Interview time with Hannes Tydén

Interview time with Hannes Tydén

How’s it going Cloudettes and Clouders?

We’ve been working on a few background things these last few days, so unfortunately we don’t have any spectacular new functions to present you. But hold tight to your mice, trackpads, trackballs and other interactive devices as we’re preparing a major release in 2 weeks!

While you’re waiting for the next SoundCloud bonanza we’d like to present you a new installment of our popular “Interview Time” series. This month, super-skilled programmer Hannes Tydén switches off his browser tabs for a few minutes and tells us a bit more about the real life up in the Cloud:

  • Välkommen Hannes! Glad you could find the time between your intense coding sessions to introduce yourself! Could you tell us how you fell in love with computers and how you ended up moving to Berlin to work on SoundCloud?

I’ve been interested in technology as long as I can remember, and played my fair share of video and computer games since the age of seven. I remember trying to program my Commodore 64, without any success. But the interest in programming started growing in high school. I studied natural science and got a programmable calculator. I programmed it to solve all the physics and chemistry formulas, so I didn’t have to keep them in my head. Of course this made me learn the formulas by heart, but it was fun trying to beat the system.

A year later my mother bought a computer and I started playing around with Photoshop. Another year passed and we got an Internet connection, then I started coding my own personal websites, mostly about the bands I listened to back then. After a while I noticed that I was more interested in designing and coding the websites than in the actual content. It was more fun to build the tree house than to sit in it.

After graduating from high school, Eric, whom I got to know during high school, gave me a tip about an open position at SyncMediaCom, a small web agency in Stockholm, so I applied for a the job and got it. By then I was interested in industrial and graphic design and I started out doing some design work and front end development, but as the company grew I found myself doing less design and more development. This was when I realized that I’d rather work as a programmer than as a designer.

I knew I wanted to get a degree, and in 2002 I started studying computer science at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. After a trip to Berlin in 2005 I decided to move here and in September 2006 I began to study at Technische Universität Berlin as an exchange student.

During the spring of 2007 Eric contacted me and asked me if I wanted to write my master thesis for SoundCloud and now, one year later, it’s still not finished…

  • Haha, so Eric tricked you into working for SoundCloud without really mentioning it. But I guess there must have been something about the platform that appealed to you?

At first I thought I would just write my thesis for SoundCloud, but as time passed I understood that there was so much more to do and also that SoundCloud really can make an impact on how musicians work, collaborate and promote their creations. This was the first time I felt that what I did actually could make a difference to other people.

Another great thing with SoundCloud is the focus on quality and functionality, in both the big and small. There is room for being creative and at the same time the technological level is higher than I’ve ever experienced. The best of two worlds.

  • Well, it’s great to have you on board! Could you explain what your coding colleagues and yourself are working on at the moment?

SoundCloud as a platform gives all the smart people the chance to build what we haven’t thought of yet. At the moment we’re developing players for MySpace, Facebook and blogs so people can share their music to the public more easily. Other stuff you could build with our API (Application Programming Interface) are desktop players, applications for uploading files and also integrating comments into instant messengers like MSN and iChat.

But I think the important aspect of this is that it’s not us at SoundCloud who decides how you want to listen or react to the music in the Cloud, but anyone who feels there is some feature we overlooked while building the site.

The possibilities are endless…

  • Sounds really exciting… speaking of which, what sort of music do you like? Who are your favourite artists?

It’s a wide span. At the moment it’s mostly thrash, sludge, progressive metal and hard rock mixed with minimal techno and electronica, then add a dash of pop classics. Might sound like a weird mix, but I really think they blend well.

  • That’s interesting because, currently, most of the artists on SoundCloud are House & Techno producers. Do you think SoundCloud could appeal to rock & metal musicians?

Yes, of course. I believe the way they create their music is different, but after the music has been created and recorded it’s more or less the same thing. I know of people who live in one city, go to a studio in another city to record their songs and then the mastering is done by the guy at the studio. Uploading the songs to SoundCloud makes it easier for people to work this way, having a much tighter feedback loop.

  • I totally agree. Did you have the chance to discover some interesting new artists via SoundCloud?

Mesak and Snax who both did excellent performances at the SoundCloud party a month ago, even if they’re completely different acts.

The last week I’ve been listening a lot to Demir’s Vorwein set and Superd who gives me some Heimweh for Stockholm.

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