Right through DUKES WEEK 2013, we’re highlighting the awesome efforts of 5 Feature Participants.
21 year old Kayla Dwyer is a young woman with big dreams, and she’s not afraid to chase them. She gives us one-to-one insights on volunteering with the CFA, her passion for music and how her dreams are becoming reality with the release of her debut album: Devil Within.
What inspired you to be part of The Duke of Ed?
I was always looking for the next exciting thing to be apart of at school and when I found out about this it sounded like a challenge that I could not shy away from. I was one of those students who was involved in almost everything at school, dance, drama club, musicals, singing lessons, guitar, lessons, piano lessons, soccer, debating, public speaking, mentoring, and the list goes on.
What first sparked your passion for singing and how did you get involved?
I always enjoyed singing and dreamed of forging a career in it. I got a job in year 7 and started self funding voice lessons for myself. I began learning classical with an opera singer and therefore I didn’t really have the support from my peers, but that wasn’t going to stop me from pursuing it. Year 9 I began piano lessons and Year 10 saw me buy a guitar and learning to accompany my singing. I studied music performance in year 11 and 12, but it wasn’t until I left school and joined a band that everyone began taking my passion seriously. I often see many people from my year level and they are shocked that I am actually living my dream.
How about the CFA – what got you volunteering?
Gold Duke of Ed is what inspired me to get involved with the CFA. I was looking for a new challenge. I found it quite exciting being the only young female in the brigade at the time. Now there are 4 other females which is great and I’ve taken on the role of 4th Lieutenant.
The CFA create such a supportive environment and that’s why I became so involved in it. They have given me so many leadership opportunities including “The Challenge 2011”. This involved spending 8 days with a bunch of like-minded leaders out in the bush over-coming many challenges such as hiking in rough terrain, building shelter every night with minimal resources and white-water rafting down some of the wildest rivers.
What’s a typical day of volunteering for the CFA and working on your music like for you?
I have always had my finger in many pies and what I love most about this is that I get to wake up every morning and decide what hat I’m going to wear. Usually I’ll go for my morning run and have a big healthy breakfast. And that’s about as routine as my life gets! After that I could be at university, studying, working for the CFA doing presentations, volunteering, band practice, song-writing, organising gigs, festivals, and then there is always the chance of being called out to a fire.
All whilst being this busy, this year I finish my degree in bachelor of education. Haha I like to keep busy. It keeps me going.
What is it about the process of volunteering and creating music that drives you?
Both allow me to be involved, understand, relate to and meet new people every day.
Both activities require a high level of adrenaline and therefore down-time is really important for me especially when I am travelling a lot. I love the full-on lifestyle. Its exciting.
Being able to write my own music and relate to my audience is so important. Then the best part for me is live performances. However I am very proud of my debut album “Devil Within”.
Having my families support underlines everything I do. They are my biggest supporters. My younger brother, Justin, is my #1 fan. (He has a t-shirt to confirm this). He has down-syndrome and is always up dancing at my shows and is always there to give me a hug at the end.
My music is a blend of country, pop and rock. It’s really mainstream so there is something in there for everyone.
What are the biggest challenges and rewards?
Challenges: staying healthy and awake! It can be very tiring and the environments that I often perform in don’t usually promote health or sleep! Haha
Everyone knowing who you are! I only have a small fan base right now and it seems I can’t step outside without someone knowing who you are. I’m sure I will get used to it as it escalates in the future.
I’m always being taken out of my comfort zone. Although I’m comfortable on the stage, it’s always nerve racking to be playing at new venues and hoping that people will enjoy your music.
Rewards: Being able to do what I love and get paid for doing what I love! It doesn’t feel like work when you are having so much fun.
The social side. I get to meet so many new and different people everyday.
What impact does your involvement has on the community?
I know my home town Koroit is very proud of me and I will be going there on my first album tour.
My involvement in the CFA has been praised because I have become a role model for other young females all over Victoria to encourage them to volunteer.
Do you have any standout moments, unique things or surprises you’ve encountered?
A memorable moment was when I was in Fiji for my Gold. Our group was hiking back down the mountains in the morning after spending a cold, wet and sleepless night at the top. We had a young Fijian girl with us for the entire trip and she was sitting on one of the Fijian man’s shoulders. The man misjudged his step and fell right in front of me. I grabbed the girl off his shoulders as he fell and sliced through the front of his foot with his machete! I thought, how are we going to get back to the bottom of the mountain? But he soldiered on and hopped with some sticks all the way to the bottom, and got stitched up with a blunt needle at the hospital (a tin shed).
Many of my performances are highlights of my music career so far. And I’m sure there will be many more to come. Filming my first video clip was a huge highlight! (This will be on YouTube tomorrow!)
Has participating in The Duke of Ed changed you as a person?
I wouldn’t say it’s changed me. I have always been a driven person. I believed it’s guided me and helped me grow into the person I wanted to become. Volunteering is something that always gives you a good grounding and allows you to be selfless and understand other people. DOE has given me feelings of accomplishment and made me realise that you can do anything that you set your heart on. Nothing easy is worth doing.
If you could encourage other young people to ‘Get up, get out and live the dream’, what would you say?
If you have a dream, what will decide whether you achieve it or not is how bad you want it. If you want it bad enough, it will happen. Nothing can stop determination. Just do it. Usually the only thing stopping you is yourself. Surround yourself with good, positive people.
Stay healthy and look after your body, because your body and your mind set is what will get you through the tough times. For me as a singer this is one of the most important things because my body is my instrument. Earlier this year I had to make the hard decision to have an operation on my vocal chords. I had a polyp on my right vocal chord. This meant I would not be able to sing or speak for a month and it was due to be done right in the middle of my album recording. This was one of the scariest moments in my singing career. I worked so hard and managed to get the album recorded the day before I went into surgery.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. I can sing even better now and I won’t have complications in the future now. It’s about getting your body and mind right first, then the rest will come after that.
Find out more about Kayla and her brand new album: www.kayladwyer.com
Take a look at the brand new clip on YouTube