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Alumni of the Month August 2007
Jon Weinel (2005 Music technology & Visual Arts)
1. How did you get to where you are now?
I’ve always been excited by music. I stole CDs from my siblings and borrowed them from the library on a weekly basis when I was growing up. I learnt the guitar and taped every Iron Maiden album. Then I got into 60s psychedelia, punk, electronic music and a heap of other styles. I’d DJ at some parties for drunken teenagers and primary school kids’ birthdays (I think the latter was more interesting), and taught myself to programme electronic beats on the computer. I was quite fortunate that at my school they thought it was cool that my coursework consisted of a cassette of drum & bass and a guitar rendition of “Hey Joe” performed with my most-excellent guitar tutor on bass. Everyone had always done piano concertos before, but they liked it and I got the GCSE music subject prize. At Keele music took on many new directions and meanings as I explored it with tutors and friends. Now I have a huge vinyl collection and an empty pocket, but I’m pretty happy.
2. What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Quite a few things have come up for me this year. In March a short video I created was selected as one of six to be performed at MANTIS South-North festival at Manchester University. I’ve managed to get some of my music released on the netlabels Analogue Mind Control Network and Betamod Radio. An article I’ve written the about a niche genre of hardcore techno called flashcore has been published on Spannered. I’ve been DJing up in Keele now and then when I can make it back up which is always great fun. Recently I DJ’d in Plymouth as part of the Sonic Arts Network Expo. This month two of my audio and audio-visual compositions are being performed at Sound 07 festival in Wimborne, Dorset.
3. And your biggest mistake?
Developing a love for grime music, to the irritation of those around me.
4. What are your ambitions now?
If I get funding I may be studying a PhD in music. Even if I don’t I’ll still continue to make music and DJ. Right now I’m working on a series of mixtapes called Heavy Nurgle, which is both a joke and a sonic experiment. I’m also working toward setting up an independent t-shirt design shop while working for Somerset County Council Adult Social Care. My main ambition with music is to make these sounds and absurd projects in my head come to life. I’ve found it to be almost impossible to get any jobs related to music, but it doesn’t have to be a full time job for me working for Sony or producing the latest Killers album. Many of the current artists I respect most don’t necessarily make a huge amount of money from what they do. I want to improve my technical abilities, and hopefully start a collaborative live project with some musicians who play sax or viola. I think flashcore jazz-drone is almost certainly the order of the day, and since no one is making this awful racket it’s left up to me!
5. What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
If anybody is interested in making flashcore jazz-drone they should probably email me and possibly we can collaborate. Seriously though I think people should figure out what it is they want to do and then do it. There is no point copying what other people are doing. Also it’s not enough to have these vague ideas, you actually have to put some work in to turn those ideas into something real.
6. What made you choose Keele University?
The Music Technology course, because you can study music from a creative angle at Keele without having to be classically proficient in two instruments. At the time I was choosing a music course either you had to have a grade 6 in two instruments, or you had to do what would essentially be an electronics engineering course where maybe you’d also have occasional use of a recording studio. At Keele Music Technology is studied through electro-acoustic music; nobody has the slightest idea what that means when they get there, but it doesn’t really matter because people end up bending it toward whatever they are interested in, and it makes them look at sound and music differently. The other aspect was the dual honours scheme, because it allowed me to carry on my visual art stuff alongside the music.
7. How has Keele influenced your life?
Coming to Keele was a consciousness expanding experience; I guess just being thrown miles away from the town you grew up in and forced to get along with an entirely new group of people does that. I made some wonderful friends, had some great tutors and stayed away from the KPA just long enough to get a few things done.
8. What is your favourite memory of Keele?
Walking around misty fields getting my shoes all soggy and wet, and that fresh damp tree smell you get. Definitely the trees I would say. What amazing leaves… wow! Apart from that, Folk club at the KPA and Stoke Café.
9. And your worst?
The ballroom in the union. It’s way too hot, noisy and sweaty. And falling over in mud.
10. Anything else you would like to add?
If you think about it, the existence of the universe, human consciousness, and particularly dinosaurs, is side splittingly funny. I feel that one of the aspiration goals of art should be to express the incredible complexity, beauty, romance, groggy rhythm and melancholy of this elaborate joke. “We sail tonight for Singapore, We're all as mad as hatters here!”