Making Music And Sharing Knowledge: An Interview With Synth Club

By
Grolsch Canvas

There’s no doubt that we’re living in exciting times when it comes to technology – technological advancements are being made every day, significantly shaping the way we live, interact and even the way we create. One person who understands the power of technology is Tom McLean, the man behind London’s Synth Club; a progressive workshop and community giving people the chance to learn how to make their own synthesisers and uncover the creative potential and exciting possibilities that electronics have to offer. We caught up with Tom to talk about building synths, the importance of sharing knowledge and making technology available to everyone.

Hi Tom. Can you tell as a bit about yourself, Synth Club and what you do?

I run Synth Club - a London based facilitation platform focused on audio, synthesis and electronics. We run a class that is currently based in a cafe in South London.

Sharing knowledge is important - we can all benefit from feeding the wider pool of information.

How did get started with making your own synths and what first attracted you to it?

My dad is an electrician and got me electronics kits to build from a young age, and I always really loved the ones that made sounds. As I got older I grew interested in synthesisers but they were very expensive - so I applied some of my electronics knowledge to making circuits that made some sweet sounds.

Tell us about the first time you started building a synth – did you have a good idea of what you were doing or was it a lot of trial and error?

Everything still begins with a lot of trial and error. The first synths I built were based on the popular 555 timer circuits from Forrest M. Mims III books, which I’d strongly recommend to anyone wanting to get started with building synths or any electronics.

What inspired you to start Synth Club?

We are in the midst of a very exciting time in technology and communication; with the internet we now have access to a wealth of information and schematics making technology accessible to everyone regardless of background and formal education.

Synth Club came from a desire to demystify the physical and hardware elements of electronic instruments and nurture a community within the practice.

What’s your favourite part about running Synth Club?

Watching people getting the first sounds out of their Synth Club kits is the best. Realising that a handful of components and wires can be put together to make music is a great feeling!

Progress in technology is growing exponentially and so are the means we all have to explore this. It’s very exciting to me.

How important do you think it is to share your knowledge and help inspire others to be creative?

Sharing knowledge is important - we can all benefit from feeding the wider pool of information and I hope that Synth Club can contribute in some small way to the technological community by nurturing an ethos of sharing knowledge and learning from each other.

Synth Club allows people to get creative with technology. How do you feel about the way technology is opening up opportunities for interesting projects and how do you think it will affect the way we create in the future?

Technological advancements over the last few decades - years even - have completely changed the way we create, and have expanded the potential for new kinds of creative output. As these mediums are made more accessible to people, we can expect to see more creative innovations across all areas of life, including the arts and tech.

Progress in technology is growing exponentially and so are the means we all have to explore this. It’s very exciting to me.

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