Aaron Intemann is one of the men behind Lead Ink Ltd NZ, a music production company based in the South Island. He has just released a powerful album entitled Vintage Truth, the end product of a rocky road and life-changing experiences. Here is Aaron’s extraordinary story:


Let me kick things off when I turned 15 and moved away to boarding school. That’s where the story behind the album Vintage Truth begins.

I had no trouble adapting to the lifestyle of Rutherford House. It was easy. The best thing about being there was gaining a reputation as fresh. Not fresh as in cool, but fresh like when a tourist visits a small town and the locals can’t help but stare. Nelson City had a sense of accomplishment. Not everybody knew everybody. I felt like I could stand out beyond academic and sporting accomplishments. It had opportunity.

I remember the first house party I went to in Nelson. The girls were nice. The music was loud. We drank on a balcony overlooking the city and harbour. Back home in Westport, house parties were held in state homes often rented by young workers or school seniors. It was a different environment. I liked the new one, a lot.   

After two years at Nelson College, I realised there was no way I was getting a loan to go to university. My academics, though outstanding from year 10-12, were mediocre. I didn’t give school the attention I could have. 

Something happened to me in my final year of high school. I realised I wanted to tell my story and I wanted to do it using a microphone. I needed content however, and one holiday after returning back to Nelson from the Coast, I found it.

I wanted to be drug dealer, not just any drug dealer, the best. Break the law and bring riches – that was the message in popular music and movies of the early 2000’s – music like Dr Dre’s The Game and movies like Training Day.

I dabbled with selling weed back home in Westport. I would ride around with Scott (name changed to protect the innocent) and we would basically mule for this dealer. I would drop the product to three spots in the town. One group was a bunch of young dudes. I would use drug money to buy us all food, jewellery or clothing. They would steal from local business and give me some of the spoils. 

My conscience started to kick in when I was 19. Crystal meth was becoming more popular. I witnessed the clientele, who I thought only smoked weed, start to dabble in harder drugs.  It scared me. I felt like their direct link to the meth dealers. Then it happened. I had a psychotic episode.

At first I managed it, I was able to calm it. But by the time I couldn’t sleep without thinking I was going to be murdered or raped, or worse, my parents intervened. I never really thanked them for that, but they saved my life. I went from a vibrant, out going, ‘world’s your oyster’ type of guy to a scared, passive and quiet young man.

I saw my psychotic episode as an omen. It was time to right (write) my wrongs. Now, I had seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

The stigma that came with my experience was strange. I think it’s harder to manage something like that in a small town. People were talking about me, saying I’d lost it, went mad. But no one really knew what happened. Some people were really supportive, but not many. My mother’s strength definitely pulled me through those times. 

By now, I had a computer set up to an old mini system so I could record lyrics onto a tape and play them in my car. To everyone else, making music was an impossible dream, something I was only doing as a coping mechanism. I spent my spare time practicing rhymes, writing lyrics and changing songs to make them relevant to my situation and to Westport. I felt like the town had a story to tell.

The problem was, things were different. The culture and popular themes of hip-hop had changed. I carried on sitting at home listening to rap, defiant to the fact I had spent 4-5 years ‘gaining content’ only to have to universe shift. 

A lot of what I get up to now has to do with positive male role models. I figured I could be one. I thought, hey, I’m 26 and haven’t touched alcohol (or drugs) for two years. First I put myself out there as a musician. I felt to be a role model I needed to show some measure of success, to start selling my music.

I was immediately amazed by the direct correlation between selling CDs and selling drugs. The thing was, selling CD’s had more going for it. A nice looking CD with 10 or more songs in a proper case can fetch $20-$30. I wanted my music to look the best it could.  This led me to wanting to start a company and be my own boss. 

In order to start a company I had to start hanging out with the right people. I went in, as green as Oliver Twist, and became an executive member at a local not for profit. They had a focus of youth work. This was something I already had a passion for, it felt like a real organic fit. I had been involved with them previously through a street art course but being elected on to their board was a massive personal victory. It helped a lot with the momentum of what I was trying to achieve.

It was there that I discovered I had a natural talent for marketing and PR. Two years later (2015) Lead Ink Ltd NZ was officially formed. It was initially a company for music but has moved beyond that now. It caters for everything I do. Basically, if you want something done, I’ll do it. Just one catch though, I’m going to charge GST. 

Now, after gaining all that experience, that ‘content’, it’s time to reach out and tell my story. Vintage Truth, the album is ready to do that.