Serhiy Yasko, Support Engineer and Musician

My name is Serhiy Yasko and I’m a support engineer at a web scraping company called Scrapinghub. I investigate and debug issues reported by customers. I chose this job because I wanted an intellectual occupation that pays. That was my initial broad motivation before I decided to take the software development path some years ago. The second requirement was a possibility of working remotely because I became extremely sick of the office routine at some point (and long commutes). I was born in Kyiv and I still reside here (but working remotely does enable me to frequently visit other places).

Outside of my job, I love everything music related: composing music, listening to music, discovering new artists, organizing my digital music collection, and watching performances. My interest in music came from my father, who was a music-lover. I distinctly remember one evening in 1988 when I joined him while he was listening to a couple of hip Russian rock bands on a reel-to-reel. I was fascinated by the experience, the music, and the lights from the recorder in a dark room. I think that’s when I showed the first signs of my life-long “illness”. And sometime later, when I was presented with my own portable tape recorder — and suddenly was free to choose what to tape — I became officially obsessed with music.

My music roots are in the rave culture of the 90s — almost all the music I do revolves around industrial, techno, and post-punk. Focusing on just one form never worked for me, as it inevitably made me stop enjoying the whole process. I don’t have a favourite instrument, as I just grab whatever I have in my possession if a piece I’m working on requires it. Be it an electric guitar, a bass guitar, or just a humble MIDI keyboard. But playing a keyboard is easier for me.

I rarely compose songs, because writing lyrics is the hardest part for me — I never have enough to impart, and what I do impart looks too trivial and naive upon rereading. So chord progression or even the complete piece comes first, then I write melodic lines on top for the vocals … and then the project gets abandoned having reached the lyrics-writing stage (*laughs*). Although I would be interested in producing a song or two for someone though — all those years of severe melomania should provide some applicable insights.

When it comes to music equipment and software, I have a very basic and unassuming setup — two laptops, three DAWs, one MIDI keyboard, one desktop analog synthesizer, one electric guitar, one bass guitar. Plugins are pretty much all the stock ones with a few freebies thrown in (plus I’m currently building my own). I would love to expand the range of tools, but I just can’t devote the required funds at this point.

I’m always working on some music project, either drawing from a huge (and stylistically varied) back-log of unfinished sketches or starting from scratch. Will it ever be released is another question entirely, as the time for creative work is often a luxury I can’t afford (having a full-time job, self-education, and other commitments). I’ll just continue writing tracks until they can be grouped into a project, stylistically or conceptually. Pride never comes into my music though — I can find fault with an end product at will. But there’s a sense of accomplishment when I manage to finish a piece after investing a considerable amount of time and effort. The most fulfilling are those occurrences when a melody or a lyric comes naturally under a strong emotional impact. I had many such musical eureka moments when I was younger, but hardly any of late. It’s all shoulder to the wheel for me now.

I think it’s important to always have a pastime that offers a contrast to one’s main occupation. If you read and write code all day, shut down the laptop and let your brain unwind by — whatever it may be — running, lifting weights, taking pictures, painting, making music. If you have fun making music all day, don’t let your brain turn to jelly — take a few intense machine learning courses (*laughs*).

My advice to aspiring music may be obvious, but don’t skip music theory and ear training. Learn to play an instrument. Better still, get a proper music education, as unguided self-learning won’t give you as solid a foundation to build upon (as I can regretfully attest!).

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