there, and when I apply myself, I can seize those opportunities.”
The comprehensive nature of the two degrees has given Daniel an abundance of knowledge and skills to take forward with him in his career.
“I’ve learned so much... I’ve learnt a lot about my musical instrument (guitar), but especially the art of audio production and all the engineering that goes into producing really good sounds. It’s definitely an area I’m glad I have delved into. Probably the main thing I have learnt about audio and music during my time here is that I still have so much to learn, and to me, that’s very exciting.”
Discovering the joy of learning has been the most gratifying experience on his study journey; other valuable rewards include: networking with students, collaborating on music projects and getting to share knowledge and time with other talented students.
And networking connections have already been fruitful, with Daniel actively collaborating on a variety of projects, alongside fellow students and graduates. There’s his atmospheric cover of Coldplay’s “Higher Power” performed with SIT graduate Marcus Crowe, or the urban vibes of “Young City” a three-part collaboration with fellow musos, Manzy and Moozy, and Daniel under his performance name, Dazzax. Southlanders will recognise the Invercargill cityscape in the music video.
Daniel says the absolute highlight of his programme has been the people involved. Both tutors and classmates alike have provided valuable, quality relationships. “I really appreciate my tutors here at SIT, they always put in the extra mile to teach and get us engaged. Classmates have been a real blessing, I continue to learn a lot from them and enjoy healthy competition with them.”
He also gives the excellent gear available to audio students a plug. “Facilities are a big plus for audio students down here. There’s some really great equipment for us to use during our study.”
Daniel’s commitment to studying a double degree has provided its fair share of challenges, he describes it as one of the hardest things he has ever done. “In terms of time management and sheer workload, it has often been a game of catchup!” However, he says it’s the relationships he’s developed here which have supported his success.
“I’m a Christian and I am always grateful to my God for giving me really awesome opportunities, but also supporting me with a really good church community here in Invercargill, and solid friendships, and mentors who have helped me through.”
“A lot of hard work always helps too. Not to mention, an honest and pure passion for what you’re doing, doesn’t go amiss either!” he added.
Currently working in a part-time job as a music tutor at the Kennedy School of Music (KSOM), Daniel is also head of their Music Production, and worked on their song, “Our Southland Song”, with fellow music and audio students. He was involved in songwriting, singing, playing guitar, producing, and engineering. Check it out here.
At present, he is producing some of KSOM students’ songs as well. “They are heavily involved in SIT’s music degree; the opportunity to work for them is a direct result of my being in SIT’s music degree programme.”
Daniel has a clear vision of where he wants to head in the music industry. “In the short term, I would love to work in a studio in New Zealand or overseas, and just continue to develop my artistry as a musician, songwriter and audio engineer.”
“The end goal is to be a Music Producer with my own studio, down the line. To some people, that might seem like a pipe dream, but I really believe it’s possible.”
Based on his experiences, Daniel’s advice to new students is to “come with a good work ethic, a good attitude and a healthy respect for people and you’ll be off to a good start... But, whatever it is you may be doing, the ‘why’ is the most important thing. If you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, you can overcome anything and achieve whatever you want to.”