Growing up in Sydney to a family of Italian and Chilean heritage, Alicia Varas had been passionate about music and performance since her childhood. She was always learning an instrument, singing, acting and getting on stage at every opportunity.
Alicia dreamed of one day being able to perform professionally, but when she graduated from school, she was uncertain about what to do.
On the one hand, deep down she knew that she really wanted to study and pursue music. On the other hand, she was afraid that by doing so, she’d launch herself into a financially uncertain future. At first, she went with the ‘safe’ option and took a regular job.
“I knew I wanted to study at AIM from around 2014,” Alicia explained. “However, after high school, there was some hesitation because of fees and wanting to mainly focus on practical work rather than theory.
After a few months of just working after studying though, I realised I was losing my passion for music and needed to throw myself back into it, and studying was the perfect option. I was one of those kids that always loved school and studying so I thought it would be amazing to do that but focusing only on music.”
Taking a leap, Alicia went ahead and enrolled in a Bachelor of Music – Performance at the Australian Institute of Music (AIM) Sydney campus, majoring in vocals. This decision would change her life direction, and help her become the accomplished musician she is today.
To her surprise, it wasn’t long into her studies that Alicia’s career was already taking off before she had even finished her degree.
“One of the main things that I wanted to do after graduating was really start gigging more and turn that into my main source of income. It was amazing that all of that kicked off quite early in my degree, rather than later.
I actually had many opportunities to perform coming from AIM and the skills I learned through my degree gave me the confidence I needed to go out into the gig scene,” Alicia said.
Alicia put a lot of hard work into her training and studies at AIM, using this opportunity to develop her identity as an artist and explore all the different directions her career could take. During her time at AIM, she developed some particularly meaningful connections with some of the staff who supported her journey and helped her to enter the music industry.
“The educators at AIM are what really puts the university above all the rest,” expressed Alicia, “And I have made connections both professionally and personally with so many of them. In particular, Bronte O’Neill taught me so much about my voice and helped me to develop and nurture my voice into its own unique blend. Also, Nic Cecire, who taught me so much about band leadership and working in large ensembles. He has encouraged me to be the confident musician I am today.
I have to also mention David McLeod, who taught me about singing and performing in relation to breathing. He specialises in performance anxiety and breathing techniques and is a certified Buteyko instructor.”
Alicia graduated from her Bachelor of Music – Performance earlier in 2023, and even though she’s only fresh from her course she has already begun to make a splash in the industry as the artist Alicia Varas.
She’s gone on to live her childhood dream of performing on stage for a living, regularly playing at venues and festivals all around Sydney.
“I do frequent gigs at various venues and events around Sydney, including some notable gigs such as VIVID Sydney at The Rocks Square, SXSW Sydney, and Art Aid’s event One Sydney. I’ve also played at various food festivals and popular restaurants and clubs, performing a mix of covers and originals across the different styles of alternative-indie, singer-songwriter, soul, rock, and R&B,” explained Alicia.
In addition to her live gigs, Alicia works with a range of different events and entertainment companies including Amber Mic Productions, B Squared Entertainment, First Light Co, and one of Sydney’s leading wedding bands Red Soda.
Alicia is now also reaching an audience with her own work as a singer-songwriter and has had her tracks played on radio stations such as FBi Radio, FrogEyes Radio, Banks Radio Australia, Voice of the Valley and many more.
So far, 2024 looks like it’s already turning out to be another big year for Alicia’s career, with a schedule of shows already lined up including a performance for Breaking Sounds, a supporting show for an album launch, and featuring in a podcast interview.
Alicia is feeling excited about achieving some more of her goals in the near future. “I would love to continue gigging and hopefully one day open for a big international act or even do my own show or tour. I also have an EP on the way soon, so I want to throw an awesome launch event for that. I want to keep writing and releasing more music and hopefully reach and connect with even more people,” she expressed.
Does Alicia have any advice for young people considering whether they should pursue music like she did when she finished school?
“Do you want to wake up every day and think ‘Oh no, I have to go to work,’ or do you want to wake up and say to yourself ‘I get to go to work and do what I love every single day’?” Alicia said.
Interested in turning your passion for music into a career? See here to check out some of the diverse bachelor courses on offer at AIM.