Darian Hirst

Innovation and Determination: Darian Hirst Brings Big Dreams and Big Drive to Music and Business

“Without a doubt, the largest inspiration for me in life is the potential of who I can be,” says Darian Hirst, a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario who lives in Toronto and is from Newmarket, Ontario. He works for RBCx, the innovation group at the Royal Bank of Canada, where he does strategy and product development. Outside of his work at RBC, he loves making music, drumming, playing guitar and singing. His manager is planning tours for him.  

From a music perspective, Hirst’s dad is a drummer and he’s been drumming since he was a toddler himself. Growing up in a music-centred home, he attended a high school that was focused on the arts so he could get classically trained in music. He explored orchestra and symphony, playing classical music and building an understanding of music theory. From keyboards, mallets, and pianos, he tried a range of instruments and got to learn the theory behind the skills he had picked up in his ten years of practice. The theory has come in handy as he writes his own music.

When he started university, he stepped away from music but came back to it in his second year to start a band with someone he met on campus, recording a lot of music under the name of Royalty Symphony. The band has since ended and he realized he is passionate about performing and songwriting and wants to continue pursuing his love of music.

"I wanted to try and fulfill that childhood dream I had, where I would jump around on my bed, and pretend to be playing to 18,000 people."

After attending an arts-focused high school, he had the chance to go to university for music but he wanted to do something else. He was reluctant to visit universities in his senior year but his mom dragged him to the University of Guelph for an event he ended up enjoying. After touring other schools, that ended up being his favourite. As a rugby player, its strong rugby program was also a compelling reason to attend. 

He decided to study business and concentrate on leadership and organizational management to understand company culture and how to build good companies. He also studied chemistry and climate change, spending five years studying to get his degree. Hirst played varsity rugby, got involved with the student-athlete Mental Health Initiative on campus, and connected with his Indigenous identity, ancestry and family history.

As he was coming up on graduation from the University of Guelph, he saw an opportunity to work with RBCx as part of one of the Indigenous rotation programs they have. The opportunity particularly appealed to him because he wants to work in the entrepreneurship and innovation space so working with a group that is focused on building startups, innovating and working with new companies excited him.

His advice to Indigenous students wanting to start playing an instrument is to pick something they are interested in and have fun with it. “For 99.9% of people who play music, or know an instrument, they're not doing it professionally, they're doing it because it's fun. It can be something to relax, or it can be a pursuit of excellence in your personal life. So really, just find something that's fun and find an artist that inspires you,” he advises. 

Illustration by Shaikara David

One of the obstacles he’s been facing in his music has been his long-standing desire to be a frontman but feeling insecure about his ability to sing. He sent out some demos of himself singing to people he trusted and they encouraged him that with training he could realize his dream. For so long, he let his own judgment of his talent hold him back and now he’s leaning into his fears, moving out of his comfort zone and finding faith to move forward. 

If he could give his younger self advice it would be to be patient. “We have so much time. We just need to take a step back and be okay with things taking time,” he urges. He’s dealt with insecurities around not having yet achieved milestones and that’s something he’s had to work on. The other thing he would tell his younger self is to cultivate self-awareness and lean into his strengths instead of worrying about the things he’s not good at. Finally, he would encourage empathy for himself and others. 

To maintain his mental wellness, Hirst meditates and reads every day. He maintains a schedule and manages his priorities so he can maximize his productivity. With the time he saves he gets to work on his album and making music. “I am very driven by productivity, I hate wasting time,” he asserts.

What he doesn’t consider a waste of time is spending time with the people he cares about. Hanging out with friends and watching movies together is important, too, from his perspective. What he observes is people spend a third of their time sleeping, and a third working, and if they spend hours on their phones, there isn’t much time left after cooking and eating. He wants to be intentional about how he spends his time maintaining his wellness. 

Inspired by his own potential, Hirst is more afraid of failing to try than failing in general. “I think that everyone is so awesome, wonderful and beautiful and that this human experience is amazing because every single one of us is always falling short of perfection in such beautiful ways. But we still have so much potential, and I love it,” he reflects.

Moving towards the person he wants to become and innovating in music and business, Darian Hirst is striving every day. Making music, moves and sound decisions around how he spends his time, he’s determined to become the best he can be. Destined to be the frontman in his own projects, he’s studied hard and is learning more to make his dreams come true.

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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  • Date
    May 27, 2024
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