Personal reflections on Wire Salon

I was recently asked to appear on the Wire Salon panel at Café OTO, entitled The Ways of the Hacker. A real honour. The other panellists were Tom Bugs, Leafcutter John and late addition Kirsten Reynolds

I got down there and set stuff up. As usual, the fact that I tend to spend less and less time in front of a computer stumped me a little in getting up and running but I still managed to do so in a timely fashion. Frances (Morgan – who led the discussion), Tom and John popped for some food whilst Kirsten and I popped to get some cheap water from the shop. With hindsight, maybe some food BEFORE the Westmalle Tripel might’ve been a good idea but at least it got me in a chatty mood.

Despite the liquid relaxant, when I saw how many people had come I was rather nervous. I had been forewarned by Richard Whitelaw of Sound and Music when I met him earlier in the day that it can get packed but I was used to such events attracting less punters than panel members. My pre-conceptions couldn’t have been more wrong; twas RAMMED.

The discussion started with each of us having an opportunity to introduce ourselves and then later our projects. I had prepared a few slides to show people and covered my Sonic Graffiti project when prompted by Frances. I wasn’t sure whether I’d get the opportunity to outline other aspects of my work but I hoped I might later on…

As it turned out the discussion was free-flowing and even reasonably intense at times. Some themes which I consider to be reoccurring in my field came up, including: how technology for the sake of it is no answer, how performance is key in live electronic music (and how our approaches aim to address this), how we earn a crust doing this stuff etc. It was a good debate with some interesting questions afterwards. The audience seemed pretty into it and hopefully it will be put up here in due course too: (a source of much inspiration)

Afterwards, I hung out with Kirsten some more, Jo from Badtiming and my dad; who had come up from Cornwall for a couple of days in London with me. A few people came up to discuss stuff but they seemed more wowed by Tom and John’s lovely boxes. Understandable, they are lovely!

A great event I thought. The only change I would make is to have a better overview of how things might run and how much time will be given to different bits. I guess that’s hard to predict, however Frances did mention that due to some stuff not being fully covered she is considering holding a Round Two of this discussion to tease out a few more thoughts. There was plenty more scope, so that would be fantastic!

Lastly, apart from the boost I got from being asked to participate in this, (Leafcutter) John took time to say some very nice stuff about my work after the event. He identified a purity of approach in my practice. This is something I consider really central to what I do, so it was great to have someone like John spot this. In general, given how new I am to doing this stuff full time, it was very heartening to start to feel I was amongst peers at such an event, especially given that Tom Bugs was a notable influence in me starting out with instrument building!

Lastly, lastly, I’d like to thank Frances and Tony of the Wire magazine for inviting me.

Ideas for Breakfast

I am doing a talk/presentation on “Sonic Graffiti & Active Listening” on the 19th of August, at the rather swanky looking W Hotel in London. I’ll be discussing my Sonic Graffiti project and then spending some time getting people to focus on the sounds that they might normally ignore or filter out.

This is part of W London’s Ideas for Breakfast series, which is aimed at inspiring (and feeding) people. Here’s what Design Week had to say about it: Ideas for Breakfast