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Source: University of Otago

Honours student Mads Harrop says song writing allows her to find joy and express herself.
For one University of Otago honours student, music is a creative outlet that allows her to shift her focus from her multiple disabilities.
Mads Harrop completed her Bachelor of Music with Honours in composition in 2022, and this year she is doing her second Honours degree in studio production.
“It’s a nice way to, you know, escape from having to deal with that side of things,” Harrop says.
Harrop has autism which she finds helps her in a positive way as “the creative part of my brain is very strong”.
She also has Tourette’s and ADHD. In a similar way to her autism, she finds her ADHD can help her in a positive way with her music as well.
“People with ADHD are really good at focusing on what they’re passionate about.”
The singer and guitarist’s recent gig at Dive Bar was her third headlining gig.
“To me, it’s important to go out and do gigs, just for me to exhibit what I’ve been working on.”
Harrop makes a point of getting other local bands to perform as opening acts as she is passionate about supporting the local music scene.
“It’s important to support new and other local acts as well. Especially for this time of year because May is New Zealand Music Month,” she says.
She performed her first gig was when she started University in 2019, and she says it was “amazing, everyone’s just so supportive”.
“It’s a place where I can just be myself and forget about everything that’s been going on for a moment.”
Harrop’s music is a combination of psych rock, hard rock, punk and indie rock.
“The thing I love about rock music is that it’s very standoffish. It’s different to all the other genres in a really good way. Plus, it’s helped me so much to express what I’m feeling.
“I write, primarily, about navigating a lot of the experiences I’ve been through as a disabled student.”
Harrop channelled some of the emotional experiences she has had with Tourette’s into her song writing. Hiding in Colour she wrote shortly after her diagnosis. It is about having hope and finding positivity which helped get her through a tough time.
Harrop started singing when she was a toddler and has been playing the guitar since she was 14 years old.
“I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember now, ever since I was a kid.
“Song writing allows me to find joy and express myself.”
Music is a lifelong passion of hers, and she says she came to study at Otago because she heard it had a great music school.
She remembers attending career talks at high school where she was encouraged to pursue a career in something she was fascinated with.
“[Since then] I’ve had my mind set on, you know, working in the music industry.”
She took on her first Honours at the encouragement of her tutors, and decided to do her second Honours as she has a recording studio at her house, called Sublime Studios.
-Kōrero by internal communications adviser, Koren Allpress