Music is Life, The rest is mere detail...
Neil Andreas Schoeman was born on 9 October 1985 in Pretoria, South Africa but spent his childhood in Cape Town. His best friend encouraged him to start playing the guitar at the age of 14, in 1999 and, for the next four years, playing the guitar was more a hobby while he focused on advancing a career in playing cricket. His musical influences in his early guitar years included the popular rock, metal and alternative bands such as Incubus, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Metallica, Rage against the Machine to P.O.D.
By the time Neil finished school he had already developed a deep love for music, so much so that he chose to pursue a career in the music industry, giving up on his sporting ambitions.
He decided to study Sound Recording Engineering in 2004. A year later he would join his first professional band, Paradigm, at the age of 19, playing in pubs and wedding parties. His passion for performance was ignited here, and changed the direction of his ambitions from behind the scenes, to center stage.
A few years later he received an offer to join another professional band, White Rabbit, in Johannesburg. Here the music scene was more vibrant and which offered more opportunities, so he packed up his stuff and moved across the country. His musical influences during this time included Dream Theatre, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen and bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Alter Bridge and Muse and the guitarist, John Petrucci, which changed his perspective on the instrument completely.
For the next three years he played with White Rabbit at pubs, weddings, birthday parties, big corporate events, sporting events, movie parties and numerous residencies at some of the most popular venues in the country. They performed regularly with some of the biggest acts in South Africa, including Prime Circle, The Parlotones, The Narrow, Fokofpolisiekar and Wonderboom.
The economy took a turn for the worse and forced the band to consider international options in order to survive. It was in 2007 that they went to Abu Dhabi, UAE for their first overseas contract. This contract was short-lived due to unexpected changes at the venue where they were performing, so they returned to South Africa to start work on an original album.
While the original album failed to launch, the experience of spending time in a professional recording studio was a priceless and by the end of 2008, Neil realized the only way to really improve and grow into the musician he wanted to be was to get formal professional music training.
In April of 2009 he moved to London, England to pursue a Higher Diploma in Contemporary Music at ICMP (formerly known as The Guitar Institute) Neil still considers this the single most influential year on his career to date. It was a massive eye opener in the sense that he realized how much more there is to learn and how much he enjoys the process of learning. Being in London and seeing many of his favorite bands perform live had a massive impact on him.
In 2010 he moved back to South Africa and joined up with Barnyard Theater Company. Here he spent two years performing in numerous musical theater production tribute shows. Being part of a big theater cast and production that tours all over the country added great experience to his career.
Neil remained in touch with White Rabbit, and he joined forces with them once again when they returned to Abu Dhabi, UAE for another overseas contract in the beginning of 2012. This time they had more success and the initial 3 month contract was extended and, five years later, they are still the resident band at Le Royal Meridian Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The band is very well known and has won awards at the Time Out Abu Dhabi Awards. They have also been invited to performing regularly at US military bases all over the middle east, including, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordon and UAE.
During his time in the UAE, Neil completed a Jam Track Centrals BA (Hons) degree in Creative Performance Guitar, the first distance learning guitar degree in affiliation with Dime-Online and accredited by Falmouth University in UK. Studying under Martin Goulding, while performing full time in a resident band was the perfect inspirational scenario and, practicing 8 hours before going to the gig at night, quickly became a normal day.
Unfortunately in 2015 Neil had to put his studies and work on hold to have surgery on his left forearm. He had 2 benign tumors in his left ulnar nerve. Surgery was successful and 10 weeks later he was back on stage and in January 2016 he resumed his studies.
After completing his Music degree with a First Class Honours he decided to continue his studies and enrolled to study his Masters in Music Performance at The ICMP in London, England (Formally known as The Guitar Institute). He completed his Masters Degree which was focused on improvisation and developing your own voice and identity as a instrumental artist, in September 2018, with a distinction.
Concluding this achievement he moved back to the Middle East and settled in Abu Dhabi, UAE once again. Here he formed a energetic and highly skilled duo with Veronique, called "Nicky and Neil", currently performing around the UAE at various venues and events entertaining crowds with a wide and dynamic repertoire. Venues include Velocity in the Marriot Downtown(Abu Dhabi), Bentleys Kitchen in Galleria Mall(Abu Dhabi), Al Bahar at The Corniche(Abu Dhabi) and Dubai Sport Dome in Sport City (Dubai).