Over the last 20+ years I have been in and out of studios, recording musicians, writing music, playing live in covers and originals bands (and managing them).
I've had a lot of fun, and broken a lot of strings. Played heaps of gigs, written heaps of songs, got NZ on Air funding, Radio and TV play all that stuff that makes you famous...
My life, since and early age, has been dominated by my love and drive to create and replicate music and sound. I am all about audio capture, sound reproduction and studying music. Starting with playing, recording and performing live from and early age. Along the way I studied composition and audio engineering, then I worked in product development of consumer audio in my “day job” career.
I started off recording my own music in the kitchen/dining room of my family house back in the 90's. I didn't have much money, so I used whatever gear I could find around the place. To record I used the built in mic of a Philips ghetto blaster. I would run the line outs from the back of it, into my father’s PC sound card, then hit record on Windows Sound Recorder. To record the next part I would record the music so far onto a VHS tape and play it back through the family TV/VCR and record myself playing against that! A year later I had a couple of mics, a better sound card and one of the first Digital Audio Workstations called SAW32. I had multi-track editing and plugins! I quickly became obsessed with creating and playing music, recording myself, my friends, local bands, live gigs, audio engineering, and experimenting with any gear I could get my hands on. I have studied music composition and audio engineering, I have taught audio engineering classes professionally and I have spent time in top studios in my part of the world.
Recording bands wherever the music is happening!
Teaching audio engineering classes at Auckland Normal Intermediate for year 7 & 8 students
In Tauranga running a live stream to radio for Kiwi music royalty Grant Hislop's The Station
I have always been a fan of vibe over shine, the performers comfort and vision for their piece is top priority. The best effort is put into the capture, without hindering the performance. The captured performances are then carefully brought together to create a final, well balanced representation of the given piece of music.
My view is - Music is amazing, and constantly evolving, so why not capture your ideas immediately? Don't worry if it is not perfect, or if your next work will be better. Record what you are creating now! Even if you have an iPhone recording of yourself and a guitar, send it through and see if I can tidy it up for you!
I love music and have decided myself to helping people capture, refine and share their music with their family, friends, SoundCloud, Spotify, radio stations, record labels or anyone who will listen!
Home recording gear is so good these days, with the right techniques we can easily capture a recording of our creations which we can be proud of. There is still a difference between a bedroom recording and the latest multi-million dollar production from the current pop/rock super artist. The majority of the difference is in the skill of the audio engineer. But a current bedroom recording with current gear and the right skills can easily sit comfortably in a playlist with your favourite commercial releases from say 5 years ago and earlier. Why spend thousands on a couple of days in a top studio (not to mention all the prep work before hand, the performance anxiety of knowing ever minute costs, and having that engineer staring at you from behind the glass!), when you could spend a couple of hundred or less to record as much as you want at home? When the multi-million dollar recording contracts come, that is the time for the cost and pressure of a multi-million dollar studio!
This is why I am now focused on helping people get more out of the gear they have, the unfinished recordings they are holding on to or to add the missing piece to their setup to help them get recording and preserving their musical ideas forever.
My personal enjoyment of other people's music has seen me grow a massive music collection of 3915 albums, which is constantly growing. I have been to more concerts than I can count - Highlights include KISS in Vegas as a guess of a private party run by Harmon (AKG, dbx, Lexicon, DigiTech etc) and Opeth at the Sydney Opera House. I also have a bookshelf overflowing with live DVDs and Blurays. I am one of those people who has to have music on ALL THE TIME! Headphones in the supermarket, UE Boom in the shower..
My day career peaked at top of the corporate ladder as New Zealand’s “overlord” ;-) of consumer audio products. I was the youngest and most successful Audio Product Manager of all retailers and was the guy who controlled a multimillion dollar budget, deciding which brands and models of stereos, speakers, headphones etc from around the world would be ranged in which stores throughout New Zealand. As a result I was honoured to work with best sound reproduction technology in the world - including the $80,000 Sennheiser Orpheus!
Highlights included breaking the rules by blocking marketing hyped quality lacking brands like Beats and instead introducing far superior but previously shunned brands like Audio Technica to NZ consumers. Spending time in Japan advising Sony’s engineers on tuning one of their flagship speakers and when in China I managed the creation and tuning of the first Wharfedale bluetooth speaker. At the Asia Pacific head office of Philips I passed their world famous “Platinum Ears” as part of a presentation for their prestigious audio Fidelio range.
Invited to give advice on recording live bands at an Auckland radio station run by RNZ legend Marty Duda
A speaker I developed with Wharfedale sitting in IAG’s Shenzhen complex, with the owner's personal collection of riches
Having fun on stage at Battle of the Bands regional final where we just knocked out Ladyhawke & Brooke Fraser
I have gained unmatched experience and understanding of the entire music and audio process, from the writing to performance to capture to processing to render to replication on the massive variety of consumer playback systems to the insatiable hunt for music I have not yet heard. It is a fascinating process and I am one of the grateful few in the world who has working experience behind the scenes at every stage.
Now I am dedicated to helping Kiwi musicians get the service, gear and training they need to record, preserve and share their own music by themselves, without the big studio costs.
Music is my life. Hearing all kinds of new music is my thing. I want to hear your music and help you share it.
People I have worked with say...
"The service from Aaron from Indigo Oak Studio was 5 out of 5. Finding Aaron was like finding an Angel who has helped make my lifetime dream of having my own recording studio at home a reality. Thank you so much Aaron for your huge generosity of spirit and your calm practical help in making my dream come true." - S Kills (Singer Songwriter)
“Aaron has a rare grasp of the technical aspect of recording. He was brilliant at maximising sound combinations available from my current gear, and also really easy to work with. It was great to be able to tap into his knowledge. 5/5” - Andy Kemp (Professional musician 10+ years)
"Aaron, thank you so very much for your support and generosity - Marty and I are truly grateful!" - Reuben (Radio13)
"I've been collaborating musically with Aaron for many years now and I have found him unrivaled in terms of dedication and passion towards any project. In songwriting and production he has a fantastic ear for dynamics and structure, and as an engineer has absolute tenacity and patience to always get the best possible results from anyone he works with. 5 big gold stars out of 5 from me for a guy who has that essential mix of skill without ego." - Simon Williams (Professional musician 20+ years)
"Aaron’s goal based teaching works well for us. He is friendly and patient, we will definitely book another session. 5/5" - B & P Doyle (Father & musician daughter)
"They (Senior Leadership Team) find your classes an asset to the school and want to see it continue. The kids love being a part of the bigger picture to the school and are seeing the value in what you teach. This has been evident in the professional learning conversations I've had with them. They tell me about what they're learning with no prompt." - D Drew (Music Director, ANI School)
"Very focused and planned teaching sessions..as per the need and capabilities of the student..with a very sincere urge to help and provide stepwise guidance to achieve student's goals!.. Very satisfactory! 4.8 out of 5!?..No human being is perfect!" - P Joshee (Retiree working on his first album)
The gear I use
Over the last 20+ years of performing, recording and audio engineering I have amassed gear from many of the best and well-known brands. As I am a believer that any gear can do an amazing job for the given task, I will just call out some of the better known brands, rather than every model number. You will have seen some of these brands before.... You will have definitely heard them all!
Not only have I enjoyed owning and using their gear throughout my audio career, I have also been lucky enough to work with a number of their parent companies. I have visited a few of their global offices and have even partied as a special guest with some of them. My biggest honour was working with the product developers for a couple of these brands, assisting in the tuning and design of audio product lines which went on to sell thousands of units around the world!
These brands are my tools of trade, they have not officially endorsed this website, staff or the products/services on offer...
Please check out a few of the projects from Indigo Oak Studio...
In line with my current direction, the majority of these examples have been mixed from bedroom, basement and warehouse recordings and other non-traditional recording spaces. Simply put - not in multi-million dollar studios, but rather in the space the musicians found most inspiring, comfortable, and affordable.