Music Arts blog

Graduate profile - John 'Hooves' Clayton

08 Jul 2016

Originally starting out on piano at age six, John 'Hooves' Clayton would answer the calling of several musical instruments before finally landing behind the drum kit during his school years at Riccarton High.

"I'd never considered the possibility of making a career playing music", he admits, "At that point I was thinking about going and studying engineering. It wasn't until my friend Justin Fukushima auditioned for the Ara Music Arts course that I considered it. I was playing in Stu Buchannan's big band at the time and he encouraged me to go for it."

"I remember thinking, wait, you can actually go and study music, why didn't anyone tell me!? I grew up surrounded by music and would obsess over Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, the Finn Brothers, so it was a pretty easy choice."

Starting in 1995, John was quick to adapt. In his 2nd year he began composing his own music as well as delving into Drum & Bass and Jungle.

"Ara was a really great environment. I got along really well with everyone, even though I was a bit stunned at first by everyone's chops. I was a bit raw and green when I got in, but they shaped me up."

After graduating John played all over New Zealand and Indonesia before moving to Melbourne. He bought a computer and continued writing Drum & Bass, playing in various groups until in 2009 when Shapeshifter asked him to be their new drummer.

"I was with Shapeshifter for three years", he says, "They liked that I'd had that training and knew the genre. These days I drum in Opiou's live band and do a lot of session drumming. The electronic stuff is the hardest I've ever done!"

"I'd love to go back and study at Ara knowing what I know now. I would structure my practices more, but sometimes you have to learn that the hard way. I've been lucky to still be close to many of the people I met during my time at Ara, and it's always good having people set the bar high for your own work."

"If you really want this you have to work really hard, but if you want to lead a passionate life, live and work your passion. Then do it.  That was the choice I made and I've never looked back!"