Until recently, Synthony founder and creative director Erika Amoore was living something of a double life.
By day the 29-year-old was a qualified chartered accountant with solid prospects and decent career progression but that was just one side of her existence. By night, Amoore, a classically trained violinist and pianist, swapped hats to spin tunes as a DJ and follow the musical passion that made up the other part of her life.
The two paths didn't converge but in 2016, through her local musical network, Amoore and a new business partner came up with an idea - and her journey began to change, leading her towards becoming one of the most rapidly successful event promoters in the country with her first million dollars in turnover.
That idea was Synthony - a live event that would be a collaboration between an orchestra, DJs and live vocalists in a setting designed to resemble a full, immersive, nightclub experience - and something Kiwis would not have seen before.
Amoore says she, and business partner David Elmsly, former promoter of the NZ Beer Festival, found inspiration for the event in the UK's music scene.
"We'd seen a similar show called the BBC Ibiza Proms with [DJ] Pete Tong. We saw a video on YouTube and we loved the gig a lot but knew the chances of it coming to New Zealand were pretty slim because we don't tend to get that content over here," she says.
"We thought, why not just put the gig on ourselves?"
The pair's combined resources and experience seemed ideal - Amoore's skill set from accountancy, plus musical contacts and Elmsly's event management background.
So Amoore made a call out of the blue to Peter Thomas, musical director of the Auckland Symphony Orchestra and explained the idea. Thomas immediately jumped on board, bringing with him with musical arranger Ryan Youens. Synthony became a reality.
Amoore took on a curating and production role, with Youens formulating sheet music for the orchestral arrangements.
"I write all the shows in terms of track selection, show order and some engineering stuff and then Ryan puts together all the sheet music. We rehearse and then we're on stage," Amoore says.
"Orchestras are generally really excited to work on innovative projects that mean they'll attract different audiences."
The first show opened in 2017 at the Auckland Town Hall having sold out a month prior, and audiences loved it.
Some 2500 people packed the venue where they experienced the full sound of an 80-strong orchestra conducted by Thomas, fused with DJs and live vocalists celebrating the last three decades of dance music and creating a live sound they had never heard the likes of before.
The biggest dance tracks of the last 30 years pumped out of the huge sound system, mixed with spine-tingling orchestral arrangements of the genre's behemoths by artists such as Faithless, The Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk, with live vocalists including Tali, Laughton Kora and Helen Corry. Lasers, light shows and visual effects added to the club atmosphere.
It was a buzz for the orchestra too, with an amped, dance music-loving, club style crowd in front of them.
"They don't usually have people yelling at them," Amoore laughs.
The reaction to the inaugural show was beyond what she could have hoped for, with the concept as a whole appealing to the crowds rather than a single big-name act as the drawcard. It was inevitable it would have to be done again.
So Synthony returned the following year, this time with two Auckland shows that both sold out in hours, a new set of performers and DJs and an even bigger reaction.
The "phenomenal response" was followed by requests from venues in centres outside Auckland to make the event far wider, Amoore says, which was a key moment for the still fulltime financial manager. Her creation had become bigger than she ever thought and it was time to take the plunge.
"We saw the event was going to be way bigger than the attention we could give it at the time," she says.
Elmsly had been looking to exit the event but for Amoore it was catalyst she'd needed to take the "terrifying" leap out of her career to dedicate all her time to Synthony.
"I think it's good to do things that terrify you," she says. "It was amazing and felt like such an opportunity. I never thought that this was where I'd be."
The move paid off, with powerhouse promoters Duco Events coming onboard. While mostly sports-orientated and known for promoting events like the NRL Nines and boxer Joseph Parker, the company loved the concept of Synthony and its unique nature in the music scene.
They wanted to see it grow quickly, Amoore says, and so this year, Synthony will bring its magic to five cities.
Thomas will conduct all the performances, which kicked off in Brisbane last month, featuring the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra.
Christchurch follows tomorrow (September 6) with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, before two shows in Auckland on September 20 and 21, Hamilton on October 12 - all with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra - and a finale at Wellington's TSB Arena with Orchestra Wellington on October 25, which also happens to be Amoore's 30th birthday.
"It's the biggest venue we've been to," she says. "It's going to be a killer show to top off a huge tour."
A people's choice campaign for the Wellington show asked for nominations of favourite tracks that could be performed at the finale. These were narrowed down to a final four, before Sandstorm by Darude emerged as the winner and the orchestras set about reimagining it.
While house music purists might consider the mega-hit a little mainstream, the resulting arrangement is "phenomenal", Amoore assures.
"Synthony has this incredible vibe of people reconnecting with dance music," she says.
"It appeals to people who love dance music but don't want to go into a dingy nightclub surrounded by 18-year-olds any more. They want to have an amazing night out and enjoy the music they love. They're all there for the music."
So is Amoore.
"It's really about striking that fine balance between including enough material that keeps the die-hard and pure electronic dance music fans happy but also balancing that we are now putting on a show that up to 20,000 people are going to see, so it can't be so niche that it can't appeal to a wide audience," she says.
Relying "heavily" on the belief that what her team is doing is amazing and people are going to love it is the main philosophy that keeps driving Synthony.
"Ultimately, we want to put on a huge show with an amazing crowd and then go out and celebrate afterwards."