Alumni Spotlight: From student to composer
Darren Lim is an AIM Alumnus from who has forged a career in the ﬁlm and entertainment industry. Since ﬁnishing his contemporary studies back in 2013 he has since found work in ﬁlm and media composition with a fresh perspective and a non-traditional approach.
Currently a full-time in-house composer at Rumble Studios (a music and sound house for
advertising TV, ﬁlm and radio) his passion lies in dramatic minimalist writing and will be
releasing an original body of work in 2020.
How did you get into music?
This question is rather tricky for me as I cannot pin point the exact time I got into music.
It was a journey of constant discovery and failures. In retrospect, it actually all started with ﬁlm music, $80 and Linkin Park.
Around age 7 or 8, I would sing aloud the musical themes of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter or Home Alone. All of John Williams for that matter! I loved listening to the
iconic themes that came out of my television. At this point I never really wanted to pick up
an instrument - it was more about me falling in love with listening to music.
That all changed in year 7 when I received my ﬁrst instrument, a cheap, $80 nylon-stringed acoustic guitar. My guitar hero journey ended before it had even begun a after two formal guitar lessons though as I didn't have the attention span and motivation to continue because I could never get the ﬁngerings right, and because of that I accepted that music was
not for me.
It would be another 2 years before fate intervened and this time, it was through Linkin Park.
A friend at the time was playing one of their songs out loud from his phone and I just happened to be walking by, and my god, it catapulted me into a bliss I have never felt before. I loved how Linkin Park’s music made me feel and I felt the urge to discover more.
The discovery has led me through countless genres and eras. The deeper I went, the more I loved music. From then on, I wanted to pick up an instrument again but being that
young with a fear of failing again, I didn’t know how to approach it.
Long story short, the year 9 band needed a bass player and since no one wanted to play bass, they handed it to me because I was the only one who couldn’t play anything else. Funnily enough, coincidences got me into music.
Why do you do what you do?
I make music because of the way it makes me feel, especially through my writing. Music makes me feel free, free to visit anywhere, anyone and at any time. All I have to do is capture a part of me into this package of organised sound where I can freely cast out on to the wind and see where it soars. For me, that has always been why I do it, knowing that your thoughts/imaginations/stories are out there for everyone no matter where they are or who they are, someone will always be listening to you and your story. To me, you’re
kind of living forever.
What’s something that you still want to work on?
The obvious answers are to better myself in ﬁlm composition, avant-garde composition, music production, being an educator and the list goes on. But what’s most important to me is improving my general honesty to myself. Music is an extension of one’s emotions, ideologies and personality. If I am more truthful to myself, so would be my music for the listener. That way my music and I hide behind nothing but the best version of ourselves.
Tell us about your time at AIM and what you thought the best part of AIM was?
My time at AIM is one of the best times I’ve had. Sounds cliché but it’s true! Studying at AIM pushed me beyond my limits, whether it was through the bass performance exams, orchestration exams or especially through the music theory exams. Each subject is treated with equal gravity and importance because of AIM’s emphasis that ALL areas in music are equally important if you want to be the best version of your musical self.
I came into the Australian Institute of Music in 2010 with a gothic ESP LTD bass guitar knowing only how to play punk, nu-metal and hard rock. With extreme conditioning of my musical senses, I left with a conﬁdence of not only calling myself a better bass guitarist, but also an arranger, orchestrator and composer. It is not to say that those are things you have to learn during your time here, but things that are always available to you. AIM oﬀered me anything I wanted at my own choosing. If I wanted to become a ﬁlm composer halfway through my degree without actually oﬃcially changing discipline, AIM pointed me in the right direction with their vast array of electives that crossed over into other disciplines such as composition and music production. And yes, this did happen. I chose to take on more electives than the usual student, having more credit points than most others. I felt like I could learn anything and everything at AIM and they’ll always support you, right up from your ﬁrst step into the building.
The best part of AIM is the people I have met. The education is amazing but the teachers and your fellow students are for life, which is beyond incredible. There is a certain camaraderie amongst the AIM people that is very fruitful and helpful in its nature and there are always opportunities for you to make new friends. The way the lessons are set up will always allow you to perform with your
friends, other students and even also your teachers/mentors. I found this such a great way to know everyone personally and individually. I’m sure future students will feel the same too!
Meeting new people is the best part.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who is starting out?
This is always easier said than done, but one key bit of advice I would give out to all (which you’ve probably heard before) is to accept your failures and use them as opportunities to learn. I had every reason to stop music altogether, whether I was replaced by another composer for a ﬁlm in my early days..TWICE or having failed my music theory exam in trimester 2.. TWICE! Still, I took it on the chin because you will keep trying if you love the craft.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Something that rhymes with Santa Monica and being 5x better Film Composer. Should I also add game composer too? Time will tell.