Music repairer sets up shop

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Naked ambition . . . Grey Door Music Repairs owner and technician Mike Jacobsen holds the Conn "Naked Lady" baritone saxophone he's been repairing. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

5 Questions with Grey Door Music Repairs owner and technician Mike Jacobsen, of Tainui.

When did you open your business in Dunedin?

It’ll be a month ago tomorrow. I’m working on a couple of good jobs at the moment – a complete rebuild of a Conn “Naked Lady” baritone saxophone and I’m servicing a clarinet I’ve sourced for a local musician. The business is just me and my dog Marcus – he’s the boss. I’m running the business from my home in Tainui to start. If the business goes well I’ll get a small shop in town.

You moved to Dunedin from Sydney. Why?

I was born and raised in the Waikato and I left New Zealand to travel the world in 1992 and spent the last 15 years in Sydney. I love Sydney but I needed to get out – it was getting too big, too busy, too expensive and I didn’t like the way Australia’s politics were going and I wanted to return to New Zealand. The music scene in Dunedin has always been really good – Dunedin has always punched well above its weight and there is no qualified repairer I know of in the South Island. I wanted to move to a place where I could become part of the community and Dunedin ticked all the boxes – it’s a pretty little city and has a phenomenal amount of artistic people. Dunedin offers a good work-life balance and people here are really friendly. It’s been a long time since I’ve walked my dog and every single person I pass says hello – it caught me by surprise. The locals have been fantastic and made me feel at home in a short space of time.

Do you have any family here?

No, they are all in the North Island. It’s the first time in more than 20 years I felt like I’ve come home – I don’t know why – I visited Dunedin for a week in February and there were bands in every pub playing and the musos were really good. It really impressed me. There’s a lot of culture and artists here – there’s a lot going on for a small city. I just loved it. Sydney had a history of really good bands but it’s been dead for 10 years now – once the Liberal Party got in, that was the end of live music. They shut King’s Cross down and all the decent pubs have been bought by multinationals – it’s hard to see a good live band at your local pub in Sydney, and who wants to live like that?

Where did you become a technician?

I completed my apprenticeship in musical instrument repairing (brass and woodwind) in 1992 and I accepted an invitation from Yamaha to train in its Toyooka Factory – I’m one of three qualified Yamaha band instrument repair techs in Australasia. In Sydney, I ran the repair department for one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest specialist brass and woodwind shops for a long time.

Do you have any links with Dunedin?

There’s a picture of one of my ancestors in The Smith Gallery in the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. If I had dark hair, I’m a spitting image of him – which is kind of spooky and my grandparents lived here. My grandfather once played cornet for the St Kilda Brass Band.