Sam Bilbow | Soph.Curates

Describe yourself like an Instagram/Twitter bio:

I’m a guitarist and music system developer based in Brighton. I take Music Technology at the University of Sussex and next year will be my final year. 

What do you do?

I make music at home in my spare time using my two guitars and my Mac. Most of the time I find myself in creative ruts, so I’m trying to find out how to deal with that at the moment. I’ve found that I enjoy the creativity that comes with coding and developing my own instruments rather than making music, so that is what I’m focusing on at the moment. I work part time at a Belgian fries shop called BeFries, where everyone who works there is really into music, I enjoy surrounding myself with people who enjoy music, and enjoy talking about it. On my University course, I write music as well as build/design musical instruments.

How and why did you start?

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 12 years old. It was two of my uncles that inspired me to do so, one that tried (very hard) to teach me how to play ‘She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain’ one summer, and the other who has always loved The Beatles and puts them on in the garden in the summer time. My music tastes have varied over the last 8 years starting with The Beatles, and progressing into Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, and then onto Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin from Year 9 until about Year 13 at school, where my friends had more of an influence on my listening. I started listening to more indie rock and indie pop – Two Door Cinema Club and Chvrches. In my first year of university I got really into synth pop, and put down the guitar for a bit while I fantasised about having a rack of analogue synthesisers. However recently I’ve been listening to a lot more Jimi Hendrix, Tame Impala, John Mayer, and the Foo Fighters.

What are you currently working on/what should we be looking forward to?

I’ve just finished the third stage in development for my WeatherSynth. It’s a generative synthesiser that reacts to the weather. It took me about 2-3 months to code and design, and I’m pretty proud of it. This summer I will be working alongside researchers at the University of Sussex as part of a Junior Research Associate role, helping out with their current research project: NETEM. It’s a really fun and engaging project that will culminate in the launching of two tablet apps in September. One being the NETEM performer app, and the other being the NETEM conductor app. The project aims to replace paper scores in primary school orchestras with iPads, and these apps, that make reading and following music in ensembles a lot easier for younger children. Each student gets an iPad on a stand that shows only their music score, and it scrolls along to the beat of the conductor using their conductor app. All in all, I’m really looking forward to working alongside them, and I will be keeping my Facebook page updated.

What’s your advice for people who want to get started?

Honestly I think having contact with your lecturers and seminar tutors is a really good place to get started in understanding more about the field. Without it I wouldn’t have got this summer role. As for learning an instrument, if you can’t afford a teacher (they’re quite expensive), you can learn a lot by buying a cheap instrument off Gumtree or Ebay, and teaching yourself from YouTube videos.

Lastly, shamelessly plug yourself!

I’ve started using social media a bit more this year for my work, it’s a really good way to disseminate projects and pieces that I’m working on to people who might be interested.