Meet Phoebe PearsonCaroline Laurenson
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
In the latest instalment of our blog series, we interview Phoebe Pearson to find out more about how she got into Music Technology and what she likes to do outside of work.
I am a big believer in serendipity and Phoebe ending up coming to work for us was definitely meant to be. We applied for the government Kickstart programme last year. Originally, we were thinking we’d hire someone closer to Aberdeen, but Phoebe, who’s based just South of Glasgow, saw our advert and applied literally the day before her 25th birthday. Age 25 was the cut off for the scheme. We also originally were thinking that someone with a computer science background would be best and hadn’t considered hiring someone from a more creative background.
We’re absolutely delighted to have her on the team and that she will be staying on with us on a permanent contract. Read on to find out more about Phoebe and why we love working with her so much.
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How did you get into Music Technology?
I became interested in music technology during my final years of high school. At the time I wanted to become a music producer. I’m not a fan of performing as I have bad stage fright but I wanted to be involved in the process of creating the music which would be eventually performed by someone else. I’ve been playing the clarsach (a smaller version of the harp, traditional to the Celtic nations of northwest Europe) since I was 8 years old. I mostly do it for my own enjoyment. I rarely perform and if I do it’s with friends or for work.
I went onto study a BA (hons) in Commercial Music at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). During my time there I learned about music business, songwriting, performing, music philosophy, marxism and music technology. When beginning music technology, I had no idea what I was doing. But by the end of my time at UWS I was very much in love with the art of music tech and everything audio related.
After graduating with a first-class honours, I took a gap year and saved money to do a Masters in Audio Technology. I attend the University of York and graduated with distinction with a Msc in Audio and Music Technology. During my time there I learned a lot about coding and the science behind audio. I struggled a lot with switching from the arts to science but I soon saw the benefits with coding as it’s just another way of creating something. It’s different from art and music. It’s more structured and less free but it gives the option of using a contrasting medium. Now I work as a voice application developer so I use what I learned during my masters with coding in my job.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work I enjoy creating music by myself and with friends. I’ve been building on becoming more confident in sharing my musical ideas with others without feeling judged or self-conscious. I’ve still got a long way to go but I’m on the right path in feeling more confident in my musical abilities. Lately I’ve been into listening to funk-soul-city pop from the 80s, mostly artists from the UK and Japan, some being Shakatak and Kikuchi Momoko. I’ve been trying songwriting and production techniques I heard these artists using. I try to keep up my drawing skills by attending life drawing classes and painting at home.
If you could go on holiday anywhere right now, where would it be and why?
I would honestly be happy to go anywhere currently if money and time weren’t a deciding factor. I have friends living around the world, who I’ve met over the years. Meeting any of them in their home country and learning about their culture would truly be a gift. Waking up every day to a new place with people you love would be awesome! Eating food with them, going to attractions with them. I really can’t see any downside to it!
Are you a coffee or a tea person?
I like both but I mostly drink coffee. I cut cold turkey for a couple of months and didn’t drink coffee, but I realised how much I missed it ha-ha. I missed the experience of drinking coffee when I first wake up. There’s something comforting about it, maybe because it reminds me of my dad.
Do you have a favourite author, blogger or podcast?
I have two favourite podcasts, Let’s Talk About Myths Baby by Liv Albert and Ologies by Alie Ward. I’d recommend the first one if you love Greek and Roman mythology and the second one if you love learning about the world.
What are your top tips for maintaining wellbeing?
Prioritising yourself. Not in a selfish way but I’ve learned over the years that you need to learn to trust yourself and love yourself. There will be certain points in your life whether you like it or not, you will only have yourself to rely on. Building a trusting relationship with yourself and your instincts is important. Spending time alone while doing something to boost your physical and mental health will help you learn about yourself more and maintain a better wellbeing.
What advice would you give to people wanting to get started in Music Technology?
My advice is being open to going down different avenues. Music Technology is a massive umbrella will loads of sectors. So, I’d say explore everything and see what you love and then hone in on that skill and career.
I think what speaking to Phoebe shows more than anything is that you don’t need to come from a tech background to work in tech and also that the tech sector needs creative people like Phoebe to create engaging user experiences.
Start-up life can be a bit unpredictable. Phoebe’s definitely been thrown in at the deep end, but has made so much progress in only a short period of time. What we’ve appreciated most is how willing she is to try new things; she always asks insightful questions and makes valuable suggestions.
We’ve created opportunities for her to lead on design decisions and experience the design process of a voice application from idea through to launch. Phoebe created an app as part of her training, it’s a Pomodoro timer that helps with productivity on the Alexa smart speakers, called Phocus Space. If you want to check it out, just say “Alexa, open Phocus Space”. We’d love to know what you think, and would love it even more if you could leave us a review in the Amazon store.