Three-time Stand Up, Stand Out finalist Arjuna Oakes tells us about his experience in the secondary school music and dance competition, and why he thinks it's worth getting involved.
Arjuna Oakes grew up surrounded by music.
“My whole family played music and sung,” he recalls. “By the time I was 5, I was singing in front of audiences, and I started playing piano aged 7.”
While at Avondale College, Arjuna came across the Auckland secondary school competition Stand Up Stand Out, which now in its sixth year.
“The school had been doing it a few years, so it was a competition I’d heard about,” he says. Over the course of three years he entered both as a soloist and in a band, and found himself in the finals each time.
A glimpse inside the industry
Looking back on his experience getting to the finals of Stand Up Stand Out, he remembers how, although the finalists were all competing to take out the top spot, everyone was very supportive of each other. He says he made a lot of friends along the way.
Taking part in the competition has also given him invaluable knowledge and contacts in the music industry.
“I got to meet a lot of people in the music industry and learnt a lot about how it works. As a performer, it allowed me to expand and experiment – one year I just improv-ed the whole thing.”
A passion turned into a career prospect
Now in his first year of a music degree at the University of Auckland, Arjuna has followed his passion for jazz, which he loves due to its “melodic colour and openness”, and fuses it with other music genres.
Through his contacts created at Stand Up Stand Out and at Otara Music Arts Centre, he released his debut EP earlier this year and began playing music gigs around Auckland, including Music in Parks 2017.
For those thinking of competing in Stand Up Stand Out, Arjuna encourages them to have fun and be themselves.
“Just have fun, I know it sounds cliché, but the people who get through [into the finals] are those who look like they’re having the most fun, and be yourself! In the competition there’s 100 people trying to belt it and be like a pop singer, but if you be yourself then you’re going to stand out.”
How to enter
Stand Up Stand Out is open for entries until 30 June. Find out more and register now