'From That Day, I Was All In'
From the outside, Reece Muir’s life looked like a success.
After finishing high school, he travelled the world and made a good living as a business manager - he was never short of work.
But for more than a decade, he was guilty of keeping his dreams on pause.
All Reece Muir wanted was to be part of the music industry. Ever since was rapping from age 12, he’s been writing songs and performing.
“I got absorbed into the working world,” Muir reflects. “I always had the idea that when I was ready, I would be able to do music. I just kind of leant on it, telling myself ‘I can do it any time.’”
But as the years went on, that dream stayed static. That mantra he kept saying internally was starting to sound hollow.
“I got to a point where I couldn’t do anything else. There was enough time, I had enough excuses, thinking I was going to do it later. I got myself into a place where I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, I was successful but the job satisfaction was missing.”
Muir explains “the major thing was I had no idea how you would make a living from being a songwriter - what you do to make money in the industry other than being a known performer.”
Now or never
Living in Australia as a milestone birthday approached - it was D-Day for this aspiring songwriter/performer.
“I’d made a promise to myself that by my 30th birthday, whatever I’m doing and wherever I am, if it wasn’t full-time music, that I was going to pack up and go somewhere I could study full time.”
Muir finally plucked up the courage to leave his comfortable life and make the leap of faith.
Reece Muir. Photo: Supplied.
He moved back to New Zealand and after a year studying music performance, Muir made the call that would change his career.
“I decided music production was the thing I was most intimidated by but was the most important thing for me to do. I realised that I had to go and study how to make the music I wanted to make.”
Opening a door to your dreams
When he explored his options, one internationally recognised institution kept standing out.
“I didn’t know anyone that was studying at SAE Creative Media Institute - but it was the name that kept coming up as the premier audio engineering/music production/film school to go to.
“I was curious, I saw the Auckland Open Day come up and it was right at that time when I was committed to diving into it.”
With SAE’s next Parnell campus Open Day approaching on 14 August, Muir has fond and vivid memories of his experience getting to check out the state-of-the-art recording, music and film studios.
“I remember the day I walked in there and met so many of the staff that were there throughout my whole degree - just walking in and seeing a hub of creative energy and knowing that everyone in the room has got the experience.
“They were asking me what I wanted to do and what kind of music I wanted to make and I just got this feeling that if I’m here for 3 years I’m going to walk out of here with exactly what I need."
Inside SAE's on-campus recording studio. Photo: Supplied.
Muir has no hesitation recommending the SAE Open Day to anyone who is interested in a career in the audio, music or film industry - labelling his visit as a turning point in his life.
“Absolutely because music production was something I looked at and thought ‘I have no idea how to do it.’ I thought I could just be a songwriter, a performer, I don’t need to learn all that technical information.
“I had that attitude for years, it just seemed beyond me for so long. It got to a point where I needed to learn how to record my own music, that’s the one skill that was the most important to me my entire life, that’s the skill I need to conquer.
“Walking in there and saying that to the tutors and everyone that was on campus for the Open Day, I thought ‘wow, there’s all these people that are doing it and they’re talking to me like I can do it as well.’ from that day, I was signing up - I was all in.”
Just the beginning
After finishing his degree in December last year, Muir “couldn’t be happier”.
The 35-year-old is currently the studio manager and audio engineer at Crescendo Trust, a community music project based in Avondale. He’s also working for the Music Producers Guild to support New Zealand producers in sustainable careers by holding on to their rights and royalties.
“I was definitely one of those people - whether it was ego or overconfidence - where I thought ‘my music’s good enough, one day it was going to happen, I don’t need a degree to do what I’m going to do.’
“Finishing a degree was basically the thing that got me in the door and helped me meet the first people that gave me an opportunity,” Muir admits, mentioning his connection with the SAE tutors that has continued post his student days, and learning from Kog Studios maestro Chris Chetland through the course’s work experience component.
“I discovered the idea of producing other people a lot further down the track. It seems so obvious now that it’s something that I’m going to do, but it wasn’t at the time - it was all about me .
“When you realise how much you can give to other people, help those who are in the same position that I was at 18 and had no idea - that’s so rewarding. I understand why people teach now, I understand why people are mentors, it’s just so satisfying to pass on your knowledge.
“The dream is absolutely to be performing, writing my own music but when you’re working in the industry, my stance is all of this experience is it’s all coming back to helping my own music, helping my own creativity.”
Written in partnership with SAE Creative Media Institute. Drop by for their Open Day on Saturday 14 August from 10am-2pm at their Auckland campus (10, 12 and 18 Heather Street, Parnell). Click here for more details.