Startup Cabin Blog

Interview with Ashkan Fardost on science, arduino and hacking music PR

Posted by Xue Mei Rhodin on 09 July 2014

Xue Mei Rhodin interviewing Ashkan Fardost about science, arduino, hacking music industry's PR and the future of our jobs. What you don't know about science, happening right now, and how to hack the music industries PR and co-produce for Tiesto.


Xue Mei: Hi Ashkan!
Scientist, music entrepreneur and futurist.
Can you tell our blog readers what you do during the days?

Ashkan: Hello Xue Mei! 
My daytime activities include being a scientist in the research labs of Uppsala University, within the fields of organic and medicinal chemistry.

Xue Mei: You also run the music production company Slippy Fish, how did that happen?

Ashkan: It was the result of a series of weird events during the early days of the Internet. It involves an elaborate marketing scheme on the Napster network, followed by the caveman edition of a Kickstarter campaign (caveman edition because it was 2002, the days when Kickstarter didn't yet exist and whether to use Altavista or Google was a hot topic).

Xue Mei: That sounds like a great journey. What kind of clients/collaborationpartners have you had in Slippy Fish?

Ashkan: I've had the honour to sign music to labels like Armada Music and publishing houses such as EMI. Artist collaborations and album features involve names such as Armin van Buuren, DJ Tiësto and ATB.

Xue Mei: What's the most unexpected that has happened with your journey as a music entrepreneur with Slippy Fish?

Ashkan: The way it was actually founded, which I'd love to tell you a little bit about at the Cedarwood Meetup on May 2nd!

Xue Mei: Last time we spoke you where gonna get to try out Spotify's new studio! How did that go?
Ashkan: It was fantastic, equipped to the bones with all the instruments and tools you'd need to produce an international hit record. Can't wait until our next session!
Xue Mei: You've also developed your own wearable with Arduino, what was that and why did you create it?
Ashkan: The working title for it was FLIPR, a wearable for the wrist that replaces presentation clickers. The idea was that a presenter relies heavily on body language to convey a message to an audience. But with one hand busy holding the clicker, your body language is heavily reduced. The project made it through the prototype and design phase (I'll show you on May the 2nd) but was cancelled when Thalmic announced their product "Myo". It does everything the FLIPR would do plus a hundred more things, a hundred times better!
On a side note: that's why I love to have several projects alive within totally different fields: if a project fails, it won't be detrimental, and when a project succeeds, it fuels your other projects. Failure is essential, but backup plans are bad for creativity in my opinion. I rely on synergy instead.

Xue Mei: Did you have previous experience with Arduino when you started out?

Ashkan: None. I was a total newbie with no programming or electronic skills, except for VERY basic HTML á la ugly web pages from the 90's (remember AngelFire and Geocities, anyone?).
Xue Mei: Arduino has gotten a lot of people curious about learning to code and learning how to build tangible technology. What was hardest with trying out arduino and developing something with it?
 Ashkan: To stop buying new components and sensors that you can connect to it. Once you realize how powerful it is, you also realize how endless the possibilities are. That was a "problem" that made it hard to focus on the task at hand, but it sure as hell made things a lot of fun! (Disclaimer: I'm in no way affiliated with Arduino and have no financial interests related to it what so ever)
Xue Mei: Do you have any other projects at the moment?
Ashkan: Right now I'm focusing on finishing three research projects within the coming year, after which I will take a break from academia in order to pursuit some other things. I'm also in the process of launching a new music venture as a result of two extremely talented artists that I'm collaborating with, with the aim of launching them into the international music scene within this year. I'm also making a Swedish pop music project which will be launched by the end of May, with a music video and the whole package.
Xue Mei: Great! Look forward to seeing that! 
You're gonna hold a talk at our Cedarwood Meetup the 2nd of May. What are you gonna talk about?
Ashkan: I'm going to talk about how the exponential progress of technology is changing our lives faster than ever, and how our world might be radically different just ten years from now as a result of this. I will then show how disruption by technology allows newcomers to succeed like never before, while it destroys old school thinkers in the blink of an eye. My goal is to demonstrate how we can leverage technology and disruption to become winners instead of grumpy losers. Because I firmly believe that disruption is an inevitable force that you must learn to dance with and embrace, rather than resist.

Xue Mei: Why do you hold talks about this?
Ashkan: Because technology and disruption allowed people like me to succeed in an industry previously only available to people privileged with deep connections and/or luck. Also, as a scientist, I'm at the forefront of technological progress and it's my duty to figure out what technologies will be needed ten years from now in order to plan my research. These two experiences and interests are intertwined into the talk that I'll give.
Xue Mei: What do you think will be the audience big takeaway from your talk?

Ashkan: My goal is to have every member of the audience to walk away with a brand new way of looking at things. A new way in terms of realizing that technology has changed everything about how we see life and how we define the possible vs. the impossible. Because frankly speaking, everything is a possibility now. The textbook excuses of lacking opportunities, capital, connections, knowledge and what not, are no longer valid. The only thing you can lack is guts, and I hope my talk will inspire a little bit of guts.

Find Ashkan Fardost here:

Twitter: @rymdskepp


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