With a PhD in the music computing space and a passion for coding Rene Wooller has found a good home at Nightlife – the perfect environment for our resident polymath… We thought it was time to investigate Rene’s path to Nightlife and the world of Wooller…
When and why did you start working for Nightlife?
I started with Nightlife two years ago and had been doing quite a lot of ‘normal’ software development for businesses before then; ranging from Symantec to marketing automation type roles. I had wanted to get back to music for quite a while – I actually studied music production at uni and went on to do a Masters and PhD in that space. When I saw the role advertised it was a no-brainer to apply, tying into my love of music and tech.
You’re part of the Software team at Nightlife – in a nutshell, what does the team do?
We work on building software for Nightlife which covers everything from the flagship crowdDJ phone app, through to tools for Venue Managers to configure systems, through to the systems themselves. Then there’s all the in-house software that the business uses that help our customer service team be proactive and reactive, help our music team and DJs research songs…as well as working on secret products that aren’t out yet!
Word is that you had a pretty unconventional childhood, can you tell us about it?
My family lived on a boat for two years when I was in primary school, and then made the leap to travel around the world for three years on that boat from the age of 10 to 13. Both my parents were teachers, so we did school via correspondence, getting our school work sent to us by post at one port, completing that work while sailing and then receiving the next batch at our next port. We would get all our work done while sailing and then could have a big holiday when we got to our destination. I loved it – there was no interference, and we could focus a lot on our work. Of course we also got to see a lot of the world!
You were an early adopter in AI produced music – please elaborate on this, and how you see that field interacting with the hand curation that Nightlife does for its clients?
Music is about a lot more than just notes. It’s about identity and self expression. People tend to automate jobs that are; difficult, dangerous or profitable; and music isn’t really any of those; so from my point of view scientific curiousity is the only reason to do it. My interest is in treating the computer or software as an instrument; to empower people to make more interesting types and styles of music that you can’t make with a human mind. Computers do not stack up to the complexity of our brains, and I don’t see it as a conflict, rather as complementary. I hope to one day automate my own job so I can focus on research and developing more secret products.
Sustainability is important to Nightlife; we have solar panels, electric cars, recycling initiatives…was that important to you when looking to join Nightlife? You drive an electric car yourself.
Yeah I did know about that and it’s one aspect that drew me to the company. It makes such a big difference knowing the people you work for have the same values as you do. If the business you work for puts in place measures that; influence society; in the way you want it to be influenced; it makes for a happier working experience. That’s how I would run my company if I had one. As a fairly new technology, purchasing an electric car is a risk. But when you take risks that are maybe a little idealistic, people tend to help out in different ways. Nightlife has certainly helped out a lot by providing free charges and that’s been fantastic.
You’re also frequently seen taking a rest in the staff chill out room. Tell us why you make time for this.
I find a little rest in the middle of the day helps me to get through the afternoon; without my energy getting quite so zapped. I use a Flexispot desk, which is a standing desk, and find that being horizontal for 20 mins in the middle of the workday helps a lot with thinking clearly and focusing on tasks.
Currently listening to: Pan Pop – I have a big interest in Caribbean music and culture (from my travels there as a child) and am in a steel pan band as well!
Thanks for your time Rene!
Previous staff feature: Senior Music Programmer Nick Jones