Student profile: Robin Hunter, BSc Creative Computing



Third year BSc Creative Computing student Robin Hunter talks to Blog.Doc about electronic music software, and why Goldsmiths has been the perfect environment for his development.

“Some of the best electronic music in the world was made on Playstations.”

Robin Hunter is explaining to me the background of his latest project. “If you look at what Simon Reynolds calls the Hardcore Continuum – the music that started with acid house in the late 80s, hardcore rave and then later grime and dubstep – this was all made using cheapo electronics and software.”

“But the problem now is that we have industry-standard music production software likeLogic and Ableton. They’re so complex and feature-heavy, it’s like buying a Ferrari just for driving to the shops. If you’re an aspiring musician you have to pay so much for these really powerful systems, but unless you have formal training in how to use it, you’ll barely use all the features. So I’m interested in creating a software that’s much simpler but achieves pretty much the same results.”

Robin’s latest project, OCEAN, has just won the ‘best product’ prize at Generation, Goldsmiths Computing’s undergraduate show. It’s an online music production platform that allows people to work on the same track at the same time, in the same way that Google Docs works.

“The friends I make music with, they live all over London, so it’s not always convenient to meet up. But at the moment it’s a real hassle if you want to use the internet to collaborate on tracks. You have to send these massive files to each other on Dropbox and it takes forever. But with OCEAN, it’s all happening live. I can be working on a track and my friends are listening to it and adding to it at exactly the same time. And it’s really simple and intuitive to use.”

Robin grew up in Chester and did Media, Business and ICT at ‘A’ level. He was really into making music, and studied Music Technology for a year but got disillusioned. “I was making music that was really experimental. I don’t think my teachers understood what I was doing, really. And I looked into studying Creative Sound Design at the Academy of Contemporary Music, but I realised that that would be a one-way ticket to not getting a job.”

“I was also really interested in Media – about how the internet has changed things so much. I thought that’s what I’d probably study at university. But I got interested in the internet pioneers, people like Jack Dorsey, and I realised I didn’t want to just write about these people. I wanted to be one of them.”

“I found Goldsmiths and saw their video about computing courses, which said that Goldsmiths doesn’t teach you computer science by forcing you to create fake accounting systems for imaginary businesses (like most computing courses do), but gives you the freedom to create the things that you are really interested in. So I knew this was the place for me.”

“I saw that James Blake and Blur had been to Goldsmiths, and because so much of the music I love was coming out of London, I really wanted to be here. New Cross isn’t the most beautiful place in the world, but it’s got everything you need for being a student, and it’s really easy to get into central London and Shoreditch.”

So what next? Over the summer, Robin will be a Technology Design for Fjord Fjord contacted Robin after seeing his work on the DoC website and offered him an 8 week intern placement focusing on web development, consultancy and design.

His 2nd year project, DATA GLOBE, was picked to exhibit at last year‘s undergraduate show. It has been the poster images for Generation for the last two years. His tutor, Mick Grierson, was impressed with his work and recommended him to colleagues at Goldsmiths’ Interaction Research Studio. “They got me working on the top floor of the Ben Pimlott Building for one day a week during term time, and then for two months over the summer, and they gave me a great salary. Hopefully working with EAVI this summer will be just as rewarding.”

And after summer? “I love Goldsmiths. I really want to stay, so I’m going to try to get on a Master’s course. I’m also looking at how to take OCEAN to market. I think it’s got real potential, in the same way that Instagram takes the core of what Photoshop does, but makes it instant and really simple to use.”