Where Are They Now? Meet Alumni, Miguel Mendoza

The Jazz Music Institute was founded in 1996 and has been a higher education tertiary institution since 2009.

In the following blog series of ‘Where Are They Now?’, we talk to some of our alumni who we haven’t heard from in quite some time! We find out where life has taken them since graduation, and how studying at JMI benefited them throughout their career and life.

For this particular blog, we were lucky to chat with JMI alumni Miguel Mendoza who started JMI’s Bachelor program in 2017 and graduated in 2019! Read on for the full interview.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you play?

My name is Miguel Mendoza, I studied drums at JMI from 2017 and graduated in 2019.

What have you been doing since graduating from JMI?

I play in a couple of bands; an indie-rock band (SAMMM.) and a metalcore band (Strange Fiction), both of which are actively touring and releasing music. I also play in a jazz/soul group (The Kietels) doing a monthly residency and gigs throughout the year. Meanwhile, I’ve been working a day job in hospitality.

What has been one of your biggest musical highlights in your career thus far?

Playing live shows are always a highlight, in particular late-night jam sessions a Doo Bop bar during my time at JMI, as well as the gigs and festivals I’ve played around Queensland and NSW. The biggest one would be playing with SAMMM. at Woodford Folk Festival in 2022.

What are your future goals in music?

I want to keep touring and writing music. And to one day be able to travel around the world to play music.

How has studying at JMI helped you to get where you are?

It helped me gain confidence and the ability to improvise and express myself on the drums. It also helped to build a community of other musicians to play with, and continue to play with to this day.

What advice would you have for someone thinking about studying music and especially jazz?

Go for it! The skills you learn from studying jazz will keep you versatile and those skills can be applied to any genre of music.

Any advice for current students as they complete their Bachelor?

To not get caught up in your mistakes. While you’re studying, this is the time to make mistakes and learn from them!

To get out there and watch/play heaps of gigs. It’s the best way to meet musicians and to get know people who can help you on your musical journey.

What musicians have you been listening to lately?

I’ve been mainly listening to a lot of heavy music like bands such as The Chariot, Every Time I Die and Vein.fm. But I’ve also recently been listening other bands like Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Nothing But Thieves and Vulfpeck. I’m also a fan of K-pop groups such as BTS, New Jeans and Seventeen.

Any music links of yours we can listen to?

This is a music video that I filmed with SAMMM.

This is the first single I recorded when with Strange Fiction.


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