Woohoo! More interviews with SoundCloud peeps! We have François Wurmus (also known as Fronx) this week, who just joined the admin team here. Learn more about him below!
How did you end up here at SoundCloud? What were you doing before?
For the last three years, I’ve been doing Rails projects for large companies, including major website relaunches using a CMS. Being a (leisure time) musician myself, I found out about SoundCloud when I was looking for a nice and simple way to share some of my tracks with my brother, who currently lives in China. I really liked the simplicity of use so I thought to myself, it would be cool to join the SoundCloud team one day. A few weeks later, I noticed that they were hiring, so, luckily, “one day” turned out to be a little sooner than expected.
Do you have any favourite tracks on SoundCloud at the moment?
One track I like very much is “Solitaire” by Leaving Atlantis (one of our SoundClouders of the Day).
What kind of music are you into?
If I like a track or not, it doesn’t depend on the musical style that much. I listen to several forms of rock, electronic, jazz, and folk music. There are several things that tend to make me want to find out more about a band or an artist:
1) exceptionally well execution of known musical ideas
2) mutant or crossbred musical ideas
3) ironic use of musical styles
In any case, it has to be as far away from clichés as possible.
So you make music yourself? What do you play?
When I was 10 years old, I started playing the guitar without formal lessons. I especially liked the rhythmic part—playing funky, syncopated rhythms and odd meters—so consequently I moved to drums after 6 years. I convinced my brother to take over the guitar part, so we could play together—mostly covering classic rock songs. Currently, I am still looking for musicians to play with.
So far, what do you like the most about working for SoundCloud?
I enjoy the international atmosphere. I expect to learn a lot from non-German approaches to solving problems and creating things. You can feel people are really motivated and think and talk about their work all the time. Also, it is nice to build something I personally use. It doesn’t feel like work that much, actually.
Last question, give us a fun fact about yourself!
Please wait while my random fact generator selects an appropriate item… OK, here it is: “Fronx draws 87% of his analogies from biology. He also seeks out opportunities to describe anything as taking place in some multidimensional space.”
Alright then! Give Fronx a “hello” by commenting below or following him @Fronx and/or on SoundCloud!
This week, we introduce to you, Tobi Bielohlawek! He recently joined the SoundCloud app team. Find out more about this music/dance lover below!
So… how did you end up working for SoundCloud?
I came across SoundCloud the first time about a year ago, while searching for good music of course. You must know, I’m quite into swinging tunes, especially if they are spiced with some electronic beatz, and SoundCloud is just full of such kinds. Soon, it became my number one source for finding music and I started to recommend my discoveries on my (Electronic) Swing Blog.
By the time I left my last Job in Hamburg with Qype, it happened to be that SoundCloud was hiring. As I fancied moving to Berlin anyway, I couldn’t wait to apply and wooosh, now I’m happy to be part of the app developement team!
What kind of music are you lovin’ these days?
That’s a hard question to answer. As I said, I like it when it swings. Listening to the good ol’ ones, like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fritzgerald or Louis Prima, makes me smile – such music is so full of life and joy.
Recently, I enjoy music remixed as ‘Electro Swing’ or ‘Swing Beat’, which is perfect to dance crazy to. If it has some big and breaking Balkan influences, I just can’t stop dancing!
Do you have any favorite tracks on SoundCloud right now?
Oi, these questions don’t get any easier ;-) Well, Frohlocker, a duo from the South-West of Germany, are my all time favorite.
Hipbrass is just kick ass or Balkadan from Jerusalem, he shortly released “The Swing Redux”, which I like a lot:
Are you a musician? Do you play any instruments?
Honest answer, no. Well, my parents tried hard to push me into learning an instrument (fingers crossed they don’t read this), but unfortunately, practicing wasn’t my top priority. So, I guess it didn’t work out well and it would even be saying too much that I have more than basic piano and guitar skills :-)
But now, I figure, it wouldn’t be fun for musicians if nobody danced to their stuff, right? And that’s exactly the part I’m taking instead – dancing Charleston, Lindy Hop or crazy freestyle moves.
What do you like the most about working for SoundCloud so far?
I quite like the atmosphere, having great young people from all over the world around and seeing more and more musicians using the website to publish their music; it’s great. In addition, working on a product, which I use myself, all the time is great fun. This combined with positive feedback from our users is just perfect. So keep it coming ;-)
Thanks Tobi! Feel free to follow Tobi on Twitter @rngtng and check out his, as he would say “geeky”, blog!
For this Friday’s employee interview, we spoke to Dave Haynes, our business development guy in London. Although he’s stationed remotely in the UK, Dave’s presence is ever strong here in our Berlin office. Here’s what he has to say…
How did you come to work at SoundCloud?
I first linked up with SoundCloud just after it had launched in private beta. It was spring 2008 and in my spare time I was doing quite a bit of writing and was in the process of researching a piece on upcoming digital music services such as Songkick, Songza and of course SoundCloud. I was already a big fan of Eric’s (founder and CTO) as he’d been writing some super smart blog posts of his own that really summed up how I felt myself about the development of digital music. So it was really exciting to chat over Skype and hear all about SoundCloud’s future plans.
So anyway, I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but at some point I went over to Berlin to meet properly with both Eric and Alex and said that I’d love to try and help spread the word about SoundCloud. And things just went from there really. I’m extremely lucky in that I’m really passionate about what we do and get to work with such an amazing team of people!!
As an aside, some years prior to SoundCloud, I owned and ran a local record store and I remember over-ordering an album that Eric made as Forss, called Soulhack because I was a big fan of that too. I’m sure I still have at least two copies of the CD at home. Ha!
What do you do for SoundCloud?
My official job title is VP Business Development but for some reason I always cringe when I say it. Really it just means I get to speak to a lot of awesome people about why they should be using SoundCloud. This quite often means conversations with different people in the music industry, from labels to managers to media. But one of the things I love about SoundCloud is that I get to do all sorts of people about all sorts of things. There’s quite a bit more to what I do but I won’t bore you with the details!
Also, although I’m not a developer I started an event last year called Music Hack Day which I now help run. And in my spare time I put on an informal meetup called OpenMusicMedia where we invite guests down to lead conversations about innovation in the music industry. Both are very synergetic with what I do day to day at SoundCloud and mean I get to meet even more awesome people.
What’s it like working remotely from London?
There’s three of us in the office here now and we have an office in Old Street (dubbed Silicon Roundabout) that we share with Moo.com, Tweetdeck and some other cool web startups. It’s great actually. Although Berlin has an amazing music scene London is still the heart of the music industry in Europe. The nice thing is that I still get to visit Berlin HQ regularly to keep in sync with the rest of the team. But Alex and Eric have done such a great job of setting out a vision for what we do at SoundCloud that I can just wake up in the morning and somehow know what needs to get done that day.
What kind of music are you into?
Ha! I hate that question, I usually just tell people to check my Last.fm profile, but that probably doesn’t tell the whole story. Having worked in a record shop you have to listen to and appreciate a lot of different types of music. And I have crates and crates of vinyl which are now sadly tucked away in my loft. I find I do most of my music listening nowadays on my long commute into work or whilst behind my laptop which has probably changed my listening behaviors quite a bit. I like a lot of things like Nick Drake, Joanna Newsom, Kings Of Convenience, The Tallest Man on Earth, Iron & Wine, etc. to unwind. But I really enjoy a lot more glitchy, forward looking stuff like Four Tet, Caribou, Tunng and all the experimental shades of dubstep. I can’t stop listening to this track called ‘Puzzled’ recently:
At heart, I’m really a fan of music that is constantly innovating and fusing different elements of what has gone before. Although bizarrely, I’ve been secretly getting into a bit of metal recently, which I’ve never been into before, in any form. We’ve been working with quite a few metal acts and labels on SoundCloud so I’ve somehow formed this weird guilty addiction to the music. Some of the tracks have a really energy which I also find with electronic artists like Noisia. Perfect for getting work done :)
Are you a musician yourself?
I play the piano. I’m definitely not an expert but I find it really helps me relax. I absolutely love playing pieces by Dustin O’Halloran and Debussy (my attempts can be hear below) but I’ve also been learning a few pieces by Joanna Newsom that I found transcribed somewhere on the web. Here it is:
I wouldn’t call it being a musician, but I used to DJ a lot too when I ran a record label called Inspirit Music with my brother. Somehow I managed to get paid to play in clubs all round Europe for about two years and had a DJ mix compilation released on CD called InSoul Sessions. I also went into the studio and did a few remixes of tracks on our own catalogue too, but those were always co-produced with others. You can hear a few things on my SoundCloud profile. Seems like a long time ago now!
Expert pianist or not, looks like you’ve got a future in piano performance ahead of you! Find Dave on Twitter at @haynes_dave and at his website here.