Dave Whiffin, Software Engineer and Musician

I have always loved the look and sound of guitars – I distinctly remember Status Quo appearing on Jim’ll Fix It when I was really young! I saw Eric Clapton on a Southbank documentary in my early teens, and songs like Layla really made a big impression. Seeing my brother take guitar lessons made me realise that I wanted to play. Music is my main creative outlet. It’s more important than a hobby for me.

My name is Dave Whiffin. My full-time profession is a software engineer working for Consensys. Since my mid-teens, I have also been a semi-professional musician. My main instrument is guitar, and I also sing and write songs.

In the early 2000s, the bands I was playing in needed websites. I was working as an IT support technician for Sage Software, and I was interested in website creation. So I learned a bunch of web technologies and deployed the web sites. The websites were really well received, and the bands got a lot of work from them. I really enjoyed the creative process and feeling of achievement. I decided that I wanted to become a developer as my main job.

By this time, I had accepted that my mission to be a rock star was a failed one! I was tempted to move to London in the early days when I was dreaming of being a rock star, but I didn’t really have enough self belief. I applied for a developer job within Sage Software and spent nearly 15 years as a developer before I moved to Consensys in 2018. Joining Consensys has been a big change for me. I am currently training to be a blockchain developer. The whole blockchain area is relatively new to me, but it’s exciting and I am lucky to be a part of it.

I first played guitar when I was 10, but gave it up to concentrate on sport. I then began again at 14, sparked originally by my brother’s decision to take guitar lessons. My grandfather played guitar professionally in dance bands and my Dad loved guitars (My dad went to school with Hilton Valentine, the guitarist of ‘60s band The Animals. In later years, I played with Hilton in a reformation of the Animals and did some mini tours with them).

Like most kids of my era I loved music, and luckily my school was very supportive and provided space to rehearse out of school hours. My favourite guitarists are normally singers as well – Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell, Beth Rowley, and Fleetwood Mac.

I mainly play guitar, but I also play bass guitar and some piano. Since I had kids, I have played more and more acoustic guitar. I started doing solo acoustic gigs a few years ago, and that was a big change for me as I had always played with bands before that. I have really enjoyed the challenge of learning Fingerstyle techniques, and the acoustic is great for writing songs. I used to write very personal songs, but often now I try to write stories but ones where I feel my experiences contribute. This has also meant that I can play live more as there are lots of venues wanting acoustic artists. However, my main love is loud electric guitar – my neighbours are aware of this!

I am hoping to release a new EP in the next few months. The songs are almost finished, there’s just a bit of polish to apply. I have involved lots of my friends in the recording and I am delighted with the results so far. Also, Steve White (ex style council and Paul Weller) has played the drums, which is a fantastic bonus!

I think that having another big interest in your life outside of work is a fantastic way of keeping perspective. It prevents me from burning out. I am pretty obsessive by nature, so having another interest outside of software development keeps me from being chained to a computer. Whilst being away from technology, I often have my best ideas or solve issues.

My advice would be to do what you love. Don’t compromise trying to please the majority. Hoping for riches and fame is likely to disappoint, but is also rarely what the most successful musicians aspire to. The fulfilment of playing will be the main reward.

 

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