Riding The Synthwave

Aside from robotics and computers, my other interest is synthesizers, mainly the ones from the 80’s and, of course, hand-in-hand with this: the Synthwave genre of synth music. Synthwave has been described as

a genre of electronic music influenced by 1980s film soundtracks and video games

I prefer to think of it as all the music we wanted to create in the 80’s but weren’t able to. Many of the people I know who are into Synthwave are, like me, technically and musically orientated but, back in the 80’s, didn’t have the finances or the right circumstances to be able to produce the music we wanted to. I certainly didn’t, although I did beg my parents to buy me a PowerTran Trancendent 2000 self-build synth from Electronics Today, to no avail. Still, I was able to still make music using my ZX Spectrum although it was harder work than playing a synth. I sated my thirst for synth playing by spending my time in Andertons Music in Guildford most Saturday afternoons, playing a range of synths such as the Roland Alpha Juno, Prophet 5, Yamaha DX7, MiniMoog, PolyMoog, Jupiter 8 and so on.

My parents eventually bought me a wonderful piece of kit called the Eminent 310U, a dual keyboard organ with Solina String synth attached. Even though it wasn’t a Prophet 5 or a DX7 I loved playing it, especially as I managed to sound (and play) a bit like Jean-Michel Jarre (the reason being that he uses an Eminent liberally on both Oxygene and Equinox and several other albums). Unfortunately, my parents had to get rid of it when we moved as it was too big to fit into the new place. To say I was unhappy was an understatement.

Since those days I haven’t been in a position to write music or afford the hardware to do so (that’s another story I may get into one day), until now.

Thanks to a good friend of mine, I’m now the proud owner of a Sequential Circuits Prophet 2000 and a Roland Alpha Juno 1 plus various DAW’s (Digital Audio Workshops) and a heap of VST synth emulators (mostly 80’s synths and one specifically for JMJ type sounds). I also have a Soundcloud account performing under the nom-de-plume of TransSonix. I also have an album being released on various online platforms called “No Ordinary Life

Most of my music fits into the Synthwave genre and I am now creating a project called The Trans Synthwave Orchestra, a music collaboration site designed to enable musicians from anywhere to share music, stems, advice and, hopefully, to perform together online and create wonderful music, synthwave or otherwise. It’s going to take some work but I’ve already got a good start and hopefully I’ll be able to launch the website soon.

 

Christine x

Tesla Girl Notes: Punishing Luxury*

Many things have happened since I restarted this blog and wrote the “Hidden Triggers” entry back in November 2017. The biggest of which is finally getting a job back in IT. It’s a contracting job but a job nontheless.

 

Taking Out Contracts:

It started out as a really low-level contract: upgrading monitor stands & docking stations for a large law firm. Hard work, boring but, hey, it brought in the much-needed finance. It also meant a bit of travel: Basingstoke, Reading, Oxford, London, Guildford, which gave me an insight into the vagaries of public transport, not having a car at that time (getting to & from the office in Oxford was a particular joy, especially as I had to be onsite at 9am, which necessitated leaving home at about 5am and usually not getting home till about 8pm).

Once that job was over I then went on to some cable-monkey work, installing switches, cabinets and mid-level cabling for a dental ceramics company near Sunbury then some floor-level networking for a artiste management company in London, giving credence to a comment I once made that:

“I seem to spend most of my time under other peoples desks”

Moving on, I then stepped up the ladder a little by being moved to a large accountancy firm near Tower Bridge, ostensibly to diagnose and repair Lenovo laptops, with a slight increase in pay that allowed me to finally buy a car. I chose a nice little 1999 VW Golf 1.9 GT TDI, which I named “Halo“, after one of my all-time favourite characters in 2000AD.

Fortunately, the organisation I was then working for were based just outside the Congestion Charge Zone and my route to and from work took me along the edge of the Neutral Zone (as I call it). Unfortuantely, due to Halo’s age and engine, I would have had to pay not only the congestion charge but also the T-charge, an extra payment for diesel vehicles that don’t have a registered emissions rating (introduced in 2000).

I eventually left the accountancy firm, (strangely, they were reluctant to let me go and wanted me full time) and moved onto my current contract in Mayfair which is a long-term contract providing IT support to 250+ users. The site I’m now working at is the HQ of one of the top 5 ad & media management companies in the world (to give you an idea of their size their total revenue last year (2017) was £15.2 billion).

 

Travelogue:

The working hours are good and the remuneration means I can live in a style I’ve not been accustomed to in many years but the travel can be harsh. I tend to miss out on standing and being squashed aboard a train for an hour from Aldershot to Waterloo by driving to Clapham Junction where I can park Halo in a secure underground car park and then get the train to Waterloo. This is where the ‘fun’ starts. Fortunately, I have several options and many trains to choose from but they all have one thing in common: severe overcrowding. Under good conditions I can arrive at Clapham at 0800 and be at my desk by 0840 but, there have been mornings where I’ve had to miss as many as five trains because I’m unable to get on them due to the sheer numbers of people trying to cram on them. It can often take me longer to get from Clapham to the office than from home to Clapham. Once at Waterloo (or Victoria, depending on the route), its time to negotiate the ‘crowd control’ measures in place most mornings: Ususally a single escalator down to the Underground ticket hall, closure of the link-door to the hall and forcing everyone outside and then back in via the outside door of the ticket hall. This can add nearly a half-hour to what is normally a ten to fifteen minute journey. (A good example is last Thursday: Left home at 0700, arrived Clapham at 0800, on platform at 0805, arrived at desk 0935!).

Going home can be even worse, especially when there are faults on the line, signalling problems or just plain bad management.

 

Epilogue:

So, contracting is great and having the money to live in a bit of luxury is wonderful but getting there and back can be punishing.

*My thanks to Andy & Paul (OMD) for inspiring the name of this blog and the many entries that may, or may not, be in it.

Hidden Triggers

I’ve decided to scrub this blog a bit and start again. All the original posts are still there, just hidden. Mainly because they really had no relevance to what this blog was about, apart from the ones about Ripley. Those I will put back up on their own page at some point but, for now, they’ll remain hidden until I have some updates on Ripley (which shouldn’t be too long).

I originally started this blog when I was working at TechStart but, as of the 17th September 2016, TechStart closed and is no more, unfortunately. Since then, I’ve been trying to keep busy starting my own company,  studying IT security & malware, trying to work on Ripley and now, I’ve joined an LGBT charity called Outline, based in Woking, as a trustee primarily responsible for IT and as SysAdmin.

I’ve also been writing music under the name ‘TransSonix‘. Thanks to my friend Ruth, I am now the proud owner of a 1985 vintage Sequential Circuits Prophet 2000 synth, an awesome sampling synth which, thanks to it’s MIDI interface, also doubles as a DAW controller enabling me to play a vast array of other synths. I’m loving it.

So, things aren’t too bad at the mo. Going slow but at least there’s room for improvement.