As told to Paul Little.
In 1995, I was turning 30 and I'd spent 1994 wondering what I was doing and where I was going. I'd been working for Russell McVeagh as a copyright lawyer for a couple of years and knew that was too corporate for me, so went to a smaller firm, Keegan Alexander. I was doing more court work there but it was still not really what I wanted to do. And I had also just come out of a long-term relationship, so it seemed definitely the right time to figure out what I ought to be doing.
I'd been spending a lot of time at bFM, hanging out with a lot of musicians. I did the legal advice thing, and I joined the board. Then I started acting for musicians, negotiating their contracts without even really knowing what I was doing.
At the beginning of 95, I went a bit feral. I was still at Keegan Alexander but I started abandoning corporate work and acting for more musicians. I stopped wearing a tie. My hair got longer. Then I stopped wearing a suit and turned up at work wearing jeans that were more holes than jean. I took the corporate art off the walls and replaced it with gig posters.
Logically I should have been thinking about going off and doing it on my own, but I didn't have the gumption. However, after a few months of me acting like this, the senior partner, Michael Friedlander, who I have a lot of respect for, called me into his office and didn't fire me, but suggested it might be time I did my own thing. I left there with a carload of paper clips, pencils and other stationery and moved to a loft on K Rd, above what was then a bakery and is now a sex shop. I opened my own practice and it was tremendously freeing.
I embraced the freedom of being on my own in a hedonistic way. I spent most of the middle of that year with two close friends, Sarah and Aaron, who worked for record companies. We often stayed out until dawn. We called it the winter of our discontent. There was a bar downtown called Poppa Jack's, and in the back was a private bar called the Dragon Bar. I think I spent more time there than in my apartment, and there were lots of times I would have rolled straight into my office from there.
I built a practice working for musicians and started to manage clients, which I'd never considered before. At the end of 1995 I was managing Garageland, Nathan Haines, Bic Runga and The Chills. I thought that was also just something on the side and I would continue to be a music lawyer, but 95 was the last year I spent rooted in New Zealand.
Before that, labels presented artists with contracts and they signed them. There were managers, but I don't think anyone was aggressively chasing it as a career internationally.
With the corporate law I had just felt it wasn't what I was made to do. I would always think: I can't possibly be doing this in 10 or 15 years. Then I found an aspect of the law that suited me.
Auckland City Limits is at Western Springs on March 3, aucklandcitylimits.com