So, who are you?

Ilias Bergström, computer scientist, and live music performance enthusiast. I grew up in Stockholm and Athens (Greece), and have since far too early, spent too many hours in front of the computer. Mainly learning more and more ways to create with it, for graphics, music, programming, and most beautifully when all three meet!

Nearly everywhere I have worked or studied, I have been involved with music software development. At my job making planetarium software, I innovated Adaptive Soundtracks for the planetarium. While a researcher, I innovated tools and practices for live performance. And of course my spare time passion has been playing drums, synthesizers, as well as creating software for live audiovisual performance.

My academic background is an undergraduate degree in computer science in Sweden, followed by an MSc in computer graphics and virtual reality, at University College London, UK. UCL is also where I did my PhD, on media technology and human computer interaction, creating novel software and practices for live audiovisual music performance.

How did you end up here at MIND Music Labs?

I am a relatively recent hire. Honestly it is hard not to hear about MIND Music Labs if you are interested in following music technology innovations. As I live in Stockholm, I stayed in touch with my acquaintances at the company, and when I found out they were hiring, I eagerly applied!

What is your role at MIND Music Labs?

I am mainly employed as a senior software engineer, working on developing the ELK user-space software. But my varied background means I also frequently take part in other work, across the spectrum of what is involved in creating and bringing MIND’s products to market.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Learning, is definitely the most challenging, and at the same time rewarding, part of working at MIND! They say that the moment you stop learning is the moment you stop working as a software engineer, but with our work at MIND, given we are at the forefront of what is possible with today’s technology, being able to constantly learn and improve is even more important.

Best guitar solo ever?

Now that’s a hard one! I really enjoy the guitar playing in African highlife/afrofunk. I’ll have to go with Ghanian “African Brothers Band International”, the song “Ngyegye No So” from the 1970’s. It’s a 10-man band, with 4(!) guitarists, led by Nana Kwame Ampadu I.

Some 8 minutes into the song, after the organ player is done with his (beautiful) solo, Kwame goes:

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, I am now going to introduce myself: I am the composer, I am the singer, I am the arranger, I am the master guitarist. Now I will give you some phrases on the guitar. Now you watch me”. 

He proceeds to play some of the most perfectly spaced, delicate, mellow, beautiful phrases. And just when you go: wow, I could really listen to this guy all day, after only a minute of playing, he stops and quips:

“Yes. Me too! You clap for me”.

Then you hear what probably is the other three guitarists clapping and cheering him on. Meanwhile you scramble to rewind for the first out of several times, to really listen back to those few notes. I love it!

Most desired piece of vintage gear?

I’m tempted to say the Yamaha CS-80 Synthesizer, but I’d probably spend more time getting it serviced than playing 🙂

No, I’d go for a 1966 Farfisa Compact Duo organ, with the spring reverb in the power supply, paired with a Binson Echorec 2, and a Maestro MP-1 phaser. There are many “combo” organs out there, but the sound of the Farfisa, in particular the 1966 Duo, is by far the most beautiful. I’m sure I’d play it every day if I ever managed to get my hands on one!

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